Plan a Trip

CURRENT REGS and CONDITIONS - updated May 28, 2024 

Attention Pine Ridge Trail/Sykes Camp visitors, see the Trail Alert at this link for important information about access to Sykes Camp via the Pine Ridge Trail.    

Current Fire Restrictions: Campfires are permitted in Big Sur backcountry camps. Please use campfires and stoves responsibly. Click this link to secure a permit to use a campfire and stove.   

Roads: Closures of roads (federal, state, and county) have been the norm in recent years due to storm damage. Though most of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas are open for visitation, you may not be able to drive to trailheads. Check Caltrans'  current Highway 1 conditions here before you drive the Big Sur coast

Monterey County roads listed as CLOSED include Tassajara Road. 

Arroyo Seco Road is now open but the public lands of the Arroyo Seco Recreation Area managed by the US Forest Service remains closedPlease see Monterey County's Road Traffic Advisories, Closures & Information page.   

Roads with long-term closure to vehicular traffic: Palo Colorado Road from the Hoist to Bottchers Gap, Nacimiento-Fergusson Road from Nacimiento Campground to the coast, South Coast Ridge Road from Nacimiento-Fergusson Road to the intersection with Prewitt Ridge Road, Cone Peak Road, Los Burros Road.

Check this link for Monterey County road closures.   

Know before you go: Call the USDA Forest Service, Monterey Ranger District office if you need more information at 831-385-5434.  

State Parks: Check with individual State Parks to confirm access and secure additional information.  

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.

Updated May 28, 2024: 

Trail Alert: Please note that the section of the Pine Ridge Trail between Barlow Flat Camp and Sykes Camp is IMPASSABLE due to a new slide. The only access to Sykes Camp is via a reroute through Barlow Flat Camp (called the "Stock Bypass Trail" by the US Forest Service). 

Visitors planning to visit the Pine Ridge Ridge Trail and Sykes Camp SHOULD NOT attempt to cross the new slide. Doing so could be fatal and/or put Monterey County Search and Rescue personnel at risk if a rescue/extraction is required.

Visitors taking the reroute through Barlow Flat Camp SHOULD NOT attempt to cross the Big Sur River (or any Wilderness stream) during high water. If a visitor falls in the water, even a light current may sweep them downstream where they risk drowning or impact with rocks. 

There is no estimated date of repair to the damaged section of trail. 

 

Welcome to the best and most up-to-date information about the Pine Ridge Trail (PRT) and Sykes Camp. It is once again open to the public after being closed from 2016 to 2021 due to human-caused wildfire.

Keeping the PRT open requires the collaboration of multiple agencies, nonprofit organizations like the Ventana Wilderness Alliance, generous funders, and dedicated volunteers. You can help keep it open. It is up to all of us to enjoy this unique and wild place responsibly.

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.