big sur camping
Wahoo! We're so pumped you're registered for this camping adventure to the crown jewel of the California coastline: Big Sur.
You'll find most of the info you need to prepare for your trip on this page. We'll email you the week before the trip with final details about our meeting spot, carpools, and bios from the other rad ladies who'll be joining you.
For regular Big Sur Camping trips, we'll be car camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, nestled by the Big Sur River and surrounded by towering redwood trees. For Southern Big Sur Camping trips, we'll be staying at Limekiln State Park, featuring the best of Big Sur: the mountains around you, and the big blue Pacific just down the road.
We'll pull our cars directly into our campsite, meaning you'll only have to carry your belongings around thirty feet (from your car to your tent). Both parks feature potable water spigots and bathrooms with flush toilets and running water.
Depending on the drought conditions, pay showers with hot water are also available, though few take advantage. If you're deeply committed to showering, bring quarters, a towel, and flip flops!
Breakfast/lunch/dinner on Saturday, and breakfast/lunch on Sunday will be provided. For Southern Big Sur Camping trips with a mid-afternoon departure time, Friday dinner* will also be provided. We’ll eat tasty hot meals for breakfast and dinner, and this will also be your opportunity to get hands-on practice using a variety of camping stoves. The group will share in cooking and cleanup responsibilities, and you'll be on meal duty and dish duty at least once.
For lunch, we'll have picnic-style food that's easy to take on the trail (think PB&Js, apples, bars, nuts, dried fruit, and jerky for meat eaters) but if you’ve got any favorite trail treats, feel free to bring them.
*For regular Big Sur Camping trips that meet on Friday evening, we'll stop for dinner at Whole Foods en route to Big Sur. Bring cash/credit to buy your dinner at the hot food bar!
Each Trail Maven should plan on bringing the following items.
- Lightweight shoes/sandals for hanging out at our campsite that can be worn with socks (like Crocs/Tevas/Chacos rather than flip-flops)
- Tampons/pads as needed
- Personal medications
- Glasses/contacts with solution
- A pen
- Field Notes notebook (Trail Mavens alumnae only. New participants will be given their own on this trip!)
- Optional: hiking poles (esp. if you have knee issues), small pillow, hand towel, earplugs, camera, bandana or Buff to keep sun off your neck, small bottle hand sanitizer
- Sleeping bag rated at 30° or colder
- Sleeping pad
- Headlamp with fresh batteries/spares
- Sleeping bag liner (if borrowing Trail Mavens sleeping bag)
- Personal clothing (see below)
- Day pack to carry while hiking
- Water bottles and/or hydration bladder with a minimum 2L capacity
- Sunscreen/sun hat/sunglasses
- Health insurance card & ID
Items in bold will be provided for those women who indicated they needed them during registration.
SHARED ITEMS, PROVIDED BY TRAIL MAVENS: Tents, lanterns, food and wine, stoves, fuel, cookware, camp chairs, utensils, firewood and basic First Aid.
This trip is a great opportunity to practice your minimalist packing skills! We recommend the following:
- One pair shorts/leggings for hiking during the day
- One pair warm long pants for hanging around camp at night
- Two tanks/short-sleeved shirts (one to hike in, one for sleeping)
- One lightweight long-sleeved shirt for warmth in the evening
- Fleece or down jacket for warmth
- Waterproof jacket for warmth / in case of rain
- Two pairs socks (one pair on your feet, one pair in your bag)
- Two pairs underwear
- Warm hat/lightweight gloves
- Sturdy, broken-in walking shoes
- Water shoes (old sneaks you don't mind getting wet are fine!) for meandering in the Big Sur River when it's hot on Saturday afternoon
Weather & Conditional Packing
Click here for the Big Sur weather forecast as we approach our trip! For those not from Northern California, note that coastal weather is notoriously fickle, and might transition from warm and breezy to cold and foggy in a matter of minutes.
Since everybody is different, it’s up to YOU to check out the weather forecast and judge your personal comfort levels, and plan accordingly! Please use your own judgement when packing: if you’re always cold, pack heavier extra layers (i.e., leggings to go under pants).
PACKING FOR RAIN
Except in the most extreme cases, we run trips rain or shine! If rain or snow is in the forecast, here's what you should be bringing in addition to the items in the packing list above:
- Waterproof rain jacket (you should bring this on every trip regardless of forecast)
- Waterproof rain pants
- Waterproof hiking boots (tennis shoes or trail runners should NOT be worn on rainy trips)
- Three pairs of wool socks (one pair on your feet, one pair that's dry and ready to change into, and one pair that might be drying off from an earlier hike)
- As much wool, synthetic fleece, or down layers as possible, and as little cotton as possible (cotton won't keep you dry or warm enough in rainy weather)
Leave No Trace
Trail Mavens is committed to following and teaching Leave No Trace principles. To get you started, watch this video on LNT Outdoor Ethics from the National Parks Service. We'll cover this material again on our trip!
Trail Mavens often enjoy wine or whiskey together around the campfire in the evenings. Participation in drinking is welcome but of course not mandatory. We ask that Trail Mavens leave recreational drugs at home. If you’re a smoker, please be respectful and partake in a manner that doesn’t bother other group members, and adheres to Leave No Trace principles.
This is an internet-free weekend (plus, we won’t have cell service)! If you’d like to share your pics on social media, go for it, but only after we get back home. Then, feel free to go crazy tagging @trailmavens on Instagram or Twitter.
Trail Mavens provides its adventurers with about $1000 of fantastic camping gear. Read on for tips on how to keep gear in top-notch condition for future Mavens:
Your tent is your home for the weekend, so you want to keep it clean and tidy!
- Unless you’re actively getting in or out of your tent, keep doors zipped shut to avoid six-legged visitors
- Consume only water inside your tent to keep it scent-free, and store anything smelly, including toiletries, in the car you rode in
- Keep shoes and anything else dirty or sharp outside, as high-end tent fabric is quite delicate
Set up your sleeping bag inside your tent to keep both your bag and your tent clean.
Our pads are inflatable, meaning they’re a) quite comfortable and b) can pop if they meet a sharp rock. Be sure to unpack, inflate, deflate, and pack your pad inside your tent, away from anything sharp. This will ensure a comfortable night of sleep for you, and a clean tent.