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Andrew Molera State Park: East Molera Trail

Trail Report

In the form below, enter a Subject line or title (optional), the date you hiked the trail, and a a rating as to the general passability of that trail then follow up with a more detailed narrative of the specific conditions or problems encountered. For the longer trails some folks like to segment the specific conditions part of their reports, reporting conditions in a serial fashion between landmarks such as camps or junctions. This is fine so long as the entire report is specific to a particular named trail.

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Wilderness Freeway: Heavily used and well maintained.
Clear: No obstacles and tread well defined.
Passable: Some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident.
Difficult: Brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread.
Impassable: Completely overgrown or tread obliterated.

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Expand view Topic review: Andrew Molera State Park: East Molera Trail

Re: Andrew Molera State Park: East Molera Trail

Post by jack_glendening on Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:51 am

Date Hiked: March 27, 2015
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Great condition, likely was worked on by a trail crew this spring.


Re: Andrew Molera State Park: East Molera Trail

Post by LindsayJ on Sun May 11, 2014 4:26 pm

Date Hiked: May 7, 2014
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I climbed the East Molera Trail to the top of Post Summit the day before Carl's trip report and will add that the continuation of the trail to the top is generally clear but the final gravelly sections that carry the hiker to the top are extremely slippery, especially coming back down. The top presents a wonderful view to those willing to undertake the climb, although the trail is less traveled. The extensive rolling pastures are easy to navigate. The final firebreak is overgrown.
On the day two of us hiked to the top, the wind was strong and cold and there were no ticks willing to challenge us. Poison oak was plentiful; however, the grass is still green, poppies and lupin abound, and the hike left us with a feeling of accomplishment and sore legs. Looking at the ridge going south to Mt. Manual, I could see much more brush; I imagine it is more difficult than the route to Post Summit.

Re: Andrew Molera State Park: East Molera Trail

Post by Carl Mounteer on Thu May 08, 2014 10:06 pm

Date Hiked: May 8, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Finding the trailhead was a bit of a challenge. You can park your car at the turnout on the other side of the road from the entrance to Andrew Molera State State Park, cross Highway 1 to the asphalt entrance road to the Park and, instead of walking right into the parking lot continue straight ahead off the asphalt entrance road to the dirt road which will take you under Highway 1 to the trail. Alternatively, after parking your car at the turnout, you can walk about 0.1 miles south on Highway 1 to a large, rustic, wooden door frame on Highway 1. This also marks an entrance to the trail. However, given the high-speed traffic on Highway 1, I think parking your car at the turnout and crossing Highway 1 to the entrance to Andrew Molera and taking that route is safer.

The tread was obvious the entire 1.6 miles to the redwoods at the top. The brush is encroaching the entire trail but not seriously. The only real problem this presents is the abundance of ticks. I counted 68 that I brushed off my pants legs round trip. For some reason I had 57 inbound and 11 outbound. Since I was in front of my hiking partner inbound I may have collected the majority of them going up the trail since my hiking partner did not seem to find many on himself. They also, curiously, seem to come much more from the hillside side of the trail than the cliff-edge side of the trail. I would estimate a 10:1 ratio of ticks that attach from the hillside:cliff side. Monitoring and ridding oneself of these creatures really slowed us down. But I think it is very important form of self-care with these potentially harmful insects.

The tread is very slippery outbound especially on the last switchback bringing you down to the base of the mountain. At one point I fell.

There is a little water seeping into mud on the first switchback inbound. But it would be very difficult and slow to collect water from this source.

It was quite warm going up the switchbacks. There was a cold wind at the top. So dress with layers.

A few turkey vultures cruised by, rather indifferent to our presence unlike the California Condor I saw once on Mt. Manuel Peak that seemed to zoom in close and study me with the greatest interest circling me 2-3 times before gliding off majestically thousands of feet over Big Sur Canyon.

Views were gorgeous going up as well as the lavish abundance of bright orange California Poppies. The blue lupins were past their best at the base of the mountain but still blooming on the hillsides beyond the redwoods at the top. However, I expect they were much more brilliant 2 weeks ago. But the California Poppies were really lovely and cheered up the whole landscape as well as myself.

Re: Andrew Molera State Park: East Molera Trail

Post by K Vandevere on Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:45 pm

Date Hiked: March 24, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Leaving the highway, the first few yards of this trail have a good deal of encroaching poison oak. It's still possible to pass through unscathed, but with the growing season now fully underway, it may not be for long. Just past the poison oak a large portion of a coast live oak has fallen across the trail, necessitating crawling under or climbing over. Once the first hundred yards are out of the way, though, it's essentially a wilderness freeway. After the ridge is gained, scratchy patches of dried up deer weed encroach on the trail from time to time (only an issue if you're in shorts), and get worse as the ascent continues. In contrast to recent reports from other coastal trails, we found no ticks. In spite of the dry winter, a lot is currently blooming up there (CA Poppies, Silver, Sky & Stinging Lupine, Johnnie Jump Ups, Blue-Eyed Grass, Delphiniums, Buttercups, Checker Bloom, Owls Clover, Paintbrush, etc.). Also saw a big coyote, who put on a yipping and howling show for us, as well as hawks, turkey vultures, and a pair of condors who seemed very curious about us and flew repeatedly right over our heads. Great time of year to be up there.

Re: East Molera Trail

Post by mikesplain on Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:34 pm

Date Hiked: May 22, 2012
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Section: Highway 1 to Molera Ridge-
wide open & well-maintained; as per usual, deerweed along the switchbacks was teaming with ticks.
horrid infestation of thistle beside the redwood grove up top.

Section: Molera Ridge to Post Summit-
"the Golden Stairs", as this section is often called, is not actually the East Molera Trail,
but a dozer line up to Post Summit.
I'd rate it as clear, due to encroaching deerweed in a few spots, but mostly it's wide open grassland & steep ascents through chaparral

Section: Post Summit to Mount Manuel Trail junction-
again, this isn't actually the East Molera Trail,
but a dozer line atop Cabezo Prieto.
I'd rate it as passable-clear due to encroaching deerweed, ceanothus & yerba santa in a few places,
but always easy to follow & makes for a nice connector / through hike to the south side of the Mount Manuel Trail & on to Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park.

East Molera Trail, Post Summit, Mt. Manuel, Pfeiffer

Post by Repo on Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:19 pm

Date Hiked: December 7, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked the 12 mile loop from East Molera up the Golden Staircase to Post Summit, then over to Mt. Manuel and down to Pfeiffer State Park. It took 8 hours with two food breaks and lots of photo breaks. East Molera Trail is great - mostly over grown road at first bu then opens up to grassy knolls. Just below Post Summit you have to follow an old fire break...very steep with unconsolidated rocks. Sparse shrubs about 3 feet high. We saw a trantula here (very cool). From Post Summit to Mt. Manuel we continued to follow an old fire break but deer clover is taking over the trail and there are places that ceonothus is over head high and you have to just duck under and push through. Do a tick check immediately. From Mt Manuel down there are some trees across the trail and recent trail work. Easiest part of the hike. Best views...the entire hike. East Molera you get Pt Sur and Little Sur views and Pico Blanco is in your face the whole time. From Mt. Manuel you get excellent views of the Ventanas. Coming down great views of Timber Top and the gorge. This was a "bucket list" hike for me and I would do it again.

Re: Andrew Molera State Park: East Molera Trail

Post by mikesplain on Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:33 pm

Date Hiked: June 6, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section- Post Summit to Molera Ridge- Wilderness Freeway
Open grassland, essentially a dozer line through open grassland

Section- Molera Ridge to Highway 1- Clear
A nasty patch of Italian & Milk Thistle has taken up residence next to the Molera Ridge redwood grovep;
how to get rid of this stuff? perhaps a herd of goats would do the trick?
Descending the switchbacks and unavoidably brushing through deerweed (Lotus scoparius),
we encountered one of the worst tick infestations in recent memory.
After about 1/2 mile, we reached the extent of recent trail maintenance (weed-whipped by the looks of it);
ticks were much less comon here, but not entirely abent.

Re: Andrew Molera State Park: East Molera Trail

Post by K Vandevere on Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:09 pm

Date Hiked: March 13, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hwy. One to Post Summit

Wilderness freeway all the way to the final "firebreak" section up to Post Summit. Some minor encroachment (soft stuff like Lotus scoparius and yerba santa)on that section, but mainly below knee level. Someone has very recently cut back the worst of the brush. No big wildflower displays, but a lot of things blooming in small quantities (popcorn flower, checker bloom, blue eyed grass, baby blue eyes, owls clover [saw just 3!], silver lupine, stinging phacelia, shooting stars, sticky monkey flower, douglas iris, California poppies, bush poppies, red maids, johnnie jump ups, paintbrush, etc.). Great walk with insanely beautiful views of Pico Blanco, the coast, the backcountry, etc.

Hiked from Hwy. 1 to Post Summit

Post by Solid Snake on Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:38 pm

Date Hiked: February 1, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This trail is in great shape. It starts out as a road, then the track narrows somewhat as you climb a steep hill in one large switchback. The trail continues to climb and after a while it hooks up with another road, this one moving along the ridge. I went right here, left appears to hook up with Old Coast Road. Next the trail winds through beautiful rolling hills, full of lush green grasses this time of year. Finally the road part of the trail ends as the final climb up to post summit begins. This section is quite steep, and there are sections of faint tread, but it is still relatively free of brush and obstacles. At the top the trail continues east along the ridge and connects with the Mt. Manuel Trail. (A day hike starting in Pfiefer and ending in Molera would be a nice winter hike.) I hiked cross-country from here down to the Little Sur South Fork and camped there for the night. Hiked out the next day.






Re: East Molera Trail

Post by ECHolmes on Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:54 pm

The trail from the highway to Post Summit is well traveled, mostly in great shape. A little bit of encroaching thistles and tall grass on the 1st switchbacks, but very little poison oak. In fact, none at all, after the 1st big switchback! The final grade on the firebreak to the summit is steep and loose.

The trail/ firebreak connecting Post Summit to Mt Manuel is mostly clear. There is "duck under" Ceanothus brush on several sections of the trail, on the Mt Manuel end, and the trail can be a little hard to follow in the luxuriant spring growth of this section. (Lots of wet grass, on my hike.) I was hiking from Manuel to Post, and the only place I was concerned about actually losing the trail was near the big drop into the main saddle between them. I was in the clouds, and couldn't see the route, and didn't want to accidentally take a side ridge,if one existed, with a firebreak on it. (It currently doesn't, but I didn't know that yet.) As the drop-off pitched below me, the bulldozed route temporarily split in two, and here are two orange flagging tapes tied to an oak tree. Momentarily, the clouds cleared, and I could see the double route, and a brown trail sign(?) on the Eastern route. As I stuck with the Western, I'm wondering what it said. A route to Tin House? The firebreak is steep and loose through the saddle, and could be rated Difficult for this reason. Take the Eastern fork at this split, for a bulldozer switch back, if you prefer.