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Big Pines Trail

Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby Food Dreams on Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:02 pm

Date Hiked: April 8, 2010
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

With my son (15) and dog we hiked from Los Padres Dam out to Big Pines Camp area one day and back the next. We left the dam parking lot at 8:30am and arrived at the Big Pines Camp area by 2pm. Trip back was shorter by 1.5 hrs. We opted for the shorter, steeper horse trail up from the reservoir to the ridge. It was a bit steep at the top but shady the whole way and not bad. Saw numerous red salamanders in the wheel tracks where wet, so watch your step. Weather was clear an cool and it had rained prior weekend so water was everywhere we read that it would be. But you will want to carry plenty on the way up to Big Pines Camp, especially if it promises to be warm. Ticks were an issue in the grassy areas along the ridgetop firebreak that Big Pines trail cris-crosses. I'd leave the dog home next time or bring him later in the season when ticks are not so plentiful. We must have picked 50 off of him during the hike (and almost as many on ourselves) and at least a dozen once we got home.

As expected, poison oak lined some of the trail, so expect contact at the knees and lower when on the single track. You won't be petting your dog much on this route either. Bring soap. Once into the national forest there were a few fallen trees across the trail, but easy to get around. Ribbons or cairns mark the trail well but worst case you could follow the firebreak and pick up the trail again. You may want to walk the firebreak up to the tops of some of the knolls or to save time, but the marked trail keeps you in the shade and keeps the elevation changes manageable.

Up at Big Pines Camp area (we must have stopped just short of it) the big pines are burned and mostly dead though still standing. Plenty of water in Danish Creek and some contributing creeks. Morning temp was 37 degrees F. Liked the trail and the views it offered, weather was ideal (cool and sunny), did not like the ticks and poison oak. Some flies under the oaks, none of the biting variety.
Food Dreams
 

Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby Tradtimbo on Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:20 am

Date Hiked: March 20, 2010
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This is part of a series of reports for a hike from Botchers Gap to Ventana Double Cone. For the entire trail report see the Ventana Trail section.

San Clemente Trail junction to Big Pines Trail junction is clear and passable. Some trail flagging, and faint spots but easy to navigate. Small spots of encroaching brush and trees. Big Pines trail past this junction is faint. Charred trail sign posts exist here with no signs. The hike continued on the Ventana Trail. No water.
Tradtimbo
 

Big Pines Trail - Los Padres Dam to Big Pines

Postby rbarringer on Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:55 am

Date Hiked: January 30, 2010
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked the Big Pines Trail between Los Padres Dam and the Big Pines area (didn't quite make it all the way to the Ventana Trail). Trail is generally in good condition with well defined tread and only minimal deadfall trees.

Los Padres Dam to the Big Pines trail head:
Well defined fire road from the Los Padres Dam parking area all the way up to the dam and beyond. There are some minor landslides from the recent winter storms that have fallen onto the access road encircling the dam. But nothing too serious and can be easily circumnavigated.

Big Pines trail head Blue Rock Ridge:
Single track trail with well defined tread in generally very good shape. Slippery in some spots due solely to the preponderance of fallen leaves on the trail but otherwise very passable and a quite lovely trail.

Blue Rock Ridge up to Big Pines:
The trail through this section meanders in/out of a fire break that runs the entire length of the ridge all the way up to the Big Pines area. On sections traversing the fire break, you will encounter some steep slopes and brush that is starting to overgrow the trail. But at this point the trail is clearly visible and passable. Keep an eye open for numerous rock piles and red/yellow flagging to help guide your way. Other sections of trail take you off of the fire break into lovely, shaded madrone forests. There is a section of trail through this area that has several deadfall trees which require some circumnavigation. These deadfalls have been here awhile as you can see the paths of alternate trails that have already been blazed around the fallen trees. Very passable and otherwise in fair condition.
rbarringer
 

Big Pines Trail, from Los Padres Dam to Ventana Trail

Postby sugg on Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:40 pm

Date Hiked: September 19, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This trail is in good shape.
-From the trailhead down by Carmel River trail to the the firebreak up on the first exposed ridge, the trail resembles a well used county park. Clear, twisty singletrack trail with lot's of Oaks and bushes, but none of
them really encroaching. Trail easy to see. Some gnats, no flies. Fun.
-From the first exposed ridge the trail sort of parallels the firebreak, but dives off far enough off to the sides here and there to make for more enjoyable shady, singletrack. I didn't go over to Danish Creek camp, but
the exit sign was burned in last year's fires. At a certain point, you really have to watch the trail to catch its next dive over to the Danish Creek side of the ridge. The trail is typically clear, but at maybe two
sections, the trail's clearity gets a little unclear. The cairns start up high on the firebreak ridge - they are at intervals where the trail dives off to the left or to the right (most often) of the ridge.
-As the trail reaches the burned trees, it gets a little brushy. The trail is still clear, but brushy. These bushes are flimsy bushes, easy to push aside.
-Once into the trees, the trail sort of, almost completely at places, disappears. Someone has used red and yellow ribbons to mark the trail's way at eye-shot intervals. LOOK FOR THEM. If you have never been on this
trail, you will need these ribbons - I needed these ribbons!
-The trail veers over to Ventana trail. Instead of going towards Spaghetti Camp, I always take this "short cut" over to Ventana Trail. For me, the first big landmarks has been the huge dead tree which I climb over,
then I get going on the trail. Not this time. The low lying sticker bushes do a very good job at obscuring the trail. I could not even pick up the subtle contour of the the path. DAMN! So here's what I do: As soon as I take the "short-cut" fork, I hit the big dead tree, jump it, then go straight down to the little creek - about 30-50yards straight on. Once at the little creek, cross it, then go at a 45degrees angle to the creek, going up hill (I know this sounds crazy, but this is how I re-found the trail after the sticker bushes) and go about 30-60 yards.... you'll hit the clear trail again after the sticker bushes fade. Turn the trail radar up!
-After the sticker bushes have faded and you've found the trail again, it's pretty clear and nice to the Ventana Trail connection.
-Here's a few pictures going into the "short-cut" intersection.....
http://www.flickr.com/photos/38029403@N03/3960302734/in/set-72157622469670740/
sugg
 
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Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:11 am

Big Pines Trail

Postby mikesplain on Thu May 28, 2009 6:11 pm

Date Hiked: May 1, 2009
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Reported by jdoelman:

The trail is obscured in places by a fire-break bulldozing of blue-rock ridge. The Big Pines area trees are a bit charred and it doesn't look like many survived.

The big pines camp is still nice as the trees right by the creek faired better than other parts of Big Pines.
The table at the big-pines camp is missing, presumed burned.

The table at the official Pat's Spring camp has survived the fire!
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mikesplain
 
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Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:15 pm

Big Pines Trail

Postby mikesplain on Thu May 28, 2009 4:17 pm

Date Hiked: April 15, 2009
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Forest Service Report:

I hiked from the trailhead at the Carmel River Trail toward Big Pines Camp. The trail crisscrosses the dozer line and had not been completely flagged as to where the trail intersects with the dozer line. With some difficulty I was able to find and flag the areas where the trail intersects the dozer line; I talked to the Stanislaus trail crew and advised of the trail flagging. The trail on the north side of the dozerline did not burn during the Basin Fire and is some what over grown but is not too difficult to follow. On the burned side of the dozerline the trail dips in and out of the dozerline in some places but it runs at about the same grade as the dozerline so I did not flag those small sections, the trail will be less difficult to maintain if it follows the dozerline where the grade permits. Again I would like to say that I feel that Big Pines Camp should remain closed to camping until the dead snags in the campsite can be removed.
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mikesplain
 
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Big Pines Trail Conditions History

Postby Site Administrator on Thu May 07, 2009 4:20 pm

Date Hiked: February 4, 2008
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Conditions reported by: Adam Wachtel
Survey date: 4-FEBRUARY-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Pines Junction to Big Pines - Passable

Passable to difficult in places. The recent snowfall had covered the trail, but also it was hard to tell where the trail went anyway. In many places had to look for clips and saw cuts to follow the trail. Since most of this section of trail goes through pine forest, it is pretty open and free of brush.

Section: Big Pines to Los Padres Dam - Passable

As the trail leaves big pines and nears the firebreak, it becomes very brushy, but the trail becomes much easier to follow. However the trail leaves the fire break at times to go through some forested areas, where is nice, shaded and open. It follows this pattern all the way down to the reservoir.
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Conditions reported by: Jeff Myers
Survey date: 25-APRIL-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The last time I hiked this trail was in 1999, the thing was a wilderness freeway then. I was discouraged to see this trail is now hardly used these days.It is a great well graded trail and fun to take. However about halfway up the poison oak is terrible (Those not familiar with it wear long sleves) and at one place you need to go off the trail just to get through. At the top of this trail by the stream the main trail veers right, not straight ahead and it wasn't marked so I placed rocks and branches to where the trail should begin. The next person will not get discouraged.
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Conditions reported by: Adam
Survey date: 18-FEBRUARY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The trail is in good condition and easy to distinguish from the Ventana Double Cone Trail intersection all the way to Los Padres Dam. Wear long sleeve shirt and pants as the poison oak is all over along the trail and just starting to sprout. My buddy caught several ticks climbing up his legs as well. Only water source is at Big Pines Camp and Danish Creek Camp.
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Conditions reported by: NR Schmidt
Survey date: 5-JANUARY-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Dam to Ventana Double Cone Trail - Clear

Beautiful trail. A few downed trees but generally easy to follow trail. No water between the dam and Big Pines Camp. Big Pines Camp has a beautiful flowing stream. At two points, a turn in trail is hidden behind two fallen trees.
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Conditions reported by: Josh Beddingfield
Survey date: 22-DECEMBER-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

I headed up on a dry day before Christmas. As mentioned below, always secure your car at the dam or better yet park down at the guard station rather than the Cal-Am lot. I grew up in Cachagua and I can assure you there's many a crankhead eyeing the easy pickings at the dam parking lot when the sun goes down.

Conditions pretty much as usual: brutal chamise in the dozer cut, trail harder to follow every year. Poison oak leaves were down so I couldn't see the extent down low. Long sleeve shirt a blessing. Didn't see any ticks till I came back down the next day, then only a few. Mistakenly took a jeep road that ends up downstream at Prince's Camp home...what I get for being bullheaded. Road is probably more of a nuisance for old locals like myself mis-remembering the other more useful Cal-Am road that cuts out the Danish to dam portion of the route.

Downed pine needles made following the trail near Little Pines difficult; first usual water just before the pines was dry, surprised to see in mid-winter. Pat Spring was hardy, only minor amounts of snow on the ground. Warm north-northeast wind on the ridge at night.

I mostly wrote this to see if someone would clue me in to the huge pine mortality at Big/Little Pines. I haven't been up there in maybe 8 years and hadn't seen what had happened to the big pines. Lots of mortality, little regeneration below, madrone encroachment accelerating at Pat Spring. Is the recent die off Pine Bark Beetle? Didn't have time to look closely but between fire supression and whatever is chewing the yellow pine up things look really bleak. Curious if anyone can tell me what has been mowing the pines down. Thanks.
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Conditions reported by: Greg Minter
Survey date: 24-NOVEMBER-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Dam to serpentine knoll - Clear

The trail is well-defined, easy to follow, and in good shape. To find the trail, look for the never-to-be-installed-properly trail signs laying in the dirt less than 2 miles from the dam. The Big Pines Trail heads west, to your right. The poison oak that was overwhelming in June, the last time I hiked this stretch, had retreated. Still, the dormant stalks were prevalent, ready to swat knees, thighs, and hands. A few ceanothus and chaparral brushy spots past the Danish Creek turnoff, but easily pushed through.

Section: Serpentine knoll to Big Pines Camp - Passable

Encroaching brush in sections, a couple of downfalls, but tread remained evident. Note the tricky turnoff to the left that leaves the old roadbed as you near Big Pines. Big Pines Camp was a disaster, with no decent sites seen in the failing light and, more important, no water. Onward we trudged with our headlights in pitch dark to Pat Springs camp, pitching tents at the signpost.

Section: Overall

It's an unrelenting climb from Los Padres, but the trail remained obvious and mostly obstacle-free from reservoir to ridgetop. Don't expect water until Pat Springs: Much more rain is needed in the Ventana interior before the upper Danish Creek will be flowing. Beautiful views of Uncle Sam and Elephant mountains, the Danish Creek watershed, Carmel and Salinas valleys, as well as glimpses of Monterey Bay.
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Conditions reported by: Greg Minter
Survey date: 16-JUNE-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Reservoir to Danish Creek Trail - Clear

The trail is in very good shape. A little brush is encountered on the ridgeline, but easily pushed through. The problem is poison oak. This stretch of trail is very overgrown with the stuff, and those with poison oak sensitivity will get a reaction even exercising utmost care. Watch out for face-high tendrils reaching into the trail. There's virtually nothing to do but cover from head to toe, use caution, and wash with Tecnu.
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Conditions reported by: Bren
Survey date: 26-FEBRUARY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Scrub oak overgrowth lower and deadfall higher on the trail. Trail faded near Big Pines Camp. The shortcut to Pat Springs is tough to find, but passable after. Lots of ticks.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Program
Survey date: 8-JANUARY-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Beginning from the Pat Springs cutoff (we did not take the trail through Spaghetti Camp) there are a number of fallen pine trunks to negotiate. Most have developed use trails around them. Brush from the last stream crossing east of Big Pines Camp is begining to encroach. We lopped a little of it, but some hikers might find it annoying. Poison oak is very thick under the madrones where the trail approaches the Blue Rock outcrop. From there, the trail is quite clear to the Carmel River trail and Los Padres Reservoir. It appeared the poison oak between the Danish Camp Trail and the reservoir is a bit sparser than usual.

It would be nice if there were a trail sign to mark the junction of the jeep trail that goes down into the valley on the north of Blue Rock Ridge, the one that caught an earlier poster here. With equally attractive footbeds, that Y junction can be confusing for someone traveling east on this trail who does not know to stay right and tend up rather than down at that spot. New trail signs were on the ground at the bottom of the trail, waiting to be planted, so I know that people are making an effort to clarify these routes.
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Conditions reported by: Andrew
Survey date: 28-MAY-2005
General: IMPASSABLE [Ed: see also other recent reports]
Specific:

The trail begins from the Carmel River trail with heavy Poison Oak but reasonable tread. Excessive brush overgrowth in first 3 miles but hikeable (we were running). Trail tough to follow from 3 miles off and on past rocky outcrop. From Ventana Wilderness border (approx. mile 5), trail is lost along Blue Rock Ridge in game tracks - spent 30 minutes trying to find trail twice and finally gave up as brush and poison oak was very heavy. Be careful upon return searching for shortcut jeep road. Found one that veers off to left [Ed:old jeep road that follows Blue Rock Ridge to the northeast] that drops you way off course, south of the trailer park...must rock hop the river (enjoyed the dip) and hike back about 1 mile to parking area.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Program
Survey date: 9-MARCH-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The main trail is clear with the exception of some brush and lots of poison oak. The side trails, to Danish Camp (brush and poison oak,) and the cutoff to Pat Spring (some uncleared deadfalls and a little uncertainty of the footbed near the Big Pines Trail Junction) present a little more the the typical Ventana Wilderness trail experience. Generally, though, this trail is perfectly suitable for backpackers at this time.
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Conditions reported by: Alex
Survey date: JANUARY 15, 2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Dam to (northern) junction with Ventana Trail.

Did this trail to avoid high water from the recent storms and it worked quite well. WARNING: our car had its window smashed when we returned to the lot and a purse was stolen. This trailhead is quite near a small settlement, so it's probably particularly vulnerable to this kind of thing. Were I to park here again I might leave nothing of value in the car and leave it unlocked.

To get to the bridge over the Carmel River, stay on the level trail, not one of the trails leading downhill (this may be obvious during the day: we arrived late and spent a spooky time wandering around in the dark with lots of strange noises coming from pipes). From the bridge to the junction with Miller Canyon is clear and clearly marked, along a jeep trail.

From the junction with Miller Canyon to Ventana Trail the trail varies from being in good condition to being quite overgrown. There are a fair number of deadfalls, including some very large ones blocking the trail. Brush is encroaching pretty heavily in places, some if which was probably poison oak (hard to tell this time of year, though I might know for sure in a day or two...). We went off the trail a few times. The most misleading place is heading downhill where there is an apparent fork along Blue Rock Ridge. Big Pines Trail continues straight along an old jeep path, while another trail (not to be found on any of our maps, but quite distinct) forks to the left/north. We actually took this trail, which lands you in a settlement a few miles west of the Dam. Fortunately, one of the locals offered to drive us back to the trailhead. You get a great variety of vegetation along the trail, with pines, oaks, madrone, chaparral, and grassland sections. Plenty of good views as well. There was no water along the trail until we got near Big Pines, high enough so that melting snow was feeding the creeks. The creek at Big Pines Camp is probably big enough to flow year-round, though I'm not sure of this.

The junction near Big Pine Camp (which was a beatuful site between two creeks, with just a bit of snow and a nice park bench somebody hauled up there) is slightly confusing. The sign is maybe 30 feet prior to the actual junction, which is more of a fork. Bearing left and slightly downhill takes you towards Pat Springs, bearing right towards Comings Cabin. There is a faint trail heading perpendicular to the main trail from the sign, but it doesn't seem like that goes anywhere.
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Conditions reported by: josh and kristin
Survey date: 18-APRIL-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Pines camp > Los Padres Dam (7 miles, 4.5 hours) via Big Pines trail.

Starting downhill, this trail starts out just fine for about 3 miles. Once you loose some elevation and move through 2 westward sloping long decents you enter some seriously overgrown brush. Without maintenance, the trail may be gone by the end of the summer!? Without long pants and a long sleeve shirt, your arms and legs will be cut up. 3 distinct long climbs.

Not alot of poison oak, but at about the 4-5 mile mark, we hit a section of trail (around the entrance/exit sign indicating the Ventana Wilderness/Los Padres Nat. Forest) that was infested with ticks. Every 2-3 minutes we had to stop and fling 10-15 little guys off of each leg. Once we turned a corned and were in view of the dam, their numbers dwindled and our decent increased in steepness. and we finally reached the juncture with the Carmel River Trail.

Overall, the trail is fairly obvious, but becoming very overgrown, the weather was cool and crisp. Ventana is a truly rugged and wild place, but one that needs some serious trail maintenance.
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Conditions reported by: Andrew McDavid
Survey date: 16-MAR-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Pat Spring to LP Dam

From the springs to Big Pines camp: CLEAR with a deadfall or two. Signage could be better around Pat Springs Camp--spent a lot of time scratching head with a topo map. Big Pines Camp was very nice with the creek high.

From Big Pines to Danish Camp: CLEAR/DIFFICULT. Once you get out of the woods, prepare to get scratched up by chaparral on the east side of the ridges. On the west, the trail is clear, with some minor overgrowth by poison oak, but not too bad. The route becomes a bit obscure in a few places, but if you continue east on the endless ridges, you can't get too lost. Thank God the trail to Danish Camp was marked, I was going by a topo in a guidebook (which was clearly hopelessly dated) which made me think I would hit a jeep trail before the Danish Creek Trail. Nowhere to be found. The trail down to Danish Creek camp was a bit brushy, but not too bad. The camp was in fine shape, although there are ticks galore. Yay!

Danish Camp to Los Padres Dam: Clear/Wilderness highway. Funny how much better it got signed as we neared the dam.
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Conditions reported by: Matt Fiori
Survey date: 27-MAY-2003
General: CLEAR
Specific:

This trail is very scenic. It's in pretty good shape all the way through, though it can get a bit thick at times. Like Boon says: "brush never sleeps." That is quite evident on some of the ridge tops in the middle part of the trail. It was just about a mile west of Blue Rock Ridge that we ran into our second rattler of the trip (excluding the baby we saw on Puerto Suelo Way). It sure is nice of them to give us fair warning. Neither of the ones that rattled were strikers, which was fine by me. Apparently my partner saw another one slithering into a wood pile off the trail just shy of Blue Rocks. So that would make four in four days! I think I'm going to keep my Ventana backpacking to the Spring and Fall from now on!
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Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 29-APR-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Tons of poison oak on this trail - you'll want to pack the Tecnu & Hyland's if you hike this one. I clipped a good bit of the PO back, but perhaps not so effectively (I'm fairly sensitive to it).

The tread is mostly easy to see, except for some places where the grass is thick. The brush can be thick in the chaparral, but I did some clipping on the uphill side to influence tread wear and prevent sidesloping, except where it comes diving down Blue Rock Ridge (I was short of time). There are a few deadfalls afterwards as you climb up towards Spaghetti, etc. but not difficult to get over/around if the logs are dry.

Stopped by Big Pines camp on the way out - very nice, and lots of water, though I spotted some white plastic buckets behind some logs which apparently were someone's cache. There is now a sign pointing towards the camp (looks pretty new).

Wildflowers were in bloom everywhere - sticky monkey, poppies, lupine, larkspur, scarlet pimpernel, wild pea, fiddlenecks, and a lot more I don't know. There's a serpentine outcropping that's just dazzling.
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Conditions reported by: K Vandevere
Survey date: 8-JAN-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

A few new deadfalls and a few old ones. Minor encroachment from the brush.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: FEB-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Blue Rock Trail to Big Pines: Trail is open with poison oak along the shady portions.

Big Pines Camp to Pat Spring Camp: Trail is open and clear.
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Conditions reported by: Eco Warrior
Survey date: 10-JAN-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

I starting at Los Padres Dam & hiking up Blue Rock Ridge (Big Pines Trail) out to Big Pines Camp; then day hiking to Pat Spring.

Big Pines Trail to the ridge top is in good shape; although in my opinion equestrians should be prohibited as the "Jeep road" is much more appropriate & not as narrow. The start of the trail is well- graded with good switchbacks, dropping off precipitously toward the dam. The only downside would be the missing portions of trail & dung heaps caused by horses.

Once on top, the views are grand- Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz, Gabilan & Sierra de Salinas ranges to the north; Carmel watershed, Chews' Ridge, Elephant mountain, Pine Ridge & the backside Uncle Sam Mountain to the south. Here begins a "roller coaster ride" up & down ridge tops to the Carmel/ Little Sur divide. Much of this trail follows a bulldozer created fire break, with side-hilling and switch backs to temper the steepest climbs.

I've hiked more severely overgrown trails, so I'll say this one was only mildly overgrown- no major downfalls, but without gaiters things got a bit annoying. I'll summarize the overgrowth:

On top of the ridge- tick-laden grasses,
side hilling to the north- poison oak-ridden Madrone forests
side hilling to the south- encroaching Ceanothus & other chaparral

Certainly a few stretches are wide open & pleasant & the tread & layout of this trail are actually quite good, but perhaps due to the brush problem, it doesn't seem to be well- hiked. Thus begins a familiar cycle- without some travel & maintenance, the debris that has begun to fill in the trail bed will only get worse, meaning less hikers, more brush & debris ad infinitum....

On a more positive note; once you reach the first seasonal creek (a spring near the first Ponderosa Pine grove) this trail is smooth sailing- thanks in part to the forest canopy shading out underbrush; but also likely due to foot traffic from nearby Big Pines & Pat Springs camps. The shade & water of this fine mountain top oasis offers welcome respite from the 7 plus DRY miles just hiked & is aesthetically pleasing with soft footing & virtually limitless off trail wandering.

I set up camp at Big Pines (my dog was happy to guard the campsite while I day hiked). Danish creek was flowing heavily with a creeklet feeding from the other side of the camp.

The triangular "loop" from Big Pines to the Skinner Ridge junction to Pat Springs environs & back via the connector that crosses Danish Creek was in good shape.

Overall, a great trip- good views & splendid weather, didn't see another soul from the time I left my car until I returned; not bad for a weekend!
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Conditions reported by: Mark Riddle
Survey date: 10-JAN-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Clear except for a couple of big deadfalls, some encroaching brush, and some unmarked trail junctions (it was my first time on the trail). Make sure you have a map. Otherwise very passable with the trail always visible. Indian paintbrush starting to bloom.
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Conditions reported by: Wynn Kageyama
Survey date: 15-JUNE-2001
General: CLEAR W/ POISON OAK
Specific:

The trail junction at Los Padres Dam sports a new sign post and does not include the Danish Creek Camp direction. Anyway the trail is the same as it always was. Overgrown with poison oak. No down falls. Trail is easy to follow to the ridge.

The ridge is becoming overgrown with new growth. Be prepared to play pickup ticks. At this date only a couple (2 to 3) ticks were found on a party of 5.

At the trail junction of Big Pines and Danish Creek you will find a trail sign. The marker does not point up the ridge instead pointing down towards Danish. Someone carved an arrow pointing up the Big Pines trail.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers for Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 27-JAN-2001
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Los Padres Dam up the Big Pines (Blue Rock Ridge) Trail is clear of all but poison oak twigs. The Danish Creek Camp trail is marked by a dangerous sign. The main arrow marked "TRAIL" clearly points down the trail to Danish Creek Camp. Someone has cut a smaller arrow on the sign to point up the Blue Rock Ridge Trail, but hikers without a map could make a lengthy detour down to Danish Camp. The camp is in fine shape, and the trail is good except the first quarter mile which is brushy. The main trail up to Big Pines Camp is in fine shape: easy to follow and generally well brushed out. There is a good crop of poison oak coming up under the madrones.

Big Pines Camp is clean and clear. The trail to the junction with the Ventana Cones Trail is also clear. The area where the connector trail to Pat's Spring cuts south is a little unclear. Two trails lead down the hill near the sign to Pat's Spring. Spaghetti Camp is signed, but it looked pretty small and dismal under snow when we passed it. The zig-zags up to the Ventana Cones trail are in good shape.
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Conditions reported by: Andrew Ricciardi
Survey date: 04-JANUARY-2001
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY to PASSABLE
Specific:

Date Hiked: January 3- 4, 2001
Los Padres Dam to Bottcher's Gap

Los Padres Dam to Danish Creek Camp trail junction: Wilderness Freeway up to here. Poison oak minimal, but ticks still there in Jan.

To Big Pines Camp: Passable. After this trail Junction (new sign) you skirt up and around Blue Rock Ridge intersecting the dozer line. Some good clear views north of Monterey Bay from here. Trail is well flagged and easy to follow all the way up to the spur trail to Big Pines Camp (which was in good condition).

Onward to Pat Springs camp: Passable with no major problems. You pass Spaghetti Camp which is a true Ventana "campsite". The uphill when approaching Pat Springs on the Big Pines trail could be difficult if you started your hike at the dam! Pat Springs was in good condition with plenty of water flowing. Great hike to do in winter.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition 2000
Survey date: APRIL-2000
General: PASSABLE TO DIFFICULT
Specific:

Los Padres Dam to Danish Creek Camp Junction=PASSABLE WITH PO & DOZER FIRELINE

This trail is fine except for large amounts of poison oak on the climb up from the flat above the reservoir. The new firebreak begins near the turn-off down to Danish Creek Camp, and obscures that trail junction. There is a flag, but one needs care to find it amid the crushed brush on the ridge top.

Danish Creek Camp to Big Pines Camp=DIFFICULT DUE TO DOZER FIRELINE

This trail will cause problems until hikers define the best route through the bulldozed brush covering the firebreak along the ridge top. Additionally, although many of the junctions where the real trail leaves the firebreak have flags, not all of them are clear. Sometimes one finds oneself following the firebreak up and over a hill when the trail circumvents the top and contours around the side. The route from Danish Creek Trail junction to Big Pines Camp is much harder now than it was before the fire as a result of the new firebreak.

Big Pines Camp junction to Pat Springs Camp=CLEAR

Big Pines Camp is in good shape, and the trail to Pat Spring Camp is also in very good shape.
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Conditions reported by: Andrew Ricciardi
Survey date: 9-APRIL-2000
General: PASSABLE to DIFFICULT
Specific:

From the Carmel River Trail, The Big Pines Trail branches off with poison oak immediately covering the trail. The trail is in adequate shape. The amount of poison oak, and some unstable places from horses could make hiking difficult. After switchbacking several times you come on to a ridge at about 1,750' feet in elevation. Here, you no longer worry about poison oak because the "trail" is now a 50 feet wide bulldozer line. You follow the dozer line up the ridge for about ten minutes until you see a rusty metal benchmark on the left indicating the trail to Danish Creek.
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Conditions reported by: Wynn Kageyama
Survey date: 10-JULY-1999
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Let me point out that this route is not the easiest path to Pat Springs. The Botchers Gap to Pat Springs trail is far easier.

From the beginning of trail at Los Padres Dam to the Danish Creek Camp trail junction the trial is overgrown with poison oak. The trail is well marked, and I recommend wearing long pants. Tick season is still in session as well. There is one downed live oak tree near the junction to Danish Creek Camp. Perform a tick check when you can.

The trail from the Danish Creek Camp junciton to Big Pines is fairly clear. On the lower elevations, you will find ticks. you can easily get sidetracked with the various jeep and horse trails intersecting the main trail. Don't get lost. In many location you will find yourself pushing through the chamise, and manzanita. The trail is steep, and most likely you will be hiking in the sun.

This ridge trail is almost always hot, and foreboding. Wear a floppy hat, and you might make it to Big Pines if you carry 2 liters (about 2 quarts) of water. If you are heading to Pat Springs, stop at Big Pine Camp to clean up, water up, and take a long rest. You will probably agree with me and declare Big Pines to be "Base Camp". I didn't make it the last 0.7 miles to Pat Spring to see the view. And quite frankly, I didn't care. It felt really good sitting in the small pool at Big Pines.

PS: If you do stay at Big Pines, carry extra insect repellent.
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Conditions reported by: Michael Golden
Survey date: 1-MAY-1999
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

My first trouble was finding the trail head at the Carmel River Trail. There is no signage by the Los Padres Dam. When the dirt road around the reservoir reaches a meadow (about halfway down the lake) stay right, away from the lake. The road splits off at random. Eventually, the dirt road becomes a footpath, the Carmel River Trail. Maybe 50 yards after the footpath begins, there's a sign on the right, indicating that you are on the Carmel River Trail. This is where the Big Pines Trail begins.

(The USGS topo map indicates that there is an unmaintained dirt road going up the ridge to the Big Pines Trail, a bit north of the Carmel River Trail. I saw the road, but I did not try it.)

The trail up to the ridge top is easy to follow. If you are covered with poison oak and ticks, you are on the right track. For several miles past the Danish Camp trail junction, the going is pretty easy. Then, although the trail is easy to find, brush overhangs the trail and you have to push through it A LOT until you reach the Big Pines Camp.

Once you get into the pine trees, the going is easy. The tread on the trail connecting Big Pines Camp to Spaghetti Camp and then to the Double Cone Trail junction is quite faint. I lost it in one place, and was glad when I found it again. My general strategy was to head West. I was glad I had a compass.
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Big Pines Trail

Postby Site Administrator on Thu May 07, 2009 4:14 pm

* USFS trail #1E02
* Parking: Los Padres Dam
* Watersheds: Carmel River
* Junctions: Carmel River Trail, Ventana Double Cone Trail, Danish Camp Trail
* Connects: Los Padres Reservoir with Ventana Double Cone Trail
* Camps: Big Pines Camp
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