Forums
Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Cone Peak Trail

Cone Peak Trail

Cone Peak Trail / Cone Peak Lookout Trail

Postby mikesplain on Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:19 pm

Date Hiked: May 30, 2009
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

I'd estimate that about 50% of this trail was affected by the Chalk Fire;
the initial climb along the ridge appears to have been used as a hand-line(?)
any & all encroaching brush has been mowed / manicured such that long pants aren't necessary;
but the "refrigerator-width" swath soon departs via a spur ridge and more narrow tread ensues.
Still, the trail is as good as ever & a spectacular post-fire wildflower display made for a fine hike;
some of the more interesting species included Gilia (splendens?), Penstemon (heterophyllus?) and Streptanthus (tortuosa?)
The only downside was aggressive swarms of face-flies- perpetual motion was the only way to tolerate them.
Throngs of other hikers were on their way in as I exited- this trail sees some heavy use!
As Mike mentioned in a previous post, always stay on the "uphill" side of any trail, especially this one-
"soft shoulders" flank the Cone Peak Trail in several places.
I didn't walk the stretch that descends to Trail Spring Camp.
User avatar
mikesplain
 
Posts: 616
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:15 pm

Cone Peak Trail

Postby mikesplain on Fri May 29, 2009 8:26 am

Date Hiked: April 13, 2009
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)
Conditions Reported by: Mike Heard

Section: Cone Peak Road to Summit Trail Junction - Wilderness Freeway

This section was within the Chalk Fire burn area, but was the beneficiary of significant attention from the BAER crew, the winter post-storm patrol folks, and a group of volunteers from Paso Robles High School. There are no downed logs, no encroaching brush, and no remaining sections of misaligned trail. In some places where the tread was realigned the tread is narrow and the outside edge is a little soft; please stay off the edge (a good idea everywhere, but really important in those places).

Section: Cone Peak Summit Trail - Wilderness Freeway

This section was also within the Chalk Fire burn area and was also the beneficiary of significant attention from the BAER crew and the winter post-storm patrol folks. There's some rock debris to contend with, so it's a good idea to watch where you place your feet, but on the whole it's in great shape.

Section: Summit Trail Junction to Trail Spring Camp - Passable

This section did not burn and the condition has degraded somewhat since the previous report: more downed logs, encroaching brush, and sloughed-in tread.
Last edited by C M Heard on Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: correct some inaccurate historical information
User avatar
mikesplain
 
Posts: 616
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:15 pm

Cone Peak Trail Conditions History

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 12, 2009 5:06 pm

Date Hiked: May 31, 2007
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 31-MAY-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY/PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road to Summit Trail Junction - Wilderness Freeway

This part of the trail is particularly distinguished at this time of the year by the plethora of lovely wildflowers in all their glory. It is worth hiking this portion of the trail just to see these magnificent little lovelies.

After you pass the telephone pole and wire by the spur trail leading west (about 1 mile from the trailhead), you can track your progress to the Cone Peak/Trail Springs turnoff by counting the number of switchbacks in that interval. I counted 17.

Section: Cone Peak Summit Trail - Wilderness Freeway

Same as above, except you can track your progress over this 1/4 mile interval to the top of Cone Peak by counting the number of switchbacks to the top. I counted 17.

Section: Summit Trail Junction to Trail Spring Camp - Passable

You are descending into two canyons. In the first 100 yards, there are some beautiful views north framed by majestic sugar pines and rare Santa Lucia firs (the ones with the droopy branches)that show you Ventana Double Cone 30 miles away.

For the first 1.5 miles of this interval the trail is fine, although faint in parts. Then you cross a dry creekbed at the bottom of the first canyon and start a quarter mile traverse west over the north side of the first canyon. From this point on, the trail has some significant obstacles. These include a lot of brushiness in places and 4 trees that require climbing over. At three of these the trunks are so large that the trail has been rerouted a few very steep yards around the tree.

After heading west for about a quarter mile, you round a bend and begin a final descent into the second canyon to Trail Spring Camp. Trail Spring was still flowing and I was able to obtain water there. But the minimal rainfall had reduced Trail Springs to something between a stream and a trickle. I would call it a feeble stream.

The flies were terrible. If you stop, you will find yourself swarmed by at least 50 of them. Headnets are mandatory, in my opinion.

You can track your progress to Trail Springs Camp by counting the number of switchbacks from the Cone Peak junction. I counted 11.
===========
Conditions reported by: Name
Survey date: 26-MAY-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road to Summit - Wilderness Freeway

Section: Summit Trail Junction to Trail Spring Camp - Clear

The steep portion down to Trail Springs was generally clear and smooth, with some dancing necessary to avoid poison oak. Camping at Trail Spring was bug-free at nite, but murderous with biting flies during the day.
===========
Conditions reported by: Gary Felsman
Survey date: 28-APRIL-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Three of us hiked the well mantained Cone Peak Trail today. The Trail is in great shape clear to the summit. Not as many flowers as last year. We could see all the way to the coast.

There were three places where a few trees had fallen across the trail along the along traverse to the south side of Cone Peak. One is about 8 inches in diameter, the others 4 - 6 six inches in diameter. I did not have my saw with me on this day, otherwise they would be gone.

The road to Cone Peak has been recently graded make the trek along Cone Peak Road much easier. Several lower clearence vehicles made it to the Cone Peak Trailhead.

On top we did spy a Golden Eagle soaring around Cone Peak.
===========
Conditions reported by: Robert Parks
Survey date: 25 MARCH-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY/PASSABLE
Specific:

(Described in reverse order, we came up the backside) Section: Cone Peak Road: (Nacimiento-Fergusson Road to Trailhead) - Clear

The normally rutted Cone Peak Road has just been graded and is in good shape.

Section: Cone Peak Road to Summit Trail - Wilderness Freeway

The trail is in its usual mowed to the ground state. Suitable for hiking in shorts and a t-shirt. Interestingly, one section that has been hemmed in by tall brush is regaining its view as the brush is dying off from overgrowth.

Section: Summit Trail junction to Summit - Wilderness Freeway

Also as usual, great trail, stunning 360 degree views, la la la. Elevation 5155', Limekiln Beach 3 miles away, you do the math.

Section: Summit Trail junction to Trail Spring - Passable

Tread is generally in good condition, some brush growth, and a number of deadfalls, some large. One large log has had hand and foot holds sawed into it.

===========
Conditions reported by: David Lautzenheiser
Survey date: 3-JANUARY-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

The trail from the road all the way to the top is in good shape. Recent work on the bottom portion makes it seem a real freeway in comparison to many others in Ventana. We moved one "crawl under" deadfall in the upper part of the trail so it can now be easily navigated otherwise one could jog all the way to the top!!

Anyone who has not been to the top of Cone Peak should go out and do it next weekend. Views were fantastic and we only saw three other folks (other than the forest service worker clearing storm damaged trees from the road). Even if you have to park at the start of the road (at Nacimiento-Fergusson Road) getting up to the start of the actual trail is a nice stroll along the dirt road.

We took our favorite brush clearing trimmers with us but never had an opportunity to use them!! We felt so in need of some trimming that we cleared the encroaching brush on the short side trail down to Redwood Springs just for fun...
===========
Conditions reported by: Lisel Blash
Survey date: 2-JULY-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road to Summit - Wilderness Freeway

Compared to Vicente Flat, this trail was a piece of cake. The tread is good and generally wide except in one place where there is some erosion for a few feet. There is very little brush extending onto the trail.

There were abundant purple and red penstemon, yellow poppies, stickey monky flowers, paintbrush, and the remnants of recently blooming yucca flowers along the trail. The way up is scenic and interesting in its own right, and the views from the top, are, of course, stupendous. There were many circling butterflies up near the lookout station.

Cone Peak Road: past the trail down to Vicente camp, I would not recommend low-clearance vehicles. We had to abandon the sedan and pile everyone into two high-clearance vehicles to make it over a significant hump of rock, and a couple of deep ruts on the road. [Editor's note: this is the infamous "Marble Turn" just above the San Antonio trailhead (1/4 mile past the Vicente Flat trailhead, and a mile or so short of the Cone Peak trailhead).]
===========
Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 7-MAY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Trail Spring Camp to Summit Trail : Passable

I dispatched one deadfall with my pruning saw, but other than that there wasn't anything unexpected on this section - just steep switchbacks and basically the same deadfalls as the last time I hiked it; nothing really hard. Tread seemed to mostly be in good shape.

When the trail intersects a streambed, cross it and pick up the trail heading up the opposite canyon wall.

Section: Summit Trail - Clear

Always fantastic views from the lookout. This time I noticed the ridge that seemed to head north, down steeply to the Coast Ridge Trail. Gorgeous weather.

Section: Summit Trail to Cone Peak Road - Clear

Heading back down to the road there were one or two deadfalls, but nothing difficult, and good trail tread.
===========
Conditions reported by: Lee Kenyon
Survey date: 29-APRIL-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

An obvious trail with no obstructions and even a sign...it doesn't get any easier than this.
===========
Conditions reported by: Adam Bogdanowicz
Survey date: 16-APRIL-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Summit Trail to Trail Spring Camp - Clear

Trail clear from Cone Peak lookout down to Trail Springs Camp with 8 switchbacks.
===========
Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 13-FEBRUARY-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Summit Trail to Gamboa Trail - Passable

[Ed: this does not cover the trail from the Cone Peak Road to the summit of Cone Peak]

This trail has 860 feet of elevation gain per mile. This is steeper than the elevation gain from the Little Sur Camp trailhead to Bottcher's Gap. It is almost as steep as the ascent from the Turner Creek Trail junction to the top of Devil's Peak. (950 feet of elevation gain/mile.)

The upper third of the trail offers lovely views of the opposite side of the canyon and the mountains beyond, including Ventana Double Cone, framed by majestic sugar pines.

Short portions of the tread disappeared twice but were easily picked up again. Be careful. This happened on very steep grades. I counted 7 downed trees requiring some effort to climb over or under.

To help you track your progress to Trail Springs Camp and back I counted 10 switchbacks on this portion of the Cone Peak Trail.
===========
Conditions reported by: Wendy Campbell Smith
Survey date: 13-NOVEMBER-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Trailhead to Summit

The Cone Peak Trail from the trailhead to the summit is in excellent condition. Very recently it has been cleared back at least 3 feet on either side where it had heavier plant growth. There are little signs of poison oak and we encountered no ticks. The trail tread is in great shape and with the growth cutbacks the trail has been redug in some loose places.

I would say this is the most picturesque hike I have encountered in the Big Sur area. Sweeping 360 degree views from the summit which took in both Lake San Antonio and a wide Pacific Ocean. We even thoght we saw whale spouts out in the water. I recommend you take binoculars for this hike. There is almost no adequate shade though, so take a hat and sunglasses and don't do this hike in the summer!Hot and bright.

One bad thing was there is no trail sign at the trailhead, just a piece of paper that says Cone Peak Trail. So watch your mileage when driving on the Cone Peak Road or you may pass it right by. Also there are a couple waterbogs you have to drive through on the way. I recommend a high clearance vehicle, but 4x is not required unless you were here right after a storm.

Great trail. You must do this one!
===========
Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers
Survey date: 9-JUNE-2005
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road Trailhead to Summit

As reported three weeks ago, this trail is being well maintained. I clipped a little new growth, but essentially the trail is a wilderness freeway except where there is some foot bed slippage. Even there, efforts are being made to maintain a safe path. Lots of color and lots of hummingbirds. The views were spectacular, but it would be nice if the lights at Hunter Ligget were turned off sometime each night. Section: Cone Peak Road Conditions

In addition, the Cone Peak Road has been very recently graded. It was complete to the Cone Peak Trail and appeared to go the rest of the way to road end. Thanks to all the people who keep these trails open and convenient.
===========
Conditions reported by: Robert Parks
Survey date: 15-MAY-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road trailhead to the Summit Trail junction - (Clear to Wilderness Freeway)

Some work has been done to fix issues raised in previous reports.

Section: Summit Trail junction to Trail Spring Camp - Passable

There is a bit of tread fill-in and slumping on the switchbacks, a bit of brush and poison oak growing in, deadfalls have been removed or reduced to easy stepovers, except for the large pine which has been notched a bit. Below the switchbacks, there are still some logs that are generally easy to cross. Some brushiness, but not too bad.
===========
Conditions reported by: Marc Schwartz
Survey date: 12-MAY-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

The trail was in great shape. Because of the wet winter, the wildflower show was the best I have ever seen in the Big Sur/Ventana area. (I have been hiking this area for 25 years) Views from the old fire lookout were awesome.

The Cone Peak Road is open and has had a lot of work done to it.
===========
Conditions reported by: Mark Kiehlbauch
Survey date: 4-FEBRUARY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road (Nacimiento-Ferguson Road to Cone Peak Trailhead)

The Cone Peak Road (Central Coast Ridge Rd) is closed due to a small slide. It shouldn't be, because road is still easily passable, but it is. (Editor's note: rumor has it that the road will remain closed til April. Mountain bike or motorcycle have no problems getting through)

Section: Cone Peak Road to Trail Spring Camp

Nothing to add to previous reports (Editor's note: no snow as of 3/6/05)
===========
Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 16-JANUARY-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Trail Spring to Summit Trail junction : Passable to Difficult (snow)

Usual winter deadfalls, with snow at around 4000'. The last series of storms seemed to dump enough snow that what was left was several inches, consolidated enough that I had to kick steps to keep traction. I actually managed to lose the trail while going around a deadfall - I think where the trail crossed a gully there was some tread damage. I then climbed a ridgelet, traversed cross-country and picked up the trail again.

Section: Summit Trail junction to Cone Peak Road : Clear to Difficult

There is a large madrone down over a steep gully, where the trail tread is mostly washed out. I climbed up through the tree and across - traversing below looked sketchy. There is also a place higher up where the tread is collapsing, but with care it is passable. Other than that it looked great.
===========
Conditions reported by: Robert Parks
Survey date: 19-DEC-2004
General: CLEAR/PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Rd. trailhead to Trail Springs

The section from the Cone Peak Road to the Summit Trail junction is Clear, the section down to Trail Spring Camp is Passable/Clear.

(Cone Peak Road to Summit Trail junction): minor encroaching brush and fairly minor tread issues downgrade this trail from it's previous Wilderness Freeway status. Still in very good condition though.

(Summit Trail junction down to Trail Spring Camp): tread is clear if somewhat deteriorated on the switchbacks, there are still several large deadfalls (more or less easily crossable). Nearing the bottom, there are a fairly large number of deadfalls across the trail, also more or less easily crossable), except for a couple spots, the tread is in decent shape.

The Cone Peak Road is generally in good condition (suitable for 2WD low clearance vehicles with care), although there is some rutting at the Marble Ridge (just north of the Vicente Flat trail).
===========
Conditions reported by: Dennis Krueger
Survey date: 15-DEC-2004
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Trailhead to Cone Peak

Trailhead sign gone. Drove past it and had to come back. Trail was in great condition. There were areas where there is going to be problems in the future unless there is some work done. i.e. water runoff down existing trails is eroding the trail. All in all, a perfect hike. A great workout, with unbelieveable views.
===========
Conditions reported by: John Lasersohn
Survey date: 8-OCTOBER-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road to Cone Peak Summit : CLEAR

The trail conditions are good, as they were the last time I did this trail (Nov 2003). Most of this trail is gravel, only the lower part is dirt. The lower parts had some brush, but not thick or obstructive. I don't recall seeing any water, but after the recent rains, there are probably some tricklers you can use. The tower on top is still an excellent shelter, with smooth surfaces to use under the roof, as you have access to all four sides, you can get shade any time of day there.

It's a treacherous single track trail, which occasionally has a gravel slide.

It was a foggy day down on the southern Big Sur coast; Jade Cove was socked in, but once I got halfway up Nacimiento Rd. it was clear. I started up at about 10:30 AM and got to the top just before 12:15. By then it was starting to get hotter than hell, so I sat up top with a radio, lunch and towel for a few hours and watched the fog burn off. This is the best view you can find on the coast in California, except for perhaps the DeAngulo Trail.

I took photos
===========
Conditions reported by: Robert Parks
Survey date: 20-MAR-2004
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Trail Springs Camp to Cone Peak Road

Some tread fill in on debris slopes, some medium to large deadfalls that are easy to cross, some poison oak, generally in good condition.

Summit Trail: Wilderness Freeway

From Summit Trail junction to Cone Peak Road: Wilderness Freeway, hikeable in bikini and shoes (I recommended they NOT take the Gamboa Trail back to the Cone Peak Rd). Hot and dry.

Cone Peak Road in good condition, OK for 2 WD low clearance with care.
===========
Conditions reported by: EW
Survey date: 17-JAN-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road to Summit

We drove up Nacimiento Road late-night Friday, January 16th & were surprised to find North Coast Ridge (aka Cone Peak) Road open to traffic. The lower reaches of Cone Peak Trail look like someone came through with a high powered weed whacker, not out of the question- this is outside Ventana Wilderness boundaries. As a whole, this trail's in the the best condition I've ever seen it. clear enough to hike by head-lamp on a near-new moon. Found 2 UGG boots (2 different sizes, both left???), 2 saw-horses & a broom at the summit- go figure...

Section: Trail Spring to Summit Trail

We climbed up this connector from the Gamboa Trail to the Cone / Twin Peak saddle, back from a long day hike just as the sun was setting into the Pacific.

Climbing through a shady north-facing forest of Sugar Pine, Bristle Cone Fir & Canyon Live Oak makes for welcome contrast upon reaching the rocky open country up top. There are no major obstacles to travel, but tread work would be helpful in a few places where this trail is sagging off the steep slopes it traverses in typical Ventana fashion.
===========
Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 27-DEC-2003
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Trail Spring to Cone Peak Road

There was a dusting of snow around the Trail Spring camp. Very chilly there on the north-facing hillside. Further up the snow deepened, to perhaps an inch or so. Footprints of deer, rabbits, birds, and either a bobcat or the resident mountain lion were evident. There was little brush to speak of, just several large deadfalls, requiring the hiker to go over or under. [There was also a lot of old shotgun shells, and trash at the camp. I packed out several plastic water bottles and some foil, but there was other trash strewn about, and I had no more room]

Summit to Cone Peak Road : Clear

Several bootprints in the snow were evident heading up to the summit, and someone had even inscribed their name and the date at the top. The snow was still powdery due to the arctic air mass aloft, but was melting fast on the sunny southern exposures. Fantastic views of Pimkolam's snowy summit and other high points. Contrasted with the sunny skies and blue sea below, the snow atop the summit made for amazing pictures.

There were several deadfalls on the way down to Cone Peak Road, but nothing difficult. Tread seemed to be in good shape. The trail widened to about 8-10 feet as it passed through the chaparral near the bottom.
===========
Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 8-DEC-2003
General: CLEAR
Specific:

This trail was very clear and well-defined. There is not water anywhere near this trail and I needed about a quart of water after I got to the lookout station. Luckily, I had that much. The lookout station is completely closed. There is a nice flat area on the north side of the peak that would make a nice spot to pitch a tent. The views are absolutely stunning up here and are a rich reward for only a 2.25 mile hike.

The odd thing about this trail is that the trailhead is marked so that people coming up the road to the trailhead cannot see it. You have to be coming down the trail down the road and going out of the Ventana Wilderness towards Naciemiento Road to see the trailhead sign. Otherwise you will miss it. The same is true for the Vicente Flat trail on this road.
===========
Conditions reported by: K Vandevere
Survey date: 16-NOV-2003
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Trailhead to summit

Trailhead to Summit: Someone has recently cut back brush, removed the deadfalls and even done some tread work, making this trail easier to follow than ever.
===========
Conditions reported by: Keith Vandevere
Survey date: 27-AUG.-2003
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Cone Peak Road to summit

Between the trailhead and the summit there's some very minor brush and poison oak encroachment and a couple of insignificant deadfalls, but nothing that really prevents this well-used, well-signed and easy to follow trail from being considered a "Wilderness Freeway."
===========
Conditions reported by: Mike Heard
Survey date: 20-Aug-2003
General: CLEAR/FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Trail Spring Camp - Cone Peak - Cone Peak Road

From Trail Spring Camp to the junction with the Cone Peak Lookout Trail conditions are mostly clear; my recollection is that there was one deadfall that needed to be climbed over, and two others that had to be detoured.

From the junction with the Cone Peak Lookout Trail and the trailhead on Cone Peak Road it's a Wilderness freeway.
===========
Conditions reported by: Steve Graner
Survey date: 3-OCT-2002
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Better than "passable" really, but there are a fair number of deadfalls on the side between the peak and Trail Springs Camp.
===========
Conditions reported by: Mike Heard
Survey date: 31-JULY-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

From Trail Spring up to the lookout trail, things were pretty smooth with just a few large fallen trees that are easily climbed over. From the junction down to Cone Peak Road it was clear, as per the last report.
===========
Conditions reported by: Eric & Lisa
Survey date: 1-JUN-2002
General: CLEAR
Specific:

My fiancée and I hiked to Cone Peak Lookout on June 1, 2002. We reached the sunny trailhead at 9:30 am after driving through thick fog on most of Naciemento-Ferguson Road. The road was in very good condition and the trail was clear with signs of a lot of use. The earlier post talks about a section through yerba buena, this was the only overgrown part of the hike. Views from the top were great except for the fog hiding the ocean. The inland views were completely unobstructed. The only complaint we had was the constant bugs, which did not notice the 100% DEET were bathed in. The only break we got from insects was in the wind at the top. All in all it was a great day.
===========
Conditions reported by: Bruce & Rosemary Rideout
Survey date: 24-FEB-2002
General: CLEAR
Specific:

We did this trail yesterday, February 24, 2002, with a group of 9 seasoned hikers. The road to the trailhead is in very good shape, and passable with two wheel drive. The trail itself is in pretty good shape. There is a section of through Yerba Buena which requires some thrashing but the trail is easily followed through this area. The slide section was easily negotiated. All nine of us agreed that the trailhead sign indicating that the trail is 2 miles cannot be correct. We guessed the mileage to be closer to 3 miles. In fact, a group of young people ahead of us seemed to and made their own alteration to the signage at the trail head. (Ed. note: The authoritative Sierra Club trail guide gives the milage as 2.0. Schaffer says 2.3 )

Couldn't have been a more perfect day for a February hike. Barely a whisper of a breeze up top. The ocean was incredibly calm. Visibility was excellent.

Has anyone else noticed the mountain lion tracks in the concrete at the fire station at the top?
===========
Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 23-FEB-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

From Trail Spring up to the lookout trail, things were pretty smooth with just a few blowdowns. From the junction down to Cone Peak Road it was clear, as per the last report.
===========
Conditions reported by: Craig Gaevert
Survey date: 4-NOV-2001
General: CLEAR AND PASSABLE
Specific:

The road to the Cone Peak Trailhead is well graded and easily passable. We drove our '82 MBZ wagon right to the trailhead without any bottoming out. The suspension threat noted in previous posts is not warranted at this time. One does have to avoid the occasional rock or cow in the road but a 4x4 is not a necessary requirement to reach this easily hiked trail. Other trail conditions are as Olaf has noted, however, trail crews have started clearing the trail. Where the brush starts the trail has been freshly cleared for about 100 yds. They still have more work to do.

At the so-called Y (really a T) someone has thoughtfully piled some rocks across the spur so that one shouldn't be confused about which way to go.

We started our hike rather late (15:15) but arrived at the peak by 16:20. That left us about 15 minutes on the peak before we had to start back (Sunset was at 17:08) and made it back in the last glimmer of dusk.

N-F road is closed past the summit due to the current military conditions and additionally Monterey County is taking this opportunity to do some retrofit work on the bridge at the bottom on the east side.

Craig Gaevert
Santa Rosa, CA
===========
Conditions reported by: Christopher Randall
Survey date: 4-AUGUST-2001
General: CLEAR
Specific:

I took the opportunity afforded by the full moon to hike this trail by moonlight. What an incredible time! Since the full moon actually happened Friday night (and I was out Saturday night), the moon didn't even rise over the eastern ridge until almost 11pm. That was fine with me, though, because I didn't get on the trail until 11pm.

I appreciated Katherine's accurate mileage for the Cone Peak Road from Nacimiento-Ferguson Road to the trailhead, 5.2 miles. Without it, I might have missed the trailhead altogether. The road is graded dirt with rock. You will want to have a truck, preferrably a 4x4 on this road. I found that even in my 4x4 the road was still a challenge. I would suggest that you park down at the Nacimiento Station campground and hike the 5.2 miles up Cone Peak Road if you don't have a 4x4. That is, unless you don't care what happens to your vehicle's suspension. I parked at the trailhead, which only has space for about 3-4 cars. The trailhead is behind and to your left from the small parking area.

What a great hike! The sky was totally clear, it was warm and there was no wind at all. Only the slightest breeze at the top of the peak. The trail was in great shape, with only a few exceptions. Because it was the middle of the night, I was a bit more careful than I would have been otherwise. But, even though it was night time, there were no serious obstacles. I had a flashlight for the dark parts of the trail that the moonlight didn't penetrate. The first half-mile or so was dark, and was a bit on the brushy side. The trail is very clear once you pass the first 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile of brush.

One little point of advice...there is one spot along the trail when the trail is on the Pacific-facing ridge, about 1.25 miles into the hike where there is a Y, and the actual trail takes the hard right up a switchback, and a spur goes off slightly to the left. Don't take the spur, it is a dead end. The spur leads only about 50 feet to a lookout of the ocean, so you won't get lost, but this really confused me. It might be a good idea to put a sign here directing people to the right, up the trail.

The last 1/2 mile of the trail to the lookout is pretty steady switchbacks. You should have no problem with them, but take them steady if you're out of shape like I was. Even in the middle of the night, I was still sweating, and needed numerous short water/GU breaks. About 1/4 of a mile short of the peak is the junction with the Cone Peak/Trail Springs connecter trail. At this junction, there is a sign leaning up against some brush on the Cone Peak side of the trail. There is also a clearing on the saddle which would make for a good campsite. When I arrived there, somebody WAS using it as a campsite.

No kidding about the view, the view is truly incredible. It is amazing to think that from Monterey, within 3-4 hours you can be standing on top of Cone Peak! The view is a full 360 degree view. One thing to mention...there is some sort of observation tower at the top. I heard that this is a non-functional fire service lookout tower. It is a real eyesore, and takes away from the experience.

There is a small clearing on the peak where a small tent could go. A couple hikers were sleeping out there when I arrived.
===========
Conditions reported by: Katherine Dollard
Survey date: 15-APRIL-2001
General: CLEAR
Specific:

The gate on the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road was open, so we drove to the trailhead 5.2 miles up Cone Peak Road, which looked newly graded and in fine shape.

The trail was, with a few exceptions, in good condition with little brush and a mostly fine tread. Immediately after the trail attains the first ridge from the trailhead, facing the Pacific, the trail is overgrown by ceanothus and other shrubs for a short stretch until the trail enters the burned area. The brush is easy to pass through and under if you're wearing long pants and not carrying a tall pack. From the first ridge the trail makes a long, slow ascent along the south facing flank of the peak to a second ridge. There is one washout on this stretch, which is not difficult to cross over. There was one deadfall were a way around had developed on the downhill side in very loose gravel. After the second ridge the trail begins to switchback with increasingly dramatic views of the rocky landscape, rugged ridges and canyons and the ocean. A few of the switches are cut by small water courses and some footprints. From trail head to top took an hour with one stop.

Perhaps the local tick, gnat and mosquito population was slowed down by the recent cold weather, since they were not much in evidence. It looked like some of the delicate new growth and buds on some plants got thoroughly frost bitten including, I'm happy to report, the poison oak. Unscathed golden yarrow (Eriopyllum ) were everywhere and should make a wonderful display when in bloom, as will the ceanothus that we pushed through and ducked under, which was covered with buds.
===========
Conditions reported by: Craig Lassen
Survey date: 14-JANUARY-2001
General: IMPASSABLE DUE TO SNOW
Specific:

The snow had rendered this trail impassable. The overgrowth is as well quite severe in many places. Tread quality was difficult to surmise and many trees lay across the path. By mid-day, the snow layer had iced over and required Cramp-on's. Progress time along this trail was nearly tripled. Take caution if you are planning to use this trail during the Winter.
===========
Conditions reported by: Betsy MacGowan
Survey Date: 10-December-2000
General: CLEAR
Specific:

We found the gate at the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road closed, so we walked 5.2 miles to the trailhead on the gently uphill-sloping road. From the trailhead to the Cone Peak Lookout, the trail has been cleared and is reasonably brush-free. There are rocks in the trail in few places but these seem to have arrived some time after the completion of a good bit of treadwork by someone. The slides mentioned in last spring's trail reports have been cleared, making this a very pleasant outing. The fog clearing out at the top makes for a great Chinese landscape-like effect.
===========
Conditions reported by: Adam K. Zolot
Survey date: 29-MAY-2000
General: CLEAR to DIFFICULT
Specific:

I was out for Memorial day on a planned loop as follows: drive to Nacimiento Station, continue out Cone Peak road, park, hike cone peak trail to Trail Springs to Gamboa to Stone Ridge to Vicente Flats.

All was fine until the connecting trail between Cone Peak and Trail Springs. The entire area is devastated by the fires and the trail is barely visible. If you are not familiar with this area you might want to avoid this trail. If you are adventurous, remember to plan a lot of time for bushwhacking and always head down and to the east towards the gully. This 1.5 mile section took us 2.5 hours. A better option (if you want to explore this region) is the Coast Ridge Trail to Gamboa, starting at the far end of the Cone Peak road. Since time was cut, we never made it to Stone Ridge. Also, remember to bring LOTS of bug repellent. There are more mosquitos than anyone is used to and almost all attempts to thwart them are useless. The fires have increased the water level (less to feed) and the mosquito are plentiful and mean! Good luck!
===========
Conditions reported by: Lewis Distefano
Survey date: 6-APRIL-2000
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

First, the dirt road north from Nacimiento Summit is still closed.
Second, the trail up to Cone Peak is damaged due to rains after the fire. The first mile has a couple of places where upslope erosion has filled the trail with debris. About half-way to the top is a hazardous place where a debris slide crossed the trail. It is steep and covered with loose rock and gravel. It is risky to cross and a mis-step would result in a major fall.
===========
Conditions reported by: Steve Bonds
Survey date: 29-MAY-99
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

(Near Trail Springs Camp) Lots of deadfall which requires significant rereouting, often through very healthy stands of poison oak. I turned around, but someone more determined might be able to make it.
User avatar
Site Administrator
Site Admin
 
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:43 am

Cone Peak Trail

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 12, 2009 5:05 pm

* USFS trail #4E12
* Parking: Cone Peak Road
* Watersheds: Limekiln Creeks
* Junctions: Gamboa Trail
* Connects: Cone Peak Road with the Gamboa Trail at Trail Spring Camp
* Camps: Trail Spring Camp
User avatar
Site Administrator
Site Admin
 
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:43 am

Previous

Return to Ventana Wilderness Trails

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests