Pine Ridge Trail

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Pine Ridge Trail
Length23 mi (37 km)
LocationMonterey County, California, USA
TrailheadsChina Camp, near Tassajara Hot Springs
Big Sur Station, USFS
UseBackpacking, hiking, trail running, trail riding
Hiking details
MonthsYear Round
SightsSanta Lucia Mountains, Carmel River, Big Sur River

The Pine Ridge Trail (USFS 3E06) (western portion closed as of August 2018) is a popular hiking route and gateway to the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest, California. The 19.5 miles (31.4 km) trail connects the Big Sur Station with Tassajara Road at China Camp. It transits a broad variety of ecosystems, including mixed hardwood forested ridges, dense chaparral, riparian woods, and redwood forests. The western portion has been closed since July 2017 due to damage that occurred during the Soberanes Fire and subsequent rains, which caused multiple landslides, wiping out the path, and left more than 100 trees blocking the trail.


The trail crosses the Ventana Wilderness from 4,260 foot (1,300 m) China Camp on Chews Ridge to Big Sur near sea level. It is the most popular trail in the Ventana Region. The trail offers hikers and horse riders an array of backcountry camps. The western half passes through redwood-shaded Terrace Creek, Barlow, Sykes and Redwood Camps. The interior portion of the trail traverse conifer and mixed hardwood forested ridges and meadows at Pine Ridge, Divide, and Pine Valley camps.[1]


When the trail is open, there is a secure parking lot at Big Sur Station. Parking is $10.00 per day.[2] The trail head there is the wilderness entry point of choice for many backcountry travelers. While many use it for access to the riverside camps along the Big Sur River, it also gives access to several loop trips in the Ventana Wilderness.[1]

From the east, you can access the upper portion of the trail from China Camp. The trail head is about 34 miles (55 km) and a 90 minute drive from Monterey. There is no overnight trailhead parking without a campground reservation. Portions of the road from Tassajara Road to Chews Ridge are suitable for high-clearance vehicles or four-wheel drive vehicles. During the winter or in inclement weather, the road may not be passable.[3]


The Pine Ridge Trail was closed during the Soberanes Fire in June 2017. The lower portion of the trail between Big Sur Station and the junction with the Big Sur Trail was severely damaged by the fire and rain during the following winter. As of August 2018, the lower trail is blocked by multiple washouts along creeks and dozens of fallen trees across the path. In addition to the Pine Ridge Trail, the trails to Terrace Creek and Ventana Camp, and the Sykes, Barlow Flat, Redwood, Terrace Creek, and Ventana Campgrounds are closed.

When U.S. Forest Service staff surveyed damage to the trail, they found over 100 downed trees, lot of brush growing over the trail, and four major slides where sections of the trail are entirely gone.[4] Reopening the trail requires an environmental assessment and perhaps re-routing the trail entirely. Because the area is a federal wilderness and a includes a wild and scenic river corridor, reconstruction may require specialized professional trail-building crews with skill in blasting and possibly even new bridges to be built. The trail is closed indefinitely.[5]


The trail was built in 1916 by the Post family of Big Sur soon after the land was added to the Monterey National Forest.[1]

Trail Guide[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Pine Ridge Trailhead from Big Sur". US Forest Service. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Sykes Hot Springs via Pine Ridge Trail [CLOSED]". Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  3. ^ "China Camp Campground". Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Why can't I go to Sykes? The State of the Pine Ridge Trail in Big Sur". Wild Ventana. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  5. ^ Schmalz, David. "Many Big Sur trails have been closed for a year. Work to repair them has barely begun". Monterey County Weekly. Retrieved 2018-01-09.

Further reading[edit]

Sierra Club (2003). Trail Guide to Los Padres National Forest (7th ed.). Carmel Print and Copy.

This article contains text in the public domain from U.S. Government publications and web sites.