Pine Ridge Trailhead from Big Sur

Area Status: Open
[image] Pine Ridge Trail - Ventana Wilderness

Pine Ridge Trail connects the Big Sur Station with Tassajara Road at China Camp travelling through the chaparral and a cover of redwoods, pine and oak. This trail is the gateway to the Big Sur River corridor, with its many beautiful campsites in the Ventana Wilderness including, Terrace Creek, Barlow Flat, Redwood and Sykes.

Completely traversing the Ventana Wilderness from 5,000-foot-high Chews Ridge to Big Sur Station, the Pine Ridge is the most popular trail in the Ventana Region. Built in 1916 by the Post family of Big Sur, the Pine Ridge Trail offers hikers and equestrians a complete array of backcountry camps to enjoy.

The western half has streamside and redwood-shaded Terrace Creek, Barlow, Sykes and Redwood Camps, while the eastern portion of the trail offers montane conifer and mixed hardwood forested ridges and meadows at Pine Ridge, Divide and Pine Valley camps.

With the dedicated and secure parking area at Big Sur Station Visitor Center, the western Pine Ridge trailhead there is the wilderness entry point of choice for many backcountry travelers. While many use it for access to the beautiful riverside camps along the wild and scenic Big Sur River, it also makes possible a number of outstanding loop trips in the Ventana Wilderness.

The hike up the Pine Ridge Trail into the Ventana Wilderness is strenuous and challenging even for experienced hikers. Elevation gains and losses are considerable, and trees often fall across the trail making passage difficult in some areas. Be prepared to make several river crossings to reach the backcountry campsites. The Pine Ridge Trail also makes for invigorating out-and-back day hikes for visitors not wanting to camp overnight.

There are five camps located along the Pine Ridge Trail in the 12 miles of trail between the Big Sur Station and Redwood Camp. Barlow Flat Camp has the most room and Sykes Camp is most heavily used. Campsite occupancy numbers are posted and cannot be exceeded for health and safety reasons. It is expected that visitors will respect these occupancy limits and continue along the trail until an available campsite is located. Hikers should consider the lesser-used Barlow Flat and Redwood Camps. There is currently no reservation system for campsites so the earlier you arrive and begin your hike, the better your chances for securing a spot.

Dogs are allowed on the Pine Ridge Trail. 

Dogs on Wilderness Trails:

• Leash your dog around packers, horses, and stock animals.

• Bury dog waste 100’ from water or trail.

• Keep your dog in your tent at night.

• Dogs must always be under leash or voice control.

Maintain control of your dog at all times. Ensure your dog is a good steward of the land and respects other visitors. We appreciate you following the guidelines above so all visitors to Los Padres National Forest have a safe and enjoyable trip.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: The Pine Ridge Trail from the Big Sur Station parking lot is open
Operational Hours: Open year-round
Reservations: A backcountry/wilderness permit is not required. No reservations for trail camps are required. Trail use and camps are first-come, first-serve. Pine Ridge Trailhead is a first-come, first-serve parking lot only. No reservations.
Area Amenities: Toilets, Drinking water, Parking
Fees: Parking fee is $10.00 per calendar day Pine Ridge Trailhead parking lot.
Permit Info: A California Campfire Permit is required to operate a small gas stove or to have a campfire. Permits are available online at:
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: Spring and Summer
Busiest Season: Summer Weekends
Closest Towns: The Pine Ridge Trailhead is located about 23 miles south of Monterey
Water: Water is available at the Big Sur Station Visitor Center
Restroom: There is a restroom at the Big Sur Station Visitor Center
Operated By: Forest Service and California State Parks
Information Center: Maps and information are available at the Big Sur Station Visitor Center located at 47555 Highway 1, just south of the Big Sur State Park. The center is open daily from 9:00am-4:00pm  (831) 667-2315 or call the Monterey Ranger District Office at (831) 385-5434 ext. 0, Monday-Friday 8-4:30pm.

General Information


From Monterey drive south on Highway 1 approximately 23 miles. At the Big Sur Station Visitor Center, turn left and follow the signs to the parking area.

Parking fees, $10.00 per calendar day, may be paid at the self-registration station or at the Big Sur Station which is open 9:00am – 4:00pm daily.

Contact the Big Sur Station Multi-agency Vsitor Center for more information: (831) 667-2315.

General Notes:

Pine Ridge Trail Elevation Gain and Loss Graph

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking


Big Sur River to China Camp - Due to winter storm activity you may encounter downed trees along the trail.

Please check Monterey County Roads Department website for information about Tassajara Road conditions. Pine Ridge Trailhead from China Camp on Tassajara Rd.


Toilets: Restrooms are at the Big Sur Visitor Center
Parking: $10 per vehicle per day. There are 55 parking spaces
Drinking water: Water is available at the Big Sur Visitor Center

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
23 miles

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