Home Trips Overland Trip: Big Sur, CA – Overland Bound
Overland Trip: Big Sur, CA – Overland Bound

Overland Trip: Big Sur, CA – Overland Bound

It struck me in the middle of the week, “Yep, time to take a trip”. I thought I should probably do the right thing, so I hollered out this notion to the little woman. I didn’t hear her in the kitchen because she was barefoot and cooking me dinner while cracking open beers with her cleavage. (She’s kinda awesome like that.)  She said, “Route? Logistics? Departure time? More gravy for your fried chicken?” (Again. She’s SO awesome.)

I always get excited as I start to prepare! This trip was a quick weekend getaway, about 3.5 hrs. from the homestead and it was my first trip down to Big Sur. What a remarkable drive!

It kinda bugs me when I read about a trip and the article doesn’t provide a map or directions! So here’s a map. (I try to include one on every trip review.)

Trip Map: Big Sur

My gal has this hobby she refers to as her “job” (so cute), and it caused her to “work” late Friday night, so we ended up leaving after dark. We didn’t get down there until the wee hours of the night, but this ended up being an amazing thing – the moon was full, the skies were clear, and I could see the ocean and coast as I drove. Corrie slept soundly in the co-pilot chair (what with her being all ‘fragile’ and ‘delicate’). Just past Lucia, CA (about 45 minutes south of Big Sur) we came to the landmark, Kirk Creek Campground, and turned up towards the mountains on Nacimiento Rd. At about 7.5 Miles, you come to the Coast Ridge Trail. It’s a pretty obvious cross roads that is well marked. Turn right onto the trail and go as far as you like (or approx. 22 miles)!

We woke in the morning to amazing mountain views and a sunny sky.

Big Sur 02.24.13 018

The campsite was nice and flat and provided pretty good shelter from the wind. When it’s just two of us and we arrive late, the SOP is to put the tail gate down and lay the pads and sleeping bags down in the back of the rig. Its fast, and warm. 🙂

Big Sur 02.24.13 019

After breakfast (prepared with enthusiasm and a great attitude by the lil’ miss, of course), we loaded up the rig and headed back down the trail to Hwy 1. We stopped to take in the sights we couldn’t see on the way in the night before.

Sights that kinda went like… THIS.

Big Sur 02.24.13 036

I was surprised to find redwood forest this far south but there it was! A great path along a running creek. Bamf!

Big Sur 02.24.13 028

That’s a long way down!

Big Sur 02.24.13 023

Sometimes it was hard to tell where the ocean stopped and the sky began.

Big Sur 02.24.13 022

And then the lil’ lady got all excited and expressive as we descended the mountain. She spotted the Kirk Creek campground from up above, and well, who am I to deny her lady like sensibilities?  We cruised into the Kirk Creek campground to check it out, and the girlfriend unit fell in love. She was like, “OHMYGOD. Grass campground instead of dirt!!! *squeeeeee!!!*” And I was all like, NOOOOO! I mean, its got running water and camp tables…and…and…RVs..and public pit toilets! The camp host saw us (i.e. – girlfriend unit) looking and offered a premium camp site with panoramic ocean views. We were hooked (i.e. – she was happy), and we claimed our property (site #11).

Big Sur 02.24.13 039

 

Sidenote: We got lucky. There was a cancellation and we arrived early enough that the spot was not filled. Normally, these sites book months in advance. I’m not one to hit the car-cam scene, but in this case, I made the exception. (And let her know it was my legendary negotiation skills that landed us this sweet, sweet spot.)

Big Sur 02.24.13 086

Cool fact: A short walk down the trail from the campsite, and you’re on the beach! We watched the sea otters play for about twenty minutes. Not kidding. They were pretty freaking cute, but then they made the girlfriend unit ask, “Can we get a fluffy puppy?” and I was like, “That’s enough of this Sea Otter business.”

We moved on to this piece of awesome.

Big Sur 02.24.13 058

 

And then this little slice of RICH…

Big Sur 02.24.13 049

And to celebrate us being there, the ocean was like, “EXPLOSION FOR YOU!”

Big Sur 02.24.13 054

We were happy. (And by we, I mean my lady co-pilot.)

It was only 11AM after we set up camp and frolicked on the beach, which meant PLENTY of time for a day of exploring and trekking with a lighter load. We headed south down HWY 1 and checked out the small stop in the town of Gorda. It was quaint. There was a little place with food and a small store, but gas was $6.95!!! We decided on chips, dip, and a couple of beers. (Which ended up costing us $34.95, so buyer beware, y’all.)

Big Sur 02.24.13 064

$6.95/gallon gas.

Big Sur 02.24.13 061

$6.95/gallon gas.

Big Sur 02.24.13 062

 

(Did I mention $6.95 gas?)

We headed a bit further south and hit a slightly larger stop called Ragged Point, which for many reasons was by far our favorite of the two. I can tell the better pit stops for us because my gal turns into Talky McTalker-stein and she gets all chatty and has “conversations” with strangers. Met some guy who runs the cafe and claims to be “living the dream” and some guy who’s biking from Ashland, OR to SLO, and has been living off his bike for months. (Hippie.)

Ok, Ok. Truth be told… Ragged Point had hospitality, interesting people, a nice selection of goods, great coffee, and cheaper gas (um, not by much). {$6/gallon}

Big Sur 02.24.13 065

We then headed to the south end of the coast ridge trail to get up the mountain and check out the sites. We had spectacular views from the road.

Big Sur 02.24.13 078

Parts of the forest service road got downright narrow given the full day it would take your rig to get to the bottom after a wrong turn.

Big Sur 02.24.13 081

It would have been a faster trip, but I had to keep getting out of the truck to take a picture!

Big Sur 02.24.13 083

You can’t make this up. Not even in a Thomas Kincaid painting.

Big Sur 02.24.13 084

Emergency brake on.

Big Sur 02.24.13 067

Hangin on the edge of the world!

Big Sur 02.24.13 068

Does this look stable to you?

Big Sur 02.24.13 076

In the evening we headed to the camp site and got a fire going. The little miss did her job in the kitchen with me supervising. It was a quiet evening of hanging out, talking, and watching the sun go down. I also created The girlfriend unit made a great potato in foil recipe that I will have to share soon. MmmmmMmmm.

Big Sur 02.24.13 088

The next morning we said goodbye to our camp, packed up, and prepared to come home. We were looking forward to the drive up the coast in the daylight, and it did not disappoint  Spectacular views the whole drive.

Big Sur 02.24.13 092

Big Sur 02.24.13 099

Big Sur 02.24.13 095

 

A quick pit stop.

Big Sur 02.24.13 098

We stopped in Carmel to have brunch and see the sites. I had to keep telling the little lady, “NO. We are NOT shopping at Lush Cosmetics and Skincare!” Sheesh. You gotta have limits on these trips.

The beach was awesome and that was about as close as I wanted to come to the Pebble Beach greens fees!

Big Sur 02.24.13 105

I hope you enjoyed! As always, feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have any questions!

Michael

Michael

Backwoods country bumpkin. Overland enthusiast and lover of the great outdoors.

Comment(0)

    1. Hey Scott, I knew of the turnoff on Nacimiento Ferguson Rd, and then the left onto Coast Ridge Trail. I have a trip map in the article. If you are going that way – have a look!

      M

  1. Nice! The wife and I road tripped down that way. We actually went up Nacimiento Fergusson Rd about a mile or two and turned around. We will definitely be heading back to explore that area more thanks to you. Beautiful area, the pics don’t do it justice. Thanks for the info. Looking forward to more.

  2. Awesome pics!
    I am getting a stock FJ60 up and runnning and wanting to do a mellow first camping/exploring weekend trip in big sur. By the pics, it looks pretty easy off roading. Did you even put it in 4 wheel drive?

    1. It was all COMPLETELY in jest. Corrie is a powerhouse, and wrote those words. It was not meant to be taken seriously at all, but we’ll re-think this given the broad audience. When we wrote this, I think our target audience was like, 5 people, all friends and family who knew us VERY well. Thanks for pointing it out.

  3. Awesome read! Would you say a 4×4 is a must? We have a 03 eurovan that has bfgs on it and has good clearance. Is love to do this drive but just want to check!

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT