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Ventana Double Cone Trail

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Andrew C on Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:52 am

Date Hiked: March 18, 2015
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Ventana Double Cone from Bottcher's Gap from 3/17-3/20

Trail from Bottcher's Gap to Pat Springs is good, not too many deadfalls or obstacles to overcome.
Water at Apple camp, and Pat Springs is flowing nicely.

The last four miles or so up to VDC are extremely overgrown and there are many deadfalls. It starts to get messy at the Puerto Suello junction. There is no signage at the junction, just a dirt clearing and a small fire ring. Continue straight to VDC. There is flagging along the way to help guide at some areas. Expect to get scratched up and whacked in the faced by bushes and branches these last four-five miles. At times you will think you might no be on a trail at all--I could tell by looking below the branches at the ground and seeing about a foot-wide dirt path.

There was water at lone pine, but very hard to find. Most people I ran into didn't even see the signage. There is a 4x4 post leaning against a tree and it reads "H20" with an arrow pointing left off the trail. It points straight into some bushes. Just whack through the bushes for a few hundred feet, a slight trail with some flagging exists. The water (a trickle in a creek bed) is to the right of the Lone Pine campsite.
Andrew C

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby pantilat on Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:25 pm

Date Hiked: March 7, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The Ventana Double Cone Trail from Pat Springs to Puerto Suello is mostly clear. Most of the new blowdowns (there were many) between Pat Springs and Little Pines were removed. The traverse below Uncle Sam Mountain has some low level brush that carried ticks. This was the only spot I found ticks all day despite quite a bit of cross country travel. Beyond Puerto Suello, the next 2.5 miles are fairly brushy with a few new blowdowns from the December storm, but basically the same conditions it has been recently. The last mile or so to the summit is relatively clear. Pat Springs is flowing well.

View looking down "the Drain" or the headwaters of Ventana Creek

View looking south inclduing the Ventana Spires, Ventana Cone, Junipero Serra and Cone Peak

Kandlbinder, Pico Blanco, the Window and Bixby Mountain

Pico Blanco lines up above the Window (aka La Ventana)
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Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:16 pm

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Rough Bananas on Sat Jan 17, 2015 7:43 pm

Date Hiked: January 16, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Jan. 14: The trail to Pat Springs was pretty good except for some recent deadfalls in the burned out section about 5 miles from Bottchers Gap. You can tell they are recent because the live trees that were smashed in the process are still green. Pat Springs is a great spot with a nice flowing spring and beautiful views and camping on the ridge.

Jan. 15: The trail was good from Pat Springs to the intersection of the Puerto Suello Trail. I hiked down the Puerto Suello Trail about 5 minutes checking for water but did not find it. The trail was overgrown with some deadfalls but still there. Then hiked to Line Pine Camp, or at least up the ridge and down to a hanging valley on the left with a post that read "H2O". The trail there was also overgrown and didn't look much better beyond that. I bushed whacked down where the water sign pointed and I didn't find water or even a trail to where the spring may be. I then turned back to Pat Springs. I would guess that Ventana Double Cone is possible, but since there was no water after Pat Springs, it would have taken more time than I had daylight to make the summit and get back to Pat Springs.

Jan. 16: I checked out Comings Camp. The campsite looks great but the trail down there is not terribly visible and I couldn't find any water or trail to water at the campsite, although I checked down the hill a little. Also went to Mt. Carmel which was fine.

Rough Bananas
Rough Bananas

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby MRYHKR on Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:35 pm

Date Hiked: December 25, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

We decided to spend 4 days, 3 nights celebrating Christmas in the Ventana Wilderness and reaching Double Cone peak. The first and third nights we camped at Pat Springs and the second we were at/near Lone Pine. Nights were extremely cold that weekend, with temperatures dropping to the 20s in the Salinas Valley, we guessed in the mountains it was in the teens at night. It was hard to get out of bed at sunrise; therefore having a few extra days, especially during the shortest days of the year to reach Double Cone was convenient. Double Cone can be done in one day from Pat Springs, however in the winter months I would advise getting a very early start and expect to be coming back in the dark given the amount of downed trees on the trail.

Hiking into Pat Springs from Botcher’s Gap was relatively straightforward; however there were probably 10-15 downed trees in the dead tree zone just before reaching Pat Springs. Saw a few others using Pat Springs campground and we were lucky to snag the below the springs campsite that was sheltered from howling winds that lasted through the night. There was a small downed tree over Pat Springs itself and we cleared some but not all of the branches. Trail sign is still there pointing out trail/water directions. From Pat Springs to Puerto Suelo, the trail was mostly open and beautiful. A few downed trees, but nothing major. At the Puerto Suelo junction there is a clearing of tall brush, no signage. We were told the Puerto Suelo trail was closed and indeed it looked very overgrown. We just continued walking straight over the saddle and easily found the Ventana Double Cone trail leading uphill.

The Double Cone trail had a lot of downed trees and overgrown bushes. The downed trees were more of an issue, and definitely slowed us down as we were carrying our backpacks up the trail to camp at Lone Pine. The intermittent bushes that covered the trail were a nuisance, but not that difficult to manage. With only a few exceptions, we were able to just continue straight through the bushes and find that we were still on the trail. Every 2-4 miles we would see a trail marker flags in red, orange or blue that would made us feel somewhat relieved. The cool temperatures meant that we were comfortable moving in long sleeves and pants, which likely prevented a lot of scratches and potential poison oak. We could not find the official Lone Pine camp, however we were able to find a relatively flat surface to pitch our tent and enjoy the sunset near there. More importantly, the spring was running- it is just to the east of the trail just before heading up the second hill to Ventana Double Cone. We had a great view from Double Cone on our third morning and headed back to Pat Springs for our last night. Pigeon hunters celebrating in their own way the last day of the season dotted the trail, but only within 2 miles of Botcher’s Gap.

Happy trails!

[Editor note: sounds like they camped at old Ventana Spring Camp, not near Lone Pine Camp]

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Durrvival on Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:35 am

Date Hiked: December 6, 2014
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

We hiked from Bottcher's Gap on the Skinner Ridge Trail to Pat Springs then attempted to take this trail to Double Cone. Past the spring we weren't able to locate where the trail went - seemed to stop after what appeared to be a small campsite right off the trail past the spring. We may have just not been looking in the right place, but instead opted to hike the Big Pines Trail.

Editor: there should be a metal sign at the junction where the trail leading to the spring (which you followed) turns downhill and the VDC Trail (to its left, heading to the VDC) goes through a use camp and uphill - hopefully that is still there!

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Rgularte on Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:05 am

Date Hiked: June 28, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We hiked in from Pat Springs to Puerto Suello, thank you trail crews! That route was very clear.

We "swam" through 5-8 sections of brush (watch out for clipped stuff that can trip you, and overhanging deadfalls), but the tread was all clear. On the way back from the summit, there was one section that was a little confusing above lone pine, for we sort of lost the trail, found an orange marker, tried to find the trail from that marker but gave up, backtracked a ways, and then found two very obvious flags going a different direction. We are thinking that the orange marker may have been an old (now overgrown) route to lone pine? Maybe not.

Anyway, as everyone says, there is no water. There is no obvious trail to Lone Pine, and 3l of water/person in the heat (80F?) was not enough to do the 13+ miles round-trip from Pat Springs. There is plenty of poison oak to dodge, but the good news: in the three days were were in the Ventana, we only picked up one tick!

For us in day packs it was 9 hours round trip from Pat Springs, including some short breaks. Beautiful, but next time we'll do it in the Winter.

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby orfalecchio on Mon May 26, 2014 8:59 pm

Date Hiked: April 27 - 29, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Very good condition until 100 feet before Purto Suello, then pretty overgrown and lots of deadfalls but continually clearing up towards summit

Sunday, April 27

I left the Bay Area around noon and, after a brief lunch stop in Carmel, drove up to Bottcher's Gap. Shortly before, a front with heavy rainfalls and hail had passed through. I started my hike around 4:30 PM. The air was still fresh and the last clouds just clearing out. A couple hikers came out, telling me they were forced to abort their summit attempt somewhere near Pat Springs because of the hail and low temperatures.

Since I found Apple Tree Camp a bit early and off route, even down in a valley, I decided to continue on the trail and set up camp further above, on a subpeak of Devil's Peak, on some nice flat areas with small gravel. Views to the ocean and to Double Cone were fabulous. What I was not aware of was that I was exposed to the winds. Indeed, during the night, winds caught up and got much stronger towards the morning.

Location of my campsite on subpeak of Devil's Peak

Monday, April 28

Early in the morning, I knew I had to get going quickly to get out of the storms. After leaving my tent, the storm cracked one of my tent poles and I barely managed to store everything away before it was blown away by the winds. Morning temperatures were quite chilly so I started without breakfast and hiked through until noon to have lunch which was shortly before Uncle Sam Mountain. It was sunny and the winds had pretty much settled down. Everything was fresh and green after the short rain period.

Until briefly before Purto Suello, the trail was practically free of obstacles but then got significantly worse. Long sleeves, sunglasses and leather gloves helped me to minimize effects from the bush. Though often very overgrown, the trail was almost everywhere clear on the ground so I just had to look down to identify it instead of in eyeheight. I continued until somewhere around Lone Pine Camp (didn't quite find it) and camped at a nice spot in a little deciduous forest just off trail.

View to Uncle Sam Mountain from just above Purto Suello on the VDC trail

Tuesday, April 29

Again left without breakfast and tackled the last hour early in the morning. Still plenty of bushy sections but as terrain got rockier and the summit draw closer, rapidly improved and became obstacle free. Had breakfast on the Ventana Double Cone summit that I reached about guessed 8:30 AM (cellphone batteries dead). Views were stupendous, reaching to Carmel Valley, Pico Blanco, Big Sur, Junipero Serra Peak and South Ventana Cone. Took plenty of pictures and had breakfast (in that order :D ) and, after an extensive stay on the summit, started my hike out.

View from Ventana Double Cone summit to the "Ventana", Pico Blanco and Big Sur

During the day it became hotter, the air more hazy and vegetation didn't seem so fresh any more than the day before (seems to change quickly when dry). Took another extensive break at Pat Springs that I had omitted on my way in. The cool water was extremely refreshing! Then just did the rest of the hike and arrived back at Bottcher's Gap around 6:30 PM.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby carmel valley hiker on Sat May 24, 2014 7:35 am

Date Hiked: May 16, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from Bottchers Gap to Puerto Suello on May 16, trail is in great shape, thanks to everyone who has contributed! We set up camp and began clearing up up VDC trail that afternoon and evening. Cut out about 500' of dense brush and a few blowdowns, also cleared the small camp at the top of trail to Hiding Camp and did a little trimming down to the spring. The spring is still running, but is taking a few minutes to fill between filling bottles, not sure how long it's going to last.
Next morning started working up towards Double Cone again. We left about a 500' section of dense but navigable trail and and started working on sawing out small blow downs and brush in the upper section. Trail is in good condition until you cross the saddle and head down to Lone Pine, we spent a couple hours on that side and made some progress but stopped several hundred yards before Lone Pine Camp. Trail to Lone Pine Camp looks overgrown but did not head down to really check it out. Headed out to Double Cone, trail is brushy but very navigable.
With a little more effort, the trail to VDC will be in good condition. Again thanks to everyone, especially VWA for all the effort
carmel valley hiker

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Rob on Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:02 pm

Date Hiked: April 20, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I hiked into Lone Pine Camp from Bottcher's Gap on Saturday, then did Double Cone on Sunday and returned the way I came. The section from Pat Spring to Puerto Suello seemed to be in pretty good shape after the trailwork mentioned in the previous report. Thanks to everyone who has worked on it.

The last time I hiked from Puerto Suello to Lone Pine was early May 2012 and I seem to remember the brush being worse in that section. Certainly it was no worse than some past years. Maybe someone used loppers since the previous report. Anyway, there were a couple of blowdowns necessitating crawling / low crouch within the first quarter mile past the junction. On my way back I worked on sawing some of it, but the bulk of it will require something bigger than my 6" Fiskars pruning saw.

There were an assortment of smaller and larger blowdowns on the way to the summit. The brush didn't seem all that bad to me, but then I have kind of low expectations for the VDC trail :) I ignored the "step-over" blowdowns and slight-crouch blowdowns, and spent some time working on areas where I had to climb through. It's going to take more work, for sure.
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Location: SJC

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby pantilat on Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:50 pm

Date Hiked: April 13, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The trail is in good condition all the way Puerto Suello. VWA Trail crews (some of whom I met at Pat Springs) removed the deadfalls that the prior report mentioned. A previously brushy spot just before Puerto Suello was completely brushed and the tread improved dramatically; many thanks to the trail crews. Beyond Puerto Suello has seen no trail work yet and spring growth has really filled in (deteriorating condition noticeable from my visit to VDC in January). There are also several additional blowdowns on top of the brush. The last mile to VDC's summit is in fair condition with little brush so it's really the couple miles after Puerto Suello that are slow going. I met another trail crew returning to Bottcher's Gap who had worked on the Big Pines Trail. Thanks to all the crews who are making steady progress to VDC's summit!
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