Bottcher's Gap is located in the north end of Los Padres National Forest. at 2050 ft. To get there from Carmel, head south 11 miles on Highway 1 and turn left onto Palo Colorado Road. Head up the narrow, winding road for 8 miles to Bottcher's Gap. At Bottcher's, there will be a parking lot and campground.
Parking is $5/day
There are two trails:
Skinner Ridge Trail-
It leaves near the pit toilet on the north end of the parking lot and climbs up Skinner Ridge. It continues to Devils Peak, Mount Carmel, and Ventana Double Cone. You can connect to other trails at Big Pines or Puerto Suello.
Fire Road to Pico Blanco-
You can hike through the locked gate down a 3 mile long fire road to BSA Camp Pico Blanco. From Pico, behind the kitchen, you hike up a fire road to the trailhead. If you go left you reach a few riverside camps and then a dead end. If you go right, you will go to Pico Blanco Camp and can take the Launtz Creek trail to other trails. Do not go straight on the fire road, it just goes to a septic tank.
There are several campsites and picnic tables with a pit toilet. A ranger lives on the south side of camp.
No Wilderness Permit is required. You must pay parking, though and a fire permit (free, available on site) is required to use a campfire or stove in camp or in the backcountry. Use caution with trailers on Palo Colorado road.