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Pine Ridge Trail to Sykes Hot Springs

A popular 10-mile hike through the Big Sur wilderness with a relaxing finish
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 20 miles
Duration: Multiple days

Overview:  Big Sur has many great destinations, but Sykes Hot Springs is definitely near the top of the list for anyone who has been there. It... more »

Tips:  Parking is now $5/day and campfires are not allowed during summer months, even with a fire permit (this may change depending on the... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trail Head

Park in the parking lot near the ranger station (parking is $4/day, just fill out an envelope with some cash in it. There is a trail map at the start of the trail for reference, but it's pretty difficult to take a wrong turn, as there are only one or two forks during the entire hike.

You will start with a slight ascent parallel to the river,... More

2. Crossing Post Creek

After you cross the creek, the climb continues as you hike along the side of the hills, which offer some great views of the hills across the valley carved out by the river. If you are hiking in Spring, you will see some beautiful wildflowers along the trail, especially after the rainy season.

3. Ridges and Valleys

The climb lasts about 2.5 miles total, and then the trail flattens out as you walk along the side of the hill. Most of this section of the trail is exposed, so be sure to bring sunscreen if you are hiking during Summer. You will have some great views of the higher hills across the valley carved out by the river, after a couple of miles you will ... More

4. Waterfall

A little while after you have entered the tree-covered area you will arrive at a bend in the trail. Make sure to keep your head up, because (depending on the season), there will be a waterfall to your right.

This section of the trail is significantly more damp than the ridge because it is covered by the trees. If you are hiking after a recent... More

5. Waterfall

Several miles later you will come across an even bigger (and more impressive) waterfall, which will be difficult to miss. Feel bad if you want to stay for a while; Sykes campground isn't too much further

6. More Waterfalls

Hopefully you aren't tired of waterfalls by now, because this one you shouldn't miss. The waterfall is in two sections, with a smaller section next to, and higher than, the trail, and a longer section below the trail (but if you are adventurous, you can take off you pack and climb down the dry rock for a better look).

7. Crossing the River

Depending on the season, this could be very tricky. After heavy rains, the water level will be much higher than normal, making the river dangerous to cross. It is recommended to bring a rope in this situation, and first walking across with out your backpack to secure the rope on the other side.

In any case, be smart: try to walk upstream or... More

8. Sykes Campground

Since the hike is about 9 miles each direction, and you will want time to relax in the hot-springs you likely brought camping gear with you (if not, you are in for an exhausting hike back). There are several campsites with firepits after you cross the river, just along the bank. There are also signs for bathrooms.

9. Skyes Hot Springs

The hot springs are pretty hidden, and there are two ways to reach them. The easier and more popular way requires a walk downstream (with some wading) until you reach the bend in the river, the hot springs will be visible soon, after about 15 minutes of walkling along the river.

A more difficult way is to cross back across the river (the side ... More