Plan a Trip

THANK YOU FOR READING THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION - updated February 25, 2021 

ALERT: Due to a January 26-28 storm, Highway 1 is closed from Big Creek Vista Point in the south to just north of Lime Creek Bridge in the north. Long-term, there is a significant washout of the Highway 1 at Rat Creek (just north of Big Creek Reserve and just south of Esalen Institute). Expect this closure to be in place until summer 2021. Nacimiento-Fergusson Road (which connects Highway 1 at Kirk Creek with Fort Hunter Liggett on the eastern side of the Coast Ridge) is also significantly damaged and may not be open for quite some time.  

Effective January 22, 2021 U.S. Forest Service - Los Padres National Forest has re-opened most unburned areas of the Monterey Ranger District. In and around the northern Ventana Wilderness, most lands north of and including the Marble Peak Trail are open. Wilderness camps in the backcountry can be accessed from the Arroyo Seco Recreation Area near Greenfield (off 101) or via Tassajara Road deep in the Carmel Valley. 

The Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station to Redwood Camp remains closed. 

Lands south of Willow Creek Road, including most of the Silver Peak Wilderness, are also open.

Most secondary roads (including Del Venturi/Milpitas, Nacimiento-Fergusson, Plaskett Ridge, Willow Creek/Los Burros, & South Coast Ridge roads) remain gated and closed. 

This map depicts the closure boundary. Not sure if a particular road, trail, or camp is open? Call the Monterey Ranger District at 831-385-5434. Please enjoy your public lands responsibly. When in place, abide by NO CAMPFIRE restrictions. Pack out everything you pack in (including toilet paper). Leave this special place better than you found it. Leave No Trace ethics are more important than ever with visitors concentrated in fewer places to go.  

State Parks 

The following are open for day use:  Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park - Soberanes Canyon Trail, Andrew Molera State Park, Point Sur State Historic Park (tours only), and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (go online or call to find out if the park's campgrounds are open)  

The following remain closed: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, John Little State Natural Reserve, Limekiln State Park  

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (additional US Forest Service information for the Monterey Ranger District): Please note that the information above is oftentimes more up-to-date than the US Forest Service site. Call 831-385-5434 with questions. 

 

Weather

weatherYou'll find here a number of links to some pretty informative internet weather sites relevant to the northern Santa Lucia backcounty traveler. They should be helpful in determining what the weather's going to do while you're out there. But regardless of what these folks say, it's always smart to prepare for the worst.

leave no trace signWe need everybody to commit to the Leave No Trace principles. This is an example of what happens otherwise.

 

The Big Sur backcountry is rugged and untamed. It is also quite fragile and easily impacted by the actions of humans. California’s population has doubled since the Wilderness Act of 1964 was signed into law. This growing population and the global popularity of Big Sur as a destination for outdoor recreation exert tremendous pressure on our public lands. The US Forest Service is the agency responsible for recreation management in the region. They are woefully underfunded and understaffed.

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.

With over 300 miles of trails and dozens of camps in the Big Sur backcountry, there is ample opportunity for recreation and solitude. Since we are so often asked for trip suggestions, we offer these five locales as a mere sampling of what the Ventana region has to offer.