Backpacking Big Sur: Sykes Hot Springs

Where: Big Sur, California. Sykes Hot Springs

Best Time To Go: Spring, early Summer.. It get’s super hot on the trail when the trees are scarce.

Length of Trip: 20 miles. You could do it in a day if you’re a beast, but two or three days is perfect.

More Info:

This past summer me and two of my closest friends decided we were going to take on one of Big Sur’s famous backpacking trails for a girl’s weekend. Syke’s Hot Springs is a 20 mile round trip hike with quite a bit of elevation change. No idea how much… but it felt like a lot.

The beginning stretch was the hardest. As we trudged up the mountain feeling like mules in the heat I wondered to myself what we had just gotten ourselves into. After about 45 minutes the incline began to give in a bit and giant sequoias surround us like giant skyscrapers.


Here’s Kat enjoying the flat part of the trail.

We had decided to make the trip a 2-night, 3-day excursion, which I think was perfect. This hike was not a: hike up to the top of the mountain and back down. It was more like, hike up and down multiple mountains the entire time. Our first campsite was about 7 or eight miles in, at this perfectly nestled area of flat ground surrounded by a river.


Our view from laying in our sleeping bags at our first campsite.


The next day we got to the Hot Springs which were simply amazing. It was a bit crowded, but there were multiple springs as well as a river to dip into after the long hike. After spending a few hours at the springs and in the river (with water snakes……..), we decided to start heading back. By the end of the day our knees and feet were feeling beat, and we ended up falling asleep as we watched the sun go down.


If she could, she would hug every tree in the forest. Wouldn’t you?

The final morning had arrived and after eating some breakfast we headed out early and began our descent back down to the car.About 4 hours passed and nothing looked familiar. WHERE ARE WE!? It was getting hotter and still nothing looked familiar. We kept trekking and finally saw a parking lot in the far distance. Que the sprinting down the mountain. We began to gallop down this dusty, rocky cliff, quickly gaining speeds at which stopping was near to impossible. No wait, it’s possible. About 5 minutes into the run Brandy took a fall, luckily not rolling down the mountain.

We finally got to the car and like the end of any grueling backpacking trip, stopped for breakfast and beer.


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