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Santa Lucia Trail

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby Ted Merrill on Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:37 pm

Date Hiked: April 20, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

My buddy Shahe and I hiked the Santa Lucia Trail from Indians Station up to the top of Junipero Serra Peak aka Pimkolam Summit.
The trail is actually in reasonably "passable" shape until near the top, with brush to push through as you approach the top.
At the last saddle a 1/4 or 1/2 mile before the top, things change.
At this saddle there is a rather large blowdown of trees which obliterates the trail, and we didn't see the trail on the other side.
We chose to follow the ridge line instead to reach the summit.
While this wasn't too bad going up (however note, the resurgent brush growth may soon make this route impassible), we took a somewhat different cross-country route coming back and struggle through not entirely burned brush.
Actually, we started with taking the trail back down from the top but it was soon hidden by a combination of down trees and snow.

I'm marking this as "impassible" since it will likely be so soon what with the resurgent brush growth.

-Ted Merrill
Ted Merrill

Re: Santa Lucia Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:21 pm

Date Hiked: November 4, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Paul Danielson and I came in to the Santa Lucia Trail via the old road from Hanging Valley and went north from there. The section between that junction (just north of Eagle Creek and "Ant Camp") and Last Chance Camp was very difficult but passible. In brushy areas the tread could usually be located because the mostly overgrown path was not impenetrable, whereas the surrounding brush _was_ impenetrable! The few trail location puzzlements were primarily in the open areas, sometimes needing some hunting (aided by a GPS), but were quickly resolved. Much stooping and crawling were required - not a place to take a large backpack. The 1.6 mile section to "Bluff Camp" (1.1 miles south of Last Chance Camp, near the "Last Chance Waterfall" overlook) took us 2.6 hours (0.7 mph). The section between Bluff Camp and Last Chance Camp was significantly less brushy and readily passible with a backpack, but the tread was not visible for some portions - that could have created some route finding problems but we were greatly aided by some existing ribbons (my thanks to whoever placed those!). North of Last Chance Camp the trail was clear to the Indians Road Connector Trail.

Jack Glendening
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby VentanaMaster on Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:34 pm

Date Hiked: October 10, 2010
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

First, why don't we all concur once and for all that Pimkolam should no longer be referred to either as Santa Lucia Peak or Junipero Serra Peak. Just as some of us more enlightened mountaineers quit calling Denali "Mt. McKinley" ages ago and Chomolungma "Mt. Everest" eons ago, it's time to forever honor the memory and integrity of the ancient Native-Americans by always saying "Pimkolam" without the parentheses.

Now, recently I did a quick and cursory recon of the Indians approach (standard route) up Pimkolam to see how good the trail is. Looks pretty clear. I was there late in the day so a summit event was not going to happen, but from what little I was able to see it looks good.

I have been salivating for a number of years to return to the summit with an archeologist friend of mine to try to locate the alleged 7,700-year-old pictographs on the summit, but a knee injury from wild barefoot dancing put a serious nix on my hard-core hiking a couple of years ago. My knee is finally back to about 90%, but now my archeologist friend has gone abroad. I'm hoping to link up with someone with privileged knowledge concerning the alleged ancient summit site.

I'm shooting for post-flies season. If anyone reading this post is interested post a response.

Also spracht die VentanaMeister!
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby rt1 on Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:25 am

Date Hiked: August 12, 2010
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This is for the route from the Indians to the summit.

The trail has very little poison oakand only has knee high brush. There are only a few deadfalls that need to be ducked under. There are a few places where the trail temporarily disappears near the top but it reappears soon after. Around Mountain Laurel Creek there is a lot of foliage but very little poison oak.

When you get to the top, the logbook is in a clipboard in the ruins southeast of the tower. Hopeflly the mess on the summit can be cleaned up since it mars the otherwise beautiful scene.
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby Elliott Robinson on Mon May 24, 2010 3:01 pm

Date Hiked: May 22, 2010
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Note: This is for the Santa Lucia Trail from Arroyo Seco Camp to Junipero Serra, not from Indians - I say "impassable" because it is closer to that than "difficult".

The trail is pretty normal for the area up to Last Chance Camp. Nothing out of the ordinary - poison oak, narrow track, etc. Beginning at Last Chance Camp there are many tags marking the trail for the next half mile or so. At that point they stop and the fun begins. This is where I describe the route as "impassable" rather than "difficult," because "difficult" doesn't quite describe the sheer wildness of the next six miles - you can get through but only with a great deal of tenacity, pain tolerance, and route finding luck.

Somewhere around 2,800' you begin following cairns that are far apart through meadow and talus (...there are no more tags except for a very few after you reach the dry creek beds at about 3,600, go over the saddle and down to the creek, then a few more show up that are difficult to track...) Through this VERY, VERY difficult section the vegetation is very thick and there are many places where there is almost nothing to help you find the right spot in the brush to crawl through. If you pick the wrong spot, that doesn't look too different from the right spot, its hours of bushwhacking. It's not infrequent to find yourself on your belly looking for man-made cuts at the stumps of the brush and other clues. Be prepared to crawl, curse, and make close personal contact with poison oak for a few hours.

Once you get past the dry creek bed and hit the ancient fire break at about 3,600' the brush has momentarily cleared due to the fire. This makes passage much easier than in the past. It's still very difficult going though, with a few options to get get mixed up and lose the track. For now, though, due to the fire the brush is not as ferocious as it once was. Once you're at the junction you feel as though you've reached a super highway.

After we reached the junction, 14 hours after leaving the car, we hiked up to the summit in the twilight...the wind in the trees was fantastic. Then off to Indians and up the Arroyo Seco Trail in the dark. We caught the sunrise just before the Coast Ridge Trail. Missed the cut-off to Trail Springs so went up and down the Cone Peak trail from the Cone Peak Road, then down Vicente Flat Trail to Kirk Creek. Feet were on fire at that point.

35 hours total.
Elliott Robinson

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby gfelsman on Sun May 09, 2010 10:33 am

Date Hiked: May 8, 2010
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

On May 8th, a large group of Sierra Club Hikers summited Junipero Serra Peak. The weather could not of been more perfect. sunny, cool and no bugs to speak of. The flowers were excellent all along the trail. Lupine was knee high on both sides of the trail to the wall just before the saddle and junction to Junipero Serra Peak.

When we started the tread was easy to follow needless to say when twenty people take the trip summit the tread and grass are definitely beaten down. Making the trail that much more pleasant.

Trail condtions are as follows:

    Junipero Serra Trailhead to Old Tractor clear. lots of flowers. The cows have made a mess of the tread in many section. Itis beginning to smooth out again.
    Old Tractor to "T" interesection clear.

    Then on to the Santa Lucia Trail marker sign, clear with encraoch brush. If you are tall you will have to duck under some manzanita. a few trees down easily traversed.

    Santa Lucia Sign to the saddle clear. The fire did a good job removing the thick vegetation. The swithcbacks are intact. The brush will cover good portions of the trail in another year or so.

    Once at the saddle the grade lessens and brush is minimal all the way to the saddle before you head to the back side of Junipero Serra Peak.
    As you traverse to the back side ther are burnt section and sections that were untouched by the fire. Many of the logs that once had to be climbed over and stepped around are now gone. The summit was just great. Great views and lots of trees to provide shade.

It should be noted Hunter Liggett has moved the check in station. It is now and the junction of Nacimiento Road. They are directing you to Vasquez Road to reach Indians.
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby BradR on Sun May 02, 2010 9:32 pm

Date Hiked: April 30, 2010
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail was in great shape; not much poison oak either.

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Postby riatch on Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:33 pm

Date Hiked: April 19, 2010
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

D.J. and I hiked from the Indians up to the summit of Junipero Serra Peak (aka Santa Lucia Peak aka Stoyakele aka Pimkolam Summit) on Monday, April 19, 2010. The good news is that the trail is relatively free of obstacles and the tread (which was difficult to find post fire) is now quite evident from the parking area at the Indians all the way to the summit. Continued and regular use of this spectacular trail will help to keep it in fine form for at least a few more years.

There are a coupla locations where brush encroaches on the trail. This occurs in the very few places where the fire did not burn brush. But just like the old days ... you just push through and soon you'll be in the clear.

I was encouraged to see that the pine forest on the northern side of the peak was not decimated by fire. The big ole Sugar Pines stand tall and proud. Certainly many young Coulter Pines perished in the blaze and we cleard a jackstraw pile of them that must have been toppled by snow. Many more will tumble in the ensuing years as these Coulters burned down to the roots. It will be interesting to see how this unique alpine forest evolves in the coming years. Already, smooth leaf Ceanothus is becoming entrenched. Will the many Coulter seedlings I saw be able to compete with the Ceanothus?

At the summit, the old lookout tower remains with much garbage and debris at its base. We walked over to the site of the pld Gilbert Anderson cabin location and all that remains is metal garbage. The outhouse is gone. The weird low lying storage facility near the cabin site is now another pile of metal and wood and cement garbage. I found a cache of camp gear on the south side of the summit. A clean-up of all the man-made materials on this summit is in order. It would be a worthy project for the VWA, the FS and any other interested parties to complete.

10 typical view.JPG
16 remains of sign about 2 mi. in.JPG
30 big views.JPG
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Santa Lucia Memorial Park to Pinyon Peak

Postby TRAILS on Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:11 pm

Date Hiked: June 7, 2009
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Reported by piero:

Specific = This is actually a report of the Santa Lucia trail plus the route to Pinyon Peak.

Santa Lucia Memorial Campground to Junipero Serra Peak: wilderness freeway except a couple of spots.

Junipero Serra Peak to Pinyon Peak: Passable.
After the 2008 fires, the old roads are finally visible.
While there is much vegetation to walk around, it mostly burned, so there is relatively (relatively) little bushwhacking to do. The road on the Bear Mountain side (Santa Lucia rd?) is clear to Bear Mountain itself. There are about 100 meters where it is difficult to impassable: best is to drop down on the western side of the ridge. Then the road becomes visible again. Otherwise it would "passable" the whole way.
Pictures at
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Santa lucia Trail

Postby mikesplain on Wed May 27, 2009 6:38 pm

Date Hiked: May 10, 2009
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Reported by Becky Dees:

While most of the areas along the trail burned last year the vegetation is quickly recovering. The meadows are flourishing with fragrant wildflowers. So much so that the trail was difficult to follow in some areas. Paths are developing in the meadows but be carefull because some of the paths were made by wandering hikers and don't lead anywhere. The manzanita along the trails is starting to come back with 6 to 12 inch shoots at the base. The branches are dead, black and bent over the trail, so in several areas if felt more like a Hobbit tunnel than a hiking trail. We were backpacking in so it was especially difficult. Hikers are winding through the dead branches and braided trails are developing in some areas. The oak trees are sprouting new leaves but there are still dead limbs on some of the trees so keep an eye out. The streams were flowing and the water was clear and generally 6 to 18 inches deep.

Once you start up the steeper base of the mountain towards the summit, the trees dissapear and you are left with mostly dead manzanita and low lying flowers and grasses. There were only a few places to get shade along the way up to the top and they were far between. Make sure to bring lots of water. The pine forest has a thick layer of needles making it a little slick and very difficult to find the trail up to the observation tower. The forest is wide open now that the underbrush is gone so it is easy to make you way to the top even without a trail.

The wildlife was sparse. We only saw a few birds and lizards on our trip, although there was evidence of coyote and deer. The bugs have taken over so bring bug spray and a mosquito net.
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