Pine Ridge Trail: China Camp to Pine Falls (2 days / 14 miles)

Purity of nature in Big Sur Pine Ridge Trail

The Pine Ridge Trail is a great backpacking trail in the Ventana Wilderness. On this trip, we started at the eastern trailhead at China Camp Campground, along Tassajara Road. From there, the trail heads west and through the Santa Lucia Mountains to Pine Valley. The best part, located at the end of Pine Valley, is Pine Falls. The water is frigid, but there's something wonderful about getting to swim in the middle of any backpacking trip.

Trip Completed: March 2022

Trip Summary

Starting Point: Pine Ridge Trailhead at China Camp Campground

Ending Point: Pine Ridge Trailhead at China Camp Campground

Total Distance: 13.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 3241 ft

Duration: 2 days / 1 night

Difficulty: Beginner (intermediate if hiking to the falls)


This route is in Ventana Wilderness, part of the Los Padres National Forest. Los Padres is about 2.5 hours south of San Francisco.

Traditional Territory: This backpacking trail takes place on the traditional territory of the Esselen (source).

Maps & Resources

Map: I used the AllTrails Map. I recommend getting the Pro version of AllTrails so you can download the map to your phone. I found the route on the map to be quite accurate, though it's hard to follow as you approach the falls.

Camping Permits: You do not need any permits or reservations for this route. If you're camping at White Oaks Campground (or any of the drive-in campgrounds in the Ventana Wilderness), there is a self-registration box where you can pay a $10 camping fee.

Outfitters & Shuttles

Outfitter: I had all my own backpacking gear so I didn’t need an outfitter. I don’t believe there are any outfitters in the area, however, you could rent gear from REI in San Jose prior to your trip.

Shuttles: No shuttle was needed as this route is an Out & Back.

Trip Report

Day 0: Night at White Oaks Camp

The trailhead at China Camp is down a long forest road, which is super bumpy and slow ...

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