Big Sur



The Big Sur route from China Camp to Sykes Hot Springs slices across the Ventana Wilderness deep in the Los Padres National Forest – Big Sur’s little-visited interior. We traverse the nearly mile-high crest of Big Sur’s Santa Lucia mountain range along the Pine Ridge trail. This airy section courses along a wild and occasionally overgrown footpath that includes dramatic vistas of Tassajara Creek canyon and the region’s highest summit, Junipero Serra Peak (5,862 feet).

From those heights we descend to the Big Sur Wild and Scenic River corridor to discover the famous backcountry hot spring called Sykes. The hot spring is a well-documented backcountry treat, perched on the pristine banks of the Big Sur river. While most visitors reach it by hiking in from Route 1 and retracing their steps, ours is an end-to-end journey that delivers vastly more diversity in landscape and a sense of passage. The Big Sur River canyon features cool, forested and lush nooks with mature forests and slender waterfalls. The trail improves as we exit along the canyon’s southern face to ultimately reach the Pfeiffer Big Sur Ranger Station.

While this route mimics the Skyline-to-Sea trail’s “start high and finish low” premise, it features more elevation change and sun-exposed terrain as well as the learning and adventure of seldom-traveled wilderness trails. That said, the total miles are fewer, totaling about 26. Hopefully the mystery of this tucked-away wilderness, the lure of soaking in a backcountry hot spring, $500 of free gear and the purpose of creating outdoor opportunities for underserved youth will urge you to join us!

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