Sykes Camp / Sykes Hot Springs

CURRENT REGS and CONDITIONS - updated November 27, 2023

Campfires are NOT permitted in Big Sur backcountry camps.

Current Fire Restrictions: Campfires are not permitted anywhere in Los Padres National Forest except for a few car camps.  Click this link to secure a permit which is required to use a stove. Please note that even though the permit to use a stove is called a "campfire permit," it DOES NOT permit you to have a campfire during fire restrictions.     

Almost all of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas are open. That said, some recreation sites, campgrounds, and roads managed by Los Padres National Forest and/or the County of Monterey remain closed. See this link for the latest US Forest Service closure information.  All Forest Service developed rec sites on the coast are open (Kirk Creek Campground, Mill Creek DUA, Sand Dollar DUA, Willow Creek DUA, and Plaskett Campground).  Arroyo Seco Recreation Area (and its campgrounds) remain closed

Roads: Closures of roads (federal, state, and county) have been the norm in 2023 due to storm damage. Though most of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas are open for visitation, you still may not be able to drive to trailheads. A two-mile closure of Highway 1 remains in effect between Limekiln State Park and Lucia. Highway 1 on the Big Sur coast remains open from Cambria to Limekiln, and from Monterey to Lucia. Check Caltrans'  current Highway 1 conditions here before you drive the Big Sur coast.  The Arroyo Seco Recreation Area remains closed due to the closure of Arroyo Seco Road. Monterey County expects the road to be reopened by the end of 2023.  

Tassajara Road is CLOSED. Please 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.

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.  

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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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.
  • 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.



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.



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.



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.


  • 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.



Leave No Trace!

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