Ventana Wilderness

I took a five day backpack along the Ventana coast ridge southeast towards Cone Peak. Being on ridgetop, the views were great up and down the coast as well as inland.

2 pages / 25 photos

Big Sur Station, Ventana Wilderness photo

Big Sur Station

I hiked out of Big Sur Station, which is the main entrance to the Ventana Wilderness.

Ventana Inn, Ventana Wilderness photo

Ventana Inn

The first 2 miles of the trip is southeast along Highway One. When you reach Ventana Inn, you head up private -- and gated -- Coast Ridge Road. While the road is technically private, backpackers are allowed on the road as a right-of-way to the wilderness; however, horses and bicycles are prohibited.

Coast Road, Ventana Wilderness photo

Coast Road

The dirt road switchbacks up the ridge at an easy grade. The first section is through some second growth redwood groves, but the road quickly breaks out into the open, providing sweeping views of the Big Sur coastline.

Big Sur Coast, Ventana Wilderness photo

Big Sur Coast

Being on the ridgeline, the views were great both up and down the coast.

Ventana Double Cone, Ventana Wilderness photo

Ventana Double Cone

The views were also great inland, overlooking the heart of the Ventana Wilderness. Here is a view NNW from the coast ridge towards Ventana Double Cone (elevation 4,853'). The notch on the Double Cone complex is unmistakable.

Wildflowers, Ventana Wilderness photo


The wildflowers were booming in the California spring.

House on Ridgetop, Ventana Wilderness photo

House on Ridgetop

There are houses up on the ridge, a legacy of the ranches that existed years before the surrounding area was designated a national wilderness. Many of the houses closer to Highway One are quite spectacular.

Good to be Alive, Ventana Wilderness photo

Good to be Alive

Coast Ridge Road, Ventana Wilderness photo

Coast Ridge Road

The hike continued along the dirt Coast Ridge Road, which you can just see in this view looking north from Anderson Peak. We're about 4000 feet up at this point, and 14.5 miles into the backpack.

Cabin, Ventana Wilderness photo


As the (dead end) road continued, the houses became more modest and less frequent. Here's a small cabin tucked away near Marble Peak.

Lupines, Ventana Wilderness photo


Wildflowers carpeted the steep meadows, filling the air with their scent. Lupines were everywhere and especially fragrant.

Final Gate, Ventana Wilderness photo

Final Gate

About 19 miles into the trip, you reach the sixth and final gate on the Coast Ridge Road. From here on, it's known as the Coast Ridge Trail. With the last of the inholdings behind us, it's a truly wild and beautiful country.

Flowers Overtake Road, Ventana Wilderness photo

Flowers Overtake Road

Flowers quickly overtake the old roadbed. Here, escaped cultivated radishes are growing, probably a legacy of the vegetable gardens from the old ranches in the area.

According to my scientist/biologist friend Marc, if you pull one up and break the root open, you can smell the radish. However, the nice fat round red bulb has long since evolved away, back to something more like its original form.