Sykes Camp / Sykes Hot Springs

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.  

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.

 

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ProsPrepare

CheckList graphicPROs plan ahead and prepare for a backpacking trip into the Big Sur backcountry. By getting ready for the Pine Ridge Trail (PRT) before you leave town, you will better protect yourself, natural resources, and the safety of the local community.

  • Use of a campfire is NOT permitted most of the year. Don’t count on one for warmth or cooking. For current fire restrictions and more click here.
  • Click here for a permit which is required to use a stove or a campfire (when allowed).
  • Be prepared for extreme weather and emergencies — help may be a long way off and there is no cell phone service in the backcountry.
  • Bear canisters are recommended to store food and other stinky items. Bring your own trash bags to pack out ALL your waste.
  • PROs keep their group size small (4 or fewer). QR code
  • PROs know the hiking capabilities of their group when planning the itinerary. Click here to download the PRT Elevation and Distance Profile.
WhenYouArrive
  • Be sure to pay for parking at the “iron ranger” at the entrance to the parking lot. The fee is $10/day (not per night). Bring cash/check or pay with a credit/debit card at the Big Sur Station (open 9 am - 4 pm).
  • Please complete a Wilderness Self-Issue Permit at the PRT trailhead.

 

ProsPrepare

CheckList graphicPROs respect that fire safety is a big deal in Big Sur. The smallest mistake can lead to a wildfire that ruins lives, property, businesses, natural resources, and public access to public lands. Don’t be the camping amateur that ruins it for everyone.

  • Fire Restrictions prohibiting campfires are in place most of the year.
  • Even when campfires are permitted, consider reducing your impact by not having one.

 

WhenYouArrive

Here’s how to have a campfire
when they are permitted.

  • Minimize impacts by only using existing fire rings. Do not build up fire rings or create new ones.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks on the ground that can be broken by hand. PRO Tip: Use sticks that are no longer or wider than your forearm.
  • Tend your fire like a boss. If you are not watching it, douse it.
  • Use water (not rocks or dirt) to put your fire DEAD OUT. PROs know to test the ashes with their hands to make sure they are out COLD.

 

ProsPrepare

CheckList graphicThe Big Sur River is designated by Congress as a Wild and Scenic River. Help protect this special waterway. Your number two is a number one problem on the PRT. Here’s how to do-do it right at a place with no janitorial service.

  • GO TO THE CAN. Use the wilderness toilets provided. Do not put anything else in the toilet but your poo. Pack out your used TP.
  • GO FAR. If a camp’s toilet is full or unavailable, do your business at least 200 feet from any water source. GO DEEP. Bury your waste at least 6 inches down. Always pack out your soiled toilet paper.
  • GO PRO. Use “wag bags”. This space age invention allows you to “collect waste samples” and transport them out to be disposed in the trash. They really work!
  • Remember to bury or pack out your dog’s poop, too. Their doo is toxic to wildlife.

 

WhenYouArrive
  • Bring your own trash bags and take out ALL waste, including toilet paper, personal hygiene products, food scraps, pet waste, etc
  • Do not put soap of any kind in the river. Wash yourself and your dishes as far from the river as possible.
  • PROs leave the PRT better than they found it.

 

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