Backpack to the Ventana Wilderness' Sykes Hot Springs

Pine Ridge Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Blake Maitoza

Take a scenic 20 mile hike (roundtrip) along the Pine Ridge Trail to 3 hot springs sitting next to the Big Sur River.

The trek to Sykes Hot Springs is about 10-miles one way along the Pine Ridge Trail. This is a great backpacking trip, but can be done as an out-and-back hike from the campgrounds at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park if you're really moving.

The trail is moderately challenging, you'll cross the river twice - be careful in the winter and spring months, when the water runs fast. If it looks too fast, we don't recommend trying to cross. In the last 0.5 miles, you'll have to scramble down rocks to get to the hot springs. If you're reading this and thinking that 20 miles in one day isn't for you, it's cool, there are 3 hike in campgrounds, which are closer to the hot springs: Terrace Creek (about 5 miles in), Barlow Flat (3 miles from the hot springs and the largest campground on the trail), and Sykes Campground (right near the springs). Fires are not allowed in these campgrounds during the summer months. There is one toilet along the route, and by toilet, we mean an exposed wooden box with a hole in it. Pro Tip: the hot springs only comfortably seat 4-5 people. It's best to go during the off-season (not summer) and to get on the trail as early as possible.

Distance

20 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

5600 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Chillin, Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

Hot Springs
River
Scenic

Nearby Lodging

From $176/night

Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds

Pacific Grove, California

Salinas / Monterey KOA

Prunedale, California

Moss Landing KOA Express

Moss Landing, California

Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA

1186 San Andreas Road

Community Photos

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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Extra Tips

Cool little place to go to and relax. I've crossed the river in the spring time and it wasn't that bad, I do recommend wearing river sandals though when crossing. On the first crossing there are downed trees you can use as a bridge and on the last crossing into the camp ground there's a rope for balance. I recommend when you get to the last river turn left and walk down river, it's towards the hotsprings and good camp grounds. If I remember correctly there are 4 tubs. Please hike out what you hiked in! Every time I go there I hike out a couple bags of trash people leave behind 😭

Great 3-day Trip

We started on Sunday at 10 in the rain, which was perfect for that epic first climb. People were pouring out of the mountain heading home. We hiked all the way to Sykes the first day in about 6 hours with a stop for lunch at Terrace Creek. We found a decent, but not very flat campsite at Sykes. We were so tired by the time we got there, we chose not to keep looking for some of the "better" sites down the river, as the rain had made the river pretty deep. We had planned to stay at Terrace creek the next day but when we stopped for lunch, it seems crowded and busy so we opted for the Barlow Flat campground and we were so happy we did. After a morning soak in the hot spring, we took a leisurely 3 mile hike, enjoyed a beautiful, secluded spot right on the water. The 7 miles back are a bit arduous because of the steep descent, but the views are so worth it. It was great in the spring - all the wild flowers were out but there wasn't much poison oak. I would highly recommend it!

Perfect 2 Night Trip

We went on a Thurs-Sat. Stayed night #1 5 miles in at Terrace Creek then day hiked the 10 mile out and back to Sykes and spent night #2 at Terrace before hiking out at sunrise Sat morning. We avoided the bulk crowds at Sykes and had no problem finding a quiet site at Terrace. And spreading it over two nights allowed us to chill, take our time and not have to worry about the time, or crowds. Definitely recommend going during the week if you can make it happen. The crowd is real. Great trail, super fun, challenging, but would do it again.

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