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Coastal Car Camping

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Coastal Car Camping

Postby evilgenius32 » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:03 pm

This isn't Sierra related, but I know we have enough avid hikers here that I can get a great response anyway.

I'm planning a weekend roadtrip with some college buddies this spring break for a couple days. We are from the Fresno area and I was thinking about a coastal loop heading over to the Pinnacles Nat'l Park, north to Carmel, south down highway 1 to Morro Bay and back to the valley. So my question is where would you recommend camping in Pinnacles Nat'l Park and Los Padres Nat'l Forest? The purpose of the trip is not hiking, but what hikes should we do while we are there (maybe keep it below 6 miles)? Any other places or detours we have to go to are appreciated.

Thanks, Zac



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Re: Coastal Car Camping

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:08 am

There's no recommendation for Pinnacles because there is one campground - that's what you got. The sites in the back loop appear to be a bit quieter. Most of the RVs stay in the parking lot closer to HQ.

Along the 1, there are many campgrounds and they will be packed over the break. Not many take reservations. I think Limekiln does, so does Plaskett, but Kirk Creek is first come/first serve. The other option is to drive up one of the FS roads a ways and find a pullout, and there are free campgrounds along Naciemento-Fergusson (the only road that crosses the range - it goes to Fort Hunter Liggett, where there is another campground). Camping in pullouts on Highway 1 is illegal.

Hiking - go to ventanawild.org and check the trail updates. The trails in Ventana Wilderness can be overgrown bushwacking nightmares, particularly if you don't like poison oak or ticks. The most traveled ones tend to be Vicente Flat, out of Kirk Creek Campground; Pine Ridge/Sykes out of the ranger station just south of Big Sur proper (there is a huge campground there, as well as a smaller private one and some cabin/hotel type accommodations). Buzzard's Roost and the falls are short trails accessible from Big Sur campground. Just up the road there is Pfeiffer Beach and good day hiking trails in Andrew Molera. Pat Springs out of Bottcher's Gap (small campground here, walk ins and several car spots) is a long dayhike/moderate overnight, very popular. A shorter walk gets you to Devils Peak and good views.

Stopping at Julia Pfeiffer to walk to McWay Falls and the other historic sites there is worth it, as is the walk up Limekiln to see the kilns.

In the Monterey area, there are regional county parks and Fort Ord (this is popular with bikers). Also walking along the coast in Pacific Grove, going to Cannery Row, and perhaps if you are wanting an upper body workout, kayak Elkhorn Slough - quite flat and there are two rental places at Moss Landing.
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Re: Coastal Car Camping

Postby evilgenius32 » Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:39 pm

Thanks AT. I like the idea of just camping off one of the forest roads, any places you can recommend?
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Re: Coastal Car Camping

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:23 pm

There's not a lot of roads to choose from. Many are gated in winter (Cone Peak Road often is) due to washouts.

I'd suggest going over to Fort Hunter Liggett and staying at Memorial Park, or even out at Escondido if the road is open, and day hiking the trails out there. Hike Junipero Serra Peak, day hike into Lost Valley and back... or camp at Arroyo Seco campground out of Greenfield and play in the river. One potential hike from there is back to Tassajara Zen Center where there are hot springs. If the monks are not in their "quiet time" you can rent the developed tubs.
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