TREKKING THROUGH WATERFALLS & REDWOOD TREES IN VENTANA WILDERNESS
TRIP · 3-day backpacking trip
FOR · Friends & first-time backpackers
DISTANCE · 10 miles round-trip with 3,038 feet of elevation gain
VIBE · Hard & rewarding
COST · $
DRIVE · 3 hours from SF
PERMITS · No wilderness permits, just fill out a CA campfire permit.
IDEAL DATES · September - November or March - May (for wildflowers!)
PETS · Welcome at camp & on trails
WHY VENTANA WILDERNESS?
Los Padres National Forest has 10 designated wilderness areas within 1.75 million acres of public land: Ventana, Silver Peak, Santa Lucia, Garcia, Machesna, San Rafael, Dick Smith, Matilija, Sespe & Chumash. Ventana Wilderness sits above Big Sur, CA's famous central coastline, and features steep ridge lines, narrow canyons, redwood forests & stunning coastal views. Like most national forests, you can bring your doggos into Ventana's backcountry as long as they're leashed. There are also designated backcountry campsites with pit toilets in Ventana, but you'll have to pack out your trash. Every trek requires a climb from HWY 1 in Ventana, but once you make the journey, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of Big Sur.
STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW
You don't need a wilderness permit to backpack in Los Padres National Forest, but you will need to apply for a CA Campfire permit online. Print it out before your trip!
Overnight parking costs $10 a day per vehicle. Pay at the Pine Ridge Trail trailhead!
As of January 1, 2022, backcountry campfires are allowed in Los Padres National Forest. Make a fire ring to contain the flames & fully extinguish your campfire before you sleep. Check current fire restrictions for the latest!
Ticks are a thing in Ventana Wilderness. Wear long hiking pants & spray your clothes with Permethrin. Bring tweezers in case you do get bitten so you can safely remove a tick.
Black bears have recently been spotted so hang a bear-proof Ursack or use a bear canister to store your food overnight.
LEAVE SF BY 9 AM & SWING BY BIG SUR BAKERY FOR LUNCH
- Diners love their fresh ingredients & baked goodies
- Located at 47540 California 1 in Big Sur
- Open Wed. to Sun. from 9 AM to 3 PM
- LAST PIT STOP · Chevron - 47047 CA-1 in Big Sur
DRIVE TO BIG SUR STATION VISITOR CENTER & PARK AT PINE RIDGE TRAILHEAD
- Overnight parking costs $10 a day per vehicle
- Drinking water, restrooms & trash cans are available at Big Sur Station Visitor Center
HIKE ALONG PINE RIDGE TRAIL TO VENTANA CAMP
- Pine Ridge Trail (PRT) reopened in April 2021 after a five-year closure. It's the trail that accesses the popular Sykes hot springs, but during the winter season, the creeks run rapid, deep & are dangerous to cross. This is an intro backpacking trip along PRT, but you can extend or shorten your trek however you'd like.
- It's a five-mile hike with 1,519 feet of elevation gain to Ventana Camp, a beautiful designated campsite in the backcountry.
- This portion of the trail is mostly exposed so wear a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and fill up your water bottles
ARRIVE AT VENTANA CAMP & COOL OFF BY THE RIVER
- Find a campsite near the river & dip your toes into the river
PREP DINNER & SET UP CAMP
- YAY! Chow on some dinner & s'mores, and enjoy your first night in Ventana Wilderness!
- Fully extinguish your campfire before you head to bed & store all of your food & scented items in a bear canister, not your tent!
CAR TO CAMP · 5 miles with 1,519 feet of elevation gain, 3-4 hours
MAKE BREKKIE, PACK A LUNCH & CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE ALONG PINE RIDGE TRAIL
- Fill up on water, bring your water filter, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, bug spray, down jacket, a book, lunch & a headlamp just in case!
- Leave any food & scented items in the bear canister back at camp
- Return to Pine Ridge Trail and go on a day hike towards Terrace Creek or Barstow Flat campsite. It's a 7.3 mile round-trip hike, with 2,661 feet of elevation gain, to Barstow Flat Camp so make sure you head back to Ventana Camp before it gets too dark!
- Find a cool mid-way spot for lunch & chill for the rest of the afternoon
RETURN TO CAMP & PREP DINNER
- Clean up from the day hike
ENJOY A SUNSET DINNER
- Savor your last evening in the wild and spend the rest of the night stargazing around the campfire. More s'mores, plz.
CAMP TO CAMP · 7.3 miles, 2,661 feet of elevation gain, 4-5 hours
COOK UP BREAKFAST, PACK UP & HIKE BACK TO PINE RIDGE TRAIL TRAILHEAD
- It's a five-mile hike, with 1,503 feet of elevation gain, back to the trailhead and parking lot
RETURN TO YOUR CAR & GRAB LUNCH AT COAST BIG SUR GALLERY & CAFE
Diners love their local, organic ingredients & soft-serve ice cream!
Located at 49901 Highway 1 in Big Sur
Open Thursday to Monday from 11 AM - 4 PM
CAMP TO CAR · 5 miles, 1,503 feet of elevation gain, 3 hours
PAY IT FORWARD LIKE BEZZI
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LAST UPDATED: January 5, 2022
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