Backpacking Big Sur contains breathtaking views and large wilderness as it stretches ninety miles along the rugged Pacific on the Central Coast of California. It is approximately three hundred miles north of Los Angeles and one hundred fifty miles south of San Francisco. The area is fantastic for outdoor recreation and contains two national wilderness areas, many state parks, all of which include hiking trails, and is part of the Los Padres National Forest. Backpacking in the open natural spaces of Big Sur is the second most common activity next to driving through.
Backpacking Big Sur!
Flanked by the steep Santa Lucia Mountains to the east and the rocky Pacific Coast to the west, California Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) winds through Big Sur. Big Sur begins in San Simeon (Hearst Castle is here) and continues north through the small towns of Gorda, Lucia, and Big Sur. It ends just south of Carmel.
Some adventurers can be seen riding bicycles to the area along the highway, though the best way to get there is by car.
From San Francisco take US 101 south to CA 156 west which merges with Highway 1, about twenty miles from the beginning of the Big Sur area. About one hundred twenty five miles and two to three hour drive.
From Los Angeles take US 101 north and exit onto Highway 1 toward Morro Bay (Hearst Castle) which is forty five miles south of the end of Big Sur. About two hundred fifty miles and four to five hour drive.
Monterey/Salinas Transit Route twenty two bus runs from Monterey to Big Sur and back 4 times per day, stopping at Nepenthe, the Big Sur River Inn, and several state parks. It runs 7 days per week Memorial Day through Labor Day, and weekends only Labor Day through Memorial Day. Bad weather and high winds may cause the bus to be canceled, so be sure to call during winter and spring months (888-678-2871).
View From Nepenthe
Eleven miles north of Big Sur Village, Bixby Bridge. Iconic bridge constructed in 1933. Because of its location within such beautiful scenery, it is one of the most photographed on the globe.
Five miles north of Big Sur Village, Point Sur Lighthouse. Point Sur is along Highway 1 and is a prominent feature. It is one of the only complete turn of the century light stations open to the public in California and is a National Historic Landmark. Incredible views can be seen from Point Sur. Three hour tours are given, check for times. $4 children, $8 adult.
Point Sur Lighthouse
Twelve miles south of Big Sur Village, McWay Falls. One of the most incredible places to be found in Big Sur. It can be seen from the road just before Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, but there also is a hike out to a view point.
Backpacking Big Sur features over eighty, one of a kind day hikes. Location, length and difficulty can vary tremendously. There are hikes through redwood forests in the Santa Lucia Mountains, there are hikes along rivers and through canyons, and there are hikes to beaches and vistas along the coast. Backpacking Big Sur is an option for longer and more remote adventures. There are 100's of miles of trails through the area, the Ventana Wilderness in particular. Before going backpacking in the Wilderness, be sure to be prepared and know what you are doing. More information can be found three miles south of Big Sur Village at the Big Sur Ranger Station (831-667-2315).
The Ventana Wilderness
Before backpacking or hiking, always check conditions! Due to mudslides, hiking regions in Big Sur can be closed down in winter.
Either staying in a hotel or camping are the 2 primary options for sleeping in Big Sur. Both options are in some locations. There are many small campgrounds and camping is popular in Big Sur. Some can be found along Highway 1 and others are shown here.
To Big Sur On Highway 1
Big Sur Campground and Cabins, 47000 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920 (just south of River Inn), 831-667-2322. All beneath giant redwoods and beside the Big Sur river, and includes rustic cabins, tent cabins and campsites. Hiking is close by and there is great swimming in the river. Kids can ride rubber boats or inner tubes down the river.
The Big Sur River
Deetjens Big Sur Inn, 48865 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, 831-667-2377. Nestled in the redwoods of Castro Canyon with a Norwegian style setting (Advanced reservations recommended).
Limekiln State Park, Highway 1, 831-667-2403. Beautiful campsites along a creek that runs into the Pacific ocean. Sites under the redwoods and on the beach. There are a few short hikes to the historic limekilns and a nice waterfall. To get to the waterfall, be ready to cross the creek a few times, but it's worth the effort in the spring!
Limekiln State Park
Lucia Lodge, 62400 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, 831-667-2456. Coastal cabins, ranging in price and privacy, with great views of the coastline.
Post Ranch Inn, Highway 1, two miles south of Big Sur Village, 800-527-2200 or 831-667-2200. Luxury resort style accommodations, with private decks, spas, and 3 pools. Located 1,200 feet above the Pacific ocean.
Post Ranch Inn Hot Tub!
Riverside Campground & Cabins, Highway 1, 831-667-2414. On sixteen acres surrounded by majestic Redwoods and offers forty five sites for RV's, tents, and eleven Cabins along the Big Sur River.
Treebones Resort, 71895 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, 877-424-4787. Offers five campsites and sixteen yurts. You have all the accessibility to nature of a tent with all the comforts of a cabin, with the yurts! From the comfort of your own bed, you can sleep under the stars, just enjoy them through the sky dome.
Ventana Inn & Spa, twenty eight miles south of Carmel, 831-667-2331 or 800-628-6500. Including great views, super luxurious resort with all possible amenities.
Ventana Inn & Spa
Los Padres National Forest, Monterey Ranger District 831-385-5434.
Los Padres National Forest
Kirk creek campground. Just south of Lucia and Limekiln State Park. All camp sites are located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean. The sites are on well kept grass, much warmer than under the redwoods, and there are few trees. Decent bathrooms and amazing sunsets. A few nice short trails lead down to the beach.
Kirk Creek Campground
Enjoy Backpacking Big Sur and I hope to see you on the trail!
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