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Santa Lucia Trail

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby jpdoelman on Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:39 am

Date Hiked: February 11, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The last time I did this trail I was heading for Eagle creek and I was turned back by dense brush and time. This time I was looking for some payback. I loaded up my backpack with loppers and a bow saw, intending to camp at Eagle creek. I thought to myself, " I have all day, I'll do a little trail clearing along the way".
To quote Elliot Robinson, "Difficult to describe the difficulty". After hiking and lopping for a long while, I looked at my watch and it was 4:00, I stepped up my brush crashing and reduced my trail clearing activity. Next time I looked at my watch it was 5:20 and I was about a mile from the Eagle-creek/SantaLucia Creek ridgeline. It was time to stop fooling around with the trail clearing and make some time. Unfortunately, at this point the trail was significantly brushier. After dragging my packpack (once) and crawling (50+ yards) I arrived at the ridgeline at 6pm. So I had to negotiate the next mile to eagle creek via headlamp. Along the way, my watch had been ripped from my wrist, and I had lost my water bottle. I finally arrived at Eagle creek well after dark.
Next day, on a morning excursion up the Eagle creek, I was able to locate the continuation of the trail up towards the Roosevelt creek. The trail seems to be missing some switchbacks just past the point where the creek divides. When faced with a choice to go up the left, or right creek, choose the left. Then, shortly after that, it is necessary to ascend steeply to regain the trail.
On the way out, the idea was to remove the obstacles that had required me to crawl on the previous day. I did some significant trail clearing on the way down from the Eagle-Ck toward Santa Lucia Creek near the top. When I found my watch, it was 2:00pm and I was still way up on the mountain. Time again to push through the brush and make tracks for home. There was still one spot where I needed to crouch down too low to walk on my exit out of the brush area.

It is amazing to me that someone could push through to JSP in a push.

Great Hike !

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby Jim Ringland on Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:03 pm

Date Hiked: February 6, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Santa Lucia Memorial Park to Pimkolam Summit

Reasonably clear trail most of the way up. There were a few easy step-overs and -unders on the lower part of the trail through oak woodland. Scattered pitcher sage plants were coming into bloom. Once the trail starts to climb through open chaparral to the first saddle at 4200 feet or so, there was a little brush at knee level that was easily nudged aside, although I can imagine someone in shorts -- not my problem on a chilly February day -- might find it a bit annoying after a while. From the lower saddle at 4200 feet to the upper one at 5400 feet, the route was almost as clear, although the vegetation on this stretch includes some scrub oak at chest level. Brushing it aside can be a more scratchy affair. Wearing a coat, I had no problem. Someone in a short sleeve shirt might. Still "brushing it aside" is the right description. I had no sense of having to "push through" the growth. No stooping, ducking, or crawling. The tread on all of this was easy to follow, if a little broken down /washed out in a handful of spots.

After the higher saddle and a simple traverse to the first sugar pines, I hit that extensive area of relatively small downed trees. I went through some, around others, and eventually got well off-trail, or so I thought. At that point, I just headed up the mostly open hillside to the summit. That was not the best idea. A steep slope plus some soft footing (and about 250 vertical feet to go) made for a long, slow plod. On the downward return, I followed the trail all the way and discovered that when I headed up, I wasn't anywhere near as far off the trail as I thought. The spot that confused me on the way up was at a big (several foot diameter) burned out stump where part of the fallen tree had landed right on the trail. Alternate routes around seemed to go either way up or right though some dense brush. After going high and not seeing the trail, I began my steep plod. On the return, I found what would have been the better route: go up, but not far. Contour, and the trail emerges only 50-100 feet past the burned out stump and falling trunk, at about the same elevation.

And if no one has noted this before, the Wilderness Press map totally botches the route up to the first saddle, sending the trail up the wrong draw. See Jack Glendening's map for the right route.
Last edited by Jim Ringland on Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby Guest on Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:05 am

Date Hiked: December 17, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Myself and a couple of friends did Junipero Serra Peak December 17, 2011. For the first 4.5-5 miles this trail is passable. It is rather overgrown but overall relatively easy to follow. About 4.5 miles in you hit the snow and that''s where the troubles begin and the trail condition turns into difficult. A lot of fallen dead trees in the way. Not only that but the snow obscures the trail and makes it easy to lose it. Be careful!. That's exactly what happened to us - we lost the trail and ended up scrambling up the slope the last couple hundred feet before we reached the summit. Overall, it's passable but things definitely get a little tricky at the end.
Unfortunately, it is clear that this trail has not been maintained in years.

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby mikelort on Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:02 pm

Date Hiked: January 27, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Wife and I hiked to the summit and back from Santa Lucia Campground roundtrip in one day. Tuff hike in January due to short days. Tuff hike anytime in my opinion. Finished the last three miles on return trip by headlight. Trail to the upper saddle (4 mile marker) was pretty clear...a few deadfalls but easily went around or over. From the upper saddle to the 'summit saddle' the brush growth is beginning to impede travel. As noted by others earlier in the year, another year or two without pruning, it will be a difficult. Wished I read some trail reports before heading up because when we hit all the many downed trees near the summit (within 2 or 3 hundred yards?) we were unsure as to where the trail went and decided enjoy the views to the south and west before heading back down as time was getting short.

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby jack_glendening on Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:30 am

Date Hiked: October 16, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Coming down from J.Serra Peak on my annual Junipero Serra Loop SC hike, much deadfall on north side of mt, mostly 6-8" diameter trees - most can be stepped over, a few require leaving tread. Brush is encroaching all along trail, but route is apparent. Summit register only had a single page, first entry being July 17 of this year - wonder where all the previous pages went to (since last year there were pages going back to 2009).
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial

Postby Farley on Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:48 pm

Date Hiked: August 12, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report is for the two miles of the Santa Lucia Trail from south Camp Cawatre.
Thanks to the FS for placing a "Trail" sign at the junction of the Camp Cawatre Trail and the Santa Lucia Trail where the Santa Lucia begins to climb the ridge on the west bank of Santa Lucia Creek.
Trail is in good condition with clear evidence of recent (last 6 months or so) of extensive brushing. The tread is in decent shape for the first mile through blue oak woodland and then begins to outslope pretty badly with a few short sections eroded away. There is a definite need for spot tread maintenance in the near future.
While many maps show this trail following the canyon bottom and stream course of Santa Lucia Creek, it is actually perched a few hundred feet up on sheer granite/metamorphic canyon walls. The views up and down the Santa Lucia Canyon are amazing from this perched trail.
Please walk on the inside, uphill side of the trail to prevent you and the trail from sliding away.
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby Elliott Robinson on Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:31 pm

Date Hiked: May 29, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Difficult to describe the was a little easier than last year as someone spruced up the cairns, so I'm going for "difficult"..on the other hand, maybe my memory of what to do when it gets weird has just gotten a little better. "Impassable" may be a better description for most, but since it looked like someone passed through a couple of days before us and there was a little less fighting the brush, I'll step down the conditions. In any case, with so much action on the trail, it actually might be OK for someone 2 feet tall.

The most complex section turned out to be the last little bit of the Roosevelt Creek watershed right before the Junction to Pimkolam Summit. The brush is growing back robustly in that burnt out area and its filling up the space between the old burnt out brush - right where you want to be able to push through. I suspect in coming years this new growth will make the Roosevelt Creek watershed section VERY hard.

From Arroyo Seco Camp to Cone Peak Summit via Pimkolam Summit was just about exactly 24 hours. Decided against the descent to Kirk Creek via Vicente Flat and instead opted to trod down the Cone Peak road for a ride at Naciemento Ferguson. Wildflowers weren't so robust this time around. (And yes, I know it's strange that I keep doing this trail, it's just that it is such an excellent Valley to Coast over 2 summits route.)

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are few that give a sense of the track:
Just before it gets interesting
A whole lot of crawling
Can't remember if this is just before Eagle Creek or just before the Roosevelt Creek any case standing sections like this were pleasant
It's all freeway from the Junction
Pimkolam Summit after 12 hours, Nate looking towards Cone Peak in the distance...another 12 hours of walking away
A nice log to walk on the way down from Pimkolam
Cone Peak Summit 24 hours after starting
Looking back towards Pimkolam Summit
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby Dan Gearhart on Sun May 22, 2011 6:13 pm

Date Hiked: April 30, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Being Fort Hunter Ligget is an active military installation, travel restrictions can often change. Since you have to drive through the base to get to the trailhead, the once used routes may not always be available. On this date, there is no longer a “checkpoint” off of Jolon Road. After turning onto Mission Road from Jolon Road, you travel about 3 miles to Nacimiento-Fergusson Road and turn left. After another couple of miles, take the left across the metal bridge crossing the river. After another few miles, turn right onto Vasquez Road and a few miles later, a left onto Del Venturi Road. From there enjoy the scenery all the way to the trailhead. If you reached the old Forest Service building on the left, you have gone about 100 yards too far.

Our first and only setback was finding the trailhead parking lot full and overflowing. We then drove down the road a little farther and parked in front of the old ranger station.

From the trailhead the path was easy to follow through the meadows basically heading straight for the peak. As we passed through the meadows we spotted numerous tents among the rocks which accounted for the overflowing parking lot. All the stream crossings were flowing, about five in all, and the old tractor was still at the edge of the clearing. Brush and several down trees were encountered, easily walked around, to the old trail sign that said 4 miles to go. The post remains but the burnt sign lies on the ground at the base.

As the trail switchbacks through the grassy incline, it becomes a little thin but still easy to follow. The trail remains clear to the top of the first saddle. From the first saddle to the summit ridge, the trail remains evident with encroaching brush. Long sleeve shirts and long pants highly recommended.

After crossing the summit ridge on the east side of the peak, the trail is good up to the “Water” sign on the tree. Just beyond this the trail is blocked with numerous deadfalls for about 100 yards. At this point, turn right up-slope and follow a new path that makes a wide arch to the left and eventually joins the original trail. From here to the top there are several “re-routes” around the fallen burned tress and a lot of encroaching brush. Even if you get off the trail in this area, just keep moving uphill through the pines until you reach the Lookout Tower. The Summit Hut did not survive the fire and completely burned down. The actual summit is just beyond the remains of the Summit Hut. There is summit register on top of the summit monument. Great views in all directions. We did some trail clearing on the way down, I’m sure we made the hikers coming down behind us happy, but there is a lot of post-fire growth. If the growth continues, this trail will most likely be impassable in some areas in the near future. A few photos of the trip at: ... 781321252/
Dan Gearhart

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby RKM710 on Sun May 08, 2011 11:22 am

Date Hiked: May 7, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I agree that this trail will probably be impassable within a year or two. For now the trail is difficult but passable. I had difficulty finding the trail in the first mile as there is a network of trails in the tall grass meadow just beyond the trailhead without any signs. If you are planning on doing this hike I would highly recommend long pants and a long sleeve shirt as the brush and chaparal encroaching on the trail will scratch you significantly. Also, I saw two rattlers on the trail which was unnerving considering they were impossible to spot through the thick brush until I was right next to them. If you are willing to take your time and struggle through it this is a very rewarding hike.

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby gfelsman on Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:57 am

Date Hiked: April 24, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Sunday was a beautiful day to hike to the summit.

Eleven of us took the trail to the summit and did not have any trouble following the tread to the summit.

The blow down mentioned in the previous report can be skirted by going around the high side a use trail has been created by those hiking the trail.

I do have to agree that once past the saddle lots of encroaching brush and in several areas it was hard to push through the brush making reaching the summit more difficult.

We met on backpacker on the way down who had spent the night on top. He cut a tree on the way out near the Sign Post crossing the creek. It made our return trip easier.

The brush along the top is getting thicker. Another season with no work will make the last quarter mile rough going to say the least.

There were lots of trees across the trail most were easily skirted.
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