Pine Ridge Trail

From Tim Short, Monterey District Ranger, LPNF:

Dear Partners,

I want to share with you that the Pine Ridge Trail, which has been closed to the public since the 2016 Soberanes Fire, will be re-opening next Tuesday, April 13.   I’m reaching out to you in advance of the general public because of your role as a key stakeholder in the health and welfare of the Big Sur region.   Regarded as one of the most iconic coastal trails in North America, the news of the PRT re-opening will garner wide attention in both traditional and social media. Day hikers, trail runners, backpackers, and equestrians will now have another reason to visit Big Sur. The re-opening will be an opportunity to engage with visitors on shared trail stewardship that helps protect these cherished public lands.

In the nearly five years it’s taken to secure the funding for our partners and volunteers to restore the trail for public use, we’ve reflected on the message of “Responsible Recreation” that needs to be conveyed to all visitors, especially first-time PRT hikers. Educating hikers on trail conditions, campfire restrictions, and wilderness ethics will prepare them to safely enjoy this magnificent area while protecting its natural beauty for future visitors.

Here’s why I could use your support in emphasizing these key messages:

  • The natural warm springs at Sykes Camp approximately 11 miles inland from the trailhead attracted visitors in the past who built structures to impound the spring water. These “tubs” are no longer on site and won’t be re-installed as this area lays within both a Congressionally protected Wilderness Area as well as the Big Sur Wild & Scenic River corridor. Structures of any type cause resource damage and are prohibited; violations will be taken seriously. If you hear folks mention these tubs, please feel free to point out the tubs are a thing of the past and no longer exist.
  • When fire restrictions are in effect, usually between May and November, campfires and smoking are not permitted anywhere along the PRT. During extreme fire conditions even stoves and cooking devices are prohibited. Visitors need to plan ahead and should stop by the Big Sur Station visitors center, or call (831) 385-5434 for current conditions and to obtain a California Campfire Permit.
  • Whatever is packed in must be packed out. There is no garbage service in the wilderness and visitors are encouraged to leave these areas in better condition than they find them. Where available, hikers must use the wilderness toilets – they are the only appropriate place to defecate. Visitors should bring a large plastic bag to pack out hygiene products, disposable towelettes and toilet paper. Dog owners are responsible for picking up after their pet just as they would anywhere else.

A new three-panel display has been installed at the trailhead and we are encouraging visitors to use our new voluntary self-registration system and take time to read through the posted information. Data gleaned through self-registration will guide future management decisions and determine whether additional steps are needed to protect natural resources.

This re-opening would not have been possible if not for the extraordinary efforts of our partners at Los Padres Forest Association, Ventana Wilderness Alliance and California State Parks.  I would like to also thank the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, the Community Association of Big Sur, and the Nepenthe/Phoenix Corporation for critical financial support. On behalf of Los Padres National Forest, I want to thank you for all that you have done to help safely reopen this amazing trail to the public.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me or Forest Public Affairs Officer Andrew Madsen who’s cc’d on this message. We’re excited about working with all of you as we welcome the public back onto this historic trail, the Gateway to the Ventana Wilderness.

See you on the trail,


Forest Service ShieldTimothy J. Short 
District RangerForest ServiceLos Padres National Forest, Monterey Ranger District