A few weeks ago we had a warm and sunny weekend between two rainy periods. Jim and I took a 2+ day hike into the Ventana Wilderness via the Boranda Trail.
For folks not familiar with the area, there are a few terms that people use somewhat interchangeably. Ventana Wilderness is in the northern unit of the Los Padres National Forest. It's part of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range. The small town of Big Sur is nearby, and the coast in that area is often referred to as the Big Sur Coast. So when people talk about hiking in Ventana or Big Sur or Los Padres they are probably referring to the same area. (Unless they are down in Santa Barbara area, in which case they're talking about the southern unit of the Los Padres National Forest.)
The trails and back-country camps (i.e. picnic table and a place flat enough for a tent) in the Ventana Wilderness were built nearly a century ago. The Coast Ridge Road (now closed to traffic except a few in-holdings) was the old north-south route before Highway 1 was carved into the side of the mountain. Rough terrain, poison oak, fast growing shrubs, fires, and a decades-long anemic USFS trail maintenance budget has taken its toll, and some trails are functionally impassable. We have done some off-trail hiking in the area, but it is very tough terrain and off-trail travel is very tough.
Ventana Wilderness Alliance does heroic work in the area. Their website contains information about current trail conditions, which is invaluable when planning a trip in the area. We send them money every time we take a trip to the region, we consider it the price of admission.
Link to annotated SmugMug photo show
Link to Google Map (gmap-pedometer) allowing you to zoom in on details of the route, satellite images, etc. The line follows our route, but is only approximate in some places. (If you double click in gmap it will extend the route, which will make you quite confused.)