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Kirk Creek Trail (Highway One to Vicente Flat Camp)

Vicente Flat Trail

Postby TRAILS on Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:08 pm

Date Hiked: June 6, 2009
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)
Conditions Reported by:Rob Yang

The trail up to Vicente Flat was in the best shape I'd ever seen it. No deadfalls and good tread in most places. Surprising number of wildflowers out too. Kudos to all who have worked on this trail!

There was water near Espinosa camp at the usual place.
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Kirk Creek Trail

Postby mikesplain on Fri May 29, 2009 8:24 am

Date Hiked: May 24, 2009
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)
Conditions Reported by: tfuhs

Trail in great condition with only minor sloughing in a couple of areas. Beautiful hike and camp location with most people packing out their trash, etc (LNT).

Leopard lily, ceonothus, monkey flower, & Indian paintbrush were flowering all along the trail. Star thistle on sun exposed slopes-long pants help. Ticks/flies were not an issue. Water limited to one creek drainage (approx 3 miles in) and Hare Creek-dry for May. Caution to families with smaller children (<10 yrs) carrying backpacks. Our 10 year old made the hike fine, but with very close supervision: Several areas of steep drops.
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Vicente Flat/Kirk Creek Trail

Postby mikesplain on Fri May 29, 2009 8:23 am

Date Hiked: May 14, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)
Conditions Reported by: Mike Heard

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp (Kirk Creek Trail, 4E17)

The first 1.33 miles of this trail (starting from Hwy 1) are outside the Chalk Fire burn area, and there is some encroaching brush that is starting to push people off the trail. It's not yet a severe obstacle to hiking, but it is starting to cause resource damage. Please note these areas and make an effort to stay on the trail.

Starting at the burn boundary there are numerous places where debris has come down onto the trail, resulting in some large slides and long sections of trail covered by a layer of rocks and debris that is often 6" thick or more. On the coastal front (i.e., up to the mouth of Hare Canyon) the most dangerous sections have been dealt with (and about 1/4 mile has been completely cleared), and there is a reasonably safe and well-defined (if not always comfortable) tread surface. Within Hare Canyon less work has been done, and many hazardous areas remain (some new, some from before the fire). Hikers are admonished to stay off the outside edge of the trail to avoid a repeat of the accident that happened last year (see Dennis Maggard's report below from 24 May 2008).

There is only one downed tree on this section. It's a small madrone about halfway between Espinosa and Vicente Flat camps, and it's easy to step over.

Section: Vicente Flat Camp to the Cone Peak Road (Vicente Flat Trail, 4E13)

This section almost qualifies for Wilderness Freeway status. The tread is 2' wide all the way, and the trail corridor is sufficiently clear of brush to allow passage for loaded pack stock. The are two problems, however, that I feel compelled to report. FIrst, the stream crossing about 1/2 mile above Vicente Flat Camp at the site of a former logjam washed out during a winter storm, and the original route is blocked by a couple of redwood logs. A temporary detour consisting of rock steps and chopped-out steps in the logs had been constructed, and with a little bit of caution it should not be too much of a problem even with a heavy pack. Second, there is a lot of rock debris down below the burned hillside areas most notably between 1 and 1.5 miles below the Cone Peak Road. Some of these are marble-sized and it's easy to slip when going downhill.
Last edited by C M Heard on Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: correct some inaccurate historical information
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Kirk Creek Trail

Postby mikesplain on Thu May 28, 2009 5:49 pm

Date Hiked: May 8, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

gfelsman

I had a chance to hike the Kirk Creek Trail to Vicente Flat today. First and foremost I want to thank all those who worked on the Trail since the fire. USFS, VWA, Firefire fighters and who ever else may of participated.

The trail is the the best condition it has been for years despite the closure.

I would call the trail Clear to Wilderness Freeway. The tread is solid in most areas and no real sluffing off for the first 3 miles when you turn into Hare Canyon. The crews have done a great job. Only drawback is a lot of the tread has been covered by spring growth. Mostly grass and some type of thistle. Give it a few weeks and and the tread will be greatly improved as the grass is beaten down.

On this day the flowers were great and the weather was clear making this a warm but pleasant hike. As always the flies have come out so be prepared when venturing in the forest these day.

Overall it looks like about 30% of the areas along the trail burned. The fire went though Vicente Flat camp. If you look high into the trees you can see where new branches are already sprouting. By next year it will be hard to notice a lot of the burnt trees with all the new growth.

On this day, I ran into two backpacking groups parties of 2 and 3, and one Mountain Biker using the trail. He had no indiciation he was in the wilderness. I just let him know where he was and to have a nice day. Feeling a bit uncomforatble he turned around shortlythere after and went back down the trail. I checked the trailhead and there is no indication bikes are not aloud on this trail.

It is good to have more section of the LPNF Open
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Kirk Creek Trail

Postby mikesplain on Wed May 27, 2009 6:56 pm

Date Hiked: April 17, 2009
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Forest Service Report:

4-17-09- Mike Heard and I lead a group of CSUMB students in to Vicente Flats for an overnight and trail work on the Kirk Creek Trail above Vicente Flats Camp. The trail is in good condition between the Cone Peak Road and Vicente Camp except for one large Oak across the trail near the top and the two large redwoods in the trail near the bottom.

4-18-09- Tread work with the CSUMB students and return to vehicle. Note; the Vicente Flats Camp will need Hazard Reduction prior to opening the trail to the public.
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Trail Conditions History 1999-2008

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 8:44 am

Date Hiked: May 24, 2008
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Conditions reported by: Dennis Maggard
Survey date: 24-MAY-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Several parts of the trail from Hwy 1 to Vicente Flat are quite narrow. Encroaching brush on the uphill side is obscuring the walking part of the trail and causing hikers to step on the outside, downhill edge, loosing their footing. We found a young lady who fell in one of these places and fractured her leg, and we participated in the rescue operation. She said she had slipped and fallen several times before the fall that lead to the fracture. On the other hand, the trail from Vicente Flat to Cone Peak Trail is good and wide in most places. Note that just upstream of Vicente Flat the creek is flowing well, while the crossing at Vicente Flat appears dry (the creek apparently flows under the main camping area).
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Conditions reported by: Sue
Survey date: 17-MAY-2008
General: CLEAR
Specific:

My family including our 5 and 8 year old kids just backpacked the Vicente trail. It was beautiful, some loose edges that had to watch our step on. The most difficult part was at one of the creek crossings several trees have fallen over on top of each other, had to climb carefully over them. Gorgeous camp. Had the area to ourselves the whole weekend.
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 12-MAY-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

But for one deadfall about 1/4 of a mile into Hare Canyon that required crawling under, this trail is wilderness freeway. There has been some major work rerouting this trail about 10 feet up from its former tread about 1/4 of a mile before entering into Hare Canyon. I believe this was done solely by Mike Heard. If I have not included all persons that should be credited for this, please correct me on the VWA Forum.

This trail is glorious for its views of the Big Sur coastline and, at this time of year, a brilliant and lavish display of wildflowers in all their delicate and stunning splendor. The gullies are cooled by the majesty of the redwoods. These silent, stolid, and gigantic creatures soar from canyon bottoms to shade and bless you as you pass them. Honor them and the Vicente Flat Trail. It is truly a gift.

"And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it."

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Conditions reported by: More McCormack
Survey date: 21-APRIL-2008
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp - Clear

The trail is well used. One or two areas which are slightly washed out but easily navigated. Good water near Espinosa as well as Vicente Flat.

Section: Vicente Flat to Cone Peak Road - Wilderness Freeway

The section is also wide open. It appears that a lot of trail work is happening on the upper end near Cone Peak Road.
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Conditions reported by: Cyrus
Survey date: 28-DECEMBER-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Camp - Passable

I love this trail! Trail was clear until about 1000 feet south of Espinosa camp where a large tree fall meant a pretty hefty detour/crawl - up a steep hill and back down. Quite a few tread washouts, but not too much trouble. Water surfaces only in the back-most section of Vicente Flat Camp. Good water a couple hundred yards East of Espinosa Camp too. One thing about this beautiful place is that it rains for a couple of days after the storm has passed if you're camping under the dripping trees. Only got one tick! (and before he burrowed).
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Conditions reported by: Brenda
Survey date: 22-NOVEMBER-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Camp - Passable

This was our first time down from the Sierra's to hike the Los Padres National Forest, and we truly adored our trip! There is certainly something magical about the area! The trail was definitely overgrown in some areas, mostly in the first few miles, but not so much you couldn't get through...And we did pass a very sweet man who was helping to clear the way--Blessings to you kind sir! The first night we stayed at Espinosa Cemp and had the place to ourselves, water still running at the creek just up the trail, only a 5 minute walk.

The second day we went on to Vicente Flat Camp. There were some more eroded parts of the trail through these few miles, but even though we had full packs and a dog we managed to get through just fine with some aware footing. At Vicente we easily found water upstream, there were some other groups camping (not surprising since it was Thanksgiving weekend) there and the only bummer was that there were some hunters that were shooting close to camp and not only did it disturb our peace but our dog was quite stressed by this. I wasn't sure if this was legal in a Wilderness area and so close to a camp? Overall I only picked up a few pieces of garbage, it seems like most people have been good about trash etc.

I do want to say that I think I lost a glove/mitten around the stream up trail from Espinosa Camp...Not only do I feel awful about possibly littering but the gloves were very a very special gift and I would LOVE to be reunited with the missing one....I think it would have been on the upper side of the trail, before the running stream just 1/4 mile up from Espinosa, as you were hiking from Espinosa to Vicente Camp...It is multi colored stripes (yellow, reds, blue, etc.) and is a glove/mitten combination...If you find it PLEASE email me and I will happily pay for you to mail it to me, and would love to offer you a thank you gift....

Thanks again to the very kind man who was out doing trail work!!! Your efforts were very visible and appreciated!!! We can't wait to come back!
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Conditions reported by: David Jacobowitz
Survey date: 6-AUGUST-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road to Vicente Flat Camp - Passable

The trail was well-worn and easily recognizable the entire way. I would say the trail was clear, but there were a few obstacles (fallen trees) and various points where the trail has seriously eroded or is in the process of eroding -- the dry earth simply crumbled under my feet. This is somewhat unnerving on a steep trail with a heavy pack, especially when it happens frequently.

That said, Vicente Flat camp was sure nice. Lots of water and very quiet. Didn't see anybody else the whole trip.
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Conditions reported by: Ken Hirschberg
Survey date: 22-JULY-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp

Packed from Highway one trailhead to camp at Vicente Flat campground. Trail generally excellent and well defined. There were a couple of dozen places where the tread has collapsed for a few feet, some of these in places where the exposure is worrisome. Long trousers will handle the little bit of poison oak that is encroaching here and there. The stream a few hundred yards beyond Espinosa camp is running with good flow of clear, sparkling, cool water. Vicente Camp still beautiful, deserted, and dry as a bone. [Editor's note: The stream is underground at the lower part of Vicente Flat Camp] I carried 6 liters to start, and that was adequate, recharging at the stream in each direction. First return to Vicente since before the Marble Cone fire. Gotta love the Ventanna!
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 13-JULY-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to creek 0.2mi east of Espinosa Camp

There is one patch about 2.5 miles inbound from the Highway 1 trailhead where the trail descends sharply and portions have disintegrated over the cliff into very narrow or very steep tread. But these are easily negotiable if you go slow (they will certainly slow you down) and carefully.

In my opinion, this hike has the most spectacular views of any trail in the Ventana Wilderness although I have not hiked every trail in that area. But it would be hard to imagine where there would be more breathtaking visuals. The redwoods bless you with their beauty. The view of Cone Peak as you enter Hare Canyon is stunning.
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Conditions reported by: Henri Hein
Survey date: 16-JUNE-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The trail is generally in good condition. There is indeed a lot of Poison Oak above Vicente Flats, between 2,000-2,500'. I encountered Poison Oak encroaching the trail from both sides up to shoulder height. I went down on the road. Even the Oak is only in spots, but over the 8 miles stretch, it adds up and I don't recommend it until the Oak has been cleared.
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Conditions reported by: Nick Vidargas
Survey date: 20-MAY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The trails conditions from Cone Peak Road down to Vicente Flat and past to the Coast Highway were fine for the most part. However, the poison oak seemed, to me, absurd. I haven't seen so much in years of going to Big Sur, and this observation seemed to be echoed by some of the folks we talked to after the trip. On the 2 miles down from Cone Peak Road to Vicente Flat, you really can't avoid it, and often are essentially walking through a forest of poison oak. Is this as bad as we thought it was or were we just hyper aware? [Ed: it is pretty bad, and for some reason the last two seasons have been extra heavy growth on the Poison Oak on that trail.]
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Conditions reported by: Steve
Survey date: 27-MAY-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Although I would desribe this trail as clear and easy to follow, nevertheless I would say that it has deteriorated quite a bit since I last hiked it a couple years ago. Encroaching poison oak and other brush has led to deterioration of the tread, as people walk to the side of the trail to avoid it. It really ought to get some attention before the tread gets too much worse.:

Also, re water: the creek just past Espinoza Camp was still flowing quite well but the creek is dry where you first cross it going into Vicente Flat, which seems mighty early in the year. However, despite the appearance of a serious lack of water, there was still plenty of water in the creek both up- and downstream. It must just be running underground through this stretch when conditions have been dry.
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Conditions reported by: Kevin
Survey date: 26-MAY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp - Passable

The trail is clearly visible, but there are several sections where there was significant encroaching brush; poison oak was abundant, and at times encroached on the trail from both sides. The poison oak was pretty much unavoidable (without hedge clippers), as it often grew at all heights and was too far into the trail to get around, so I would recommend bringing Tecnu or some soap to wash up. There were two dead trees across the trail, but they were manageable. Some brief sections near the Coast Highway and just after the switchbacks on the way into the redwoods have been eroded or washed out, but they are still passable. Hare Creek is running (just above and below the main group of campsites at Vicente Flat Camp, where it goes underground), but finding privacy is difficult since most of appropriate waste disposal spots are visible from the trail. Great trip, nothing too difficult for the average person.
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Conditions reported by: Ted Schram
Survey date: 10-APRIL-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

POISON OAK!! (coming out of the redwoods going up to Cone Peak Road) I was just on this trail and there was so much poison oak, had I known that there would be so much I would have just gone somewhere else, or brought clippers! The hike up to the Vicente Flat camp was fine, except for a few overgrowths of poison oak which can be dealt with, especially if one has clippers or a walking/whacking stick. The flowers were in bloom and the views were incredible!

Above the redwoods in the last mile or so before the road, however, is a whole different story! The trail is certainly passable, it's not overgrown and noone will have any problem keeping to it. It's just that there's so much poison oak reaching into the trail, and you can't avoid all of it, that you may just expend too much energy either clearing it or twisting around it, and you'll still touch plenty of it. Bring clippers, long sleeves and pants, and plenty of Tecnu!
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Conditions reported by: Mike Heard
Survey date: 21-JANUARY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Between the efforts of the Forest Service, the VWA Trail Crew, and some unknown wildcat loggers, the condition of this trail has been brought up to at least "passable" on its entire length. The worst issue as of the date of this report is a jumble of large redwoods at a stream crossing a short distance above Vicente Flat Camp (GPS coordinates N36 01.973 W121 29.166).[Ed: impassable for stock, not difficult for backpackers]
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Conditions reported by: Kelly Bengford
Survey date: 13-JANUARY-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Lead a group of 8 fellow ODCers up to Cone Peak via the Vicente Flat Trail and I'm just echoing what the previous two just mentioned, thanks for clearing the trail so it's passable. I was a little freaked when we didn't see any water at the first creek crossing (the fallen tree) at the beginning of the Vicente Camp area we had to walk another 200 yards or so to find water [Ed: the stream is usually dry (underground) in the lower part of the camp]. Outdoors Club Trip Report
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Conditions reported by: Don Seawater
Survey date: 7-JANUARY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp - Passable

We found that there was a moderate to difficult amount of windfall trees and debris. While on this trail we encountered some members of this organization who were in the process of working on this trail. Bravo. Thank you it was much more passable on the way back from the camp to the trailhead. Wonderful trail. Very beautiful.
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Conditions reported by: Brant
Survey date: 29-DECEMBER-2006
General: IMPASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Vicente Flat Camp to Espinosa Camp - Impassable

I hiked this trail on the 27th from Highway 1 to Vicente Flat Camp and it was a fairly clear trail. That night there was a wind storm, and when I came back out on the 29th there were at least 15 WIND THROWN TREES between Vicente Flat and 0.5 miles west of Espinosa Camp covering the trail. If I had not needed to come out, I would have not done it. Sometimes it took me up to 10 minutes to get through these MASSIVE piles of redwoods and madrones, and sometimes the situations were plain dangerous. I have hiked for a while now, and have never seen or experienced anything like it. Needless to say, this trail needs work ASAP - saws, clippers, the whole nine yards.[Ed: Weather permitting, work will be started in January.]
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Conditions reported by: C. M. Heard
Survey date: 24-SEPTEMBER-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp - Passable

The large tanoak deadfall just before Espinosa camp is still there, although recent efforts by the VWA Trailcrew have made it a bit easier to negotiate. There are many places on the open slopes where the trail has slumped from people and stock taking downhill detours to avoid deerweed or other brushy overgrowth. Poison oak is starting to encroach on the shady sections of the trail.

Section: Vicente Flat Camp to Cone Peak Road - Passable

Three small deadfalls remain on this section, but they are easy for all but the smallest hikers to step over. Tread is well-defined except for the part in the creek just above Vicente Flat camp. Brush and poison oak are starting to be a problem on the upper part of the trail near Cone Peak Road.
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Conditions reported by: Lisel Blash
Survey date: 1-JULY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp - Passable

The lower section of the trail is in good shape. However in the canyons, Poison Oak abounds and is unavoidable because it hangs over the trail and must be pushed through (in places it was up to my waist). Hiking in shorts is not recommended. The tread is much narrower and a little sketchy in some places heading into the canyon towards Vicente Flat, but mostly good. The large oak tree over the trail past Espinosa Camp is still there. The biting flies are out in force. There is still abundant water in the lower section of the creek right at the entrance of the Vicente Flat Camp, and at the spring just past Espinosa Camp. The weather was gorgeous, hot and clear in early July.
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Conditions reported by: Rick Bravo
Survey date: 29-MAY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp

Made the annual Memorial Weekend trek. Trail was in very good condition in most places with a few loose recently washed out areas ( heavy storm 5 days before). No problem following this well used trail. The usual plants in full bloom, but a brilliant wildflower display was seen. One area of deadfall, but easily traversable. Water near Espinosa Camp. Vicente Flat valley is great shape. 2 tables seen. Lots of water in Hare Creek.

Hiked to the waterfall at the end of the valley, about a 200 foot drop. Lots of water, absolutely stunning. If you want to bushwhack and boulder hop, it is one of the most spectacular scenes in the area. Very few visit it. There is a 3-4 foot pool of water at the base.

Great area, just keep it clean!
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Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 7-MAY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Highway 1 to Vicente Flat - Passable

Mostly this part of the trail merits Wilderness Freeway, but there was one deadfall just before Espinosa camp, which took a little effort to get through / over. There were one or two other deadfalls, but nothing too difficult. Water was plentiful. Fantastic wildflower displays.

Section: Coast Ridge Rd to Vicente Flat - Passable

The upper section was starting to get brushy, and had I more time I would have spent some clipping it back. Deadfalls were present but not difficult to surmount. The poison oak was in full spring regalia. The lower section was a pleasure, and the creek crossings easy - a pleasant jaunt through the cool redwoods.
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Conditions reported by: Tim
Survey date: 6-MAY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Highway 1 to Vicente Flat Camp - Passable

Walked in from Highway 1. The first mile of trail was recently maintained, and thus poison oak and brush-free. but for the rest of the trail, expect to find PO on and off (mostly on) all the way to Vicente Flat. And stinging nettle is getting cozy with the trail, too. There is truly no way to avoid these plants, so arrive with long sleeves and a prayer (or immunity). regardless of this overgrowth, the trail was never difficult to follow. The wildflowers are spectacular right now. Lupine, Indian Paintbrush, Poppies, Blue Dicks, Morning Glory, Columbines (!), all in bloom and beautiful. The first water you will encounter is about 1/4 mile after Espinosa camp. Only one blow-down to wiggle your way through. Vicente Flat Camp was in fine shape, and there were plenty of other hikers there to enjoy its comfort. After arriving and setting up camp (where there were a few mosquito-like pests hanging around), we took a little gallop about a mile up the Stone Ridge Trail, which I recommend to everyone who has the time. The views of Cone Peak and environs are spectacular from the meadow up there.
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Conditions reported by: Lee Kenyon
Survey date: 29-APRIL-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Highway 1 to the Cone Peak Road - Clear

I expected the segment to Vicente Flat to be in good shape, but I was particularly pleased with the fine state of the trail above Vicente Flat. The trail was very easy to follow with no serious obstructions. The only section that required a little care in navigation was the area in Hare Canyon where the trail spent time in the creek bottom. As is often the case, the trail was ill-defined when it crossed the creek.
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Conditions reported by: Dan O'Brien
Survey date: 22-APRIL-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Highway 1 to Espinosa Camp - Passable

The trail was great the first mile or so then the encroaching brush started and continued to Espinosa Camp. My friend I was hiking with must have pulled off at least 150 ticks before we got to Espinosa.

Section: Espinosa Camp to Vicente Flat Camp - Passable

There was a large tree fallen after Espinosa that made passing dangerous but doable. Stream crossings were no problem at all. Watch for overgrown poison oak encroching the trail. A lot was at eye level and if you were turned the right way it would slap you in the face.
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Conditions reported by: Jay Dubb
Survey date: 28-JANUARY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp - Passable

My wife and I hiked this trail on a beautiful, sunny winter day. The trail is in great shape all the way to Vicente Flat Camp. There were a few spots where the trail had slid, but generally smooth and clear. We easily climbed over 2 downed trees on way up. I had a had to pick off 2 ticks. The water was running fairly well through camp. It was a bit chilly at camp, approx 55 degrees F. We did a 5 hour trip, 2 hours up, 2 hours down with 1 hour stop at camp.
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Conditions reported by: Michael Rusell
Survey date: 20-DECEMBER-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Ridge Road to Vincente Flat Camp - Passable

The upper section was passable due to encroaching brush. It will become problematic with the new spring growth.

Section: Vincente Flat Camp to Hwy. 1 - Clear to Passable

Clear to passable with the last mile or so in fabulous shape due to recent trailwork. Ticks were noticed on this section (I even brought two home with me as mementos of the trip).
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Conditions reported by: Robert Parks
Survey date: 25-JULY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The VWA Trail Crew has removed all the logs on the trail that create significant barriers for foot or stock travel. Deteriorated tread remains, particularly south of the entrance into Hare Canyon. Brush and poison oak encroachment are intermittent except along Hare Creek. Hare Creek is flowing well (1.5 miles from Cone Peak Road to Vicente Flat Camp), as is the stream just east of Espinosa Camp (3.5 miles from Coast Highway)

Section: Coast Highway to Espinosa Camp - Passable

The trail is generally clear, except for some rough sections in and around the gullies prior to the turn into Hare Canyon, brush growth has pushed the trail many feet downhill. There are lesser amounts of deteriorated tread inside the canyon, on the steep meadows. Espinosa Camp is pleasant, if you don't mind a bit of highway noise.

Section: Espinosa Camp to Vicente Flat Camp - Clear

There are a few minor bits of poor tread (again, crossing meadows), but the trail is in good shape other than the vigorous growth of poison oak.

Section: Above Vicente Flat Camp along Hare Creek - Clear

Near Wilderness Freeway, this beautiful section through the redwood forest remains pleasant even when the temperatures are sweltering elsewhere. Large numbers of downed trees that previously made travel here difficult have been removed, along with some brushing on overgrown sections.

Section: Above Hare Creek to Cone Peak Road - Clear

Steep with lots of poison oak, but generally clear, brush is starting to encroach, especially at the top from the trailhead to just past the saddle.
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Conditions reported by: Bill Gentry
Survey date: 30-MAY2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Highway 1 Trailhead to Vicente Flat Camp - Clear

The trail in pretty good shape. Lots of Poisen Oak and growth, but used enough that trail is well defined. Visually spectacular. Section: Vicente Flat Camp to Coast Ridge Road Trailhead - Clear

There are a few deadfalls but fairly easy enough to get over or around. Locals have done a great job of repairing trail, Thanks!

[Ed: You're Welcome! The VWA Trailcrew is working this summer (2005) to clear the dozens of logs down on this trail. So far it has been cleared to Espinosa Camp (to basic pack standards), and should be clear to Vicente Flat Camp by June 28, 2005]
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Conditions reported by: Robert Parks
Survey date: 15-MAY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Highway 1 to Hare Canyon turn - Passable

There are a number of places where the tread has slumped badly, with very steep narrow spots, mostly due to brush growth.

Section: Hare Canyon turn to Vicente Flat Camp - Clear to Passable

There are a few more tread slumps where the trail crosses steep grassy meadows. There remain a number of logs on the trail, most are easy to cross one larger redwood is a bit challenging.

Section: above Vicente Flat Camp (1 mile along Hare Creek) - Passable to Difficult

There are numerous deadfalls and logs on the trail, all can be crossed with care. There is a large tanoak that requires a somewhat tricky bypass and climbing over the bole, despite tread indication, you can't actually go up past the roots to get around.

Section: Hare Creek to Cone Peak Road - Passable

There are a few fairly easily crossable logs on the trail, and some brush ingrowth near the top. Trail Condition Survey
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Conditions reported by: Mike
Survey date: 14-MAY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

This was a very busy day as I counted about 12 people take off ahead of me going up to Vicente Flat. The trail was in good condition with nothing new to report since before winter. The poison oak is the big problem now as the late rains have really pushed it's growth into the trail. I found a soap made of mugwort that really worked, no rash even with shorts. All the wild flowers are still in bloom along with the first wild orchids that I have seen on this trail. The camp at Vicente had about 18 campers, the most I have ever seen. On the way out I met a kid about 19 that was going all the way up to Cone Peak and over to Plasket to visit some friends. It was all I could do to hike back from Vicente Flat to Hwy 1. Still the best trail I have ever done.
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Conditions reported by: Paul Foster
Survey date: 21-APRIL-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Highway 1 to Turn into Hare Canyon - Clear

Fine, no problems. A bit of poison oak but not bad.

Section: Turn into Hare Canyon to Vicente Flat Camp

The trail has several places where you have to be cautious. The trail's tread is worn and narrow, and a misstep could lead to a nasty tumble down a steep slope. Poison oak is beginning to reach out over the trail. It's still dodgeable, but in a season or two it will not be. There are a half dozen or so deadfalls over the trail. All of them are passable for backpackers but not for horses or mules.

We seldom encounter many ticks, but this was a different time! My wife stopped counting after picking more than 30 or so ticks off her jeans. This occurred during our walking through the "pastures of heaven," those high elevation green pastures (about 2,000 feet elevation) as you make your way northeast into Hare Canyon. We then made it a habit to walk through the grasses and into the trees and then stop. She would examine the front of her jeans, and I would pick the ticks off the back of her jeans. Interesting. I wore walking shorts, and I only had one tick on one sock. Apparently they grab onto fabric more easily than skin--at least, my skin. Neither of us suffered a "tick bite."

Vicente Camp, on a Thursday night, was wonderful. We were the sole occupants. Beautiful trees. Lots of water. Not much deadfall, and this was, is, early in the season. Where is all that wood? Burned last year, I imagine.

The wildflowers on this walk were wonderful. Quadrillions of them.

This was, is, and remains one of the finest walks in the Los Padres National Forest.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Program
Survey date: 1-MARCH-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy 1 to Vicente Flat Camp (Clear)

From Highway 1, the trail to Vicente Flats is Clear with only a few step-over blowdowns once the trail turns away from the Coast.

Section: Vicente Flat Camp to North Coast Ridge Road/Cone Peak Road (Clear)

From the camp to the Coast Ridge Road, the trail is passable. There are some spots where the footbed is slumping and quite a few blowdowns to step over. Each new storm increases the chance of encountering these, but the footbed is always visible. The trail itself has been designed well and goes a long way to minimize the difficulty of the elevation gain.
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Conditions reported by: Mike Lisitza
Survey date: 5-FEBRUARY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy 1 to Vicente Flat(?)

Nice early wildflowers: chocolate lilies, shooting stars, columbines, stinging lupine, etc.
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Conditions reported by: Robert Parks
Survey date: 31-JANUARY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Except for several sections of slumped and degraded tread (no major change from last year), the trail is Clear (Wilderness Freeway near Hwy 1). We cut out some of the deadfall, so it should be easily hiked by backpackers (at least until new stuff comes down).

The wildflowers are starting to show up nicely, including dozens of Chocolate Lilies just above the trailhead.
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Conditions reported by: EW
Survey date: 22-JANUARY-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Ascending from Highway 1, the Vicente Flat Trail maintains "Wilderness Freeway" status for at least 2 miles, after which point a few spots have slipped, to render the tread slightly off-camber, still no real difficulty getting through - the only adversity begins after entering Hare Canyon, where the trail is blocked by about 5 downed Redwoods & Tanoaks, which still pose no real obstacle to day hikers, only a minor inconvenience to those toting heavy packs.

Gorgeous Peonies were in bloom as long ago as late December, many have now gone to seed; Camas Lilies, Shooting Stars & even a Fritilary (this was January, mind you!) stand as harbingers of an early spring in the Santa Lucia.
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Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 16-JANUARY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy 1 to Vicente Flat camp: Clear to Passable

I sawed some of the smaller blowdown, but there are some larger ones which remained - some old, some new - mostly between Espinosa and Vicente Flat. The tread posed no major problem for me. Some rocks had fallen onto the trail, probably during the latest series of storms. Nobody in camp both days I passed through (!) The table that was at the flat last year was gone, or maybe just moved to another site further up the creek.

Section: Cone Peak Road to Vicente Flat camp : Passable to Difficult

Pretty smooth going from the road down to the creek, with a couple of larger blowdowns that I recall from last year, but not too bad. Further down along the creek though were some much larger ones that took a lot more time to traverse, mostly on the uphill side. Tread seemed pretty much the same. Creek running high.

Fantastic trail all the same, with excellent views of the canyon.
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Conditions reported by: Duane
Survey date: 06-NOV-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 trailhead to Vicente Camp

I decided to do this trail as a "trail run" on Saturday. I left the trailhead at 2:30 pm, believing I could make it back before it got totally dark. Boy, I was waaay off!!! It was alternately the longest, yet the most enjoyable, 11 miles I've ever done.

First off, the trail from Hwy 1 up to what I believe to be Espinosa Camp (just as you enter Hare Canyon?) is in great shape.

Since I had never hiked this trail before (except for a few exploratory hikes up to about the wilderness boundary), I felt more and more anxious as the trail continued farther and farther up Hare Canyon as the sun continued to set.

I passed five or six really good deadfalls in the Hare Canyon section that will need to be cut away, one of which requires a scramble up and down eight feet of log/rockfall/hillside. A great omen for the hike back, which was looking like it was going to be in the dark.

My goal was to get through Hare Canyon and through that first small redwood grove (coming up from Hwy 1) before dark. Hopefully by then it would be easygoing with my headlamp. I took off running as quickly as I could, wolfing down a PBJ and cookie to bolster my energy. It was a great feeling (while I was trying to beat the setting sun) to finally connect the dots on my "mental map" of the place. It took away some of the fear I was experiencing.

A few campfires from Kirk Creek Campground flickered in the distance, helping me to keep my sanity. For that last hour, it was "one step at a time -- keep your balance -- don't panic -- no, that isn't bear."

All told, it took exactly 4 hours for the 11 mile round trip. 2 1/2 anxious hours to get there, and 1 1/2 "extremely motivated" hours to return to the car.

I'm returning soon for a backpacking trip -- you bet I am!

NOTE: Those deadfalls up Hare Canyon need to be removed. A fall could send a runner or hiker into a serious fall. I don't doubt that such a fall down those slopes could be fatal, or at least an Aron Ralston-style self-rescue.
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Conditions reported by: Mike
Survey date: 18-SEPT-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 trailhead to Vicente Flat Camp

This was as dry as I have ever seen this trail. The spring past Espinosa camp was running really well. The creek at Vicente Flats was completely dry up to the most upper campsite. There was was still some water flowing. They are down to one table now for all the campsites. This was the first time hiking this trail that I did not see any other hikers coming or going. A first in ten years. Overall still the best trail I have hiked, my favorite
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Conditions reported by: Mike
Survey date: 25-SEPT-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 trailhead to Vicente Flats Camp

The very first part has been cleared very well up to Espinosa Camp. Past that there are now numerous spots where the trail has slipped. The day that I hiked it back to Vicente Flats there were no people coming or going. I think that the low level in the creek was the reason. There is still water in the creek by the last campsite with a table. Still my favorite
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Conditions reported by: Rene "Rick' Bravo
Survey date: 29-MAY-2004
General: CLEAR W/ PASSABLE SECTIONS
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 trailhead to Vicente Flats Camp

Trail was in very good condition with the usual fallen tress, encroaching rhus plants and all. Some areas of the trail , especially between Espinosa Camp and Vicente Flat Camp were sliding away ( much care should be taken at night in those areas). Water was available after Espinosa Camp (about 300 yards up trail). The creek (Hare?) at Vicente Flats was flowing very low, but still accessible upstream. Campsites were in excellent condition, with two tables still usable. Grills in place. Came upon some urban campers who had no matches or toilet paper... very busy weekend.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 29-FEB-2004
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Highway One to Vincente Camp

The trail is in great shape with a few blowdowns once you turn inland after Espanoza Camp.
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Conditions reported by: James Yurchenco
Survey date: 13-MAR-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 to Coast Ridge Road

In general, this lovely trail is in good condition. The tread is eroding in places, but not dangerously so. There is a recent huge deadfall redwood above Vicente Camp that will require a significant effort to remove. It obliterates the trail and requires erosion causing efforts to by-pass. We removed a number of smaller deadfalls and clipped back brush; poison oak is growing profusely along some segments of the trail.
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Conditions reported by: Kelly Bengford
Survey date: 26-DEC-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 to Cone Peak Road

After never been hiking here before it wasn't too hard to fall in love w/ the area. I arrived the day after Xmas and after a fair amount of rain so I was little leery about what the trail condition might be in, but I was surprised on how well it held up. Sure there were a few down trees and some soft soil area but no real muddy areas. Maybe I was just over taken by the spectacular views of the Pacific and the small micro climates of the coastal redwoods. I have to admit though the trail kind a disappears as you first enter Vicente Flat Camping area but sense I read ahead I new where to go. I knew there might be a creek running but being on the safe side and reading what some had already written on this website I had to bring in water for the three days I would be hiking. Lets just say my backpack got 20 lbs lighter (okay I drink a lot of water).

Section: Vicente Flat to Cone Peak Rd

I can say, "if I didn't have my handy saw w/ me I would have never made it" I think I spent an extra 2-1/2 hours clearing down trees. The idea of hiking Cone Peak in one day w/ a full pack ended at the road. The view from Cone Peak was absolutely beautiful. If anybody wants to see what Cone Peak Looks like the day after fresh fallen snow e-mail me I'll be more than happy to send ya the pic.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers
Survey date: 28-Dec.-2003
General: Clear
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 to Coast Ridge Rd.

From Highway 1 most of the way to Espinosa Camp the trail has been nicely cleared and the tread is generally fine. However, there are sections built across fairly soft slumps that give slightly, at least when wet. Between Espinosa and the trail-crossing stream there is a fallen oak trunk. Someone carrying water back to Espinosa will want a partner to hold a pot of water. Between the stream and Vicente Camp there are a pair of additional fallen trees to negotiate, both are scrambles that involve hands as well as feet. Vicente Camp is fine and clean. Lots of water, and ladybugs everywhere.

From Vicente Camp up to the Coast Ridge Road, there are only a couple of tree trunks to negotiate. One, at a stream crossing a half mile from Vicente, made the crossing difficult after several hours of hard rain. Generally, though, the trail has been nicely cleared and brushed out. Of course there are a good many poison oak shoots in the areas that have been cleared.
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Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 28-DEC-2003
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy 1 to Vicente Flat to Cone Peak Road

Things on this trail were pretty much as last reported. I was able to clear some smaller deadfalls. The larger deadfalls seemed to still be there, but I didn't count them. Tread was no problem to follow, but slumping a bit in places. The fallen redwood just before Espinosa Camp seemed to be the biggest obstacle.

Overwintering ladybug beetles were also present at Vicente, mainly on plant stems & stalks in the shade, but some wandered around on the new picnic table. Water was plentiful. Coming up from the sea on the 26th, snow was visible atop Cone Peak and its nearby high points. By the 28th it looked like most of it had melted off the south-facing slopes.
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Conditions reported by: Carl Mounteer
Survey date: 17-NOV-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 trailhead to Vicente Camp

From Hwy. I, this trail has to be one of the crown jewels of the Ventana Wilderness Trails. It was a gorgeous fall day with lots of spectacular views. The first three miles were clear and the tread obvious. Some of the brush along the side of trail was definitely encroaching. On the sunny side of the trail, 5 fat, black ticks about 0.25" in diameter brushed off on my pants as one pass through some dried brush at the side of the trail. So it is important to check regularly for ticks on your pants. Shorts are out of the question with these varmints about.

From about a half mile before Espinosa Camp (the entrance to Hare Canyon?) the trail has five fallen trees in the interval to Vicente Flat Camp. But these are easily negotiable. They also look like they have been there a long time. The only water I found was one unnamed stream, crossing the trail, about a quarter of a mile past Espinosa Camp when you are walking towards Vicente Flat Camp. There is no water at Vicente Flat Camp. That means the nearest water I found was over a mile and a half away. I didn't go beyond Vicente Flat as I had to get back to Highway 1 by nightfall and I hike about 2 m.p.h. in this type of terrain. But I didn't even hear any sound of water at Vicente Flat. (Do people really carry in substantial amounts of water that far to prepare for such contingencies?) The camp was really left very clean by campers. There are three fire rings, one near the sole picnic table, the others with log seats around them. Plenty of room for tents. And no toilet!

A plague of ladybugs blanketed every surface near the picnic table. So I had lunch in the redwood area. The lack of water really put me off backpacking into this area. Also, campfires are not allowed.

In conclusion this makes a great day hike for the first three miles because the views are so spectacular. But the lack of water near any campsite makes camping in this area impractical.
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Conditions reported by: Mike Heard
Survey date: 7-Aug-2003
General: CLEAR to PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 to Vicente Flat Camp

Day-hiked from Hwy. 1 to Vicente Flat Camp specifically to survey the work that needs to be done on this section. It is mostly clear up to the mouth of Hare Canyon. The worst problem up to this point is lotus growing over the tread and causing down-slope detours and consequent slumps. If at all possible please try to push the lotus out of the way and stay on the tread and off the detours (that will prevent trail erosion). There is also some encroaching ceanothus. >From the mouth of Hare Canyon to Vicente Flat Camp I counted five sets of large (1.5' or larger) trees that either had fallen onto the trail or were leaning across it, in general agreement with the previous report. I also noted three snags/overhangs of smaller stuff (4" or less). None of this is especially difficult to negotiate; the worst is the 4.5' redwood, where you have to climb over the root end (which is wedged against the uphill canyon wall next to the trail).

Section: Cone Peak Road to Vicente Flat Camp

From Cone Peak Road to Vicente Flat Camp: the upper mile is now clear, thanks to some brushing and sawing work done 3 Aug 2003 by USFS personnel assisted by members of the VWA trail crew. There are still a few large downed trees that remain in the lower mile, but most are easily detoured or stepped over. The exceptions are a 3' redwood about 1/2 mile from the camp that must be climbed over and a somewhat larger one about 1/4 mile from the camp that must be crawled under (and it's a tight squeeze with a pack).
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Conditions reported by: Cheryl Rivera
Survey date: 9-MAY-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flats

One of our best backpacking experiences yet; best views; two nights of perfect weather and the creek is still flowing. The 4-5 deadfalls on the trail are still there but passable with 40+ lb. packs--can see clearly previous hikers' detours. Poison oak creeping out--wear long pants. From V. Flats we did a day hike to Cone Peak--you can wear shorts between Cone Peak Rd. & top of Cone Peak, but need the long pants between the road & V. Flats.

Our only concern was a large group of campers who set off firecrackers at 12:45 a.m. Very disturbing safety wise & incomprehensible that someone would do this. Suggestions on who we should notify in such a situation? (ED. NOTE: Report all incidences such as this to USFS in King City 831.385.5434 or if its an emergency 911)
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Conditions reported by: Paul Foster
Survey date: 5-APRIL-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 trailhead to Vicente Camp

My wife and I backpacked in to Vicente Flat on 05 Apr 2003. It is one of the most beautiful walks in the Los Padres. The weather was perfect: cool but sunny and bright. Lots of light for pictures of the wildflowers. It is a wonderful crop this year.

The trail is good. Poison oak is beginning to creep out and into the path but it is still dodgeable.

There are 4 deadfalls that are a challenge to get over or around with a heavy pack, but they are crossable. Clearing these will be a challenge. One of them is a huge redwood that will require a substantial amount of sawing with very large saws. The tree's diameter is approximately 4 or 5 feet. The fallen redwood tree is at 36 00 54, 121 29 52. The other three are at 36 01 00, 121 29 53; 36 01 10, 121 29 40; and 36 01 27, 121 29 27. Horses and mules cannot cross these deadfalls.

Vicente Flat Camp was beautiful--clean and not showing signs of overuse. Two large groups (one a high school group from Paso Robles) used the main camp areas and left them clean and neat.
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Conditions reported by: Erik Layman
Survey date: 21-FEB-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The trail is generally in good condition, though there are deadfalls at 5-6 sites. Most of these are in the section of the trail which parallels Hare Canyon. All are negotiable with care, though one steep detour posed a challenge after sundown even with headlamp in place. During the day it was no problem. Good water flow at Vicente Flat, and at the perennial spring flow past Estrada Camp on the way in. No problems with ticks or flies, but in many spots the poison oak is difficult to avoid below knee level, so long pants are advised.....
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Conditions reported by: Scott
Survey date: 15-FEB-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Hwy. 1 to Vicente Flat Camp:
Trail is in good shape--evident tread and wide trail. The trail is marred by a few downed trees which you can scramble over/under but you may have to take off heavy packs to do so. However, the wildflowers and views more than make up for any frustration these few spots cause.
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Conditions reported by: Kelsey Jordahl
Survey date: 1-DEC-2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY TO CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Hwy 1 to Vicente Flat Camp: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Clear and in good shape. There is a large redwood deadfall that has obliterated the final short switchback into Vicente Flat Camp, forcing a use trail down the steep slope.

Vicente Flat Camp to Cone Peak Road: CLEAR to PASSABLE
There are many use trails up the creek and through the various campsites of Vicente Flat Camp, but they eventually coalesce into the trail that ascends from the east fork of Hare Creek towards the Cone Peak Road. The first mile of the trail is clear except for minor deadfalls. On the upper part of the trail, though, quite a few snags have come down over the trail (perhaps in the storm a month ago), in two cases completely obliterating switchbacks. Some ducking under trees in the first few hundred yards from the Cone Peak Road is probably worth it for the discouragement to illegal mountain bikers on this trail, though it didn't seem to have deterred the two downhillers I met below Vicente Flat Camp.
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Conditions reported by: Andrew Heinemann
Survey date: 1-SEPT-2002
General: CLEAR- W/ HUNTER WARNING
Specific:

Highway 1 to Vicente Flats

The trail was clear with the exception of one fallen tree just after Espinosa Camp on your way to Vicente Flats. I saw some snakes but they were not venomous. There was running water about 400 meters past Espinosa Camp. Espinosa Camp was empty. Lots of flys during the day but not in the evening. I nor the dog picked up any ticks or mosquitos. There were four other backpacking parties staying around Vicente Flats. Only one day hiking group.

The trip could have been logged as a great trip had it not been for 8 very loud & rude Asian men that were hunting deer and felt it necessary to look in my tent with flashlights at 5:00 AM and talk amongst themselves at full volume. Moments later (it was still totally dark) they shot a deer not 100 yards from my tent (or at least close enough that I heard the deer moaning as it died). Later I found two of these same idiots cleaning the deer in the stream that drains through Vicente Flats. The deer was a very young buck.

I have backpacked in many places during hunting season and have come into contact with many hunters in places like Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah etc.. I have never come across a group of people, hunters or not hunters that lacked such manners.

I will go back to Vicente Flats but never again will I go during hunting season. My large and usually friendly dog did let the idiots know they were not welcome in our camp.
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Conditions reported by: Mike Heard
Survey date: 29-JULY-2002
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Cone Peak Road to Vicente Camp:

The trail is in generally excellent shape. It was clear all the way except for one deadfall, which I was able to remove with a few minutes of sawing. There is ample water flowing in the lower section all the way to Vicente Camp.
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Conditions reported by: Erik Layman
Survey date: 10-12-JULY-2002
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

USFS gate is locked on Cone Peak road at intersection with Nacimiento-Ferguson road. Probably locked due to fire hazard. This adds 4 miles to the hike to get to the trailhead on Cone Peak road. Trail is passable all the way to Highway 1. However, poison oak is very abundant in section between Cone Peak road and Vicente Flat camp, and difficult to avoid at many places. Use Ivy Block and Technu if you are sensitive. Poison oak is also a problem at several sites in the section of the trail below Vicente Flat camp. Flies were also very abundant and very annoying, though with the exception of a few horseflies, most don't bite. Water was low but available at Vicente Flat camp.

Happy hiking!
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Conditions reported by: Sus Danner
Survey date: 9-MAR-2002
General: CLEAR
Specific:

The trail is in fine shape, with no obstructions. Flowers are just starting to bloom - shooting stars, fritillaries, native grasses, California peony, blue Nemophila, and the barest start of the annual lupine.

After Sunday morning's rain, on the way back to Hwy 1, eight mountain bikers in full downhill gear passed me. They were clueless as to the wilderness designation barring bicycles. They trashed the trail all the way down, skidding out on corners, cutting switchbacks, rutting the trail. What had been a lovely trail the day prior is now far worse for the wear.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: FEB-2002
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Hwy. 1 to Vicente Flats Camp: The trail is in great condition, a wilderness highway with one or two spots where the trail has slipped out.
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Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: Mid-December-2001
General: FREEWAY
Specific:

No problems encountered, well-graded. Beautiful views of the canyon and the sea, and high points along Coast Ridge Road.
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Conditions reported by: David Jacobs
Survey date: 28-JANUARY-2001
General: PASSABLE with CARE!
Specific:

On January 28, I hiked into Vicente Flat with Richard Popchak and Sean Carroll. About 3.5 miles in, just after a scoured out drainage you will encounter a snag obstructing the trail. BE CAREFUL!!. It is unstable and very dangerous.

We were sawing though a couple of logs blocking the trail when earth, rock, and tree trunks began to fall on us. We were able to avoid injury, but it was a close call.

Though you can stay on the trail and pass under the obstruction, I wouldn't risk it. Best bet is to walk down into the scoured out drainage and come back up to the trail after the obstruction. You will probably be able to see the detour we used. The route is certainly passable and a pleasure other than this one spot

To fix the problem will probably reqire a hatchett, a couple of saws capable of cutting through 10" tree trunks, three macho men and about an hour of toil. Hopefully we can get to it before anyone gets hurt.
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Conditions reported by: Craig Lassen
Survey date: 12-JANUARY-2001
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The trail from Kirk Creek Campground to the Vicente Camp area seems to have held up during the last storm quite well. No major tread loss and only the same three fallen tree obstacles exist between Espinosa Camp and the intersect with the Girard Trail.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition 2000
Survey date: APRIL-2000
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

From Highway One to Espinoza Camp the trail is clear, with lots of wildflowers. From Espinoza Camp to the Junction of the Stone Ridge Trail at Vicente Flat there are several blow downs. It took about 3 hours to hike two miles because of all the climbing over and under trees, but note there were 13 of us in the group. We had to take our packs off completely to get over two of the larger trees.
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Conditions reported by: Boon Hughey
Survey date: 27-MARCH-00
General: PASSABLE TO DIFFICULT
Specific:

With the exception of a couple washed-out gullies, the trail is in basically good shape up as far as the viewpoint where it turns into Hare Canyon. From this point all the way to Vicente Flat expect numerous downed trees as well as a number of sections where the tread has slipped out or filled in with silt and gravel that washed down from the burned slopes above. Great care must be used to cross a few of these sections, lest one end up slipping and ending up hundreds of feet below in the canyon bottom.

Vicente Flat was spared by the fire and is in fine shape. In fact, the 7 month closure gave it a good rest which it sorely needed.
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Conditions reported by: Gary Felsman
Survey date: 22-MAY-99
General: PASSABLE TO CLEAR
Specific:

22 of us hiked from Kirk Creek Campground to Vicente Flat, a 5.5 mile trek. The flowers are prolific at this time. The trail tread is good for the first 1.5 miles, with some brush along the trail. From here to the turn into Hare Canyon, the tread is passable, and has fallen away in several places. Once you turn into Hare canyon the trail is in good shape all the way to Vicente Flat Camp.

There are a few snags on the trail as well, one about 1.2 miles in just as you enter the first redwood grove, we cleared most of this. Another snag about 1/4 mile in after the turn into Hare Canyon. Most of these fallen trees have been removed from last year, but a few still remain so you will have to climb and duck a couple of trees. The final snag is at about the 4.5 mile point, but again is easily passable on foot.

The creek past Espinosa Camp is running strong at this time.

This is a popular trail, as there were about six different hiking groups and four backpacking groups on the trail on Saturday. This trail is not passable by stock.
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Kirk Creek Trail (Highway One to Vicente Flat Camp)

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 8:41 am

Kirk Creek Trail connects Highway 1 with Vicente Flat Camp; it should not be confused with Vicente Flat Trail, which connects Vicente Flat Camp with Cone Peak Road.

* USFS Trail #4E17
* Parking: Hwy 1
* Watershed: Hare Canyon Fork of Limekiln Creek
* Junctions: Stone Ridge Trail, Vicente Flat Trail
* Connects: Hwy 1 with Vicente Flat Trail at Vicente Flat Camp
* Camps: Espinosa Camp, Vicente Flat Camp
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