I have lived up the coast from here for years and despite driving by the trailhead numerous times, I had never done this loop before. I'm glad that has changed! This was a great excuse to take the drive down Highway 1 and spend some time on the trails. It was a super fun loop that provides gorgeous ocean views, stout climbs, and a variety of ecosystems that make the Santa Lucia mountains so unique. The trails were in great conditions, especially by Big Sur standards. I always recommend checking out bigsurtrailmap.net before any adventure in Big Sur because some of those trails can get quite neglected and it can be very remote. This route has enough traffic that I'd consider it a "wilderness freeway." The tread was always evident, very easy to see, and there were just a couple trees down on the Salmon Creek side. There was some water in the creeks, mostly in Salmon Creek. Very dry near the top and mostly dry coming down Cruikshank. I took 1500ml of water and had just enough but it was a cooler day. I came across maybe a dozen people, mostly backpackers, which I didn't think was very crowded for a holiday weekend.
I did this route the counter-clockwise direction: starting at Highway 1, up Salmon Creek, hitting the Ridge Road, down Cruikshank and then Buckeye all the way down to Highway 1. This is the FKT route and the direction I think I would prefer to go anyway! It would be very easy to throw in a summit of Silver Peak halfway through, although that is not part of the FKT route. I was coming off a couple weeks from an ultra, so this was definitely an easier effort. I'm sure someone will come along soon enough and destroy my time :) I hiked all the uphills and jogged the downhills so if someone can put in even just a little bit more effort, I'm sure they'll have a better time. But I saw no one else had posted here, so I wanted to at least get one on there! I'll definitely come back in the spring when I'm a little bit better primed for a harder effort and try to improve.
My best piece of advice is to stop at the Big Sur Taco truck in Lucia north of the trailhead if headed towards Monterey!