Date Hiked: March 20, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)
Up to the viewpoint the trail is "Clear", with evidence of much appreciated sawing, trail clearing, and tread re-construction work - EXCEPT for a 6 foot section where the tread has been entirely eroded away by a slide, see photo below. It's along a very steep slope making it difficult to get around - going either up or down is problematic. It must have been relatively recent, since there was scanty evidence of its having been circumvented - there was a thin line, either a track of someone sliding or additional erosion, going about 20 ft downslope from there. I opted to kick a few footholds on the upslope side and balance across, but it was definitely dicey.
There is still encroaching brush, however, producing my second-worst tick experience in the Ventana on the ascent, running a gauntlet on the lower trail section (before it turns north) and quite slowed by all the time spent searching, finding, and removing. On the return trip in the afternoon the tick problem was better, but still bad - this time I counted them, reaching 291 ticks removed. Based on that, I'd guess I removed at least 500 on the way up. I hate deerweed!
Beyond the viewpoint, to the trail's historical descent towards Vado Camp, the trail is "Difficult" per the last Trail Report. It helped to have a GPS track to follow on the times I inadvertently wandered off-trail.
I'm blending all the above into my overall rating of "Passable".
BTW, a rocky usetrail which descends along the ridge from the path (which may have been the original trail route) goes down to give a better view (IMHO) than at the "viewpoint" above, since one can look more deeply into the Big Sur canyon, get a better view of Pt Sur, and see Manuel Peak ridgeline above. I've put a panoramic photo from there into my Ventana/SilverPeak Trailmap (showing snow on the sides of VDC and Kandlbinder).
PS: latest report is that the USFS has officially "closed" the trail at the southern trailhead, pending evalutaion/reconstruction of the eroded trail section.
- Erosion (N36.2540,W121.7660)
Big Sur Ventana/SP Trailmap: bigsurtrailmap.net