If you like to surf, there are a few decent breaks accessed within Andrew Molera. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be. The majority of the interior region of Big Sur is part of the Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness, Silver Peak Wilderness and/or Fort Hunter Liggett— all of which are prime candidates for badass places to camp in Big Sur. Urinate at least 70 steps from water sources. Even if you only end up using it once, a decent head torch could save your life. The obvious major drawback? This is the most detailed guide to hiking and backpacking in Big Sur. This is … Big Sur is not and cannot be densely populated due to the rugged nature and isolation of its topography. LOST AND FOUND: 831-667-1112 SPECIAL EVENTS, SCHOOL GROUPS: BigSurEvents@parks.ca.gov 831-667-0507 FILM PERMITS (MOTION and STILL): BigSurFilm@parks.ca.gov 831-667-0507 CELL PHONES: Cell phone service is extremely limited in Big Sur. Climb the highest peak in Big Sur — in fact, the tallest … They can be crowded as hell and of course, you need to pay. Hike through coastal oak forest. Big Sur is blessed with four beautiful state parks, and each has something special on offer. 4. On the Central California coast, a magical, sparsely populated land of waterfalls, rugged mountains, redwood trees, stunning beaches, and blazing sunsets has been attracting people of all walks for decades. Pfeiffer Falls and the Valley View Overlook are probably the most popular hikes in area and the one that any ranger or frequent visitor would suggest. Big Sur Land Trust 509 Hartnell Street, Monterey, CA 93940 (831) 625-5523 | info@bigsurlandtrust.org Tax ID# 94-2473415 You are not entitled to camp wherever the hell you want. BIG SUR STATION: Located at 47555 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920.Big Sur Station is the information center for the Big Sur area. The view of the coastline from the outdoor deck is … Even of those who do, fewer still do so with the intention to camp overnight. I will post an update when the campground opens, but as of now, it isn’t possible to camp here. The weather is mild with a potential for fewer people to be around, and the grey whales are migrating to the Arctic from March-April! The trail itself is an undulating footpath (10 miles one way) that takes you away from the coast and into the rugged interior of the mountains. If you have realistic expectations of what Big Sur has become, in addition to possessing the motivation to get off the beaten path, you’ll have an amazing time exploring and camping in Big Sur. There are a series of excellent hiking trails, brilliant ocean views, and wildlife viewing opportunities. #3 - Pico Blanco via Coast Road and Little Sur Trail. This out and back trek is like two hikes in one, reaching a waterfall in a canyon of redwoods and a vista point overlooking the Big Sur River Valley. Why you should go: Perhaps the most iconic viewpoint in all of Big Sur, this … In recent years, I have spend a lot of time exploring Big Sur’s beaches, mountains, canyons, and rivers hunting for the best Big Sur camping spots. The campsites at Julia Pfeiffer book out faster than a $2 rodeo in rural America. We wanted a trail less traveled, ( especially during Covid ) and one we’ve never been on. Also, there is no ocean/beach access from within the park. To start packing for your camping trip to Big Sur, you can by browsing our Camping Packing Master Checklist. Don’t let your used toilet paper blow hither and thither in the wind. Overnight camping options include staying at the Arroyo Seco campground or the primitive Last Chance Falls campground. For up to date information, see the wilderness page here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lpnf/recarea/?recid=10973, #9 - Cone Peak to Surprise Falls [CLOSED]. It is possible to hike into Big Sur via crossing the Santa Lucia mountain, but it isn’t common. You need to be very “on it” if you have any hopes of securing a spot and reservations can only be made up to six months in advance. In the peak of the summer in years past, the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road was absolutely loaded with cars and people. This amazing trail, which starts at a Highway 1 pullout just 3.6 miles north of Ragged Point (or 45 miles south of the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park entrance). The easiest start is from Bottcher’s Gap. The trailhead is located a quarter-mile up the road from the gift shop at Pfeiffer Big Sur … On October 31, 2018 the seasonal footbridge crossing the Big Sur River was removed for the season. Beaches. Microfibre Towel: It’s always worth packing a proper towel. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to hit the road (or the trail) in search of your perfect Big Sur camping spot. The best places for Plaskett Ridge Road camping is found towards the top of the hill where it flattens out and opens up to grassy meadows and hillsides. Good for an overnight at Trailsprings or Ojito Camp, but certainly do-able in an ambitious day. Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Big Sur with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you. What you’re going to want to take is going to very much depend on your style. Chris Lininger is a writer, photographer, and guide from California. The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! There is a water spring at the camp that should be flowing any time of year, however, packing a filtered water bottle for hiking is always a recommendation, even in highly-developed nations. Note: The Forest Service order says you can’t camp within 300 feet of the road. The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. Ventana Wilderness: Cone Peak Trail. Within the Santa Lucia Mountains and Los Padres National Forest, there are at least 55 designated trail camps and countless others that are unofficial or undiscovered campsites. The hike back down was far easier and more relaxing. Whether you are looking for a luxurious hotel overlooking the ocean or you are ready to head out on your next backpacking adventure, then Big Sur is the spot for you. 3. In the past, some folks even parked here semi-permanently, though I think law enforcement has put an end to long-term camping here. The falls are, however, very seasonal. Note: Be aware that there is TONS of poison oak in the area. 66 reviews. The official word from the Forest Service was that the camping along the road is forbidden until August 19th, 2020. Keep in mind that accommodation in the Big Sur area is EXPENSIVE. Most likely there will be other people camping up there as well. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. The park contains four lime kilns from an 1887–1890 lime-calcining operation. If you come in season (end of summer), you can pick wild blackberries to your heart’s content. A hike on the Ventana Double Cone Trail is a great opportunity to gain one of the best views in all of Big Sur. Big Sur Hiking Trails & Local Tips. This trail is extremely popular on weekends and holidays when many backpackers are drawn to Sykes Hot Springs, a strenous 10-mile (6-7 hour) one-way hike. The Nacimiento-Ferguson Road was the classic free Big Sur camping spot. However, the sad truth is that Big Sur has changed quite dramatically over the years. Big Sur camping doesn’t get any better than this! "I recommend driving … Before we talk about all the best places to camp in Big Sur, let’s answer the burning question…. After the Big Sur mudslides in 2017 that forced road closures further south on Highway 1, camping was made illegal along Nacimiento-Ferguson Road. Though in the fall, winter, and spring, the flows can be epic. Big Sur has many great destinations, but Sykes Hot Springs is definitely near the top of the list for anyone who has been there. I hope this track opens soon! PIT STOP: Stop and have lunch at Nepenthe's south of Big Sur. THE BEST WEEKEND BIG SUR BACKPACKING TRIP. There are only two goddamn campsites! *Note: Sykes Hot Springs via Pine Ridge Trail is closed until further notice (fire damage). Around holidays too, Highway 1 is totally nuts chockablock with holidayers driving the classic West Coast route. Locals in Big Sur have had to endure a lot of shit from tourists (literally, in some cases). Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to Marine Life – Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle. Are you…. Artists, hippies, surfers, hikers, beach bums, burnouts, and every shade of tourist ventures to this land… that land is called Big Sur. I’m not sure exactly how many spots there are; possibly, nobody knows. This hike leads to Cook Spring Camp, a rather primitive backcountry camp under a stand of sugar cone pine trees. The ridgeline trail begins along the north flank of Cone Peak and follows a craggy ridge with sweeping views of the coast and mountains. Skip to main content. Big Sur is a hell of a dreamy place – certainly one of  the most magical places in the USA to visit – and there are a lot of cool camping opportunities to be found here. The campground here is massive (174 sites) and can be quite the circus at any time of year. That said, compared to some of the other campsites on my list, Los Burros can be less populated with campers…and it is a fucking gorgeous spot! Backpacking Big Sur isn’t exactly difficult but it isn’t all that straightforward either. Join me as I break down the best time of year to go camping in Big Sur, the best free campsites, top paid campsites, the best car camping spots, and maybe even a glamping spot or two. Plus, they’re light which is perfect for hiking and camping in Big Sur’s backcountry! Andrew Molera State Park. Some hikes are tougher, some will go through forests, and others to beaches, guaranteeing everyone can find a hike they love. The fact is, there are lots of places to park and pitch your backpacking tent, and the higher you go up the road, the better the views are of the sea. If you do choose to make a fire, never leave your fire unattended. The hot spring pools sit perched above the river. Kirk Creek is certainly one of the best places to camp in Big Sur. Big Sur is home to more than just gorgeous beaches: you can explore the Santa Maria mountain range with breathtaking views of the coast. Unfortunately, the last two years have been hard on the Ventana Wilderness, Big Sur’s key attraction for backpackers. The Ventana Wilderness does experience drought and the last thing you want is for the spring to be dry when you arrive. Poison Oak is everywhere. Big Sur, by contrast, has a fraction of the permanent residents occupying other parts of the California coast. Upon checking the availability schedule, I found both campsites are fully booked for the next six months. With over 80 day hikes, there’s a hike for everyone. The point being, both the locals and the police have had enough of the disrespectful campers shitting everywhere and leaving behind piles of rubbish. Our favourite travel backpack is the Aer Travel Pack 2. Hiking up the final switchbacks, the expansive views over the Ventana Wilderness and the dramatic Pacific coastline are literally dizzying. Check out our EPIC review of the best down jackets for backpackers in 2021! Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way! Like most of the US, the area is just not really set up for independent, budget travellers so you need to improvise a bit in order to get things done. There are no hidden gems anymore.” Whilst I do not 100% agree with that sentiment, in many ways it is true. On the Central California coast, a magical, sparsely populated land of waterfalls, rugged mountains, redwood trees, stunning beaches, and blazing sunsets has been attracting people of all walks for decades. After returning to your car, consider checking out … If you’re RV camping, I don’t recommend trying to park here. Big Sur has no definitive borders, though the general consensus is that the above-mentioned stretch of highway and the surrounding mountains from south of Carmel to the north of San Simeon makes up greater Big Sur area. We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web, for free! Good luck, amigos! There are some pieces of gear that are absolutely essential to staying comfortable, safe, and happy in the backcountry whilst experiencing camping in Big Sur for yourself. 154. Big Sur has many great destinations, but Sykes Hot Springs is definitely near the top of the list for anyone who has been there. With so many people visiting Big Sur each year, the associated abuses involved with high numbers of people have made it quite difficult to find free camping spots along Highway 1. Hikers wishing to access the beach, Creamery Meadow, Ridge, Bluffs, Panorama and Spring trails must wade across the Big Sur River. Right now, I’m rocking an Active Roots parachute hammock – it’s light, colorful and tough. To be specific, it is technically considered free camping in Big Sur when the camping takes place next to Highway 1, which isn’t really tolerated anymore. Try to get a campsite along the Big Sur River in the far back reaches of the campground. In the summer, you must leave early if you want to get your pick of campsites once you arrive at Sykes Hot Springs. Bummer. Amazon.com: backpacking big sur. The campsites are located in beautiful places, often with stunning views of the Pacific ocean, forest, or mountains. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Do not take the pristine landscapes in Big Sur for granted. The hike to its summit is the most dramatic by far in the Big Sur area. Read our full review of the GRAYL GEOPRESS! With oceanfront views and plenty of hiking trails nearby, Kirk Creek is a Big Sur camping favorite of mine, and one of the best spots if you want to camp on a Big Sur cliffside. After parking my truck at the visitors center and hiking 10 miles to the Sykes Hot Springs in the Ventana Wilderness, I found myself pitching my tent next to the Big Sur River with nobody in sight. Start by parking at the Ventana Wilderness area ranger station and heading towards the back parking lot. © 2021, The Broke Backpacker. Experiencing the beauty of Big Sur is truly epic. Most hotel rooms are at least $100/night at an absolute minimum. Because the hike is rather short, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hike in with plenty of water on-hand too. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Extreme heat, impassable trails, and unrelenting topography conspire to make summer backpacking difficult for even the most experienced explorer. Plus, you can be certain that no police or ranger will hassle (or fine) you for camping. 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