Top 5 Trails for Big Sur Backpacking Adventures

Top 5 Trails for Big Sur Backpacking Adventures

Big Sur is a popular destination for backpacking enthusiasts, known for its stunning coastal views, rugged mountains, and diverse wildlife. From towering redwoods to cascading waterfalls, Big Sur offers a wealth of natural beauty and adventure.

In this article, we'll be showcasing the top 5 trails for Big Sur backpacking adventures. Whether you're a seasoned backpacker or just starting out, these trails offer something for everyone.

Pine Ridge Trail

The Pine Ridge Trail is one of the most popular backpacking routes in Big Sur, spanning over 20 miles and offering a challenging yet rewarding experience. With its stunning views of the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Ventana Wilderness, this trail is a must-see for any backpacker.

The Pine Ridge Trail is rated as difficult, with steep inclines and rocky terrain. However, the views from the top make the effort well worth it. Along the way, you'll pass through towering redwoods, tranquil streams, and open meadows.

When camping along the Pine Ridge Trail, be sure to pack plenty of water and camping gear, as there are limited resources available on the trail. Additionally, be sure to obtain any necessary permits and follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural beauty of the area.

Sykes Hot Springs Trail

The Sykes Hot Springs Trail is a popular 10-mile round trip trail located in the Ventana Wilderness of Big Sur. The trail is moderately difficult, with an elevation gain of approximately 1,000 feet, and features several water crossings. The highlight of the trail is the natural hot springs, which are perfect for soaking and relaxing after a long hike.

Along the way, hikers will pass through scenic valleys and cross over the beautiful Pine Ridge. Camping is available at the hot springs, but it's recommended to reserve a spot in advance. Other activities in the area include swimming in the nearby creeks and exploring the surrounding wilderness.

When packing for this trail, be sure to bring appropriate gear for water crossings and a bathing suit for the hot springs. Don't forget to pack camping gear and supplies as well.

Partington Cove Trail

The Partington Cove Trail is a short, 1-mile round trip hike located in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The trail is easy to moderate, with a steep incline at the beginning, and features stunning ocean views and historic tunnels.

Hikers will start the trail by descending down a steep set of stairs to a beautiful cove surrounded by rugged coastline. From there, hikers can explore the cove and historic tunnels, which were once used to transport goods to and from the coast.

Camping is not allowed on this trail, but there are several nearby campgrounds in the area. Other activities in the area include exploring the nearby beaches and hiking the nearby Ewoldsen Trail.

When packing for this trail, be sure to bring appropriate footwear for the steep incline and ocean views.

Pfeiffer Falls Trail

If you're a fan of towering redwoods and stunning waterfalls, then Pfeiffer Falls Trail is the perfect trail for you. With a length of 2.5 miles and a moderate difficulty level, this trail is ideal for those who want to experience the beauty of Big Sur without pushing themselves too hard. Notable features include the 60-foot Pfeiffer Falls and the majestic redwood trees that surround the trail.

While hiking, be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife such as deer and birds. And if you're up for it, consider extending your trip to explore nearby trails like Valley View or Mt. Manuel Trail. Camping options are also available in the nearby Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Cruickshank Trail

For a more serene and remote experience, the Cruickshank Trail is a must-try for backpackers. This 8.5-mile trail offers stunning waterfalls, serene forests, and a true wilderness experience. While the trail is rated as difficult due to its length and steepness, the views and experiences are worth the effort.

For camping, consider staying at the nearby Plaskett Creek Campground or Kirk Creek Campground. And if you have extra time, explore other nearby trails like the Soda Springs Trail or the Salmon Creek Trail.


Whether you're a seasoned backpacker or just starting out, Big Sur has something for everyone. From the scenic Pine Ridge Trail to the remote Cruickshank Trail, each trail offers a unique experience that showcases the natural beauty of the area.

So, what are you waiting for? Happy trails, and may your adventures in Big Sur be filled with great times.


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