Bikepack Highway 1: Monterey to San Luis Obispo

Rate this Adventure San Francisco Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail

  • Activities:

    Cycling, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    130 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    9000 Feet


Biking along the coast of Big Sur is a great way to explore the beauty of this place. You will have amazing views along the entire trip and will get more than a good workout.

Please be aware that this is NOT a route for beginning cyclist. It is a very hilly route and you will be sharing the road with cars for the entire route, the shoulder is sometimes very slim. This should not scare you from doing the trip, just be aware of the risks and dangers you might be facing.

I recommend doing the route from North to South due to the wind that works in your favor. Depending on your skill level, you can do this trip on multiple days, I will describe the route I took and that worked for me.There is always the potential to extend the trip, stop for hikes (I highly recommend the Pfeiffer Falls, the Ewoldsen Trail and the McWay Falls) or to explore one of the magnificent beaches (Pfeiffer State Beach, Sand Dollar Beach).

Day 1: Start in Monterey and ride up to the Pfeiffer State Park Campground - 35 miles, 2500ft up and 2500ft down

You have the choice to go around the Monterrey peninsula before getting onto the Cabrillo Highway or you take the straight route. I started a little North from Monterrey and biked the straight way.For a lunch break, I suggest to turn right in the Carmel Highlands and to bike down to the cliffs. Remember to bring your lunch!The Pfeiffer State Park Campground has Hike&Bike campsite, no reservation needed, 5 USD per person, showers available, firewood for sale, water supplied.

Day 2: Bike from Pfeiffer State Park to Kirkwood Campground - 30 miles, 2800 ft up and 2800ft down

Make sure you have breakfast before leaving because the route continues with a strenuous incline! Also, make sure you stock up on water before leaving, places to stop on the way are very rare. You can't miss the route, just head straight along the coast and enjoy the view.The Kirkwood Campground is my favourite campground in Big Sur, right above the cliffs, it has a Hike&Bike campsite, no reservation needed, 5 USD per person, firewood for sale. Be aware, there is no running water at this campground! You can purchase gallons of water from the camp host if you need to.

Day 3: Bike from Kirkwood Campground to San Simeon State Park - 41 miles, 2800 ft up and 2800ft down

The last stretch holds again 2 strenuous inclines, before you roll down to Ragged Point, the southern tip of Big Sur. Make sure to stop few meters before the gas station and take a picture from the rock on the side of the road to save this memory. At Ragged Point you can stock up on water if needed, they also got a kiosk for food and a gas station with mini mart for souvenirs.Afterwards it is an easy and flat ride to San Simeon, you pass by sea lions and nice coastal views. The campground is located between San Simeon and Cambria, so use your energy wisely. Very recommended is to stop at Sebastian's - but it was closed as I arrived after 4pm.I wasn't the biggest fan of the San Simeon Campground as it is located directly next to the highway. Next time I would bike a little further and check for alternatives. Same deal here - Hike&Bike campsite, no reservation needed, 5 USD per person, firewood for sale. Due to the draught there was no running water available.

Day 4: Bike from San Simeon to San Luis Obispo - 38 miles, 1000 ft up and 900ft down

Last part of the ride. If you are tired, you can also take two busses from San Simeon to San Luis Obispo, they take bikes on board and are 3 USD for the entire trip:

Bus 15 San Simeon - Morro Bay

Bus 12 Morro Bay - SLO

Grab a last lunch at the Kreuzberg Café in San Luis Obispo and take a moment to bike around this nice town before heading to the train station.The Amtrak train connects you very well to LA or San Francisco. Make sure to reserve in advance and include the bike in your ticket (no extra charge)

Pack List

  • Trekking Bike (multi-gear!) and fixing tools
  • Helmet
  • Camping gear (tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, head lamp)
  • Cooking utensils (gas stove etc)
  • Multiple water containers (to fill up for your ride)
  • Food (there are stretches without any super market)
  • Paper map (no cellphone reception in Big Sur)
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
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