Cone Peak Loop: Hwy 1 to Cone Peak via Vincente Camp (40 km / 3 days)

Greenery on the rock in Big Sur Cone Peak

This loop in the Ventana Wilderness is not for the faint of heart. Instead, it's beautiful, provides a reasonable amount of solitude, and will push your physical limits. And, while Cone Peak Rd is closed, it's a great way to climb one of the tallest peaks in Coastal California and enjoy some camping along the way.

This route has some great viewpoints of the Pacific Ocean and the Big Sur coastline, and the Santa Lucia Mountains that punctuate the coast. I recommend this route for backpackers with solid physical fitness and mental perseverance, as the degree of overgrowth and the number of fallen trees will challenge you. But if you like beautiful views and physical challenges, you'll like this route.

Trip Completed: March 2022

Trip Summary

Starting Point: Trailhead across Hwy 1 from Kirk Creek Campground

Ending Point: Trailhead across Hwy 1 from Kirk Creek Campground

Length: 3 days

Distance: 40 km / 25 miles

Elevation Gain: 2133 m / 7,000 ft

Difficulty: Advanced


Cone Peak is located in Ventana Wilderness, a part of Los Padres National Forest and near Big Sur. The trailhead is right on Hwy 1, across from Kirk Creek Campground. The closest town to the trailhead is Carmel and this is where we stopped for water, coffee and gas before starting the hike.

Maps & Permits

Map: We downloaded the AllTrails map for this route. The map was mostly accurate, however, the location on Goat Map is incorrect on the AllTrails map.

Permits: No permits or reservations are required for this trail. 

Outfitters and Shuttles

Outfitters: We rented some backpacking gear from Sports Basement in the Bay Area. There are no outfitters near Ventana Wilderness.

Shuttle: No shuttle was needed as this route starts and ends at the same trailhead.

Know Before You Go

Season: The best time to hike this trail is late autumn to early spring. During the summer, the Ventana Wilderness gets so hot that it can be really unp...

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