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South Fork Trail

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby SCrachelm on Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:18 pm

Date Hiked: September 27, 2013
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Lost the trail often between Strawberry and Rainbow camp. Fallen trees, hillslides, overgrown brush, hog trails...especially easy to lose the trail at side creek crossings overgrown with ferns, fallen trees, etc. I hiked at less than one mile per hour this 4-5 mile section. It was very frustrating and even freaked me out enough to think like a SAR team... Fortunately, the route parallels the creek for the most part (and often was easier to just hike in the creek), so you can't get too lost, but the trail is still in severe need of some TLC. Came across an abandoned tent and pink sleeping bag at one point when I was pretty sure I was lost. Can imagine someone set up camp, then couldn't figure out where it was on their way back from a trip to get water or something... looked as if the ground hogs had definitely had a field day with the gear (hopefully the hiker made it out okay).
Last edited by Betsy M on Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:34 pm

Date Hiked: April 12, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: From Strawberry to South Fork camp

The trail beings directly out of the Strawberry Camp and is good going initially until you begin dropping once cresting the divide and entering the South Fork river valley. The narrow valley is eroding away the old traces of trail and abundant overgrowth and deadfall makes the trail rather intolerable, esp. with abundant ticks now in the spring. After making our way to the other side of the valley and traveling a while on this difficult trail, we reasoned that travel along the creek itself was the most feasible. With low water flows we were successful in mostly walking rock to rock with occasional excursions out and around for deadfall or too narrow of sections. My trail partner Sam and I really enjoy this style of hiking, and with only daypacks, had a blast walking the gorgeous river and made it to South Fork Camp, a rather nice place despite some disturbance from Wild Boar.
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby JohnathanA on Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:21 pm

Date Hiked: January 1, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

So two friends and I put in at arroyo seco by way of the willow springs trail and connected the marble peak trail to the big sur trail to pine ridge trail and out through bug sur station. There are moments when the tread disappears. There are lots of hog tracks that can be confusing. There are lots of deadfall. Lots of brambles. Lots of ticks. Lots of near waist high river crossings. Lots of game trails. And lots of fun!! The tread was difficult to notice coming out of strawberry but only because of the amount of snow on the ground. There are ribbons marking where the trail has been diverted around some truly impassable deadfall. We lost the trail often and there were times when we were not sure if we were on game trails or on the trail. Either way we were following the river the entire way and we weren't hacking our way through chaparral so it was very enjoyable. It got hairy for us about 1/2 mile south of rainbow because of two massive landslides. Not sure how recent they are but they seem pretty fresh. Right in between them there is what appears to be the bathroom of a very large group of wild pigs. I draw this assumption by the excessive amount of feces and urine in this area. This served as a distraction and we opted to scramble across the remnants of the two slides as opposed to crossing the river and following the ribbons. We ended up having to cross anyway and lost light. After bivying that night we were able to pick up the trail again at first light which was deceptively hidden under som fresh fallen maple leaves and eagerly growing brambles. This part goes high up the valley side and crosses the waterfall. Next it drops into rain ow camp the later part of the trail is well established with minimal deadfall, although there was a part that required packs off and a crawl. Super fun!! We then joined the big sur trail and despite a hefty climb, some strategic deadfall, and slightly overgrown brush leads you to the north fork and all its madrone and redwood filled splendor. There is an abandoned rolling duffle with scattered and torn garments and what I will call a sad excuse for gear. I packed out a piece and if you go please do the same. As for to schmuck that left it I hope he made It out alive.

Overall I though this trail was great and with a little breaking of a stick here and removal of a big branch there it is navagable and quite the beautiful south fork of the mighty big sur river!!

Ps if you can't triangulate or accurately read a topo don't even think about it. Btw the printed trail maps and the nag geo tools are wrong! The topo is relative but the camps are destroyed and/or moved to different locations. If you aren't sure if your at the right place your probably not. Good luck and I love this trail. Just the way it is. They are far more interesting when they aren't superhighways and when they aren't littered with people and trash. I'll take a difficult trail like this any day!!
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby RobGularte on Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:15 am

Date Hiked: June 30, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)


I think it is time to call the trail impassable. We hiked from the Arroyo Seco side and lost the trail 4 times, the three of us having to split up and search for the trail. At one point there we passed 2 blue markers, passed a pink marker, then ran into a complete dead-end, and hikers have gone several ways, all dead ends, so we ended up trail blazing from the West side to the East side of the creek, just because the East side was easier to trail-blaze. We eventually found the trail there. It took us about 3 hours to do the first 1.5 miles from strawberry.

The "tread" takes you through some areas that are being quickly eroded because of the steepness, that area is a real mess. I don't even know what to recommend about passage, just avoid it completely. Re-route your trip.

We went from Arroyo Seco to the coast via Marble Cone tr (Ed. note- Marble Peak Trail), South Fork, Big sur, and De Angulo. Big Sur tr. was pretty bad too, lots of trees down, lots of green brush hiding the trail, but we never lost the trail.

Thank you, VWA, for what appears to be an enormous task. It looks like for every tree fallen there are 5-10 that could fall any time. There were several times I wished I had packed a chain saw (Ed. note- chainsaws are prohibited in Wilderness & of dubious value in distant backcountry locales without stock support).
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby Guest on Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:28 pm

Date Hiked: January 5, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The trail is in terrible condition from Strawberry to Rainbow Camp. I highly recommend avoiding this section unless you are down for a fight. Absolutely miserable.
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby Paul on Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:08 pm

lostsheep wrote:Date Hiked: June 22, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I was asked by a ranger to report back on our experience for this route so here we go:

We hiked through this section of trail on June 21st and 22nd going from Rainbow to Strawberry. This section of trail took everything my partner and I had to follow the trail. Whoever flagged the trail, thank you, thank you, thank you. The trail is doable but it is not for the faint of heart. I have two very large poison oak patches on each ankle and I removed several ticks (none had bitten me).

I do not recommend this section of trail unless it's between you and your destination.


I hiked this same trail July 22nd. It was really bad. Spent most time crawlining over limbs. We left a rope at one place were trail was avalanched. Poison ivy is bad. Three of the 6 of us that went got a bad poison ivy rash. Two of us saw a rattle snake on trail. Lost site of ribbons half way and got a little lost. Luckly we found them the next day and hiked out of there. Followed trail back to man van. Will not be back. They should close that part of trail down.
Paul
 

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby lostsheep on Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:12 am

Date Hiked: June 22, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I was asked by a ranger to report back on our experience for this route so here we go:

We hiked through this section of trail on June 21st and 22nd going from Rainbow to Strawberry. This section of trail took everything my partner and I had to follow the trail. Whoever flagged the trail, thank you, thank you, thank you. The trail is doable but it is not for the faint of heart. I have two very large poison oak patches on each ankle and I removed several ticks (none had bitten me).

I do not recommend this section of trail unless it's between you and your destination.
lostsheep
 

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:16 am

Hiked out to see the waterfall south of Rainbow camp reported by "fulmar2", of which he saw only the top. It took a careful approach to reach a vantage point, about 35 ft off-trail, from which the entire falls could be viewed, but it was a nice spot to eat lunch while viewing the falls, as the attached photo attests. The drop from top to pool is 53 ft, not as tall as had been guessed, but it is a pretty falls with a green mossy background near the bottom. Hopefully others will enjoy viewing this waterfall as they hike the South Fork Trail. It's exact location can be obtained from my Ventana on-line trailmap:

http://www.drjack.info/HIKES/TRAILMAP/v ... ilmap.html

Jack Glendening
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Rainbow Falls
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:01 am

Thanks much for providing your GPX file containing your South Fork Trail route. I have now extracted a smoothed-version of it and am displaying it in my on-line Ventana Trail Map

http://www.ventanahiking.net/TRAILMAP/v ... ilmap.html

where it can be compared to the trail locations as provided by the USFS and as mapped by Jeff Schaffer for his Big Sur hiking book.

I've also added the waterfall you report along the South Fork Trail, so others will be aware of it. I have a personal interest in waterfalls yet it was unknown to me, since it is not mentioned in any of the guidebooks (Schaffer, Elliot, Sierra Club), so thanks for reporting it, I will have to visit it sometime. .

Glad you had an enjoyable trip and thanks for the excellent trail report. Thanks also to Greg for the extensive trailwork he did. We need more hikers like him!

Jack
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:54 am

Date Hiked: May 28, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

The below was moved from a post originally placed in the Marble Peak trail reports

fulmar2 wrote: From Strawberry, you ascend briefly on nice trail, but very shortly after the descent towards Rainbow begins, the trail disappears. Fortunately, some people had flagged the route (quite well, I might add - see previous posts).

The previous posters claim that this section took them 4 hours to negotiate - probably because they were flagging so well. It took two guys with hiking poles in their 30s a little under 2 hours to cover. Indeed, there is almost no trail for 1.5 miles, and you are constantly climbing over deadfall washed out gullies, and penetrating thick brush - but following the flags appears to be the best route.

Shortly after start descending from the little pass out of Strawberry, you are on decent, steep switch backs. There is a landslide shortly after the switchbacks end (you will have to climb over some fallen trees before the switchbacks truly end). Once you hit the landslide, keep an eye out for the other side (South side) of the creek. You will hopefully get a glimpse of a short piece of trail across the creek shortly after you pass the landslide. We just blazed down the hill (and up the other side), and got on some decent tread that helped us move down river another few hundred feet

. After that, though, you're strictly following flags through non trail. We did a little machete work - but only the minimum amount to prevent ourselves from getting poison oak / nettle stings. As the previous poster said, at the junction of the two creeks, the trail starts to become evident again. It isn't exactly smooth sailing, but it very gradually improves as you get closer and closer to the camp.

Before you get to camp, the flags take you up (on a trail) above a stunning waterfall that is ~150 feet high. Unfortunately, we could not find a good vantage point to safely observe the fall. I will see if I can post a GPS track of our route; it seemed pretty straight forward. If you are OK with off trail hiking, this section is OK - great thanks to the flaggers! We could have made it through without the flags, but they probably saved us some time - and were good for morale!

I have posted a GPS track at this location:

http://gotoes.org/biketours/20110527_Ve ... rnesstrip/

The GPS track includes the relevant section between Strawberry and Rainbow camps (and our small error near the base of the 150 foot waterfall). For the most part, we successfully followed the flagged route. The track also includes the path we followed from Rainbow to the Pine Ridge Campground (where we experienced some surprise snow)! For the moment, the above link is to an empty directory with just the GPS track, but I plan to add the remaining GPS tracks for the rest of our journey (through other possibly lost sections of trail) as well as a writeup with pictures.
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
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