Land to the
west of Highway One is mostly privately owned, with few opportunities
for hiking or backpacking other than beachaccess trails or short
day hikes. To the inland side of the highway, the Ventana Wilderness
offers 237 miles of trails and fifty-five trail camps in the rugged
Santa Lucia mountains. The Big Sur Station is located at the trailhead
to the Pine Ridge Trail, a much-used portal into the Ventana Wilderness--also
a good place for maps and advice about the backcountry. Pick up
a current guide to the trails of the region and lace up your boots
at any one of the many trailheads in Big Sur.
As with any
wilderness experience, knowledge of conditions is vital to minimizing
risks. This isn't a nature theme park--the dangers are very real.
From poison oak to ticks to rattlesnakes and mountain lions, remember
that man is a tiny component to this ecosystem. Don't rely on
the legendary Big Sur guardian spirits to protect you--be smart
and be prepared.