Ventana Wilderness

Ventana Wilderness is part of the Los Padres National Forest and is administered by the USDA Forest Service. Ventana Wilderness is only a few miles south of the Monterey Peninsula.

A good place to start an excursion into the wilderness area is at Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park on Highway 1 just south of the town of Big Sur. There, you can park your vehicle in a relatively secure location, let the rangers know where you're going in case you get lost, get information and maps, and pick up a fire permit. No fires are allowed at undeveloped campsites unless you have a permit. Permits are free.

A seldom used point of entry on the Big Sur side involves turning east from Highway 1 right before the north side of the famous Bixby Bridge (that's the bridge that's in all the photos of the northern California coast). I have driven on this road with an ordinary passenger car with no problems but be forewarned that this dirt and gravel road is very rough. You'll need to drive 6.2 miles from the Bixby bridge to the trailhead. On the left side of the road, you'll see a gate with one of those latched levers for keeping the barbed wires taut. I have left a vehicle here for a couple of days with no problems but it would probably be best to get dropped off if you plan to do more than a day hike... either that or drive a clunker.

An excellent web site for Ventana Wilderness is done by the Ventana Wilderness Alliance. Check out their web site for current trail conditions. You can volunteer on this web site to help maintain trails, too. I have gps waypoints and a Topo! map of much of the Ventana and Monterey region of the Los Padres National Forest. (You'll need to right-click on the links and save the targets.) Lots of tracking data and waypoints but it is a work-in-progress and not too pretty right now.

Here is a map for the first part of Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station off of Highway 1.

For more information call: (805) 968-6640


Note: Topo! is a registered trademark of National Geographic Maps