Big Sur Hiking Trails

Southern Big Sur Trail Report

Highway 1 Trailheads from Lucia to Ragged Point


Hiking these trails is wonderful if you are prepared for a true wilderness experience. Be sure you have food, water, sunscreen and a good pair of hiking boots or at least new tennis shoes with good tread. There are serious drop-offs and washouts in places, so be careful crossing these sections. Poison oak and ticks are everywhere Spring to Fall in these mountains. CalFire staff, CCC and area volunteers try and maintain the trails for your safety.

Solo Hikers and Backpackers: Be sure and let someone know where you are going and when you are expected back.

Poison Oak status. Poison Oak grows on all trails from Spring to Fall and is dormant during the winter. We will be cutting it back as frequently as possible, usually between the trailhead and the first campground (approx. 2-3 miles in). If you intend to go further in, you should take clippers and cut any poison oak that is across the trail. Be sure that you cut only poison oak. .

Wildlife and flowers. Wildlife and wildflowers seem to be returning to the Big Sur hills after 3 years of drought.

Salmon Creek

The first part of this trail is a real killer with constant uphill that never seems to level off, but only get steeper. Don't get discouraged. Soon after you pass the old jade mine site, the trail will level off. Be careful going over the washouts in this part of the trail. More.

Trail Conditions as of 11/03/15. The trail is free of poison oak as far as Spruce Creek campground . The trail at the big washout between Spruce Creek and Estrella campgrounds has been dug out. River crossing at Spruce Creek easy. Spruce Creek trail towards Dutra Flats been cleared of poison oak for about the first two miles. Bring your own clippers for the rest. A short detour has been cut around the very large tree is across the trail about 2 miles in. Water available along Salmon and Spruce creeks

Soda Springs

This is a short trail that allows you to access Buckeye trail north of Salmon Creek. Oak groves and nice views. More.

Trail Conditions as of 11/11/15. Trail is mostly clear of poison oak. Washouts have been dug out and the trail has been reconstructed in spots. Stair steps have been installed at two locations on the trail where there are steep slopes. Small debris has been cleared away. NO drinking water on trail.

Redwood Grove

This very short trail leads you a nice redwood grove and two (dry) waterfalls. Picnic and campsites.

Trail Conditions as of 11/11/15. Trail is clear of poison oak. The trail has been reconstructed in spots, brush has been cut back and small debris has been cleared away. Stair steps have been installed on the trail where there are steep slopes. No water.


Don't be put off by the steady uphill of the first part of this hike. After you do all the switchbacks the trail levels off. Note that the switchback part of the hike is on a south-facing slope and gets VERY hot, so start this one early in the morning. More.

Trail Conditions as of 11/11/15. Trail is mostly clear of poison oak . No major washouts or downed trees. Water at Lower Cruikshank, Upper Cruikshank and Villa Creek camps.

Willow Creek

This is the only trail that does not start near highway 1. I do not recommend hiking in to the trailhead on the dirt road. Drive in about 2.4 miles (weather permitting) untill you see a primitive jeep trail sloping down in a heavily wooded area and park. This is a great hike with redwoods and oaks almost all the way down to the camping area. More.

Trail Conditions as of 11/06/15.Trail to creekside campsites is clear of poison oak . Vegetation on the trail up the canyon on the north side of Willow Creek past the second campsite area has been cut back. The section of the Kinder mine trail from the stream crossing to the “living bridge” has been widened and reconfigured where needed and poison oak has been cut back. The stream crossing at the “living bridge” is dry, but water is nearby. Ticks may be present on the sunny sections of the trail. Water just below the turnaround at the end of the jeep trail and at Willow Creek. Road Advisory. The section of "Willow Creak Road" that goes down to the turnaround from the redwood camping area is in very poor condition. In the last couple of months a number of cars have had to be towed out. 4 wheel drive and high clearance are strongly recommended.

Mill Creek

Mill Creek trail follows Mill Creek east for a number of miles. The route is lined with giant redwoods. Since the trail is almost always in shade, it's a great place to hike in summer. To get to the trailhead, drive about 1 mile up Nacimiento-Fergusson Road until you see the sign at the trailhead on your right. More.

Trail Conditions as of 10/17/15. Trail is mostly clear of poison oak. Ticks may be present on the sunny parts of the trail. No washouts. Debris from a number of downed trees is being cleared. Water available all along Mill Creek.

Vincente Flat (AKA Kirk Creek)

Vincente Flat trail follows the west facing slope of the Santa Lucia's for a number of miles. The route is all chaparral for the first couple of miles. Since the trail is almost never in shade, it can be VERY hot, so start this one early in the morning. Your reward is spectacular ocean views. The trailhead is right on Highway 1 across from Kirk Creek campground. More.

Trail Conditions as of 08/17/15. Trail is mostly clear of poison oak from trailhead to redwood grove (approx. 2 mi.). Some trail work has been done between the redwood grove and Espinosa Camp (3.5 mi.), but this section still has some poison oak. Long pants and clippers advised past Espinosa Camp. No washouts. Ticks may be active, so check your clothes as you hike. Water may be available a quarter mile past Espinosa Camp at a year round creek.

Bears, Mountain Lions, Rattle Snakes, Poison Oak and Ticks

Due to the drought, there is little chance that you will have any problems with bears or mountain lions. You may see a rattlesnake. If you do, step away from it and let it move off. Ticks are a nuisance, but due to the drought, they seem to have died off last summer.

The biggest problem that you may have is with Poison Oak. Nine out of ten people get a rash from poison oak. This rash is caused by an oil found in the plants. This oil is called urushiol (you-ROO-shee-all). The itchy, blistering rash often does not start until 12 to 72 hours after you come into contact with the oil. Most people see the rash go away in a few weeks. To make the skin feel more comfortable during this time, you’ll find tips from dermatologists here . If you have a serious reaction, you need to see a doctor right away.


Level 3 Fire Restrictions are now in place across the entire Los Padres National Forest. This means no campfires in the Ventana or Silver Peak Wilderness areas. If you have a valid California Campfire Permit you can still use a stove in the backcountry.

You can download a trail map from here.

Trail Report in Word format: here.

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