Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Pine Ridge Trail
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Re: Pine Ridge Trail

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:36 am
by Tristan
Date Hiked: January 13, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I went backpacking with friends starting from China Camp and trying to get to Pine Ridge via the Pine Ridge trail. The hike from China Camp to Divide was very clear, and from Divide up to the Bear Connector/Pine Ridge junction was pretty clear as well.

However, soon after the Bear Connector junction, the Pine Ridge trail gets very overgrown and is very eroded on some steep slopes. The ground was very moist and loose from rains during the previous week which made the steep slopes quite dangerous at times. We were constantly going through brush for over a mile and had to find an opening to camp as it was getting dark. I believe we ended up camping somewhere near the Pine Ridge/Black Cone Jct.

If I had to do it again, I would just go to Pine Valley from Divide and skip the hassle. Otherwise make sure that there is enough daylight to make the hike to the camp.

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:42 pm
by pantilat
Date Hiked: December 27, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

From Black Cone Trail JCT to 1/2 mile west of Bear Basin Connector JCT: Passable. Brush is thick and encroaching in sections. There is one large blowdown.

From 1/2 mile west of Bear Basin Connector JCT to Church Divide: Mostly wilderness freeway except a couple new blowdowns. The Carmel River headwaters stream is flowing and also the Divide Camp stream still has a slow flow.

From Church Divide to China Camp: Clear. Tread is becoming more defined as grasses and weeds from my last visit have been matted down by more use.

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:54 am
by Dmitry
Date Hiked: December 20, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Although passable, I did not enjoy the trail because it rained the night before, and all the shrubs were wet. I started where the Big Sur Trail connects to the Pine Ridge trail and going up was pretty easy, grass only knee high. The tread was faint, and as the trail climbed higher it got increasingly harder to track in all the bushes. I was soaking through and through, and I don't know if it's normal for that elevation, but the wind was howling and it was cold! I had to set my tent up at the Pine Ridge campground just to warm up. After I came to I went over the summit, it got a little easier, and eventually the trail became this wilderness freeway, that I could not help but run. Ever saw a person running with a backpack like a madman? Chances are that was me, cold, wet, but alive.

If you are coming from the other direction, I guess once you cross the Ventana Double Cone there is no way to go, as the Big Sur Trail is impassable, and the Pine Ridge trail is officially closed at Redwood Camp. Signs to this effect should be posted at the China camp, because right now people have an impression that you can hike the Pine Ridge trail from China camp all the way to Big Sur. I did it, legally, but also insanely, and do not recommend it.

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 4:04 pm
by Rowan Hyland
Date Hiked: December 19, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Covers the section between Church Divide and Pine Ridge Camp:

From the Church Creek Trail junction to the Bear Basin Connector Trail the Pine Ridge Trail is in fantastic shape. There was only two recently fallen trees that were easy to navigate and look to have fallen after the recent trail work on this section. Except for these recent deadfalls and tall dead grasses on some parts of the trail the majority of the trail up to the Bear Basin Connector has been cleared wide enough to drive a car through! About a 1/2 mile beyond the Bear Basin Connector the recent trail work abruptly stops and typical Ventana Wilderness trail conditions resume with defined tread under encroaching brush. Despite the some of the brushier sections for the most part the trail that traverses the backside of the South Ventana Cone is quite easy to follow, as the brush seems to have a more difficult time consuming the trail on such a rocky steep slope. The saddle above the Pine Ridge trail camp seems to have the worse overgrowth, and there are many instances where brush must be pushed through with determination. This is short lived, however, as one begins the descent down Pine Ridge the brush for the most part stays at the waist high level. The short side trail to Pine Ridge Camp is quite overgrown but doable. The spring is flowing well and the camp itself was in good shape.

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:01 pm
by pantilat
Date Hiked: November 19, 2017
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This report covers the section from China Camp to Church Divide.

The first 0.7 mile is wilderness freeway after recent brush work opened up a marvelous wide path through the brush to the ridge - thanks!!

The next 2.9 miles to Church Divide are clear/passable. It's clear of tall brush/logs/skeletons thanks to evident trail work, but there's quite a bit of regrowth already. Most of it is dried grass and weeds (for lack of knowledge about the name of these plants) that had a great growing season after the wet winter. I expect most of this to settle down in the winter, but there's also some scrub oak and other chapparal already coming in at lower levels. The fire burned most of this section as evidenced by the chaparral skeletons, but a little over a year later the resilient nature of chaparral is evident. Views down Church canyon are great throughout this section now that the tall chaparral has been cleared (for the time being). It looks like most of the pines and Santa Lucia Firs that grow amid the Church Valley rocks survived and the oaks at Church Divide also survived the fire, which were showing lovely orange and yellow fall colors.

All things considered, the 3.6 miles along the Pine Ridge Trail from China Camp to Church Divide are in good shape.

Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/jLhabBfFLw4xLBsG3

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:10 am
by RSIBryce
Date Hiked: September 18, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We started at the upper end of the trail at Tassajarra Road/China Camp. We were out on a Trail Survey for the USFS of the Soberanes Burn Area. The trail has been well maintained recently and aside from a few downed trees, its clear to the Bear Basin Connector trail. We counted 10 trees down between the TH and Pine Ridge camp, the largest being about 30'' Live Oak. We also came across 5 separate slides in the steeper areas of the trail, so watch your footing in these areas. After the connector junction, it gets a bit brushy. If you haven't hiked this trail before, it could get confusing as you appraoch the junction with the Black Cone due to encroaching chapparral, the recent burn and some downed trees. Continue southerwesterly. The Black Cone Junction sign is intact (though it appears a large mammal may have used it as a scratching post). We finished our hike at Pine Ridge Camp. The spur trail to the camp was also rather overgrown, but the tread is easy to follow. The spring at Pine Ridge had an excellent flow- one of my favorites in the Ventana. The view from this section of trail is rather incredible. There's also a beautiful stand of Santa Lucia Firs I had never really stopped to appreciate before, on the backside of the ridge, near the section where the talus slopes begin.

Pine Ridge Trail to Sykes

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:08 pm
by FlyinBrian
Date Hiked: February 12, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

First let me emphasize that the Pine Ridge Trail, like everything within the burn scar, is CLOSED until at least December 2017. I did NOT hike this trail, but I talked to someone who did and the information will support the closure order. In short the Pine Ridge Trail is dangerous right now and Sykes Hot Spring is badly damaged, so no one should feel tempted to violate the closure order.

The details as I understand them second hand:

Numerous blowdowns as would be expected with no trail work.

Logwood Creek has no log crossing. The logs there have washed away. The Creek is currently a dangerous river and there are waterfalls below. Do not attempt to cross.

The Big Sur River at Sykes camp is very deep and swift. Very dangerous.

The Pine Ridge trail is buried or washed out in dozens of places due to heavy debris flows caused by heavy rain on bare ground. There is a 20-foot section just beyond Barlow Flat that slid over a cliff and into the river. A very treacherous traverse remains. This is reportedly bad enough that the trail might remain closed after December unless repair crews are allowed early access.

Finally, the tubs at Sykes are badly damaged. High water crested over the lower pool and debris knocked down half the wall. What remains is full of sand. That tub is useless. The dirt wall of the upper tub collapsed into the tub. So the tub is half full of sand and rocks and not nearly as warm as usual. The very small tub down by the river appears to be gone as well, but my source says it was under water due to very high flow in the Big Sur River, so it was hard to be sure.

It's not worth it people. Be safe!

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:04 pm
by MountainLuke
Date Hiked: July 3, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Let me start off by saying thank you to the folks that maintain the trails in the Ventana Wilderness - I just learned that no motorized machinery is allowed for the trail maintenance, and that hand saws must be used to cut a path through even large fallen trees. It must be like trying to hold back the tide! At first I thought it was silly, but then I was glad that I didn't have to listen to chain saws buzzing while out in the beautiful Ventana Wilderness.

Trail report:
From China Camp to Church Creek divide, via Pine Ridge Trail:
(Miles from China Camp) Description
0.00-0.25 light brush occasionally encroaching on path
0.25-0.75 heavy brush, put head down and pushed through it (however, tread still evident)
0.75-1.00 light brush occasionally encroaching on path
1.00-CC Divide mostly clear, good trail.

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 11:28 am
by hotspringadventures
Date Hiked: June 18, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

A friend and I ran from Big Sur Station down to the Big Sur River and then immediately turned back around toward the trail head. Usually I go by the hot springs, but on this day it was purely an exercise activity. There are a couple of 4-5 inch trees/limbs across the trail mainly between Logwood Creek and the Big Sur River. The one very disturbing thing I found on this trip was someone or maybe multiple people decided to poop on the big log going across Logwood Creek. The poop and huge pile of toilet paper was a couple inches away from the water. Saw Brian out the trail clipping some low hanging brush along the trail. Thanks Brian!

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:55 pm
by aotuhsaoetu
Date Hiked: June 8, 2016
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

(Apparently in order to submit a trail report, one just enters a random user name and waits for the submission to be approved by a moderator. Trying to create a username via the "register" and "login" links doesn't seem to work...)

I went to Sykes last week and had an enjoyable time. I stayed Wednesday - Saturday.

There were some people with a dog staying at the campsite directly across from the tubs, which was slightly annoying, but I just carried a stick when I went back and forth to my tent. The dog didn't bark at me, just ran up and growled.

I had plenty of time in the tubs all by myself - even though there seemed to be about 20 other people scattered among the campsites on average. Note that I was mostly there on weekdays. My friend came on a weekend last year, and he said the same thing, even though I counted 100+ people coming in to Sykes that same weekend. So I guess most people don't need to soak for very long in order to feel satisfied with their trip, and the tubs don't get as crowded as you might think with 100+ campers. Still, going during the week seems much preferable.

The first time I hiked to Sykes Hot Springs, I printed out the trail map and elevation profile which were helpful in guiding and pacing myself. However, when the trail came to the stream where Sykes Camp is, I wasn't sure whether to go upstream or downstream to get to the hot springs. Luckily I met someone coming out who told me where and how far to go (it's about 1/4-1/2 mile downstream from the trail).

I figured I must have missed some instructions on the map or on the website, but I don't actually see anything which tells people where the springs are, and this year I noticed several people having to ask for directions too. I think it would make sense to have a sign pointing to the hot springs from the trail, especially if the VWA wants to encourage people to go there on less-crowded days (when people won't be able to get directions from other hikers).

The trail was clear and I even noticed somebody with fancy clippers on the way out, he was clearing some of the overhanging brush. Also someone seemed to have been digging stones out of the trail, maybe the same guy. What a blessing to have people like that.

I'm glad that I went at a time when fires were still permitted, because that's the only way I could succeed in getting rid of the biting flies.