Regional Guide

Hiking - Monterey and the Central Coast

Hike remote California backcountry in the Ventana Wilderness. Lying just south of the Monterey Peninsula in the Santa Lucia Range, Ventana's 260 square miles are a must-see for avid hikers. The area's backcountry's sandstone cliffs and grassy, flower-laden hillsides are best seen on a multi-day journey. For a taste of the area's most remote corners, try a three-day hike along Chews Ridge, from China Camp to Los Padres Dam.

A short but steep Ventana favorite is the 2.3-mile day-hike to Cone Peak. On a clear day, the walk serves up some of the area's best views of the Pacific Ocean and the entire Santa Lucia Range.

Walk the Big Sur coastline. With waterfalls, hot springs, swimming holes, lush forests, and scenic beaches the area deserves its reputation as an earthly paradise. For a tasting of coastal cypress and stunning Pacific views head to the Pfeiffer Beach Trail.

Explore the remains of an ancient volcano at Pinnacles National Monument. This natural wonder, carved by the powerful forces of wind, rain, heat, and frost, lies just east California's Salinas Valley and boasts more than 30 miles of trails through which hikers and climbers can explore the area's 24,000 acres of diverse wildland. Ranger-led night hikes are also available.

Hike to the remote Sykes Hot Springs of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Take the the Pine Ridge Trail to Sykes Camp, ten miles from Big Sur Station, where a bit of bushwhacking will get you to the remote Sykes Hot Springs.

For views of this area's southern stretch, head to the Cuesta Ridge, a narrow, eight-mile-long strip of national forest between Cuesta Pass and the Cerro Alto area, near Highway 41. At an elevation of 2,000 feet, the ridge serves up stellar views of San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay and the city's Morro Rock, the Atascadero hills, and the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 24 Aug 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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