Forums
Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:32 am

A Brief History of Rattlesnake Creek Trail

Rattlesnake Creek Trail has a long history, having been one of the earliest Ventana trails. The 1924 Santa Barbara National Forest map [ http://bigsurtrailmap.net/MAPS/HISTORIC ... p-1924.jpg ] shows it connecting with Devils Peak and the Little Sur drainage prior to the existence of the current Danish Creek Trail, Big Pines Trail, Ventana Double Cone Trail, Puerto Suelo Trail, and even the Carmel River Trail. It is also shown on the 1921 Jamesburg Quadrangle [ http://bigsurtrailmap.net/MAPS/HISTORIC ... ersize.jpg ] essentially as it exists now, except at its western end where it headed NW from Little Pines Spring to connect to what is now the Ventana Double Cone (VDC) Trail, aka Ventana Trail. Currently (2013) a signpost still marks its original intersection with the VDC Trail but the Rattlesnake Creek Trail sign has been removed, though a bolt from it remains (see photo below). This was the route initially used to support construction and resupply of the VDC lookout tower and trail, via mule train (the later resupply route was via Bottchers Gap).

At some later time its uppermost end was rerouted, probably to make the VDC ascent more direct, to head SW from Little Pines Spring to intersect the VDC Trail. The original (black) and current (green) routes are depicted on the on-line Big Sur Trailmap [ http://bigsurtrailmap.net ].

"Little Pines Camp" used to exist along the trail about 150 feet below Little Pines Spring (not along the VDC Trail, as shown on some maps) - a basin up in a tree marks that location, near a tree blaze [at N36.35502,W121.72225 - see photo below]. However, fires led to erosion which filled its flat area after which its USFS icemaker stove were relocated to a large flat area 1/8 mile below Little Pines Spring, 50 ft south of the trail [at N36.35550,W121.72075]. But a huge pine (visible in Google Earth) later fell into that area, largely covering it.

Metal markers along the trail were placed by H.J. McCracken, who reopened the trail circa 1965. The markers can be found all the way up to Little Pines Camp, though sparser at the higher elevations, but to date none have been found above there so his route may have followed either the original or the current route. The metal signs found at the eastern trailhead near Danish Creek and at Rattlesnake Camp itself were placed circa 1990 (see photos below).

Jack Glendening
Attachments
RattlesnakeCampSign.jpg
Rattlesnake Camp sign
RattlesnakeCamp.jpg
Rattlesnake Camp - Rattlesnake Creek in background
RattlesnakeCamp_TrailheadSign.jpg
Rattlesnake Creek Trail - eastern trailhead sign
RattlesnakeCreekTrail_HistoricTrailheadSign.jpg
Rattlesnake Creek Trail - historic western trailhead sign
note bolt remaining from removed trail sign
LittlePinesCamp_VDCbackpack.sixthsize.jpg
Little Pines Camp - note basin up in tree
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
User avatar
jack_glendening
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:44 am

Date Hiked: January 2, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Dayhiked from Danish Creek to Rattlesnake Camp as my first hike of the new year. Lots of false animal trails on first section uphill to the ridge, ceanothus growth obscures portions of trail along the ridge, vines cover some of final section of trail from ridge down to Rattlesnake Creek. Prior knowledge of trail and/or GPS track of actual trail very useful.

I also spent some time cutting the more prominent brush intrusions into the trail

The register indicates that in 2012 Rattlesnake Camp was visited by 3 groups totaling 6 people - so its a place to go if one wants a unique experience. After reading the entry by the group heading beyond Rattlesnake Camp, up to the VDC Trail, it was nice to find their Feb 18 trail report below and learn that they did indeed reach their goal, albeit by having to bushwhack since the upper trail was overgrown.

Jack Glendening
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
User avatar
jack_glendening
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby Paul David Tuff on Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:11 pm

Date Hiked: November 23, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The trail up Danish Creek from Danish Camp isn't bad until the confluence of Rattlesnake and Danish Creeks. From there and continuing up Danish Creek, the vines are taking over. The trail to Rattlesnake Camp from Danish Creek is getting much harder to follow. There are many new trails in some of the grassy slopes made by people and/or critters. If it's people creating these trails, it's likely due to the fact that the main trail is harder to follow due to the new growth and burned brush/trees from the last fire, and probably because some of the metal guides were obscured by new vegetation. Along the ridge before dropping down into Rattlesnake camp there are long sections where interlocking branches of ceanothus (starting at about 1-2 feet over the trail and extending up way overhead, and sometimes combining with madrone and vines), are making the trail impassable to anyone who doesn't want to engage in major bushwhacking. After dropping down to Rattlesnake Creek but before crossing, the vines are waist-to-chest high. The camp itself is in fine shape, with the camp register safe and dry.

[The Editor's note pleading against using a machete is duly noted, but if there are no plans to rehab the trail, it will be difficult for some of us to watch it fade into the undergrowth without attempting to stop the decline, however amateurish the effort. I'd be willing to help anyone who wants to work on the trail, but it seems (and I admit I haven't done much trail work) that in some sections, grubbing out and pruning the brush would take a small army of volunteers, and I've noticed that the majority of work done on trails in the Ventana focuses on the most popular routes.]
Paul David Tuff
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:52 pm

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Wed May 09, 2012 3:51 pm

Date Hiked: May 6, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

This report is for the section from Little Pines Spring (and old Little Pines Camp) up to the VDC Trail.

The route which was clear and flagged 18 months ago is now a sea of ceanothus. Brush thick and tall (over my head) combined with downfall for almost the entire route to make it essentially impassable. I tried it two ways - once religiously following the old route on my GPS and once following what looked visually best (climbing atop the large downed pine trees to look for a better path) - the former was less brushy, but still tough. There was too much brush for the old flags to be visually helpful.

Overnighting at the old Little Pines Camp (now just a flat space for one small tent, due to debris after an old fire, marked by a basin in a tree), 100 ft from Little Pines Spring (which had much water, about half that of Pat Springs), I did not want to try to backpack that route so opted to hike out to the VDC Trail via the "historic" route, heading NNW to the sign post which still exists along the VDC Trail. I'd come in to the camp via that route so knew it was mostly open under a pine canopy or with sparse vegetation except for a 500 ft brushy stretch immediately above the old Little Pines Camp). Not easy, but much better than the sea of ceanothus, especially with a backpack. If anyone really needs to go to/from Little Pines Spring to VDC Trail I'd recommend that route - going up slope from the tree blaze at the old Little Pines Camp (trying to follow existing pines since there is less ceanothus growth around them), I simply picked my way as best I could uphill until I reached the open pine-needle-floor under the pines, then stayed within that by contouring and ascending north until I reached a region with sparse vegetation just beyond a gully, beside which I ascended to reach the sign on the VDC Trail - see red route on map below.
Attachments
LittlePinesSpring-ascent.png
Little Pines Spring/Camp to VDC Trail
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
User avatar
jack_glendening
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby richard_n on Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:37 am

Date Hiked: February 18, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked the Rattlesnake Trail over President's Weekend with two friends. Trail to Danish Creek is in great shape with only some minor brush in the way (and plenty of ticks on the switchbacks up on Big Pine trail). There is a somewhat misleading creek crossing that takes you into Rattlesnake Creek well before the remains of the cabin, but if you stay on the right side of Danish Creek (walking upstream), there is an obvious enough trail up to the cabin site. After that, as other posters have said, the trail gets very steep and less obvious, though it's straightforward until the top of the ridge. There, the trail is very brushy but still visible except for one spot where it just disappears. But after a hundred yards or so of bushwhacking, we rejoined the well-marked trail down to Rattlesnake Camp. It took us 5 hours from Los Padres parking lot to the camp, with about 4 hours spent getting from Danish Camp to Rattlesnake Camp.

The camp was really wonderful, and we spent a great night there. Signed the log on our way out and really appreciated all of Jack's hard work in blazing the trail. The trail from the camp quickly gets lost in head-high brush, but is regained after about 200ft higher up on the right hillside. We blazed a trail, but without a machete, who knows how long the trampled brush will last. After that, the trail is passable but difficult at times until the valley turns due west. The combination of southern sun exposure and moisture from the valley makes for 8ft high brush with no sign of a trail other than the occasional pink flagging. We found easier going on the very steep north facing side of the valley just until the creek turns south-southwest and Little Pine mountain is visible from the valley. We regained the flagged trail there but after only a couple hundred yards the brush became completely impassable. We resorted to heading straight up the hillside through charred manzanita up to one of the ridgelines coming off of Little Pine. There we followed some deer trails until VDC trail. It took us 5 hours to get there from Rattlesnake Camp.

Bottom line: the trail is well worth the effort with lots of interesting trees in the valley, but bring a machete and wear long pants. The trail should now be visible until about 1 mile below Little Pines Camp if someone repeats our trek before the brush moves in again.

(Editor's note: PLEASE do not bring a machete. Lots of us think it should be easy and simple to clear brush with a machete. Unfortunately, use of a machete on the brush in the Ventana is a great way to slice open your legs or arms, and is ineffective at making any meaningful dent in the brush. Most brush is best grubbed out, lopped below ground, or judiciously pruned, just like you would prune roses. The sharp cuts made by a machete result in hard, dead stubs, which poke at the next hiker, OR they result in several branches growing where there was only one before. Doing the job right takes longer, but it lasts longer, too.)

(Poster's response: my apologies for suggesting that everyone should bring a machete. I wanted to make the point clear that in sections of the trail, it would not be a matter of pruning to make it passable. There were many areas where the trail has 8 ft tall brush that is indistinguishable from the surroundings (other than a faint leveled step in the hillside). We used sticks and our body weight to push through, but it will take a lot more than a pruning effort to rebuild the trail the full route. I wanted to give future hikers considering this trail fair warning of its current condition. It IS passable, but with much difficulty and it takes a long time.)
richard_n
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:20 am

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby K Vandevere on Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:54 am

Date Hiked: January 28, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Walked the lower portion of the trail from fairly close to Rattlesnake Camp down to Danish Creek. Encroaching brush, deadfalls, and faint tread conspire to make this section difficult - though certainly not impassable.
User avatar
K Vandevere
 
Posts: 270
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:50 pm

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Sun May 29, 2011 12:40 pm

Date Hiked: May 28, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Sadly, I must report that Rattlesnake Trail is now impassible above Rattlesnake Camp (up to connection with VDC Trail) due to patches of above-head-height ceanothus created by this season's heavy rainfall. Below Rattlesnake Camp, I would rate the the trail up to Rattlesnake Camp as "difficult" at best.

I was able to get up to Rattlesnake Camp from Danish Creek, but it took 6 hours due to having to clear a path as I went. After awhile I realized I could only create a minimal path if I was to make it to the camp that day, so the path is very thin through some dense ceanothus patches enroute and will require looking for cut stems instead of flags along those sections (since the visible distance is very short, much shorter than the distance between flags). That growth must have appeared since the last trail report of Jan 9, since it definitely blocked one's way. Those who want a challenge should consider this route! FYI I have placed a "camp register" in an ammo box there as I'm curious as to how many hikers get to this remote and seldom visited camp, known to only a few people (and now likely to be visited by even fewer, given the current conditions).
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
User avatar
jack_glendening
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby dickgraybill on Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:16 am

Date Hiked: January 9, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I spent a night at Danish Creek. The trail to there is very good. From there to Rattlesnake, the trail is brushy but well flagged. There are one or two places you can lose the flag line if you aren't alert. Day hiked round trip from Rattlesnake to Little Pines and the Ventana Double Cone Trail. It was a good workout. There is little trail left to speak of, but it is mostly well flagged. Some flags are missing, including a few important ones. I lost the route for about 1/2 mi. near the top, but was able to find it again with a map an compass. I would advise taking some sort of route finding tools it you try it.

The camps are in excellent condition. Searching Google Images for their names gives you some good pictures, including one of the abandoned cabin near Danish Creek before it fell down. ~Dick Graybill
dickgraybill
 

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby MBAHG on Mon Nov 15, 2010 3:13 pm

Date Hiked: November 13, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Led a group of 8 hikers from Los Padres Dam up to Rattlesnake Camp and beyond to the VDC Trail following the route that was recently marked with pink/blue ribbons by J. Glendening, J. Doelman, and others. Many thanks to those individuals who've taken the time to mark this historic route into a truly wild and unspoiled part of our Ventana back country. Trail conditions to Danish Creek camp are fairly good with only minor brush encroachment and a few places where the tread is poor requiring the need for careful footing. Beyond Danish Creek Camp the trail continues along the north side of the creek a way before reaching the rusted out remains of what appears to be an historic "horse" camp with remnants of an old corral judging by the old fence posts and barbed wire. A fun place to look around and ponder what significance this camp once had.

Beyond the "horse" camp the trail crosses the creek and begins its ascent uphill towards Rattlesnake Camp. The tread here becomes less distinct however there are numerous pink and/or blue ribbons to mark the way so keeping a watchful eye is necessary from this point on.

After climbing just over 600 feet of elevation you'll cross a saddle and drop down to Rattlesnake Creek where just a little further on you'll come across Rattlesnake Camp. The camp area is fairly well preserved having appeared to be spared any ill effects of the Basin Complex fire. There is fire pit, an old stove with its flume laying over on the ground, and even a well preserved picnic table that we used for a much needed snack break. Overall a very lovely and shady spot nestled deep within the wilderness.

Beyond here the trail gets really dicey as there are long stretches where the tread is faint and/or completely deteriorated. Although there are plenty of pink/blue ribbons in place to follow the tread is quite treacherous in many places. Definitely NOT for the faint of heart as you'll be hiking through areas of over-the-head high brush including ceanothus, vines, berry bushes, poison oak, manzanita, etc. And if the excessive brush isn't enough to test one's patience you'll have areas where the tread is soft and will give way beneath your feet creating a slipping hazard. The trail does get somewhat less brushy as you near the top of the saddle on the final approach to the VDC Trail however the tread is less distinct and requires even more diligence in identifying the location of the trail markings.

Overall the Rattlesnake Trail is difficult but passable and very WELL marked!! Many thanks to J. Glendening (the previous poster) and J. Doelman (whom I happened to meet while getting coffee on my way to the trail head) for their recent efforts in getting this trail into a passable hiking condition once again. I have had the pleasure of leading many group hikes in the Ventana and I can personally attest to how very appreciative people are that these historic trails are once again being opened up for everyone to enjoy!!

These two photos show the typical trail flagging one should expect to see along the Rattlesnake Trail:


http://photos1.meetupstatic.com/photos/event/8/e/7/d/600_19656477.jpeg

http://photos4.meetupstatic.com/photos/event/8/e/7/9/600_19656473.jpeg

For anyone interested in seeing photos from our recent day hike through Rattlesnake Canyon, you can access at this location:

http://www.meetup.com/The-Monterey-Bay-Area-Hiking-Group/photos/1151469/

Robert
MBAHG
 

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:15 pm

Date Hiked: October 26, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I used the Rattlesnake Creek Trail to ascend to Little Pines Spring (which has much more water than Pat Springs!), prior to ascending VDC. Knowing the route, and having many blue/pink flags in place, I still found myself occasionally straying from the marked route and having to regain it, so close attention to the flagging (or a GPS) is required. I was able to backpack up the entire trail to the VDC Trail, without much more difficulty than carrying a day pack, encountering only an occasional downed tree.

Jack Glendening

PS: you might be interested in my posting about the sign found at the top of the historic Rattlesnake Creek Trail, where it originally met the VDC Trail
http://www.ventanawild.org/forum08/view ... f=26&t=571
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
User avatar
jack_glendening
 
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

PreviousNext

Return to Ventana Wilderness Trails

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron