Trip · 3-day backpacking trip
For · Friends and intermediate backpackers
Vibe · Challenging and hard
Distance · 10 miles round trip and 3,038 feet of elevation gain
Permits · No wilderness permits, just fill out a CA campfire permit.
Drive · 3 hours from SF
Ideal dates · September to November or March to May (for wildflowers!)
Pets · Welcome at camp and on trails
Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) 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, and Chumash. Ventana Wilderness sits above Big Sur, CA's famous central coastline, and features steep ridges, narrow canyons, redwood forests and 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.
Official Forest Service Website
Latest Forest Alerts and Conditions
Directions to Trailhead
Main image credit: Dave Hoefler