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.

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.

Soda Springs

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

Redwood Grove

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.