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Prewitt Loop Trail

Re: Prewitt Loop Trail

Postby K Vandevere on Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:37 pm

Date Hiked: October 21, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

South trailhead to Kelly Camp

The trail begins as a Wilderness Freeway. The opening sections have recently been brushed out and the edges even appear to have been manicured with a weed-whacker. It doesn't last. As the climb continues, the recent work becomes more hit and miss and shortly before leaving the ridge and beginning the long traverse, the work reaches a decisive end. From this point forward, poison oak becomes unavoidable, there are frequent (though easily passed) deadfalls, branches must often be pushed aside, and the tread becomes increasingly narrow. Just before reaching Kelly Camp the tread becomes so degraded that the final 100 yards probably deserve to be rated "difficult." Kelly Camp (which has a nice ocean view through the trees, but little else to recommend it) is dry, but there are several water sources along the trail in the final two miles before the camp and another water source just beyond.
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Re: Prewitt Loop Trail

Postby jjjjeremy on Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

Date Hiked: July 23, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Planned to hike from the northern trailhead to Stag Camp. Trail became covered in poison oak after about 500 yards. We turned back and took the Prewitt Ridge Use Trail / cattle trail that starts a few hundred yards south of the northern Prewitt Loop trailhead. That trail is missing from the trail conditions map, but is on the Google and Garmin files.

Once we reconnected with Prewitt Loop we were able to make it another mile or so until the poison oak took over again. Headed straight West/uphill and reconnected with Prewitt Ridge, and spent the night up there.

Stag Camp is likely accessible if you take the ridge trail and then cut East/Downhill through the grassy areas at the last possible moment to reconnect with Prewitt Loop before it heads back into the trees. You'd need a GPS or aerial photos to do this, though.

For what it's worth, I think I'd rather hike the ridge than head into the poison oak just to get to Stag Camp.

Re: Prewitt Loop Trail

Postby jdoelman on Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:27 pm

Date Hiked: June 7, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

We followed the trail from the Mansfield trail north for about 2 miles.
Some portions of the 1st mile are inundated with Italian thistle but we were able to push through it relatively easily. Parts of the trail are brushy, poison oak was difficult to avoid. Short sections of heavy brush encroachment are encountered but we did not have difficulty finding the trail.
Note: After doing some investigation of the Silver Peak Wilderness boundaries I believe that this trail is incorrectly labeled as within the wilderness. It is within the Los Padres forest, but it is not within the wilderness boundary. The determination of what is and what is not within the wilderness is not easily surmised.

Editor (JG) note: my understanding is that this trail is entirely outside wilderness.
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Re: Prewitt Loop Trail

Postby erika2560 on Mon May 01, 2017 3:47 pm

Date Hiked: April 31, 2017
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Started North to south on loop. Parked eastern side of highway where Prewitt Loop starts.

First 2 miles:
Switchbacks, overgrown, thorny bushes, trail is starting to wash out in places next to steep drop-offs, trekking poles recommended. Tread carefully.
High, very high abundance of ticks, bug spray highly recommended. Brought my dog, picked over 100 ticks off of him. Deer ticks too.

Next two miles:
A lot of downed trees in forest. Was able to clear a way through most of them, able to crawl underneath some of the downed trees on path.
Tread carefully: path is soft and will give way if walking too close to the side of the trail.
High abundance of mosquitoes.

Plenty of water sources after first two miles. 6-7 springs. 4th mile there is a man-made pipe and trough with plenty of water. Very pretty waterfall shortly after that

Did not reach Stag Camp (4.1 miles). Trail became completely impassible at 4th mile. A lot of downed trees, trail completely disappeared. Might have been a false trail. There was a trail that veered sharply up a hill (thought it might have been a vantage point for the view.. could have actually been the actual trail to Stag Camp) too exhausted to check it out though. Ended up turning back.

For the first four miles still worth it. Absolutely beautiful this time of the year. Amazing views. Warm night didn't drop below 65 degrees.
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Re: Prewitt Loop Trail

Postby ACoatFilledWithBees on Mon May 09, 2016 12:43 am

Date Hiked: May 7, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Three of us did this trail in two days going South-North on the loop. The hike was fantastic, but the quality of the trail between Kelly and Stag was comically low. Erosion, rock slides, poison oak, and faint tread. The Stag-to-highway-1 descent has absolutely incredible views, and we saw a whale from the ridge during the last part of the descent.

Trail update:

USFS firestation to Kelly Camp: (4 miles, 4 hours)
Extensive poison oak on the trail, but the trail was otherwise quite obvious and overgrowth/erosion was relatively mild. Streams were running and Kelly camp itself seems in good condition.

Kelly Camp to Stag camp: (4.5 miles, 6 hours)
This was somewhere between difficult and impassable. The tread is gone in places, to the point that at several points we had to drop packs and run around for 15-30 minutes finding the trail. This was consistently a problem in the open/grassy areas. Someone has generously put up flags at some of these points, but (1) they're sparse+faded where they're needed most, and (2) there are several false-paths that are well worn but end ~100 ft down various hill sides. We tried to leave (or add) deadwood across those false trails. Multiple parts of the trail were seriously eroded and overgrown with brush including poison oak. I counted 4 fallen trees to clamber through and two that necessitated leaving the path. Right before Stag camp there is a particularly treacherous rockfall that was difficult to traverse and had a steep fall below us. All but the last two streams before Stag were running.

Side note: We stopped on the trail for water and were immediately attacked by biting ants. We seem to have chosen to stop on top of an ant hill (what luck!). I can't imagine that's a common event but heads up? Don't annoy the ants?

Stag Camp to Highway 1 (4 miles, 2 hours)
We stayed at Stag Camp overnight, it's overgrown with (mostly) non poison oak plants, and (as previously noted) a large tree has fallen into the branches of another tree and hangs precariously over the entire campsite. There was no running water immediately before Stag or between Stag and the highway. The path to the highway splits before it turns into the ridge hike, and the lower path seems to pass an enormous bees hive (we could hear them even before the split, and could see the 1000+ swarm from the upper path once we cleared the tree line). The descent towards Sand Dollar Beach is as beautiful as anything I've seen in Big Sur so far.
Eroded Path Between Stag and Kelly
Typical Tree Fall
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Re: Prewitt Loop Trail

Postby LBehrmann on Tue Feb 09, 2016 5:24 pm

Date Hiked: February 6, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked loop South to North, on official trail. I stayed at Kelly, and started early on February 7 for the remainder of the loop.

It is pretty much as the last report described. Some easily navigated downed trees and decent tread on the way to Kelly Camp. Creeks are flowing well, for now.

The tread between Kelly and Stag is often in serious need of help. The slide walk could be difficult for some. I think people have dug in enough to make it slightly less precarious. Excessive flagging.

Stag Camp has a dead tree that fell on the sign and fire ring.

There are many down trees the whole route. Ticks and poison oak are abundant.

A nice time of year to hike, nevertheless.
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Re: Prewitt Loop Trail

Postby cel36 on Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:49 am

Date Hiked: November 29, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked this trail starting at the north entrance as a day hike. The couple of switchbacks leading up to the unofficial Prewitt Ridge use trail were brushy but passable. The usually soggy section has dried out despite the recent rains, but unfortunately ticks have already returned. After joining the ridgeline I took the Prewitt Ridge use trail uphill, which was free of brush or other obstacles. Just before the Prewitt Ridge trail starts following a road cut on the inland side of the ridge I took the connector east to the Prewitt Loop trail, which was noticeably less traveled but still evident.

Prewitt Ridge to Stag Camp: passable. The tread is faint, but somebody recently went to the trouble to flag the entire route which proved very helpful. Brush wasn't much of an issue and I don't recall any troublesome deadfalls. There was water available at the spring west of the campsite. Poison oak was dormant, but I imagine would be a problem throughout the loop for anyone susceptible.

Stag Camp to Kelly Camp: passable/difficult. The tread past Stag Camp was immediately fainter, with minor deadfalls just beyond the camp. After contouring along the slope to a dry ravine, the trail rounded another ridgeline to a slide bordered at the bottom by a few sycamores. The trail here was narrow and scree-covered but passable with care, although about a yard of trail in the center of the slide was precarious. From there the trail to the middle ridge was in decent shape, but south of middle ridge passed through dense chamise. I didn't encounter a slide near Kelly Camp, and the trail may have been rerouted uphill via a couple of switchbacks--the pin flags and flagging tape were very useful in this section. Dense oak litter made the surface slippery in places.

Kelly Camp to Highway 1: passable. I was in a hurry to finish up at this point, but there didn't seem to be any water sources near Kelly Camp. The trail was fairly good except for deadfalls, which probably totaled around 10. Most were easy to get around, but could cause trouble for backpackers or taller hikers. The tread was both wider and more evident in this section. Footing was also better without much oak litter or scree. The switchbacks to Mansfield Ravine (dry) were in better shape than the rest of the trail and easy to follow even in twilight.
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Re: Prewitt Loop Trail

Postby Docmcjones on Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:02 pm

Date Hiked: February 15, 2015
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Hiked full backpack for overnight at Kelly camp then completed loop following day. Trail from south entrance to Kelly camp quite usable with 12-18 trees down on trail to clear over, under or drop pack proceed through tree pull pack through. Kelley camp in good condition with intact fire ring tent space well cleared. Flowing water a few yards up trail if needed. Hike time about 4hrs. Proceeded on trail following AM. Trail narrowed to foot path then to 6-12" wide trail at higher grassy elevation with steep slopes of a few hundred feet. Narrow trail most of the way to Stag. Two 10-15' sections of narrow trail completely gone due to rock slides with loose rock steeps for about 80' with boulder fields, redwoods and dense undergrowth bellow. Was able to traverse first slide area by grabbing scant vegetation and a couple of foot holds that didn't give way after multiple attempts. Not so lucky at second slide. No chance at hand holds or foot holds with out giving way. Finally made a controlled slide of about 30' to a foot hold then laterally a couple of yards to slope face. Tried ascent, but crumbly rock prevented. Descended to floor of dry creek bed. Boulder field with redwoods dense undergrowth. No chance bushwacking. Saw 75' rock face around the corner with enough solid hand and foot holds to ascend pushing pack ahead. Picked up trail at top. Proceeded to Stags, dozens of downed trees on trail. Not much at Stags other than picnic table. Rest of trail fair with more down trees areas of encroaching overgrowth. Made it to north trail head entrance about 6-7hrs after leaving Kelly camp. Reviewed trail conditions with Forrest service rep at Pacific Valley station next day. I recommend trail closure between Stags and Kelly-he indicated he was in agreement.

Prewitt Loop Trail-PART 2 OF 2-Stag Camp to Highway 1

Postby jbl on Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:28 am

Date Hiked: December 6, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report is a continuation of the prior report (there's a limit on the no. of pictures that can be included in a single post) and covers the section from Stag Camp down to Highway 1.

Immediately as you leave Stag Camp there are a couple of trees down:

Tree 1

Tree 2

Tree 3

After that, things are pretty clear to the turnoff that would take you up onto the Prewitt Ridge, which I was tempted to take, but I decided to finish the loop so that I could give a full report.

In the section after that turnoff, there are 3 more trees down, one of which required some acrobatics to get through.

Tree 4

Tree 6

Tree 5

Once I intersected the Prewitt Ridge use trail on the front of the ridge (which is a staggered intersection that I flagged on a recent Prewitt Ridge hike), I opted to take the ridge trail back to the bottom on the assumption that the rest of the Prewitt Loop trail was probably pretty clear.

The entire trip (including walking back over to my car at the Pacific Valley Fire Station) was (according to my GPS) 12.7 miles with 2,900' of elevation gain, and took 6:45 (I took a nice lunch break on the front of Middle Ridge).
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Prewitt Loop Trail-PART 1 OF 2

Postby jbl on Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:06 am

Date Hiked: December 6, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report covers the entire loop, which I took south to north. Part 1 covers all the way to Stag Camp, Part 2 will cover Stag Camp to Highway 1
Section: South trailhead to Kelly Camp: Clear to Passable.
The first thing I found was that the sign pointing you onto the Prewitt Loop Trail (where the Prewitt Loop trail turns left off the roadway that continues up into Mansfield Ravine and drops to Mansfield Creek (aka The Ganges)) was about 20 feet downhill; I put it back as best as I could but it would be great if someone could persuade the fire crew to walk up there and get the sign in more permanently.
01a-sign down.JPG
Sign Down

01b-sign up.JPG
Sign Up

From the point where you finish the switchback climb up into the canyon to Kelly Camp, the tread is good in places but is narrow/eroded in many places with a long drop down on the side so much care is needed here. There were 7 trees down along here, some easy stepovers/arounds but some requiring some venturing into PO-infested sidehill. Not much brush encroachment along here.

Section 1 tree 1

Section 1 tree 2

Section 1 tree 3

Section 1 tree 4

Section 1 tree 5-I was able to clear this with my Samurai

Section 1 tree 6

Section 1 tree 7

Kelly camp was clean and welcoming.
03-Kelly Camp.JPG
Kelly Camp

Section: Kelly Camp to Middle Ridge (~2.5 miles): Passable to Difficult
The first part of this section was clear out onto the grassy ridge where the alternative trail (see prior poster's comments) cuts off to the right; the long switchback back to the south shows a lot of evidence of some hard work to maintain a decent width tread on what is a very steep sidehill, but in places it is really narrow and outsloped; there were at least a dozen spots where even I was concerned about getting across on narrow/eroded tread (often covered with wet slippery leaves and/or pebbles) where the drop below was precipitous. The "south" south fork crossing remains a problem, especially with the creek flowing more strongly than normal due to recent rains, I don't know how others do it but I always crawl across the big redwood tree that's down here. There were maybe 5-6 trees down along this section, I had no energy to take pics because my energy was focused on just getting through. Here's one of the trees:
Section 2 Tree 1

There was some brush encroachment in a few places. The "north" south fork crossing has a beautifully engineered series of steps that I wish had been there on my prior trips (I remember having to crawl under a few downed trees in lots of PO in the past).
Section: Middle Ridge to Stag Camp (~2.5 miles): Clear to Difficult
The sections in here that are in the deepest depths of the north fork drainage, including across the slide area, remain pretty tough due to erosion and outsloping. As you get out of the depths and onto the less steep sidehill and grassy sections, the rating changes to clear/passable. There's not much brush encroachment anywhere along here. I don't recall there being any trees down here (if there were, they were easy to get over/around).
Stag Camp was clean, pretty damp.
05-Stag Camp.JPG
Stag Camp

Last edited by jbl on Sun Dec 07, 2014 11:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
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