Backpack to the Ventana Wilderness' Sykes Hot Springs

20 Miles Round Trip - 5600 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

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.


Hot Springs


20 Miles
5600 ft elevation gain
Out-and-Back Trail

Stay Nearby

Big Sur, California

Big Sur Lodge

From $199/night

Pacific Grove, California

Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds

From $176/night

Prunedale, California

Salinas / Monterey KOA

Moss Landing, California

Moss Landing KOA Express


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Great backpacking trip with my older brother.. We went the Wednesday before Thanksgiving so it wasn't crowded. Be careful for the Poison Oak! We both got it pretty bad after the two day trip.

So beautiful! Go during the week to avoid the crowds and watch for poison oak - it was everywhere... Also, leave some room in your back so that you can pack out more trash then you brought in since this trail does get LOTS of use. We did the full 10 miles up the first day and camped at Sykes the first night, hiked back to Terrace Creek (~5 miles back down) and camped there the second night, then back to Big Sur Station the next day. It was a good split that gave us time to enjoy the hot springs before next day's campers arrived that afternoon and take it a little easier on the way back.

Extremely crowded & lackluster compared to the rest of the spectacular Ventana Wilderness. If you simply can't live with "hot" springs, please visit this page before you go-