Ryan’s notes

Pine Ridge Trail

Dispersed camping under the redwoods... there really isn't anything better.

Re-opened in 2021 after fires damaged most of the route. Best time to go is spring: not too hot, not too cold, lots of wildflowers, good water flow, and before they shut down campfire permits.

It's National Forest, so dispersed camping is allowed and there are no reservations (first-come, first-served). There are a few camping areas. I've stayed at Ventana Camp and Terrace Creek Camp. Both were excellent. Terrace Creek Camp was my favorite, but it's along the main route and can fill up more quickly. Best campsite is downstream on the left.

The hike is exposed for the first ~4 miles but on the north side of the mountain, so if you get an early start, the sun won't be too bad. Watch out for poison oak: it's absolutely everywhere along the trail but not hard to avoid if you know what you're looking for.

A lot of people go to see Sykes Hot Springs. The springs are not that great. That said, the hike there is beautiful and well worth the out-and-back trip we took from Terrace Creek. From Terrace Creek Camp to Sykes there are a few river crossings that you'll need to navigate. If you go in spring and your feet are sensitive on rocks like mine, you'll want water shoes or an extra pair of sneakers.

Go some day other than Saturday, when it's absolutely packed. We went Thursday and there was almost no one there. Friday brought in a half dozen groups to our campground. As we hiked out Saturday, we must have passed over a hundred people. In general, I find weekends in Big Sur something to avoid.

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