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Old 03-03-13, 11:22 AM   #1
Chris Balduc
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Availability of hiker-biker sites on the Pacific Coast

I am planning a loaded tour from Monterey to Cambria and then over the hills to Paso Robles for the Great Western Bicycle Rally in May. Can someone update me about the availability and status of hiker-biker sites along the route? The State Park websites don't seem to have much information about them. Am I safe in assuming I will be able to get a hiker biker site at Big Sur or Julia Pfeiffer without a reservation? This is my first tour down this part of the coast. I don't want to end up without a place to camp.
Thanks for any help from you veteran tourers.
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Old 03-03-13, 11:34 AM   #2
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One is Kirk Creek campground, which is about 20 miles south of Big Sur. It has a dedicated hiker/biker section.

I think such sites are generally not reservable, which is a good thing. I haven't been turned away from one yet. Also, it's usually not a problem getting a standard site anywhere on a weekday. They do fill up on weekends though.

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Old 03-03-13, 01:48 PM   #3
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State parks +AYH Hostels were used on my SF to SD trip in 85.

maybe the ACA update map will give you researched info, Join ACA, Buy the Pac Coast Map.
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Old 03-03-13, 02:16 PM   #4
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No problem with the availability of sites along that route going down to the GWBR. I've been heading down that way almost every year for the last decade starting from the Daly City BART station outside of SF. My usual hiker/biker stops are at New Brighton State Beach in Capitola, Veterans Park in Monterey, Big Sur State Park, and San Simeon State Beach. They've always had plenty of space. I've also stayed at the Hike&Bike site at Kirk Creek - the last time I was there the campground had a "Full" sign at the entrance but it turned out the Hike&Bike area was completely empty (they have 5 H&B sites and most could accommodate more than a single tent). At that time the Kirk Creek campground had an issue with their water not meeting state standards - I had filled up with some extra in Lucia and the camp host mentioned that he had extra bottled water if I needed any.

Might see you along the way. Our bike club is doing a ride from Daly City to SLO at the start of May so I may end up doing that stretch twice this spring.

Here's the route and some pictures from a previous trip down the coast to the GWBR (that year I stopped at Kirk Creek):

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=220688
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Old 03-03-13, 02:29 PM   #5
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http://www.parks.ca.gov/parkindex/

Click on "By Activity/Facility" then scroll down and check the box next to "Hike or Bike Campsites" on the left under the heading "Overnight Facilities." Results are in the form of a list - by park name, region and county. Pfeiffer is among them. No reservations required for hiker/biker sites. They will fit you in somewhere.

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Old 03-03-13, 07:31 PM   #6
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http://www.parks.ca.gov/parkindex/

Click on "By Activity/Facility" then scroll down and check the box next to "Hike or Bike Campsites" on the left under the heading "Overnight Facilities." Results are in the form of a list - by park name, region and county. Pfeiffer is among them. No reservations required for hiker/biker sites. They will fit you in somewhere.
If the HB sites are full, the ranger may turn you away, at least I've seem that happen quite a few times in Socal. It depends on the ranger. But if you put on your sad puppydog face, some nice people in an RV will always let you camp alongside in their site, usually for free in return for some conversation. I've never had to head on down that highway in the dark.

The Big Sur sites are great, the one at Lime Kiln is small but right next to the beach, and apparently the one in San Simeon is right next to the noisy highway and possibly other weird car campers: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=311865&v=8i
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Old 03-03-13, 07:33 PM   #7
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I've ridden the stretch from Carmel to Cambria several times. There is a primitive campground a couple miles north of Pfeiffer-Big called Molera State Park.

Pfeiffer-Big Sur has a nice hiker/biker site, showers, stores, restaurants, and even a well stocked convenience store. It is also about a day's ride from Monterey.



The next place to camp is just south of Lucia. There are two places close to one another. One is a state campground called Lime Kiln that didn't have a hiker/biker site the last time I was there but had showers. It was $20 for a site, if I recall correctly.

About a mile past that is Kirk Creek, which is a Federal Campground. They don't have showers but do have a hiker/biker site. I've stayed there several times and always been told that some day there would be showers there. But, don't hold your breath.



There is another Federal campground just north of Gorda (hotel/restaurant/convenience store), 4 or 5 miles south of Kirk Creek, called Plaskett Creek that also has a hiker/biker site and coin-operated shower and laundry, or so I'm told.



Twenty miles past Ragged Point is San Simeon State Beach which had showers and a hiker/biker site that is right next to Highway 1.

I camped at Pfeiffer-Big Sur, Kirk Creek, and San Simeon State Beach and have good memories of all of them. I have used either Lime Kiln or Plaskett Creek.
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Old 03-04-13, 07:37 AM   #8
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I live just outside Morro Bay. There was an article in the local paper recently saying that they had turned off the water at Kirk Creek. I don't know if there's a creek handy where you can filter, or if you have to stock up in Lucia (north to south.) I'm going to investigate before June, because my son and I are planning a tour from San Francisco to home.

There has also been having a lot of outcry among cyclists because CalTrans has put chip seal on the shoulders north of Cambria that is "unrideable". I haven't been up to witness what they're talking about, but local cyclists are up in arms. The complaining has had an effect - Caltrans says they're looking into solutions. Who knows when that might happen.
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Old 03-04-13, 10:13 PM   #9
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If the HB sites are full, the ranger may turn you away, at least I've seem that happen quite a few times in Socal.
This happened a couple of time to us last summer. Many of the Socal campgrounds have closed or tightly regulated their hiker/biker sites do to problems with transients. We were fortunate to get a regular spot at one of the campgrounds when the ranger told us the hiker/biker site was full. Anywhere north of San Francisco into B.C., campgrounds are not a problem.
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Old 03-05-13, 07:52 AM   #10
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You do need recent info for this - I was in SP Taylor last year and there were signs up saying they were raising the rates and reducing the number of people per site. Sorry I don't have any info.

That's really too bad about Kirk Creek, that is a great camp site. Would be worth hauling water in to stay there.
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Old 03-05-13, 10:30 AM   #11
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If the HB sites are full, the ranger may turn you away, at least I've seem that happen quite a few times in Socal. It depends on the ranger.
That's unfortunate. In the northern part of the state a ranger told me they would always find a spot for a hiker/biker, but I don't remember which campground that was. It should be a universal rule. Last year I pulled into Hidden Springs and was told they had no hiker/biker site, so they gave me a regular site to myself for the $5 hiker/biker rate. Sweet.
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Old 03-05-13, 01:09 PM   #12
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Yeah the Kirk Creek website states it doesn't have water at all. When going south bound you could just fill up on water at Limekiln State Park where camping costs you $35. BTW Plaskett Creek will also cost you $22. Prices like that aren't in my budget for cycling tours.
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Old 03-05-13, 11:09 PM   #13
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This happened a couple of time to us last summer. Many of the Socal campgrounds have closed or tightly regulated their hiker/biker sites do to problems with transients. We were fortunate to get a regular spot at one of the campgrounds when the ranger told us the hiker/biker site was full. Anywhere north of San Francisco into B.C., campgrounds are not a problem.
This shouldn't be a concern at all for the OP on the stretch from Monterey down to Cambria on his way to the Great Western Bike Rally. It's only farther south that there have been closures of the Hike&Bike areas. The one at Pismo Beach was closed a few years ago as a result of complaints about homeless using the site. There were certainly homeless present when I've toured through there in the past, but they seemed friendly and didn't bother us in any way.

And the GWBR is held over the Memorial Day weekend, so the OPs trip will be during the week preceding that. That's before the main tourist season and I've never seen any problem with the campsites being crowded at that time.
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Old 03-05-13, 11:58 PM   #14
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Yeah the Kirk Creek website states it doesn't have water at all. When going south bound you could just fill up on water at Limekiln State Park where camping costs you $35. BTW Plaskett Creek will also cost you $22. Prices like that aren't in my budget for cycling tours.
Lime Kiln and Plasket Creek both have dedicated hike and bike sites...

Outside of urban areas, the rangers are a lot more relaxed about the sites. Unfortunately, a good percentage of the homeless that abused the program along the SoCal coast had mental problems and/or substance abuse issues. It only takes one guy sitting in the site raving out profanities at all & sundry (not to mention the fights) to get the park management to say "the heck with this!"

I also believe management was afraid of officially profiling users, letting only "real travelers" stay, because of possible lawsuits by homeless rights groups. Instead they just shut most of the sites down.
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Old 03-07-13, 01:38 PM   #15
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Lime Kiln and Plasket Creek both have dedicated hike and bike sites
Sure? I couldn't find anything about that on their websites. I'll be touring that area next month so it would be nice to know.
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Old 03-08-13, 11:41 PM   #16
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For Lime Kiln, take a look at this journal from last summer: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=311836&v=AF

Hmmm--I was relying on my memory of other journals for Plaskett, such as this one:
http://chipbiking.wordpress.com/2009...ay-campground/

Of course, the sites could be closed this year. Best thing to do is to call ahead to each campground and confirm with the rangers that they do have the program. For example, Cuyamaca Rancho and Grover Hot Springs State Parks in CA have no information on the Net whatsoever about the fact that you can camp in their picnic areas overnight. Before going there, I called ahead to make sure, and the ranger at the kiosk had to call headquarters to confirm the pollicy existed (they did not get much use.)

The Lime Kiln site also looks very small, and someone else may be there first...

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Old 03-12-13, 12:32 PM   #17
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We were just at Kirk Creek, which has six hiker/biker sites, and they're beautiful. The camp is DRY, so pack water. I believe the cost is $5 per night for H/B sites.
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Old 03-13-13, 10:32 AM   #18
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Wow. Hiker/biker sites. That brings back memories.

I'm a hiker primarily, and a few years ago I was hiking the Oregon coast and stopped at a state campground with a hiker/biker area. After I set up my tent I went to get water, and saw these bikers. So I bellowed out at them:
Hello bikers! I'm a hiker!
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Old 03-29-13, 08:49 AM   #19
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We were just at Kirk Creek, which has six hiker/biker sites, and they're beautiful. The camp is DRY, so pack water. I believe the cost is $5 per night for H/B sites.
No opportunities to filter water either (i.e. a water carrying creek?)
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Old 03-29-13, 09:43 AM   #20
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HERE YA GO!
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Old 03-29-13, 09:57 AM   #21
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No opportunities to filter water either (i.e. a water carrying creek?)
No creek, but Limekiln state park is less than 2 miles north, and it's less than 10 miles to Gorda to the south, so it's manageable.
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Old 03-29-13, 10:01 AM   #22
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No creek, but Limekiln state park is less than 2 miles north, and it's less than 10 miles to Gorda to the south, so it's manageable.
Good to know. No point then to take a water filter for my trip. Thank you.
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Old 03-30-13, 05:02 PM   #23
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Actually.... there is a creek at Kirk Creek. Think about it... the campground is called the Kirk CREEK campground. Here is a link to a video showing the creek running into the ocean. The creek is just south of the campground. I used to hike there routinely and many people would go down to where the creek entered the ocean and lie in a pool to wash the sweat off. The only question really is whether there will be enough water at that time of year to filter it. I vote for yes...but I'd probably check with the Forest Service to make sure the creek is running....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOohNmPUdPk
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Old 03-30-13, 05:14 PM   #24
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more info re the creek at Kirk Creek Campground here...http://books.google.com/books?id=zKm...nal%3F&f=false

I would be more concerned ab out the road from about the San Luis Obispo County line southbound to around Hearst Castle. The chip seal issue has many cyclists up in arms. If you ride it I would go nice and slow and it would be better with bigger (wider) tires than skinny ones. Here is a link to Adventure Cycling's discussion about this problem. http://www.adventurecycling.org/foru...?topic=11252.0
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Old 03-30-13, 08:07 PM   #25
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I would be more concerned ab out the road from about the San Luis Obispo County line southbound to around Hearst Castle. The chip seal issue has many cyclists up in arms. If you ride it I would go nice and slow and it would be better with bigger (wider) tires than skinny ones. Here is a link to Adventure Cycling's discussion about this problem. http://www.adventurecycling.org/foru...?topic=11252.0
With 16 x 1.35 I should be fine, right? LOL! Not much I can do about this asides staying positive and hope that the landscape distracts me enough not to get a crappy mood. Thanks for the head up.
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