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Skinner Ridge Trail

Re: Skinner Ridge Trail

Postby sfegret on Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:41 pm

Date Hiked: October 31, 2010
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Very nice trail--broad and well-maintained at least to Comings Camp. Lovely oak and madrone groves; fabulous views from Devil's Peak. Stream close to Bottcher's Gap still had plenty of water, but then, of course, it just rained two days ago. Comings Camp to Pat Springs Trail--after the broad, easy-to-follow Skinner Ridge Trail and somewhere after Comings Camp, the trail contours around the south side of this nob (4052 ft) and becomes more narrow with a bit of a drop off. Somehow traveling east, we got totally off trail and ended up what turned into a deer trail, which petered out several yards below what turned out to be the true trail. It was a little disconcerting, but there really aren't that many options to get too lost as it is obvious that you can go neither up nor down the big lump too much without fear of falling, and your destination is the saddle with burnt pines, so okay, we found the trail again. Once we got to what was probably the Big Pines Trail Junction, we again had some confusion about whether we were taking the Pat Springs Trail or the Big Pines Trail at some point inbound. Trail signs at the trail junction are burnt to stubs. No problem finding the trail on the way out (westbound).
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Re: Skinner Ridge Trail

Postby mikesplain on Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:59 am

Date Hiked: July 18, 2010
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Hot & buggy as hell, but I knew what I was getting into hiking the ridges in mid-summer;
the Skinner Ridge Trail is in fine shape & easily hiked from Turner / Skinner Divide to Bottchers Gap (or vice-versa.)
Plenty of water in the stream close to Bottchers Gap.
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Re: Skinner Ridge Trail

Postby K Vandevere on Sun May 09, 2010 1:03 pm

Date Hiked: May 8, 2010
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Bottcher's Gap to Summit Devil's Peak

A beautiful Spring day and the clear, well-defined trail was absolutely swarming with day hikers, backpackers, runners, etc. There is some poison oak encroachment, but I cut back the worst of it as I passed through. Until it grows back (which may not take long), only moderate vigilance should be required to avoid contact.
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Re: Skinner Ridge Trail

Postby Tradtimbo on Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:22 am

Date Hiked: March 3, 2010
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This is part of a series of reports for a hike from Botchers Gap to Ventana Double Cone. For the entire trail report see the Ventana Trail section.

Skinner Ridge Trail
Botchers Gap to Turner Creek Trail junction is clear and passable with encroaching poison oak. A few stream crossings if your in need of water already. The trail junction sign is intact.

Turner Creek Trail junction to San Clemente Trail junction is clear and passable. Some trail marking flags around. The trail thins out in a couple spots and is clearly less worn than the first section of trail. No water. The trail junction sign is intact, but broken.
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Skinner Ridge Trail to Los Padres Dam

Postby wilderwil on Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:10 pm

Date Hiked: October 26, 2009
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Late October Alan, Joe and myself crossed the Ventana on the Skinner Ridge Trail and Big Pines Trails. We visited Mt. Carmel
after searching for the unsigned junction. Skinner Ridge trail had a few downed trees. (See the Flikr website pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/44547704@N03/sets/72157622777568849 ). We stayed at Comings camp the first night, Comings camp has a concrete spring water source. The next morning we crossed over the saddle to the north to the San Clemente trail. (The signs along this whole route are broken or lost, the tread is lost in many parts of the Big Pines trail too). We visited the San Clemente campsite and turned around at the former Pocaino Ridge trail cutoff, lots of water in this drainage. The Pocaino trail is abandoned now and only shows up on older maps. We cut a lot of poison oak to just get to the first clearing. Coming back to the main trail we found abandoned camping gear (per the photos). The Big Pines trail has been bull-dozed as a recent firebreak, and the trail winds back and forth on the firebreak. We camped at Pat Springs the second night after traveling through the burnt stumps and snags of the Big Pines area. (This will be difficult hiking when the snags come down!). The trough at Pat Springs was clear and running water. The third day we hiked down the firebreaks and turned off at the Danish Creek trail. Danish Creek trail has been cleared and some grade work done, we assumed by the horse packers. It appears that they have been using the camp quite often. We hiked out to the parking lot past a full! Los Padres reservoir, it must be mostly mud! We caught the first cold snap of the season with high winds, and I should have taken my heavier bag. Read more detailed comments on the Flikr website.
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Skinner Ridge Trail to Apple Tree Camp Conditions

Postby syrah on Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:55 pm

Date Hiked: October 24, 2009
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

It was our first trip into the Ventana Wilderness so I cannot compare to other seasons or years.

We hiked up Skinner Ridge Trail on Saturday (10/24) from Bottchers Gap parking lot to Apple Tree Camp, slept at Apple Tree and walked back on Sunday afternoon.

Skinner Ridge Trail is clear the whole way, but there are about 5 places where trees are down across the trail and you have to climb over or under them. No other problems. The temperature was just right, the trail itself was a little dusty, it offers a lot of shade and we saw only one other party the entire time. There is some poison oak along the trail - I am very glad I wore pants.

The trail we took to Apple Tree Camp (taking a left from Skinner Ridge toward Turner Creek Camp) is FULL of poison oak. This trail is passable, but the poison oak is unavoidable. If you are even moderately sensitive to the wrath of this plant, DO NOT take this trail. It would be impossible to get every drop of the oil off your shoes, backpack, etc.

The creek is just barely trickling at Apple Tree Camp- water was collectable however. The campsite is pleasant, very shaded, we were not cold at all. The only downside is the tree cover: about 75% at the first campsite and 100% at the second site - not the best star viewing.

A pleasant time to hike this trail!

p.s. This website is great, thanks!
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Skinner Ridge Trail

Postby mikesplain on Thu May 28, 2009 5:56 pm

Date Hiked: May 8, 2009
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and/or well maintained)

Reported by Carl Mounteer:

This trail has had a lot of attention before it was reopened. I believe that, once you reach the top of the ridge, the trail has been substantially re-routed. I sensed that I was walking in places on the ridge that I never had walked before. It looked like the ridge was bulldozed in the latest fire, so a lot of the trail appeared to go through unfamiliar terrain.

The tread is well-defined, despite the proliferation of blue lupines encroaching it and, delightfully, perfuming the air. There are at least two water sources before you reach the ridge. All of the deadfall has been cleared. Larry, the caretaker at Bottcher's Gap, informed me that a trail crew from Stanislaus County is responsible for much of the latest work on the trail.

The spot where you emerge from the steep trail up the flank of Devil's Peak onto a level plateau by a trail sign has been completely reworked by bulldozers. It is hardly recognizable from its appearance prior to the 2008 fire.

I stopped a short way past Devil's Peak and had lunch at a point where it APPEARED that the trail continuing to Pat Springs had been obliterated by bulldozers. But I didn't continue to confirm this so it might be ok
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Skinner Ridge Trail

Postby mikesplain on Wed May 27, 2009 6:54 pm

Date Hiked: April 16, 2009
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and/or well maintained)

Forest Service Report:

I walked the trail from Bottchers Gap to the Turner Creek Trail junction. The trail is in excellent condition, the Stanislaus Trail Crew did a great job. The trail is clear of brush, hazard trees, and erosion control was placed where needed. As I walked back to Bottchers Gap I removed all the flagging except for one hazard tree that is well away from the trail, I will remove that flagging in the future. The only problem on the trail are the unsightly dozer piles that tower over the trail in some places. A possible solution to the dozer pile problem would to burn the piles in place. No control lines would be required because of the green grass and the dozerline but that would have to be done very soon because the ground fuels are starting to dry.
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Trail Conditions History 2000-2008

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 1:47 pm

Date Hiked: March 16, 2008
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Conditions reported by: Dan Gearhart
Survey date: 16-MARCH-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Bottchers Gap to Devils Peak - Passable

Starting at Bottchers Gap on the morning of March 16, 2008, we were a little concerned due to the cold temperature and high winds. Although it stayed cold and windy during the entire hike, nothing unbearable. For the first 1/2 mile or so the trail was clear with no obstructions.

Where the trail first meets up with Mill Creek we encountered at least three deadfalls all within about 100 yards of each other. This was not much of a problem since we just scrambled over them. From this spot up to the area where the trail starts the decent was generally clear except for the seasonal encroachment of vegetation. We came across the first patches of snow as the trail crossed Mill Creek for the first time.

On the decent to the Turner Creek Trail in the area were the fire passed through, we came across a very large snag just off the trail leaning against another tree. We were sure the tree would fall any minute so we took the safe route behind the snag and continued on.

Starting up the slope to Devils Peak, we experienced more snow and a rutted trail through some narrow brush. On top of Devils Peak proper, we were standing in about 2-3 inches of patchy snow.

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Conditions reported by: Adam Wachtel
Survey date: 4-FEBRUARY-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Overall: A night and day difference compared to last month before the storms!

Section: Bottchers Gap to Skinner Ridge - Passable

2 major downed trees within a mile of the trail causing quite a blockage of branches, etc. About 2 more downed trees on the trail up to skinners ridge. Also about 10 blockages of brush that probably got weighted down by any snowfall and wind.

Some of these thickets were ridden with poison oak, so I removed the majority of the poison oak and clipped a little of the thickets, but saved the rest for later.

Section: Skinner Ridge to Devils Peak - Passable

The trail along the top of Skinner Ridge is still very open, despite the potential of fire damaged trees falling across the trail. However, one deadfall blocking the trail just before the drop off down to the Turner Creek saddle.

From there down to Turner Creek saddle the side of the trail is lined with poison oak, however somewhat avoidable. It may become an issue when the plants bloom.

From Turner Creek saddle up to Devils Peak it is brushy as usual, and a few new blockages of tall brush blow down.

Also, from a dusting the night before, there was snow encountered as low as Skinner Ridge, but wasn't very deep until the final climb to Devils Peak. Only a temporary issue but will probably cause some trail erosion.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 31-DECEMBER-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Stevenson Wilderness Expedition leaders took a training trip out this trail as far as Little Pines Camp. It is in surprisingly good shape even after the early January storms. There were three step-over logs but the one which had forced an off-trail detour before the Blue Rock Ridge Trail junction has been cleared by someone with a big saw. To Pat Springs the trail is clear, but one easy detour remains near the Blue Rock Ridge Trail junction. The spring is running well from both pipes and the trough is very clean. Anyone willing to take credit for cleaning the moss out, or is this a natural winter phenomenon? Beyond Pat Spring there are probably a half dozen large trunks across the trail as far as Little Pines Camp but none are fresh and all can be clambered over safely. There are many young pines beginning to reforest the hilltop: most encouraging, though it will be a long time before they become even "little" full growth pines.
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Conditions reported by: EW
Survey date: 4-NOVEMBER-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

wide open, no obstacles, a great walk on an autumn afternoon...
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 30-NOVEMBER-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Bottchers Gap to Devil's Peak - Wilderness Freeway

This trail is wilderness freeway to Devil's Peak, as far as I went November 1, 2007. This trail has been cleaned up a lot since my last trail report on it in February, 2007. The huge downed oak just before the Skinner Ridge Summit has been completely cleared. So have a lot of the negotiable downed trees. Looks like a lot of commitment by some blessed people to keeping this main passage clear to the interior of the Ventana Wilderness. Thank you for the anonymous effort, whoever you folks are.

The view from Devil's Peak on a clear day is absolutely marvelous. Great place to hike to, have lunch, and head back.

The three usual water sources on this trail between Bottcher's Gap and the Turner Creek Trail have completely dried up.
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Conditions reported by: Adam Wachtel
Survey date: 3-JUNE-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Bottcher's Gap to Skinner Ridge

The trail from Bottcher's Gap to Skinners Ridge is in excellent condition. It seems the fire crews brushed the trail during one of the fires. There were 3 fires along the trail, the first is behind the water tanks and the other at the Skinner Ridge viewpoint and don't affect the trail at all. The 3rd fire (occurred on Memorial Day as well as the one near Bottcher's Gap) is on each side of the trail on the highpoint of the trail over Skinner Ridge. It looks like the trail may have been re-routed, only slightly.

Section: Skinner Ridge to Devil's Peak - Passable

From Skinners Ridge, down to the Saddle and up to Devils Peak, it appears not much is different since my March report.
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Conditions reported by: Randall Flagg
Survey date: 1-JUNE-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Botchers Gap to Turner Creek Trail - Wilderness Freeway

The trail is now mostly wilderness freeway due to the well appreciated work of fire crews. They've done some well needed brush clipping and clean up dealing with the afermath of a small fire near Apple Tree.

Section: Turner Creek Trail to Pat Spring - Clear

The trail could still use a little TLC. But the word of the day is flies. Flies, flies and more flies all the way to Pat Spring and back. And probably beyond as well. Bring your bug netting it's like one of the seven plagues out there.
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Conditions reported by: Ken Swegles
Survey date: 14-APRIL-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section:

From the gap the trail is clear as usual, ascending up toward Devil's Peak, and also clear to Pat Spring. However, this year the wild flowers are in full effect with lots of lupins, poppies, and owl's clover. The section in particular to look out for is between Devil's Peak and Pat Spring, along the steeply sloped exposed meadows. The flowers are a nice visual treat, yet they soon disperse as the trail closes in on Puerto Suelo. There are very few dead falls and the water at Pat Spring is flowing with adequate abundance.
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Conditions reported by: Adam Wachtel
Survey date: 14-MARCH-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Bottcher's Gap to Wilderness Boundary/Skinner Ridge - Clear/Passable

Mostly clear, quite wide in some spots, with a few branches and some trail erosion (water damage). But, there is a large blown down oak before the final climb up to Skinner Ridge Viewpoint. There were 2 trails already working their way around the blowdown, but they both went right through thick patches of poison oak. So, on our way back we worked on clearing the blowdown (lots of little branches) and now all that is left is two or three ~6 inch diameter branches. We had a small, 8 inch blade Fiskars hand saw.

Section: Skinner Ridge to Turner Creek Trail junction - Passable

Moderate encroachment of mostly poison oak. Last May this area was pretty well plugged up with poison oak. This time through it is dormant and appears to have been well clipped, but may still cause some problems.

Section: Turner Creek Trail junction to Devils Peak - Clear

Pretty clear, but also with spots of light to moderate brush encroachment, and some trail erosion.
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 1-FEBRUARY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Bottcher's Gap to Comings Camp/Pine Creek Trail - Passable

There are long sections of this trail that are wilderness freeway. However, there is a huge, newly downed oak blocking the trail about 100 yards before the trail summits at the top of Skinner Ridge. It is easy to lose the trail at this point outbound from Devil's Peak. So I flagged it for both inbound and outbound hikers with pink trail tape.

There is a patch of tree-covered trail about 1/2 a mile before the Comings Camp/Pine Creek Trail junction. This portion of the trail is nearly obliterated in spots by fallen leaves. So it is important to stay alert as to the tread in this interval.
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Conditions reported by: Reed Thayer
Survey date: 30-OCTOBER-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Bottchers Gap to Turner Creek Junction - Clear

The trail is in good condition but is covered in a thick blanket of leaves the entire way, which can make the trail slippery, especially with a heavy pack. All deadfalls have been removed or have clear detours around them. Mill Creek is low and is easy to cross with one step. Also, there are many overhanging branches, so tall people should be prepared to duck. There are still a few gullies in the trail from last winter.

As for poison oak, there are small patches that are on the side of the trail about half way to Skinner Ridge and down to Turner Creek. These can be avoided by staying in the middle of the trail.
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Conditions reported by: NAdam W
Survey date: 28-MAY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Bottchers Gap to Comings Camp Trail junction - Passable

This hike was done as a dayhike.

The last time I hiked up here was about a year ago and it was to Mt Carmel. It seems the trail is much more brushy since then. Also, from all the snow that was up there this winter, it seems the melt has torn up the trail a little more, just as Carl mentioned regarding the creeklets. Also, I didnt see the gullies that Carl also mentioned in the last report. Either we didnt notice it or the tread has expanded somehow.

Although the trail is worse than my last hike up there, it still is in decent shape. Lastly, if your looking for solitude, or even a place to camp, dont go up there during memorial day weekend. I already had anticipated it, but it was worse than I imagined.
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 12-MAY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Bottcher's Gap to Big Pines/Ventana Trail junction - Passable

There are three downed, easily negotiable trees between Bottcher's Gap and the Turner Creek Trail junction. There are two approx. 100 yd segments in this interval, and one other on the outbound Devil's Peak ascent where the trail has degenerated into a v-shaped gully which is very steep and has tread wide enough for one foot. There was also a rattlesnake about one foot off the trail on the Devil's Peak outbound ascent. About 1.5 miles out of Bottcher's Gap there is a 15 foot segment of the trail that has become a creeklet with deep mud.

In the final switchbacking descent down to the Big Pines/Ventana Trails fork, the trail is buried in pine needles and it is easy to lose sight of it.

Otherwise, this trail is in remarkably good shape and could be rated Wilderness Freeway. It would be nice for the signs to be maintained. Some of them are rotting and look decades old.
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Conditions reported by: Lee Kenyon
Survey date: 6-MAY-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Bottcher's Gap to Pat Springs - Clear

When I hiked the Skinner Ridge Trail to Pat Springs on February 19 (in the midst of a snow storm), the conditions were more arduous than I had ever seen them: deadfalls and sagging brush galore, all of which shot snow on my head as I struggled past them.

So I was quite delighted to hike this trail in early May and find it in excellent condition: quite clear, and near Bottchers Gap almost a wilderness freeway. Not surprisingly given the wet March/April, Pat Springs was flowing strongly.
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Conditions reported by: Don Brown
Survey date: 19-MARCH-2006
General: CLEAR/PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Botcher's Gap to Skinner Ridge top - Clear

The recent snows have impacted the trail by bringing brush down from the top, and toppling several small trees. I've cleared out most of the brush, but there are a few small trees that will need some saw work to clear. One particular tree requires a significant detour near the top of Skinner Ridge. The tread is rather V-shaped in areas, particularly the first half of the trail, making hiking rough on the ankles. For the most part, though, this trail is clear and very easy to follow.

Section: Skinner Ridge to Pat Springs - Passable

The brush is thick in several places, making a wet hike during or right after rainfall. There are several downed trees on the climb up Devil's Peak that need sawing. The tread is good for the most part, however, there are several moderate to severe ditches you are forced to hike in. Closer to Pat Springs, there will be several significant downed trees that require detours, and a couple of large downed trees to climb over.

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Conditions reported by: NMichael Blanksma
Survey date: 19-FEBRUARY-2006
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

My partner and I set off from Bottcher's Gap at about ten AM, hoping to reach Devil's Peak. There was a light dusting of snow at Bottcher's Gap Public Camp. After crossing the second creeklet past the Mill Creek Crossing, the snow was about three inches deep and extremely heavy on the brush,making the trail near impassable because of overhangs. By the time we topped Skinner's Ridge, it started snowing rather heavily with six inches already on the ground. Past Skinner's Ridge heading down the the Turner Creek Trail Junction, the trail all but disappeared becuase of the extremely heavy snow pushing the brush down onto the trail. We deemed it impassable at this point and turned around and headed back. The snow was so heavy on the brush, there is a very strong chance that most of if not all the brush will remain down, rendering the section from the top of Skinner's Ridge down to the Turner Creek Trail Junction impassable until a trail party gets in there with loppers and saws to clear it out...From Bottcher's Gap to Skinner's Ridge- clear to difficult. From Skinner's Ridge down to the Turner Creek Trail Junction. IMPASSABLE, possibly but unlikely clearing after the snow melt to difficult From there on ???????
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Conditions reported by: Raj
Survey date: 28-JANUARY-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Even with the rain (and despite it being night) the tread was good and easy to follow and all snags have been cleared, only a few areas where you might brush up against some brush but the rest was clear from any obstacles.
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 27-JANUARY-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Bottcher's Gap to Mt. Carmel Trail - Wiliderness Freeway

This is "wilderness freeway" with one possible exception: the quarter mile of the beginning of the ascent to Devil's Peak after the Turner Creek Trail junction is brushy with lots of manzanita. This portion of the trail is becoming slightly overgrown. But the tread is still well-defined and this is a heavily used trail generally. But there was no one around when I hiked it on a Friday.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Program
Survey date: 7-JANUARY-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Bottcher's Gap to the summit of Devil's Peak is excellent. Despite blowing clouds, the views were good and the trail clean and inviting.
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 20-MAY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Bottcher's Gap to Turner Creek Trail Junction - Passable

This is a nice shady trail considering that inbound it is a lot of uphill climbing. I counted 21 downed trees completely crossing the trail. Of these three required a small effort to climb over. One required crawling under which might mean you have to take your backpack off. There are four very small streams to cross.

This 2.8 mile hike took me 1.5 hrs.

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Conditions reported by: Andy Miller
Survey date: 25-APRIL-2005
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Botchers Gap to Turner Creek Camp - Wilderness Freeway

The Skinner Ridge Trail was in very good shape. Only a few trees across the trail but they were all easy to step over. I was thrilled to find several Indian grinding holes on bolders along the first part of the trail. It seems that this trail has been a popular one for a long, long time!

The side trail down to Apple Tree Camp and Turner Creek Camp was well marked. There was some poison oak along the trail but it's easy to avoid. We went to Turner Creek Camp but it was over grown and not as nice as Apple Tree Camp so we went back. The river site at Apple Tree is as good as it gets. There was plenty of water in the creek and NO flies.

This is a great overnight hike with a good combination of uphill/downhill.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Program
Survey date: 11-MARCH-2005
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

The trail is in very good condition at this time. There are always opportunities for new trees to fall, but all our groups found it clear going.
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Conditions reported by: EW
Survey date: 7-MAR-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Bottcher's Gap to Turner Creek saddle

Heavily traveled and easy to follow, recent maintenance has re-defined the tread across Kirk-complex-era dozer cuts. Easy access to water in 3 places in March.
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Conditions reported by: Eric Bernhard
Survey date: 8-FEB-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

From Bottcher's Gap to Devil's Peak and back. Only two moderately large trees across the trail, not particularly difficult to pass over. Some low brush encroaching the trail at the base of Devil's Peak. Wilderness Boundry sign missing. Far better than the 20+ downed trees across the trail after El Nino. The trail is in good quite good condition.
P.S. The photo of the Large Madrone at the top of the Skinner Ridge Trail page is actually taken adjacent to the Wilderness Boundary, not on Devil's Peak.
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Conditions reported by: Matt Dally
Survey date: 17-APRIL-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The only problems serious enough to slow you down are the fallen trees throughout the trail. You'll have to duck and step over the various limbs and trunks intersecting the trails, but there aren't any hike-stoppers here. Other than that, the trail is in good condition, although there is an ominous encroachment of poison oak for a ways after Bottcher's Gap. Some fancy footwork should keep you clear of it. The trails are all well defined and the trail signs seem to be in order. Definitely a place to go for some good views.
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Conditions reported by: Richard Whitmarsh
Survey date: 29-MAR-2003
General: CLEAR
Specific:

From Bottchers Gap: Few deadfalls, nothing insurmountable or frustrating. 4 flowing streams before reaching Skinner Ridge. Trail locally rutted down the center several inches deep, up to 1 foot, makes for awkward going along some stretches. Comparable rutting along trail up to Devils Peak, but infrequent. Spur trail to Mt Carmel is worth the additional hour+ for a spectacular view of the entire Monterey Bay region and the northern VWA (though you MUST climb and stand on a smallish rock outcrop to see over the surrounding brush). As of this date, I would categorize the Mt Carmel spur as CLEAR to PASSABLE due to the thick and stiff brush that has grown into the upper portion of the trail.
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Conditions reported by: Scott Bogen
Survey date: 5-JAN-2002
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Hiked Skinner Ridge Trail From Bottchers Gap trailhead to just past the intersection of Turner Creek trail. Over all the trail is in quite good shape for mid-winter. There are a fair number of fallen trees crossing the trail. One in particular will present a challenge for anyone with a large pack. Though if one removes ones pack and crawls under it will be no problem at all. Water is abundant along the trail, many little creeklets now flowing. Had planned to go to Devils Peak and Mt. Carmel, but it became very windy and decided to turn back. This is a very rewarding trail to hike, it is pretty much all uphill to the top of Devils Peak. The views are spectacular once you get to the top of Skinner Ridge. An added bonus for winter hikers is views through the now leafless trees that are obscured in summer. I have seen Bobcats now the past two times I have hiked the trail, in Oct. 2002 and Jan. 2003, up at the meadow on Skinner Ridge. Highly recommended.
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Conditions reported by: Ojai Valley School - "Las Papas Gigantescas"
Survey date: APRIL-MAY, 2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Skinner Ridge Trail: Bottcher's Gap to Pat Springs: Clear, open, smooth trail (very little brush). Skinner Ridge to Turner Creek was decent through hills (beautiful wild flowers). Steep up Devils Peak. (Rain) Pat Springs camps were large and spread out nicely. There were two camps at the spring and two 100 yards to the west. The spring was flowing well.
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Conditions reported by: Jonathan Dirrenberger
Survey date: 21-APRIL-2001
General: CLEAR to PASSABLE
Specific:

Bottcher's Gap to Skinner Ridge:

The trail is generally clear, though a lot of brush has grown over the top so that there is a lot of ducking and dodging in parts. A few parts are erorded due to water, but nothing major; a few runoff ditches here and there would solve the problem. There was one spot where a downed tree with sprawling branches made for some tedious balancing acts trying to get over it, but I'm sure it will be removed soon. There is a *lot* of poison oak growing right up alongside the trail (occasionally across it) during this leg, especially for the first mile. You would be crazy not to wear long pants here. You can definitely avoid the poison oak, but you have to vigilant about watching out for it. It's a little tricky, because mother nature double-teams you: you're trying to keep an eye up as you duck the overgrowth but then you miss the poison oak growing down below encroaching along the trail. You cross a few nice little streams on the way up to Skinner Ridge, all of which are easily hopped over.

Skinner Ridge to Turner Creek Trail junction:

The trail is completely clear here and there is almost no poison oak. There are some really nice views on a clear day, mostly towards the interior of the Ventana Wilderness. You follow a massive dozer trail, which is a quite a blemish in an otherwise beautiful area, but it does make for easy going as you zig-zag across it. You then make a brief descent to the Turner Creek Trail junction, marked by an old wooden sign.
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Conditions reported by: Andrew Ricciardi
Survey date: 04-JANUARY-2001
General: CLEAR to PASSABLE
Specific:

From Bottchers Gap to the dozer line on Skinner Ridge the trail is passable with no major obstacles. Make sure you have money and water if leaving your car at Bottchers Gap.

From the "Viewpoint" along the trail on Skinner Ridge (Schaffer map, 1987) to the Turner Creek Trail junction, the trail is almost all on the huge dozer scar of Skinner Ridge. This part is messy and difficult, but it is healing. Definitely no encroaching brush! The trail, or lack of it, could use some attention here. At one point, a water bar is mistaken for the trail (or vice versa?)
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Conditions reported by: Tom Hopkins
Survey date: 04-APRIL-2000
General: CLEAR to DIFFICULT
Specific:

I left Bottchers Gap April 4th on a four day backpack out to the Ventana Double Cone and back. The trail from Bottchers to the top of Skinner Ridge is clear with only minor brush. The tread has eroded to a narrow gully at several locations along this section. At one minor streamlet, the water flows down the trail a ways before it returns to its original course. Just below the viewpoint on Skinner Ridge, the trail meets the massive bulldozed firebreak built by the Forest Service as part of their total suppression strategy to fight the Kirk Complex Fires. For those who cherish the wonderful groves of mature madrones that crown upper Skinner Ridge, the unnecessary devastation is heartbreaking.
>From just below the viewpoint, up over the top and down to the saddle at the Turner Creek junction, the bulldozed firebreak has obliterated most of the trail. In two locations along this section, portions of the original trail remain and were flagged at each end with orange survey tape earlier in the season by VWA members. But the greater portion of this leg, by far, is an evolving use trail through the downed brush left by the dozer.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers
Survey date: 01-APRIL-2000
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY to DIFFICULT
Specific:

The trail up Skinner Ridge is a wilderness throughway. Water is running in all the creeks and crosses the trail in several places. We found no ticks, although flies can be minor bothers. Poison oak is just beginning to come out and encroach on the trail.

However, where the trail comes to the flat near the top of the ridge, it has been erased by fire break tractors which have pushed brush and small trees across the surface, which is also cut by runoff ditches. From there to just beyond the Turner Creek trail junction, it is hard going. The surface is covered by branches which are still anchored but are now resting on the ground and each other. I know the old trail well, and still found myself too far east and going down the fire break when there was an original section of trail still available on the west side of the slope. Besides the ugliness, the branches provide ample opportunities for dangerous falls. The fire break appears to be twenty feet wide through this area.
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Skinner Ridge Trail

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 1:46 pm

* USFS Trail #1E04
* Parking: Bottchers Gap ($5/day)
* Watershed: Turner Creek
* Junctions: Ventana Double Cone Trail, Turner Creek Trail
* Connects: Bottchers Gap with Ventana Double Cone Trail
* Camps: Bottchers Gap Car Camp
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