Big Sur Tent Camping in the Misty Mountains

I returned for another 3 days and 2 nights of hiking / Tent Camping in California’s Big Sur Region highlighting the Ventana wilderness located in the northern-most regions of the Los Padres National forest. I hiked the full Boronda loop which ended up being 28 miles in total and over 9,545 feet of elevation gain and loss.

For this late April backpacking trip , my weather conditions were forecasted to have moderate rain and cold spring temperatures. The temps were mostly in the mid 40s and 50s for the entire trip with variability in winds. The weather was dynamic, I had sun the first day but then overnight there was a lot of rain and fog, including my way out. I opted to use my tent this time because I wanted to see what the ridgeline at the Timbertop camp was like. I found out that there was at least one good hammock spot and a couple of trees to hang on ( oh well, maybe next time).

Registration and Fees: No fees at the Boronda trailhead, just park and go! (My favorite, a rare find in California)

Notable Warnings Posted and things discovered: Lots and lots of Poison oak and ticks along this trail- especially in the first quarter of the loop going counterclockwise. I recommend wearing pants and treating all of your gear and clothes with permethrin I pulled a couple of the ticks off of me ( I certainly didn’t and forgot my bug spray) Also don’t forget the sunscreen as the ridge does not get much shade and is very exposed to the elements. At the Timbertop camp there is not a water source but on the way up the Boronda trail after you get past the very large oak tree there is a tiny spur trail that goes off towards the left and there is a fresh spring there that I missed on the way up – other than that your water opportunities are further down the ridge. Plenty of water opportunities all along this loop. Fires were allowed at the established campsites at the time I went out when I checked in at the ranger station.

Trails used: Boronda Trail, North Coast Ridge, Pine Ridge Trail used for counterclockwise loop
Campsites used: Timbertop Camp, Redwood Camp
Day 1: Timbertop Camp
Day 2-3: Redwood Camp

Day 1: Park at the Boronda trailhead Hike 2.88 miles set up camp at Timbertop
Day 1 Mileage: 2.88
Day 1 Gross Elevation Gain: 2,505 ft
Day 1 Gross Elevation Loss: 20 ft
High 65 F Low: 47 F
Weather conditions: Clear and sunny with light variable winds

Day 2 : Continue on North Coast Ridge to redwood camp
Day 2: Mileage: 12.8 miles
Day 2 Gross Elevation Gain: 4,814 ft
Day 2 Gross Elevation Loss: 5,967 ft
High : 55 F Low : 42 F Weather conditions: Clear and sunny with partly cloudy skies in the afternoon

Day 3 : Continue from redwood camp on the pine ridge trail back to Boronda Trailhead
Day 3: Mileage: 13.2 miles
Day 3 Gross Elevation Gain: 5,527 ft
Day 3 Gross Elevation Loss: 6,870 ft
High : 56 F Low : 43 F
Weather conditions: Heavy rain at times with coastal fog Total mileage: 28 miles Total Elevation gain: 9,545 ft Total Elevation loss: 12,857 ft

Afterthoughts: This was a fun trip, I’m glad I finally found a loop in California, it seems that there are a lot of out and back places but not enough loops. When you come up on this one it sneaks up on you right around the corner and you wouldn’t think anything of it. If I had to do this again and change up any gear I would want to try a tarp with just a bug net to save some more weight. The people are really friendly out here and it was just a super cool place to be. I didn’t find any part of the trail particularly hard but the up and down on that second day was definitely a push in the sun with the bugs.

Video for the full Experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk-XSdmVdyE&t=50s