Trail Mavens


Skill-based camping and backpacking trips for groups of extraordinary women. Ready to build fires, read maps, pitch tents, hike, laugh, and drink wine around the campfire? Join one of our weekend adventures.

big sur camping
june 17 - 19

adventure type:

camping & hiking

activity rating:


Trip Highlights

Time exploring Big Sur's most beautiful destinations, from McWay Falls to lush canyons to secluded beaches

A weekend where details have been expertly handled and the best campsites have been reserved, so you only have to worry about soaking it in

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Hands-on, personalized skill learning that'll make you the outdoor goddess you know you're meant to be

Self-care: cook & eat gourmet camp meals, work your booty on gorgeous trails, and soak the brilliance of Mama Nature

Space to disconnect from the nonstop vibe of urban living, and focus on the what's-happening-right-here-right-now

The X Factor (i.e. what happens when you mix dynamic, thoughtful, open-hearted women for a weekend outside)

Itinerary Summary


5:30pm meetup, introductions, and departure from downtown SF, Opening Ceremonies and dinner on the road, nighttime arrival at our redwood-filled campsite in Big Sur, learn our bombproof method of tent set-up, and relax with a mug of wine, new friends, and great conversation. 


We'll kick off our day with a cup of good French press coffee and a healthy breakfast before we venture to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, home of our favorite hike and our favorite vista. You'll work your glutes on the 4.6 mile Ewoldsen loop, eat a picnic lunch on the trail, and ogle at the 180 degree vista we earned from our hike, and at McWay Falls, which everyone should see once before they die. We'll spend the evening relaxing by the Big Sur River, cooking dinner together, drinking wine, and roasting marshmallows. Everything tastes better when you eat it outside, next to a campfire you built.


We'll have a leisurely breakfast and several more cups of coffee before breaking down camp and jetting to Andrew Molera State Park, for a totally different view on Big Sur's stunning looks. We'll hike 5.4 miles along the ocean, keeping an eye out for migrating whales, and have lunch on a secluded beach before our Closing Ceremonies and return trip to the city.

* Guides reserve the option to modify trip itineraries as necessary due to weather, illness, injury or other unforeseen incidents.

why big sur?

Water too blue to be real. Relaxing in a camp chair, stretching out your limbs, and listening to morning birdsong as you sip a mug of coffee. Dipping your feet into the Big Sur River to cool them off after a day of hiking. The smell of campfires and the wonderful blend of chocolate, graham, and marshmallow melting in your mouth.

McWay Falls alone makes Big Sur a worthwhile destination. Add in the lesser-known spots - Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, with its secret swimming holes and lovely campsites, both shaded by graceful, towering redwood trees; the Big Sur Bakery, which has fantastic baked goods and coffee; and Andrew Molera State Park, with its hidden beaches and miles-long oceanfront trails - and Big Sur becomes unmissable.


Make sure you read our FAQs for juicy details that are relevant to all our trips!

+ Packing List

  • Sleeping bag rated at 30° or colder
  • Sleeping pad
  • Headlamp & fresh batteries
  • A sense of adventure
  • Sleeping bag liner (if borrowing Trail Mavens sleeping bag)
  • Personal clothing
  • Day pack to carry while hiking
  • Sturdy, broken-in walking shoes
  • Water bottles and/or hydration bladder with a minimum 2L capacity
  • Sunscreen/sun hat/sunglasses
  • Health insurance card & ID
  • Tampons/pads as needed
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/toiletries
  • Personal medications
  • Glasses/contacts with solution
  • A pen
  • (Trail Mavens alumnae only): previous Field Notes
  • Optional: hiking poles, small pillow, hand towel, earplugs, comfy shoes for hanging out at our campsite, camera, bandana or Buff to keep sun off your neck, small bottle hand sanitizer

Items in bold provided at no additional cost for any women who does not have her own!

+ bathrooms and hygiene

Our campsite in Big Sur is plush, as far as campsites go. It features spacious bathrooms toilets and running water, hot quarter-fed showers (though no one ever takes one), and potable water spigots. You won't need to pee or poop outdoors...unless you want to.

No need to change your plans because of your period. Period. For more detailed info on managing your time of the month in the outdoors, we recommend these posts by Snowqueen and Scout and REI.


Plan to book flight arriving in the Bay Area no later than Friday afternoon and departing no earlier than 10pm Sunday night, or Monday morning.




... you love having open, honest, hilarious conversations with other women. Surface stuff is fine at home, but you know the best stuff comes out around the campfire.

... you've never been camping or backpacking, haven't been in ages, or have been dozens of times, but still haven't ever gotten to start the fire/set up the tent/purify water/etc. You'll get all the hands-on practice you want, so you don't have to trial-and-error your way to outdoor prowess.

... you thrive on being pushed - tenderly and lovingly - outside your comfort zone, because you know that's where the magic and the learning happen.

... you know that spending time in the outdoors increases creativity, inspiration, and happiness, and you could use a little more of that and a little less of the email/work/to-do list grind.

our adventures aren't for you if...

... getting a little sweaty, dirty, and marshmallow-y sounds gross.

... your experience of the outdoors is diminished, rather than enhanced, by sharing it with a group of rad, like-minded women.

... you're not physically fit enough to complete the activities listed in this itinerary.

your Investment: $395

trip fee includes...

... all Big Sur state park admission/campsite fees

... delicious meals from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon, trail snacks, chocolate galore, and wine & whiskey to sip in the moonlight

... guided, hands-on outdoor skills instruction and facilitation from a WFR certified guide, plus access to the collective brilliance of your group

... all the gear you need, just in case you don't have any; just bring clothes and a toothbrush

... a donation back to CA State Parks, to preserve and protect them for future generations

Heart set on a Trail Mavens trip, but your wallet won't listen? We're offering you the chance to pick-what-you-pay. We don't want money to be the one thing getting in the way of tapping into your most adventurous self.

Trip Cost:

Additional questions? Email, or call 415-265-5062.