Sykes Hot Springs
2 days, 20 miles
12 May 2014

Sykes Hot Springs is the most popular backpacking trip in Big Sur. It is a 2-day, 20-mile out-and-back trip. We were a group of 10 in May 2014. For five of us, this was our first backpacking trip.

General Information

  1. An amazing brochure (PDF) with trail map and elevation profile. The entier hike is along Pine Ridge Trail. Signs along this trail are awesome. There are few intersections with other trails. There should be dozens of people along the trail. So it is difficult to get lost. Still, it's good to have a map with yourself.
  2. Fire Permit (PDF file - print and fill in). Apparently, we need a fire permit even to use stoves. Each member of our group had this permit.
  3. Two well written articles that explain the trip: first (much more readable) and second.
  4. Gear list for backpacking — good checklist worth going through.
  5. Trail Conditions and Trip Planning. Ventana Wilderness is a very large area that is maintained by an army of volunteers! These volunteers keep fixing trails and campsites and maintain websites. In May 2014, thanks to all these volunteers, everything looked good for our trip!
  6. Weather forecast. During our trip, temperatures ranged from 9C (night) to 20C (day).
  7. Link to campsite reservation.

Our Itinerary

Day 0 (Friday): We drove from Mountain View to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in three cars. We were a group of ten. On our way, we had dinner at Ambrosia Indian Bistro at 565 Abrego St Monterey, CA 93940. Food and service was good. We had made reservations for two campsites: Link to campsite reservation.

Day 1 (Saturday): We got up early morning, got ready, packed our backpacks and drove our cars to the trailhead.

Trailhead location: Study Pfeiffer Big Sur Brochure for the location of the trailhead. Pine Ridge Trail ends in a parking lot marked by a "TH" sign inside a circle. This parking lot allows multi-day parking for a pre-paid fees, which can be deposited at the parking lot itself.

Hike: We walked 9.5 miles from Pfeiffer Big Sur to Sykes campground, all along Pine Ridge Trail.

Day 2 (Sunday): We walked 9.5 miles from Sykes campground to Pfeiffer Big Sur parking lot. We then drove back to Mountain View.

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