Photo Tribute: Cone Peak in Big Sur

Exploring the King of the Big Sur Coast

David Yocom
4 min readJul 7, 2022

Ways to Do this Hike

This year (2022) was my first time exploring the area surrounding Cone Peak, first as an overnight on the ridge at Cone Peak Road and the second as a 24 mile day trip. There are three main routes to climb the highest coastal mountain in the contiguous US:

  • 1) the Kirk Creek / Vicente Flat Trails beginning at Kirk Creek Campground
  • 2) the Stone Ridge Trail, which begins just north of Limekiln State Park
  • 3) the Carrizo Trail, which begins from Milpitas Road in the east. To date, I have only approached Cone Peak via the Kirk Creek / Vicente Flat Trails, but have heard good reports of the other approaches which aren’t as well trodden.

Cone Peak is a pretty well-documented trek, so I don’t feel the need to do a full write-up on this one, but will link out to some resources that I have found helpful in the past:

My main takeaway from exploring this area was that Cone Peak hosts an incredibly special diversity of plants, animals, geography, and oceans vistas. My hope is to continue to return year after year and see what new friends I can spot, and add them here!

Flora & Fauna — Winter & Spring 2022

(1) California poppies dot the hillside on the Vicente Flat Trail (2) Coast Indian paintbrush (3) California Buckeye seedling
(1) Sticky monkey-flower & silver lupine (2) Chaparral yucca (3) Paintbrush varietal & American lady caterpillar
(1) Endemic Santa Lucia Fir below Cone Peak (2) California redwood along Vicente Creek
California redwoods along the upper section of Vicente Creek
(1) Western diamondback rattlesnake (2) California garter snake
Alligator lizard (sub-species unknown)

Views & Vistas — Winter & Spring 2022

The views south & north (respectively) along the Kirk Creek Trail
(1) The view north along the Kirk Creek Trail (2) Late afternoon light on Cone Peak
(1) Heavy marine layer looking south from the Vicente Flat Trail (2) Cone Peak from the last stretch of the Vicente Flat Trail before Cone Peak Road
(1) The view northwest from the Cone Peak summit (2) Kandlbinder, the “Window” and Ventana Double Cone to the north from the summit
Golden hour & sunset along the Kirk Creek Trail



David Yocom

San Francisco | Director of Strategy @ EarthOptics | Venture for America | Aspiring Outdoorsman | Future of Food & Climate | Guitar & Music | Fitness