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Tony Trail (Hot Springs Trail)

Re: Tony Trail (Hot Springs Trail)

Postby Betsy M on Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:04 pm

Date Hiked: September 25, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

The Tony Trail is currently in great shape. As noted by others, the south side (Willow Creek side) is in great shape at the bottom with minor brushy sections approaching the top. The north side (Tassajara Creek side) is also in great shape at the bottom, and very minor encroaching brush near the top.
clear of brush at top.JPG
There are fine views on both sides. Someone has recently put up some prayer flags at the top.
tony trail summit.JPG
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Re: Tony Trail (Hot Springs Trail)

Postby Jasonic on Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:43 pm

Date Hiked: July 26, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Thanks to everyone who worked on this trail recently, there were well appreciated stretches of clear trail. those brushy areas only got brushier. glad we brought hand pruners. the machete was better for raising blisters than clearing most of the sort of growth up high there. Nice Clearing up top. some very challenging stretches of overgrowth. tread was very uncertain in a few places with long steep drop consequences. fairly advanced hiking.

Editors note:
Most of us have thought at one time or another that a machete would be the ideal tool to clear trail. Instead we have found that not only are machetes not the right tool, but in addition to their ineffectiveness, they are dangerous and in fact are not allowed on any VWA trips.

The best way to clear trail (or do anything) is the hard way - cut ceanothus just below ground level, that way it will not re-sprout. Cut back branches all the way to the main stem, even if that means you have to go 5 feet up the hillside to get there. Anything else pretty much either leaves hardened stobs of dead wood for people to get stabbed on, or the multiple sprouts leaving an even worse situation the next year. If trees are growing away from the trail, just prune back the side branches growing towards the trail.
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Re: Tony Trail (Hot Springs Trail)

Postby js_radford on Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:34 pm

Date Hiked: July 11, 2011
General Condition: Clear to Passable (no deadfalls, some limited sections with thick brush)

Avoiding full sun midday or serious heat, the Tony Trail can be a delight. I've hiked it 4 times each direction since May 31. My visit of June 23-27 was at a time of spectacular whole-mountain displays of golden-yellow Deer Weed and other flowers.

The South side has been worked a lot by someone very nicely for about a mile up from Willow Creek with some new problems recently appearing. Unfortunately, that new work is already under threat by lot of bad hiking - people stepping off the main tread to severely degrade the trail edges where the trail cannot stand any such sloppy stepping such as on steep slopes with loose soil, which is pretty common. I corrected a bunch of these problems, removing brush that pushes people off tread and digging out the old tread making a "trough" within which to hike (hopefully).

But there remain a number of situations that can only get worse, including one section just above Willow Creek where there is almost no tread left along an up-slope rock outcrop and above a steep, nearly soil-less slope dropping down maybe 15 feet to the creek, right at the end of the trail. If not saved soon, that 8" or so width of tread will disappear totally and require some serious engineering (vertical posts and wall/bridge) or major trail re-routing or something. It just takes one or two more careless stomps and the edge is gone!

Above the mile of nice new tread work, the trail gets occasionally brushy and rougher but never a problem.

At the top I cleared a small tent site (just expanded brush work a little) with an aim to camp there and do late-PM South side trail work (brush clearing mainly) and then early-AM North-side trail work, both periods being shaded naturally for up to 6 hours (starting very early, quitting very late). But I didn't. Somebody may find that useful, after bringing maybe 2 gallons of water. In just 2 hours, I cleared 200 feet of chest-height brush from the saddle northwards, but there's about a quarter mile of significant brush down from the top beyond that and another section about 3/4 of the way down that is well overgrown plus lesser areas needing work. Still it's not bad brush mainly and the tread is easy to follow.

I fixed a bunch of ruined-tread sections on the North side, cleared 300 feet of brush (fraction needed) further down and cut the 2 large deadfall oaks at the very bottom. For all that, I've only done 20-25 hours of work, both sides total. So the trail is getting better and is fairly nice most of both ways but still needs a few hundred hours of work, as a wild guess.

Given its convenient location near Tassajara Creek and the Zen center (day guest pass includes shower and soak and coffee, etc.) and dramatic trailhead at Tassajara, I think others might enjoy working on this trail like I have, in the shade if possible.

The trail going up from Tassajara, be warned, is TOO STEEP in the middle sections. It probably will never be re-routed, unfortunately. It could be, and should be. The South side is pretty well graded; not so the North side.

I saw only 1 rattler in 4 trips plus brush and tread workings.
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Re: Tony Trail (Hot Springs Trail)

Postby sworksdude on Mon May 16, 2011 7:44 am

Date Hiked: May 11, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Trail In good shape, encroaching brush from Hot springs to summit,tread washout about halfway on the trail > sketchy to cross but manageable,switchbacks down to Willow springs in great shape, looks like some recent work. First time for me, great trail with some epic views on both sides. I also day used the Hot springs :D what a nice treat between the days of hiking, just don't get to comfy the climb out will wake you up fast...
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Re: Tony Trail (Hot Springs Trail)

Postby Rob on Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:07 pm

Date Hiked: February 13, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Mostly agree with the previous report. Some fallen logs at the start (down near the creek), but there are flags. Tread seemed to be mostly in good shape. A few downed branches here and there and a bit of brush. Some areas of tread on the north side are pretty narrow -- one spot is washed out, but has good steps kicked around it. There is a section further down with a rope handline ..

I forgot how great the views on this trail were. South side was hot even on a winter morning :)
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Re: Tony Trail (Hot Springs Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:52 pm

Date Hiked: December 1, 2010
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Tony Trail is currently in good shape! Someone has put extensive work into what had been the problematic southern half, clearing brush, widening the bench, and improving the switchbacks to make it clear. My thanks to whomever did that work! The only slight difficulty was at the very southern end, where flags help lead from the stream crossing along a narrow track which traverses from there to the start of the wide-track switchbacks - for that reason I am giving the trail a "Passable" rating here, but the remainder of the trail I would consider "Clear" . Currently the northern half is somewhat less passable than the southern half, having a slightly narrower tread. Both are largely brush-free. Taking a backpack along the route would not be a problem trail-condition-wise (but the steep slope on much of the northern half would certainly be noticed).

A GPSed track has now replaced the USFS track on my on-line Ventana Trailmap http://www.ventanahiking.net/ventana_trailmap.html - the two differed particularlry noticeably on the northern half, being offset in places by up to 0.1 mile.

Jack Glendening
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: Tony Trail (Hot Springs Trail)

Postby Noble on Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:14 pm

Date Hiked: March 31, 2010
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

A small sign marks the junction of the Marble Peak Trail and Tony Trail. As the trail switches back up to the ridge, there is significant brush encroaching on the trail. Because of the rain the previous night, and morning dew, this soaked our trousers up to the knees. Though wet, the brush was not woody, making it easy to walk through. The tread is pretty well evident, making the trail hard to loose. The footing was somewhat sloped, however, making this section of trail less than ideal on the ankles. Coming down from the ridge into Tassajara, the trail was slightly less overgrown and sloped, but not by much. This section of trail had significant fire damage, and the soil is still a bit unstable. The trail was relatively easy to follow the whole way.
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Tony Trail Difficult/Clear

Postby Betsy M on Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:26 am

Date Hiked: January 10, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The Tony Trail is difficult from the Willow Creek side up to the top, and clear from the summit down to Tassajara. The sign on the Marble Peak Trail marks the southern end of the Tony Trail. This photo, looking west, or upstream, shows the Marble Peak Trail on the left continuing uphill, and the start of the Tony Trail dropping down to the right to cross Willow Creek. This area is not an official camp, but people often camp on the flat above the creek.
Tony Trail Sign.jpg

The entire trail burned in the 2008 Basin Complex Fire. Especially on the lower section of the trail on the Willow Creek side, the tread has really deteriorated. There isn't that much brush yet; the Yerba Santa seems to be coming back the thickest. You can make your way up to the top, but it isn't pleasant walking on tread that is covered with sand piles resting at a 30-degree angle to the hillside. Trying to do this with a pack would be difficult.
Tony Trail Willow Creek Side.jpg

Once you get up to the top, the tread is in much better shape and the brush has been cut back. You can enjoy the views of the Tassajara Creek drainage.
Tony Trail Tassajara Side.jpg
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Tony Trail to the Summit from Tassajara is OK

Postby Betsy M on Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:43 pm

Date Hiked: June 16, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

The part of the Tony Trail that goes from Tassajara up to the top of the ridge between Tassajara Creek and Willow Creek is clear. You might get hit in the face while you walk through fields of wildflowers, but that's about it. The trail remains ridiculously steep, and there are undeniably a couple of spots with a small amount of loose dirt on the tread, but this is the Tony Trail so that is to be expected.

The far side, continuing on to the Marble Peak Trail, is reportedly terrible, like walking in sand dunes or quicksand.

Last time I reported that when you reach the bottom on the Tassajara side, you should turn left to go to the bridge. Well the bridge is gone, so you turn RIGHT and look for a left turn to cross the creek in about 30 feet. Not that you want to be coming over this trail from Willow Creek to start with.
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Trail Conditions History 1998-2008

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 2:15 pm

Date Hiked: May 26, 2008
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Conditions reported by:Betsy
Survey date: 26-MAY-2008
General: CLEAR
Specific:

The Tony Trail is Clear over 95% of its route. There is a small amount of slumping on the Willow Creek side, and you wade through about ten feet of poison oak just as you cross Willow Creek. As has been noted elsewhere, there is so much poison oak on the Marble Peak Trail itself that you will already be pretty much saturated with the poison oak oil if you have taken this route to get to the Tony Trail, so another 10 feet is not a big deal. But beyond that it is possible to avoid the small amounts of poison oak. The tread is mostly decent, if narrow. The brush has been clipped back and there is only one tree that can easily be stepped over. Note: if you descend to the Tassajara side, turn left once you arrive at the flat at the end of the trail. Then turn right to cross Tassajara Creek on a wooden suspension bridge. Other routes wind all around but don't actually lead you to the creek crossing. After you cross the creek, continue on a dirt road, passing a yurt, the bathhouse, some guest cabins, and the Tassajara Office. Take the road that turns left to exit the Tassajara area and head up the road. Or if you are headed down to the Horsepasture Cut-off, continue straight on, following the general downstream direction of the road. The only water on the entire trail is a small stream that runs into Willow Creek, about 30 feet after you cross Willow Creek. There was enough water flowing to fill my bottle.
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Conditions reported by: Otis
Survey date: 13-MAY-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The trail is in preaty good shape as far as the ventana goes. A slight amount of over grown brush but nothing serious. Be warned that that traveling from north to south is very steep and during the heat of mid-day can pose a threat of over-heating( as happened to one person in our group) its best to tackle early in the day.
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Conditions reported by: Eric
Survey date: 10-MAY-2008
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

We started hiking from Marble Peak Trail and like that one the beginning part of the Tony Trail has lots of poison oak on both sides of the trail. But once we crossed the creek and started climbing the poison oak started to thin out. The book we had said that Tony Trail is 3 mile long, half of which climbs up 1150ft in 1.5 miles with 16 switchbacks. Once you get to the top the trail descends to the Tassajara Hot Spring about 800+ ft or so over another 1.5 miles. This second leg was a little more difficult because there were less switchbacks and steeper declines.

Overall the trail has five or six sections where the trail has been covered by dirt from the hill side or the trail is crumbling. There is also a fallen tree that blocks the trail but it is passable. If you are headed to the Hot springs like we were start early because it took us about two hours each way and we didn’t end up making it back till it was dark.
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Conditions reported by: Joe Rad
Survey date: 25-NOVEMBER-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Lots of water in the Tassajara Creek, the first time we didn't need to wade across but could boulder hop. On the south end of the trail the west branch of Willow Creek is running strong. The trail is clear and in good condition.
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Conditions reported by: Zensen Steve Kent
Survey date: 12-SEPTEMBER-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Marble Peak Trail to Ridgetop - PASSABLE

The trail is very steep. Some trail washouts ascending the south side where the trail has slid down the hillside. Very loose, be careful.

Section: Ridgetop to Tassajara - Clear

The north side of the trail is very easy to follow, with no obstacles. There is a painted sign at the top of the trail pointing the way to Tassajara. The residents of Tassajara have just started practice period, so, the monastery is closed to the public until April, 2008. You may hike through during this time but you should try not to disturb the monks at all. Days ending in a 4 or 9 are off days for the monks and are probably the best days to walk through. Tassajara creek is not running.
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Conditions reported by: Lisel
Survey date: 28-APRIL-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

We hiked this one from the Marble Peak trail north over to Tassajara Hot Springs. There is a worn wooden sign just past the campsite on the Marble Peak Trail (deep in the wooded drainage) that marks the junction. At that point, the trail is overgrown with poison oak, etc, for a few yards and crosses the stream going north. It was a little hard just across the stream to find the tread--we expected it to continue up the drainage, but instead, it veers west along the side of the hill for quite a ways. Once you find that, it is clear and easy to follow because the south side of the slope is so steep and brushy, there is really nowhere else to go. The trail is narrow and just clinging to the hillside in many places with sloughing and slumping and some little "rabbit-hole" slides where it looks like a fall would shoot you through the bushes and a long way down! However, in general, pretty passable though steep.

The north side down into the Tassajara area was good and clear and scenic. It was a little confusing at the end figuring out how to get over to the Zen Center--the signs are funny and really, you want to go left or west when you get to the grassy area by the Tassajara creek (not right or east) and follow the trail past the swingset and over the little foot bridge, and then veer left (east) down the road to the Center. Only a few ticks and little poison oak on this trail. We saw a beautiful 4' long kingsnake.
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Conditions reported by: Ken Swegles
Survey date: 4-JUNE-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Very hot this time of year, so do it very early or very late or even at night would be surely great. No water for three miles, but all that is forgotten when you reach Tassajara Hot Springs, and a breath taking 60 foot water fall. It is really steep up both sides but it is probably a breeze in the morning with no pack.
===========
Conditions reported by: Greg Minter
Survey date: 29-MAY-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

The Tony Trail is in pretty good shape, despite being listed as abandoned by the USFS. Very steep, but tread mostly evident, with many brushy spots. Keep a close eye on the tread climbing out of Willow Creek Canyon, or you might miss a switchback. The north slope heading to the monastery is in very good condition, with several areas of trail repaired over the last several months, including the rather large slip. Thank you, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, for your continued hard work on these trails! Tassajara Creek was flowing strong about knee-high, but was easily crossed. The flies were very bad on this trip. Lots of bites and swats. Only saw a couple of ticks, though.
===========
Conditions reported by: Jon Benner
Survey date: 25-MARCH-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The beginning of the Tony Trail at its junction with the Marble Peak Trail is somewhat obscure right now, but the tread picks up about 20 yards up the slope after crossing Willow Creek. From there up to the top of the ridge, the trail is easily followed and not too brushy. The main issue is that the footbed is eroding away - there are a few places where you have to watch your footing on the steep slope, and the switchbacks are quite steep. Some brush encroaches as you nearly crest the ridge, and there are a some blowdowns on the descent down towards Tassajara Creek. There is one sizeable slide about a half mile before Tassajara, but you can pick your way across and it seems fairly stable.
===========
Conditions reported by: Neil
Survey date: 5-SEPTEMBER-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Tassajara to Ridge

The lower half of the trail to the top of the ridge has been brushed out in the past couple of years. The main problem on the Tassajara side of the ridge is tread that has been obliterated. There are sections of the trail that require a 5 foot scramble across an eroded gully, with a 100 foot drop off on the right.

Section: Ridge to Will Springs Camp

The trail from the top of the ridge down to Willow Springs is overgrown and suffers from dangerously eroded tread in some places.

Ventana hands know the drill for this kind of trail, wear long pants and long sleeved shirts, you'll be scratched and bleeding at the end of this trail, but less so than if you were wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
===========
Conditions reported by: Ery Arias-Castro
Survey date: 1-MAY-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Tassajara to the saddle: Clear

Section: from the saddle to the Marble Peak Trail: Difficult

The trail is very eroded (and overgrown), to such an extreme that I believe that portion should be closed.
===========
Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 04-MAR-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Tony's entire trail: Tassajara ZMC to Marble Peak Trail jct.

The trail is in good shape to the top of the ridge above Willow Creek, although it is steep. Coming down, there are some spots where the tread is faint or tricky, but the route is generally clear. We had several groups take this trail, since they could not use the South Fork-Big Sur Trails, and they enjoyed this route between the Pine Ridge Trail and Strawberry Camp.
===========
Conditions reported by: Rich Popchak
Survey date: 16-FEB-2004
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Marble Peak Tr. junction to Tassajara ZMC

The Tony Trail is in pretty darn good shape. A large deadfall is a foreboding obstacle immediately after you cross Willow Creek ... but from there on ... the main challenge is enduring the steep grade up the ridge and down to Tassajara. The fragrant chaparral and the pleasing views of wind-driven sheets of rain whipping down the river canyon below calmed my soul as I rested at switchbacks. The chamise and oak along the trail has been dutifully clipped back ... making the Tony trail a useful route to complete a loop from China Camp to Pine Ridge to Strawberry to Tassajara. The lone soul out and about at the zen center looked at us quizzically as we trudged back to our vehicle ... sodden and drained ... but still enamored with the wildness and beauty of the area.

Tassajara Road was quite muddy and it required the 4-wheelin' expertise of my compadre to climb up to Chew's Ridge and down to Jamesburg.
===========
Conditions reported by: Steve Wilson
Survey date: 1-APRIL-2002
General: BARELY PASSABLE, but exciting
Specific:

The intersection with the Willow Creek Trail was clearly signed with an ancient USFS sign. The first section after the interesting Willow Creek crossing is crumbling but negotiable. Generally you are in contact with chamise and other denizens of the chaparral on the never ending climb up to the saddle, but an oaken canopy provides welcome shade in sections on the upper part of the trail. Contour east from the sign at the saddle. The vegetation is much less pervasive on the Tassajara Creek side of the divide. Generally the tread is crumbling and slipping in numerous spots, the Willow Creek side more so than the Tassajara side, while the grade of the Tassajara side appears steeper. As the Tassajara Creek had a healthy flow, we just waded across, and respectfully negotiated the road directly out to the gate of the monastery. Folks we encountered on the Zen Center's grounds responded to this respect with pleasant greetings and allowed us on our way with understanding and no hassle. This trail is definitely not for the acrophobic or shorts wearing tourist, but is definitely for the experienced adventurer and Ventanaphile.
===========
Conditions reported by: I. Turan
Survey date: 10-MARCH-2002
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Tony's Trail is in okay shape from Tassajara (the monastery is in silent retreat from May to Sept.) south to the summit/ridge, though there are wash-outs and the slope of the trail throughout is nearly parallel to the hillside itself. But on the other side towards Willow Creek, it¹s overgrown and decaying (filled in tread) to a potentially dangerous point in some areas. Its quite steep both ways, with no water for the length of it (3+ miles) - be sure to pack plenty along. Not for the weak kneed.
===========
Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: FEB-2002
General: PASSABLE w/ DIFFICULT TREAD SECTIONS
Specific:

Willow Creek to Tassajara Road: The trail is not excessively overgrown, but it is narrow on the way up to the top of the ridge. We did some clipping to help it along. The real issue is how steep and narrow the foot bed appears to the heavily laden hiker. Some will find parts of the trail tricky, but we did not experience any particular problems. From the top down to Tassajara Creek, the trail has been thoroughly brushed out. However, there are also some steep spots and some places where the path is slippery and unprotected.
===========
Conditions reported by: Steve Chambers
Survey date: April 1998
General: CLEAR
Specific:

The Tony Trail is unquestionably the steepest most sensitively maintained trail within the Ventana Wilderness. The southern side to Willow Creek, with its 19 switchbacks through the Black Sage overgrowing in a few places, can be VERY HOT on a warm day. But most use is by the residents of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, where the trail ends/begins. Please respect their cloistered/closed period from mid-September to the first of May.
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