Lion Creek

Jump to: navigation, search
Lion Creek Canyoneering Canyoning Caving
Log in to rateLog in to rateLog in to rateLog in to rateLog in to rate 1.0 (1 rating)

Lion Creek Banner.jpg

Difficulty:3C VI (v3a4 VI)
Raps:‌6, max ↨150ft
Overall:3 days
Approach:10-15h ⟷12mi ↑4500ft
Exit:7-12h ⟷12mi ↑1000ft
Red Tape:No permit required
Condition Reports:
20 May 2023

"With 75F on the NOAA forecast the creekwalking was a very pleasant temperature but the bushwhack was sweltering. Wetsuits weren't needed, but a shorty

(log in to submit report)
Best season:
Feb - May


Lion Creek has some lovely waterfalls that you can rappel in. Unfortunately, the ceaseless tangle of foliage and poison oak surrounding these falls means this canyon is suitable only for rabid bushwhacking enthusiasts.

This canyon is best done as a three-day trip; hike and camp at Sykes Camp on day 1, do the riverwalk and canyon portion on day 2, and hike out day 3.


Check the USGS river gauge before starting your trip. On the first descent trip the gauge read 100cfs, and the creekwalk sections were manageable. The flow in this creekwalk is probably the limiting factor as R1-R5 are in a small tributary and R6 can be scouted from below before committing to the canyon.

Follow the Pine Ridge trail until it crosses the Big Sur River at Sykes, then walk downstream. Although the camp is often busy, there are two nice sites in the next bends in the river past the hot springs.

Follow the Big Sur until it intersects Lion Creek, then follow the creek upstream until it reaches the falls. At this point, you'll need to start bushwhacking to reach the ridgeline northeast of the falls. Routes may vary depending on the foliage density any given year, but generally south-facing slopes will be much easier going, as they host chamise and yerba santa, which is much easier to push through. Don't plan on being able to climb any cliffs, as all exposed rock is fractured and loose. Follow the ridgeline until 2350' elevation, then drop down into the marked tributary.


Now the bushwhacking gets even worse. Don't say we didn't warn you.

  • A canyoneer stops to question his life choices
  • The raps are quite nice. It's not worth it

  • R1: 50'

    R2: 30'

    R3: 100'

    R4: 150'

    R5: 100'?

    R6: 80'?

    Plentiful trees in the Lion Creek tributary make for easy anchoring options on R1-5. R6 is the waterfall seen on the approach hike, and has no convenient trees, but lots of large stones from which to make a cairn anchor. Please use ghosting techniques to keep this canyon pristine.


    Go out the way you came in.

    Red tape

    There is a $10/day cash parking fee at the Pine Ridge trailhead.

    Beta sites

    Trip reports and media



    Information provided by automated processes. KML map by (unknown). Main photo by (unknown). Authors are listed in chronological order.

    In all habitats live animals and plants that deserve respect, please minimize impact on the environment and observe the local ethics. Canyoneering, Canyoning, Caving and other activities described in this site are inherently dangerous. Reliance on the information contained on this site is solely at your own risk. There is no warranty as to accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the information provided on this site. The site administrators and all the contributing authors expressly disclaim any and all liability for any loss or injury caused, in whole or in part, by its actions, omissions, or negligence in procuring, compiling or providing information through this site, including without limitation, liability with respect to any use of the information contained herein. If you notice any omission or mistakes, please contribute your knowledge (more information).