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Cone Peak in Big Sur (Sea to Sky Backpacking Route)

Big Sur, California

based on 15 reviews



19.72 miles

Elevation Gain

7484 ft

Route Type



Added by Josiah Roe

Cone Peak is the most spectacular coastal mountain in the Lower 48 States. At 5,155' high and less than 3 miles from the ocean, the average gradient from summit to sea is 33%, which is steeper than Mt. Whitney to Owens Valley.

While you can make a day-hike out of it by driving up the gorgeous Sur-Nacimiento Road from Highway 1 to the Coast Ridge Road and take a 2 mile trail to the summit with 1300' of elevation gain (4 miles roundtrip), the more adventurous types do a Sea to Sky, starting at Kirk Creek Campground and up Vicente Flat Trail (23 miles roundtrip). You can camp at Vicente Flat 5 miles in. Another 2.5 miles up and you'll connect with the Coast Ridge Road, take a left and then up the Cone Peak trail to the summit.

You can camp on the summit if you like, near the old fire lookout. Unless you're during the week or in winter, don't expect to be alone for the hike.

For current fire closures and conditions, check http://calfireinformation.weeb... and http://calfire.ca.gov/. Illegally entering the area during closures can result in large fines.

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Easy Parking
Picnic Area


We took a group of students here last spring. Everyone was so amazed at the views that they (momentarily) forgot about the steep incline! We did screen participants to make sure that the entire group would be able to handle the physical exertion. The elevation gain is not for the faint of heart.

Cone Peak (& the Big Sur coast in general) have become incredibly popular & as such, Leave No Trace principle are of utmost importance here. On our last visit to Cone Peak, we packed out pounds of trash & abandoned gear. Someone had permanently scarred the summit rocks with a campfire, others had short-cutted switchbacks & vandalized the lookout tower. Orange peels & pistachio shells (which take decades to biodegrade) marred the scenery. When we returned to the trailhead, a group had left a large bag of trash & recycling, as if they expected a clean-up crew to pack it out for them!?! If you go, bring a bag to pack out trash (yours & other's) & spread the word about LNT. If you camp up top, pack in plenty of water & PLEASE skip the campfire, it's just not appropriate here. It's up to us to leave sensitive places like Cone Peak better than we found them & it's up to social media to be more responsible in reporting (or sometimes showing restraint by not reporting) them. For interactive trail conditions for the Kirk Creek, Vicente Flat, Cone Peak & other Ventana Wilderness trails, visit- http://www.ventanawild.org/trails/trailconditions.html Prayers for the land, Leave No Trace!

I decided to make this a day hike and bike. Drove up to top of Nacimiento, then biked the 6 miles on Coastal Ridge Rd (dirt road) to the beginning of the Cone Peak trail and hiked the rest to the top. This made the relatively flat Coastal Ridge Rd much more fun. Also, do bring bug spray and something to cover your upper body and neck with... The bugs are brutal and all around you.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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