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Marble Peak Trail

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Betsy M on Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:53 pm

Date Hiked: December 30, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from the North Coast Ridge Road to Strawberry Valley on the New Year's weekend. Pantilat has described the section from Strawberry Valley to the trailhead at the Horsebridge. The other end of the trail is as follows:

Marble Peak to Indian Valley, to the junction with the Lost Valley Trail:
Wilderness Freeway, maybe a couple of spots with minor issues. This section has been kept clear by volunteers in the past months (thank you!).

Junction with the Lost Valley Trail to the top of the ridge, and down to Tan Oak Creek:
Passable. There is some brush encroaching in a few spots to the top of the hill, but most of this section did not burn and the work done before is holding up. From the top of the ridge down to Tan Oak Creek, almost the entire section burned, and is quite passable.

The Tan Oak Creek section, which had been lost, then located, was almost impossible to find this time. Let's call this Difficult. Huge piles of blackberry vines covered large sections of the trail. Even though I've been on this section many times, it was very difficult to locate the trail. I ended up taking an entire day and flagging most of it, clearing out blackberries where I could. The section from Tan Oak Camp to the junction with the South Fork Trail in Strawberry Valley was similarly difficult to locate. Not from blackberries, but roses. Again, I flagged most of this but there were a couple of creek crossings where I wasn't sure where the crossing was, so I left them unflagged. Note to hikers: please don't remove the flags. The way the blackberries are growing, it will be essential to have flagging to find this route in another 3 months.

The Marble Peak Trail turns at the burned sign in Strawberry Valley, and heads up the hill. The half-mile long section beyond is actually the start of the South Fork Trail. Again, Difficult. And as Pantilat describes, it is quite overgrown. I was really glad that someone had gone through before I did, since even a couple of hikers seem to be effective at smashing down the clover and other vegetation that is clogging up the meadows. Again, I flagged most of this. The one section that isn't well flagged is at the end, just before Strawberry Camp. Here, you should stay to the right, in what appears to be a new streambed. This is the trail that got gullied out by the water last spring. It goes without saying that you need to be wearing long pants, since this is the Ventana. The wild roses will rip your legs to shreds if they get a chance.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby pantilat on Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:17 pm

Date Hiked: December 27, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

From Tony Trail JCT to Camp Creek: Clear. Lots of recent work is evident restoring tread along Willow Creek and removing dozens of downed trees and obstructions from the trail. Thank you! Willow Creek is flowing at Willow Springs Camp and at the last stream crossing beyond. Camp Creek has a good flow of water as well.

From Camp Creek to Strawberry Valley: Passable. Trail work has not arrived to this section yet so there is a lot of regrowth in the trail and little evidence of prior use. There is also some inflexible burnt brush skeletons in the trail and a few downed trees. This area was decimated by the fire and almost all of the young coulter pines did not survive. In Strawberry Valley the tread is almost entirely covered by tremendous regrowth including nasty thorny bushes with stickers that are like claws. There was water flowing in Shovel Handle Creek and in Zigzag Creek at Strawberry Valley.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:06 am

Date Hiked: September 20, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We began hiking from Strawberry Valley, en route from the Black Cone trail, while performing a survey for the USFS in the Soberanes Burn area. As noted in other trail reports, the herbaceous plant growth near streams was tremendous, and made travel through these areas slow and cumbersome.

DSCN1141.JPG
Black Cone trail sign


From Strawberry to where the trail climbs out of the lil valley, just past the turn off to Tan Oak Camp (and the continuation of the Marble Peak trail) the growth is thick, especially of wild rose. Once you climb up along the traverse, the fire has done nature's best trail work and its clear sailing, aside from debris and hinges that need cleaning, and the occasional tree and a few slides. There's also a prevalence of small plants growing out of the trail, lots of yerba santa. I don't recall ever seeing such growth, perhaps an effect of the fire enriching the tread soil?

DSCN1166.JPG
Tread growth


Once you begin the descent down toward Willow Spring, the burn area ceases. The trail is in good shape and remains clear (thank you VWA volunteers and others). We counted some 37 trees down between Strawberry and Marble Peak TH. Most of these lie near Willow Spring and out to the TH. Beyond Willow there are many stream crossings. Willow Spring to the TH the creek crossings have become deeper cut after the big rainy season-quite a bit of mitigation needed to make those stock passable, I would assume. Theres also alot of logjam type situations across the trail- which account for a fair number of the 37. Nothing to hard to navigate with a pack, but plenty of work to do for the dedicated.

DSCN1238.JPG
Could be a tricky one


Water was everywhere. No problem finding springs in all kinds of places and at all camps.
Attachments
DSCN1167.JPG
Marble Peak trail, typical conditions between Tan Oak turnoff and descent to Willow
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Marble Peak Trail

Postby js_radford on Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:21 pm

Date Hiked: June 12, 2016
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked June 12-13-14

COAST RIDGE ROAD to STRAWBERRY: the tread is easily seen 99% of the time. Work of the last 3 years has started to deteriorate as expected, being "Wilderness freeway" in the more westerly section as of a year ago, now quite clear but crowding in since even those areas were mostly not done to high standards (for stock use) seen east of Strawberry.

- There is need for a lot of tread work about a mile east of Indian Valley on to Tan Oak. The more or less excellent tread west of that section has started to fill in some.
- Brush also is making its usual comeback and, again in the section about a mile east of Indian valley to Tan Oak camp there is quite a bit of Chamise growing inwards, sometimes touching but often with about a 1-foot gap to walk through, sometimes overhead. Brush along the entire section from Coast Ridge to Tan Oak was not cut back to stock use standards and is needing renewed work though it used to be about 100x as bad just 2 years ago! Slight exaggeration now but felt that way when many sections were miserable crawl-throughs.
- Deadfalls remain but nowhere really impede backpacking in an upright manner. I cut about half of the pruning saw size trees and branches (up to 8 inches). There is only 1 remaining deadfall a 1/3 mile east of Indian Valley (easily ducked under or straddled) until crossing over the ridge above Tan Oak Camp. From the ridge down, there remain perhaps 50 small and half a dozen larger fallen branches and trees and such. But all can be stepped over/around (w/o degrading the tread) easily. I don't think I left anything requiring ducking. There were a few minor short crawl-throughs that are now gone.


STRAWBERRY to ARROYO SECO:
- Tread is in excellent shape, having been maintained to stock use standards as of 2 months ago.
- Brush, likewise, is cut well back to clear the way for a "Wilderness freeway". East of Willow Springs there is often an abundance of Poison Oak but it can be avoided almost entirely w/o breaking stride.
- The fallen tree mentioned about half a mile (closer to a mile) east of Jct. with Tony Trail is a monster Oak that will be extremely difficult and dangerous to cut. However, one can stoop under it easily since it clears the tread by a good 5 feet.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby David Courrejou on Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:33 am

Date Hiked: June 3, 2016
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

On Friday 6/3/16 We hiked from Arroyo Seco ranger station to Strawberry Camp. The trail was in good condition the best I have seen it in years. There was a down tree about a 1/2 mile from Willow Creek camp ,we got through it pretty quickly. On 6/4/16 we continued our hike through Rainbow Camp over to Cold Springs Camp and again I found the trails to be great shape. We were able to follow them easily especially with colored ribbons marking the way at river crossings . On Sunday 6/5/16 we followed the coast ridge road to Big Sur. Its been 16 years since I completed this hike and want to say the trail conditions were better now then, again a big thanks to the VWA for all your great work.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Jim Ringland on Sun May 15, 2016 5:47 pm

Date Hiked: May 10, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I hiked the entire trail, Arroyo Seco to Marble Peak, on May 10, 11, and 12, spending nights at Tassajara Creek Camp and the Tan Oak Use Camp. Trail conditions varied considerably. The rating above is for only the worst section. My thoughts are close to what Leor Pantilat reported last week, but with a backpack and more than a few extra years of age, some of my ratings are lower.

Arroyo Seco Indians Road to Tassajara Creek Camp: Wilderness Freeway. Well used, well-cleared trail, mostly in forest, well up on the hillside. Occasionally one has to push a branch of poison oak to the side with a hiking pole, but that’s about the only concern. There are some luscious Salvia spathacea (hummingbird sage) with orange-ish flowers on dark red calyxes along the trail between the horsebridge and the Horse Pasture Trail junction.

Tassajara Creek Camp is on a big open bench below the trail but above the creek. There is room for many, although after a few obvious bedsites are taken, one might have to hunt around a bit for a spot that isn’t too full of small rocks. There’s a fire ring with log benches. It’s under trees a little closer to the water than the bedsites.

Tassajara Creek Camp to South Fork Trail junction: Clear. Between the Tassajara Creek and Willow Springs Camps, the trail spends a lot of time close to Willow Creek. There are several easy rock-hop crossings. There’s just little more PO and other growth to be nudged aside. It’s not bad, but it’s not freeway-quality openness either. It can be wonderfully dark, cool, and moist down at the bottom: coltsfoot (Petasites), five-finger ferns (Adiantum), and giant chain ferns (Woodwardia) grow down here. Plenty of flowers in the less dark places. Beyond Willow Springs, the climb to the Willow Creek / Zigzag Creek divide has one low-ish duck-under. There is still some occasional brush incursion higher up, but many sections return to wilderness freeway levels. The slumped trail I wrote about in 2012 is gone, fixed so well that I couldn’t tell today where the offending spot had been.

There are three camps in the vicinity of the junction of the South Fork Trail junction. I stayed at the Tan Oak Use Camp about 200’ west of the junction. It’s in a modest opening with a grate, a fine sitting rock, a nice bedsite, and a resident rattlesnake who wiggled his tail and slunk off into the brush once his repose was interrupted. Lots of water in Zigzag Creek. About 10 minutes up Tan Oak Creek is the real Tan Oak Camp. It seems a less attractive area with lots of burnt-out trees still showing. While there’s a rudimentary fire ring with a metal grate, the camp as a whole doesn’t look much used. Tan Oak Creek was running nicely too. Strawberry Valley Camp, 1/2 mile up the South Fork Trail (I walked up after dinner), remains the nicest camp of the area. It sits in a pretty meadow, has a big fire ring with benches, and offers several good bedsites. Zigzag Creek is running by camp. I walked the new South Fork Trail a little farther up to the divide. No more dangerously washed out trail! And a clear trail down. It’s on the to-hike list.

South Fork Trail junction to about 3000’ elevation above Tan Oak Creek: Difficult.
This mile-or-so includes the walk along Tan Oak Creek and the first part of the climb out. Several downed trees. More than a little brush to push through. One stretch of thimbleberries where I had to look hard to find the trail. None of this is all that hard. This is really on the line between difficult and passable. But with a big pack on my back, I’m inclined to rate down, not up.

About 3000’ elevation above Tan Oak Creek to the Higgins Creek crossing: Passable. Once above 3000’ or so, the trail pops out of the forest and into the chaparral. Many sections are excellent although there is just enough brush incursion, trail slumping, step-overs, and duck-unders that I think “passable” is more honest than “clear”. Great views up here. At the Higgins Creek crossing, where the Marble Peak Trail meets the Lost Valley Trail, the Old Indian Valley Camp (so named in my 3rd [1981] Sierra Club guide) is back in place. (The 2003 Sierra Club guide suggests the camp is gone.) The camp is just simple fire ring with a few logs on which to sit, but it seems like a nice enough place. It did have a lot of flies active when I was there at about noon, though. Both Higgins Creek and a very handy small side stream were running there. While the Higgins Creek crossing is flagged, I didn’t find it obvious. I had to cast around a bit. Higgins Creek and the small side stream a few hundred feet ahead were the last water sources I found heading up toward the Coast Ridge.

Higgins Creek Crossing to Coast Ridge Road: Wilderness Freeway. Except for being a long uphill slog, this was straightforward. I took the main trail all the way. The cut-off use trail near the top isn’t marked but is fairly easy to spot ... even if it looked a little narrow and brushy compared to the wide-open trail I was on. Right at the Coast Ridge, there is no question about where to go when hiking east to west as I was, but I’m not sure the same would be true in the opposite direction. The trail runs through grass for about 200’ between where it exits the forest and where it intersects the road. There is a sign at the road. So there is any doubt on how to get from the road onto the Marble Peak Trail, head up the hill at the sign and follow the edge of the open grass until an obvious trail into the forest appears.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby pantilat on Mon May 09, 2016 12:04 pm

Date Hiked: May 8, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

From Willow-Zigzag Saddle to Strawberry Valley the trail is pleasant Wilderness Freeway.

West of Tan Oak Camp along Tan Oak Creek to BM 3537 conditions have deteriorated from the last conditions report with vigorous riparian and chaparral spring growth (characteristic of this corridor) making it brushy and some new blowdowns over the trail from recent wind. The encroaching brush holds a lot of ticks this time of year. The section from Tan Oak Camp to BM 3537 is now "Passable."

West of BM 3537 into Indian Valley, the upper part has waist high brush becoming increasingly clear as one descends into Indian Valley. Water is flowing in all the creeklets in Indian Valley.

From Indian Valley to the trail end at Marble Peak the trail is Wilderness Freeway with just a little bit of avoidable poison oak in the upper part.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby cehauser on Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:44 am

Date Hiked: January 2, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked the western half of the Marble Peak Trail, from the North Coast Ridge Road to Higgins Creek (Lost Valley Trail junction) on January 1, then I continued on to the Tony Trail turnoff on January 2. From the North Coast Ridge Road, heading down the hill the trail was recently brushed and it is very clear with the exception of a few tree limbs across the trail. There was plenty of water flowing where the trail crosses Higgins Creek (in Indian Valley) and at the little campsite at the junction with the Lost Valley Trail. From Higgins Creek the trail climbs up a ridge... this portion is very well graded, and the bottom portion is clear, but the upper portion is brushy. Dropping down into Tan Oak Creek was mostly clear, and there is flowing water at all the different Tan Oak campsites. After the climb above Tan Oak Creek, the trail is mostly clear as it skirts high above the Zig Zag Creek watershed, and there is flowing water at at Shovel Handle Creek and Camp Creek. After the trail drops down into the Willow Creek drainage, there is blackberry overgrowing the trail, tread creep, and large trees on the trail... this short section along Willow Creek is mostly clear but a few places are difficult to get through.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Betsy M on Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:43 pm

Date Hiked: July 26, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This is an update regarding water, since this is such a dry year it is important to know where there is water. I'm combining observations from three separate trips which covered most of the Marble Peak Trail except for the Tassajara Camp section.

As of last weekend, July 25-26, there was water at Tan Oak Camp. The closest water was in Zig Zag Creek, just a hundred feet upstream of the camp (towards Strawberry Valley). This isn't flowing very well, but it is plenty enough to fill your water bottles. And it is right where the trail crosses the creek so it is easily accessed. There was a better flow in Tan Oak Creek, about 500 feet up from Tan Oak Camp (the other direction, towards Marble Peak). You can hear the water in the creek in several spots, but there is one place where the trail drops down very close to the creek and that is the best place to get water. It is convenient to fill up on your way to camp if you are coming from the west. There is probably water in Zig Zag Creek just below the camp, but to get there you would have to climb over and under fallen trees, and crawl through brush. This wasn't stopping an assortment of birds, visible from the camp, but it wasn't very appetizing for me.

There was no water in Higgins Creek at the junction of the Lost Valley Trail.

As of July 6th, there was no water at Strawberry Camp (technically this is on the South Fork Trail), but Zig Zag Creek had a small flow 1/4 mile upstream where the trail leaves the creek. There is flagging marking the spot where you have to drop down from the trail to the creekbed. A good backup camp if Strawberry is dry would be Tan Oak Camp. Just don't camp near the dead snag in the center of camp. Sometime during the night a tree came crashing down nearby. It is always a good idea to check for dead trees before you set up your camp.

Camp Creek had a good flow. Willow Springs had plenty of water in Willow Creek, as did the unofficial camp at the Tony Trail.

As of yesterday, August 3rd, Tassajara Creek was flowing at Adobe Camp, barely. This is the first time I can remember being able to walk across Tassajara Creek where the Horsepasture Trail crosses, without having to rock hop. There was water, but sections of the creekbed were completely dry.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby MarkMoeh on Fri Jul 17, 2015 2:09 pm

Date Hiked: July 10, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Marble Peak trail from Arroyo Seco to Marble Peak, hiked on 7/10/15 and 7/11/15. (Continued on to Lost Valley trail, I will post about that in the appropriate forum). I took the trip with information from the previous posts about the trail, and they were spot on. I'll add my experience here.

Great trail from Arroyo Seco to the Black Cone trail junction. About as close to a wilderness freeway as I've seen in the Ventana backcountry. Some vegetation overgrowth at the creek crossings, but easy hiking the whole way. I camped at Willow Spring, which was very spacious. I had the whole place to myself (in fact I didn't see another soul on the trail the entire weekend!). There was plenty of water in the creek all the way to camp.

When you get to the junction with Black Cone trail, the trail starts to get a bit more overgrown with more fallen trees. But the flagging is adequate along this steep section. At the top of the ridge there is an absolutely incredible view of the coastal range and of the valley you just climbed out of.

Make sure to load up with water at Willow Spring. There was a trickle at Shovel Handle Creek, but that was the last water I found along the trail until a few miles down the Lost Valley trail.

From the top of the ridge down to the Lost Valley trail junction was beautiful and clear, and a fun descent after the previous climb. I ditched my pack for the quick climb up to Marble Peak. It was clear up to North Coast Ridge road, and a short but brushy bushwack will get you to the top of Marble Peak for a stunning view of the ocean!

All-in-all a great trail, and very fun trek all the way from the inlands to the coast.
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