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Mansfield Ravine Trail

Re: Mansfield Ravine Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:40 pm

Date Hiked: August 27, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Irritated at not getting to the end of the trail on my Sierra Club hike, I went back last Saturday and did some light trailwork, filling eroded holes in the embankment and sawing limbs off trees, so one now need not leave the trail to get around the deadfalls. The highlight of the trip was meeting Murdock, the USFS fire crew leader responsible for last year's clearing of the Prewitt Loop trail. After my description of the downed trees along the Willett Trail, he said he might take a crew in there to saw them.

Jack
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Re: Mansfield Ravine Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:35 pm

Date Hiked: August 14, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Thanks for that informative background on this trail. Hopefully this Trail Report thread will get re-named to become "Willett Trail" - that name seems very appropriate given Robert's work on the trail (as recognized by the USFS naming). I've already re-named its description on my on-line Ventana Trail Map.

To help introduce this new trail to others, 10 days ago I led a Sierra Club hike up it (and since it is so short, also Mill Creek Trail). Unfortunately we had to turn around at the deadfall about 0.8 miles up from the Prewitt Trail junction due to the unease of one of the hikers (though I had advertised for "adventurous hikers"). Next time I will vet my hikers more carefully and expect to get all the way to the viewpoint at the end of the official trail and beyond to the wonderful view of Cone Peak from its ridge. (And will also bring a hand saw to do what I can about fallen trees.)

The redwood forest is a wonderful place. Having the background you provided will make hiking it more interesting to others.

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Re: Mansfield Ravine Trail

Postby yesuree on Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:50 pm

Date Hiked: August 6, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I've hiked and visited this canyon since 1975 and had the privilege to live within it for the last 11 years up to its purchase by the Save the Redwoods League in 2009.

As mentioned, Robert Willett developed the trail initially with his land partners, friends, and hired helpers, and later on maintained and improved the trail on his own and with his son Brian's and paid help. We also regularly raked the trail with McClouds and garden rakes. After a spill from the back of a dirt bike that slid on loose debris I was more than happy to rake. Deer constantly brought rubble down on the trail on their way to drink in the creek--this was a particular problem for several years after the 2000 fire in the canyon which cleared out a lot of erosion-preventing vegetation. The deer seemed to be more numerous in hunting season, using the canyon as a hideout surrounded by, but protected from, hunters in the encircling national forest. Over the years the trail was lovingly kept in a practically manicured state until the sale and subsequent hand-over to USFS which does not have the money or manpower to continue such attention.

Though I've made several returns to the canyon since its sale, it was not until July 18, 2011 that I hiked up the main trail since leaving. I encountered the expected accumulated rock and tree fall, particularly since many of the tanbarks of the canyon have succumbed to Sudden Oak Death and one-by-one they continue to fall. While living there our exit from the canyon often involved chain-sawing and pitching tanoaks– we felt fortunate to never have ended up under one.

What I did not expect and was dismayed to find was evidence of cattle on the trail as mentioned by jbl. This is a particularly steep-sided canyon with a continuous trail made possible only by the labor-intensive installation of bulkheads created from rock, dirt, and fallen timbers. Unfortunately, the cattle seem to have entered the canyon after or during a rain, crowded each other to the sides on the trail and damaged the bulkheads supporting the edges extensively. The trail will survive underneath a lot of rock and tree fall even with lack of maintenance, but once the bulkheads give way the trail falls away with them. Keeping the cattle out in the first place is much simpler than restoring the bulkheads, if indeed the funding was available to make this possible.

Additionally, as mentioned by jdl, there are cowpats all over the trail. Most distressing is the manure in the seasonal tributary of Owl Ravine (so named for the spotted owls we often encountered there), which due to late rains was still uncharacteristically running at this time of year, sending the effluence of manure to the creek below. If algae appears in the main creek (The Ganges) which in turn runs into Prewitt Creek, it's likely attributable to this degradation. (Isn't there a ruling that says cattle cannot have access to watersheds?) Cattle only ever once before entered the canyon during Robert's tenure and were swiftly removed due to his diligence. In this recent instance, we inquired of officials of the USPS and were assured that this was an isolated incident which has not reoccurred. It was attributed to the fact that cattle from the ridges above were not supplied with the food and water they were accustomed to and wandered into the canyon in search of it. However, any future signs of cattle in the canyon should be reported and followed up on to be sure to be acted on.

Most recently, on Aug 6, 2011 Robert and I hiked the canyon and, as volunteers, with a lot of chain-sawing and pitching of rocks and debris, we cleared the trail for most of the first mile.

Some place names of the canyon (as listed in Clark's Monterey County Place Names):

THE GANGES–the name given by Robert Willett to Mansfield Ravine's main creek in recognition of its spiritual qualities.
SHOUEY RIDGE–the north-facing ridge rising above Mansfield Ravine, named for homesteader Shouey. Brian Willett, Robert's son, gives a detailed account of Shuey in The South Coast of Big Sur The Untold Story, a publication produced by him and his classmates as a class project at Pacific Valley School. Spelled by some as "Shuey".
HOME RIDGE--the south-facing ridge enclosing the canyon that Clark suggests is named after the "Home Place" as the Mansfield House which in times past was located at the base of the ridge. Additionally, some say the name comes from the fact that cattle were driven "home" down this ridge.

This trail has recently been named the Willett Trail (http://tinyurl.com/4zuh2je) though unfortunately misspelled on the website as "Willet", which is also the subject of another Ventana Wilderness Forum site, Willet (sic) Trail, at viewtopic.php?f=26&t=630 that apparently takes its misspelling as well from the USFS site. The Mansfield Ravine Trail and Willett Trail forums should perhaps be combined (as they refer to the same canyon trail) and the spelling corrected.

I look forward to my next hike on the Willett Trail.
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Re: Mansfield Ravine Trail

Postby jbl on Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:02 am

Date Hiked: June 11, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This was my first time back to this trail since my visit there when it first opened, and it's amazing how much the rain and wind have impacted it.

Many sections of the trail are wilderness highway (especially the lower sections), but the brush is beginning to encroach in the sections at the upper end of the trail. There were a number of small trees clogging the trail; I was able to clear a bit of this to the extent my 6" saw could do so, but there are still a few 1' or so trees across the trail that require ducking under or climbing over.

There is a very nasty spot (about a mile up from the Prewitt/Mansfield junction) where a redwood just above the trail sheared off and took a section of trail with it, leaving a jumble of branches and roots and forcing you to drop below where the trail was and thread your way through.

In the area of the trail about .8 miles up from the Prewitt/Mansfield junction (where there's a creek crossing and a prominent Y junction with a side trail heading up to the right), there are numerous cowpies along the trail; I'm not sure where the cows came from (there are lots of cows up on the grassy main east-west ridge to the south of the end of the Mansfield Ravine trail, but I saw no sign of them along the actual trail until I got down to the Y junction; maybe they are coming down that side trail?)
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Re: Mansfield Ravine Trail

Postby Robert Willett and Kate Healey on Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:54 am

Date Hiked: June 5, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

The Trail in Mansfield Ravine was started in 1970 by Robert Willett and was an on going project until the sale of the property to the USFS in 2009.There was no trial through Mansfield Ravine prior to 1970. Robert Willett and friends cut and built this trail using traditional methods and tools only and maintained the trail this way for 40 years.This trail was his access to the home he built and where he raised a family.

Expanding the existing trail to connect with Home Ridge would be ideal

Keeping water bars open and the falling trails off the trail are key to maintaining this beautiful trail.
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Re: Mansfield Ravine Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:50 am

For those who do not know about this recent addition to the USFS trail system, it is unmarked, starting on the dirt road that departs south of the Prewitt Loop Trail 0.6 miles from that trail's southern trailhead. While there are several "Y"s, when ascending one always takes the branch to the right - except for the branch which quickly leads to a bench and a rock pile blocking the trail, which indicates that the other branch should be taken there! After climbing though a redwood forest you will pass an open meadow with a remaining farming implement, and 0.2 miles later reach a viewspot at a projecting rock outcropping with an old stone foundation, where the "wilderness freeway" path ends, 1.5 miles from the Prewitt Loop intersection. Two faint trails lead out from there - to continue 0.2 miles to the open area, you want the one heading more directly up the ridge, not the one continuing along a contour (which quickly ends at an extensive downfall area). On reaching the open area one could opt to ascend as high as one likes for views, even all the way to Plaskett Ridge in grass, or turn down slope 0.1 mile in grass to intersect the Mansfield Ravine Trail at the "farm implement" meadow.

The trail is shown on my on-line Ventana Trailmap http://www.drjack.info/ventana_trailmap.html where I have indicated the much rougher upper segment as a "use trail" which includes a loop back to the meadow.

Except for the open area mentioned, the trail lies entirely in redwoods and will make a nice cool summer hike. Boon Hughey is preparing a short commentary on the trail, which lies on property turned over to the USFS by the Save the Redwoods League.

Jack Glendening
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Re: Mansfield Ravine Trail

Postby K Vandevere on Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:06 am

Date Hiked: November 11, 2010
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

From the trailhead to the upper cabin site, this trail is a wilderness freeway. The short section beyond the cabin site (cutting back above the main trail) to the upper meadows is little more than a deer trail, but worth it for the extensive views. There are numerous side trails well worth exploring.
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Mansfield Ravine Trail

Postby mikesplain on Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:30 pm

* USFS Trail #
* Parking: Highway 1
* Watershed:
* Connects:
* Camps:
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