Maps & Books

IMPORTANT FIRE CLOSURE AND WINTER STORM ROAD DAMAGE INFORMATION

As a result of the 2016 Soberanes Fire, the US Forest Service closed the entire Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest. On December 5, 2016, the Closure Order was amended to allow for a partial re-opening of parts of the Monterey Ranger District. See the links below for the Forest Closure Order and a map which indicates the closure boundaries.

Most of the Ventana Wilderness remains CLOSED. This includes backcountry camps like Sykes, Terrace Creek, Barlow Flat, Pat Spring, Carmel River, Pico Blanco Public Camp, and many others. Unauthorized entry is punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and imprisonment up to six months.

Please review these links and call the Monterey Ranger District at (831) 385-5434 before visiting the Ventana Wilderness.

05-07-51-16-22_Order_and_Memo.pdf

Soberanes Fire Closure Order 05-07-51-16-22 Map

Areas that are currently OPEN include the Cone Peak Trail Network and the Silver Peak Wilderness. However, winter storm damage to Highway One and Nacimiento-Fergusson Road has made it extremely difficult to access these areas. CALTRANS is implementing hard closures on an hour-to-hour and daily basis due to slides and unstable roadways. The Big Sur Information facebook page, updated by the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, is your best source for up-to-the-minute road conditions in the Big Sur area.

Effective January 17, 2017, Fire Restrictions are reduced for the areas of the Monterey Ranger District outside of the closure boundaries. Campfires are now permitted with a valid permit which can be obtained here. Campfires are never permitted along roadways in Big Sur.  

With visitation to the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest now concentrated in far fewer trails and camps, it is up to all of us to tread lightly on the land. Now more than ever, it is critical that all visitors practice Leave No Trace principles.

Many State Park trails in the Big Sur area are also CLOSED. Call the State Park that you wish to explore to determine if trails are open. A handy list of State Park phone numbers can be found at the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce Camping Guide.

Resources for the Ventana Traveler

 

For those new to the region, heading out into the backcountry without consulting a trail guide is at best adventurous and venturing forth without at least a map is courting disaster. Thankfully, maps and books specific to exploration of the Big Sur backcountry are readily available. The publications and web resources listed below, when used in conjunction with the VWA's online Trails Conditions pages, should help in the planning of a wilderness visit.

 

Online Topographical Map Resources

Trail and camp locations on some maps of the Ventana and Silver Peak are incorrect. Dr. Jack Glendening’s Big Sur Trailmap is the single most accurate source available and provides trail and camp locations based on local knowledge and GPS verification. Among its many benefits, the site includes a useful Route Metrics tool that provides distance and elevation gain/loss between two points.

 

Trail Guides

Backcountry travelers have many sources (in print, online and apps) for information about the Ventana region. In addition to this site and the Big Sur Trailmap information above, the following books in print are the most reliable trail guides. It is important to remember that there is little to no web access and cell reception in the Big Sur backcountry. Don’t rely on connectivity for critical information.

If your local bookseller does not carry these books, an online search should help you to locate a copy.

 

Sierra Club Trail Guide to Los Padres National Forest, Northern Section, Seventh Edition (2003)

sierra club los padres

      • This long-time guide to the area backcountry covers all of the Ventana and Silver Peak. The trail descriptions are a little on the terse side, at times covering many miles of ground with a single sentence. This leaves big room for the all-important feeling of adventure and discovery, but for a novice could lead to occasional confusion. 

 

 

 

Hiking and Backpacking Big Sur: A Complete Guide to the Trails of Big Sur, Ventana Wilderness, and Silver Peak Wilderness, 2nd Edition (2013) by Analise Elliot Heid

big sur heidThis is the newest trail guide to the Big Sur backcountry, published by The Wilderness Press as an update to Shaffer's outdated guidebook (see below). Although this book is not without flaws, it covers trails south of Nacimiento-Fergusson Road including the Silver Peak Wilderness Area, which Schaffer's book does not. The "Trips by Theme" section is also a useful feature.

 

 

 

Hiking the Big Sur Country: The Ventana Wilderness (1988) by Jeffrey P. Schaffer

big sur schafferThis Wilderness Press offering was first published 1988 and is out-of-date. Nevertheless, Schaffer's step-by-step trail descriptions leave little to chance (or discovery) and might be a good choice for the Ventana first-timer. It is a little larger in size and weight than the Sierra Club guide, but includes fairly in-depth introductions to the local flora, fauna and geology, as well as excellent and highly detailed topographic maps based upon the USGS 7.5 minute quads which, after reduction, weigh in at 1:42,100. The glaring downside to Schaffer's book is that it totally omits everything south of Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, so there is no mention of the Silver Peak Wilderness area.

 

The Natural History of Big Sur (1996) by Paul Henson and Donald Usner

big sur henson usnerWhile a highly informative book, as a trail guide The Natural History of Big Sur lacks the portability of the alternative guides. The LPNF trail information included in the book accounts for about 50 pages out of 400, and is well written and fairly up-to-date. The obvious problem is that one must carry along the other 350 pages as well, which may not be a bad idea if learning about the land through which one walks is important to the walker. It includes lightly detailed maps of the area with minimal topographic information.

 

 

 

 Maps

National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map - Big Sur, Ventana Wilderness (Los Padres National Forest)

nat geo mapAmbitious in its scale, National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated map of Big Sur, Ventana Wilderness combines detail with helpful information to provide an excellent tool for making the most of your visit to the region. While some mapmakers simply replicate erroneous information provided by agencies and previous publishers, the detail of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness areas in this map were vetted by a team of Ventana Wilderness Alliance volunteers making it one of the most accurate on the market.

Map Scale: 1:80,000
Sheet Size: 37.75" x 25.5"
Folded Size: 4.25" x 9.25"

 

 

Green Trails Maps - Big Sur-Ventana Wilderness 1256SX

green trails mapGreen Trails asked the VWA to vet this map before it was published thus making it another accurate map on the market.

Map Scale: 1:63,360
Sheet Size: 22.5” x 30”
Folded Size 6” x 9”

 

 

USFS - Los Padres National Forest (North) - Monterey & Santa Lucia Ranger Districts 

los padres north mapThis item can be ordered from the National Forest Store via phone, mail or online. It is also available at the District office in King City (831) 385-5434 or at Big Sur Station (831) 667-2315.

National Forest Store
P.O. Box 8268
Missoula, MT 59807
406-329-3024
406-329-3030 fax 

 

 

 

 

USFS - A Guide to the Ventana Wilderness & Silver Peak Wilderness 

guide ventana wild silver peak wildThis item can be ordered from the National Forest Store via phone, mail or online. It is also available at the District office in King City (831) 385-5434 or at Big Sur Station (831) 667-2315.

National Forest Store
P.O. Box 8268
Missoula, MT 59807
406-329-3024
406-329-3030 fax

 

 

 

 

Wilderness Press - Big Sur and Ventana Wilderness Map, 2nd Edition

wilderness press mapThis map is reasonably accurate and readily available.

Map Scale: 1:64,653