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Expand view Topic review: Pine Ridge Trail

Re: Pine Ridge Trail From China Camp to Black Cone Trail Jct

Post by Betsy M on Thu May 12, 2022 10:57 pm

Date Hiked: May 10, 2022
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

The Forest Service funded an ACE trail crew to perform work on the Pine Ridge Trail. After 3 years and numerous trips - starting from Terrace Creek Camp working up to Pine Ridge Camp, and this spring from Divide Camp towards Pine Ridge Camp - the trail is clear. VWA volunteers have worked the sections from the State Park boundary to Terrace Creek Camp, and from China Camp to Divide Camp. Remaining: about 1,000 feet of moderately brushy section before you reach the Black Cone Trail junction, and a half mile beyond the Black Cone Trail junction to Pine Ridge Camp.

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Wilderness Freeway
Thank you to the many VWA volunteers for your help with this 3.6-mile section. Plus the Gabilan Conservation Camp for the first .6 miles out of China Camp.

Section: Church Creek Divide to Divide Camp - Wilderness Freeway
Again, VWA volunteers brushed and treaded this section. Plus ACE corpsmembers improved the tread.
Note: there is water in the tiny creek just before you reach Divide Camp. There is water on the trail above Divide Camp where it crosses a patch of Woodwardia ferns. But no water at Divide Camp itself. There is also good water a half mile beyond Divide Camp and at the next small creek after that.

Section: Divide Camp to the Bear Basin Connector - Wilderness Freeway
VWA volunteers cleared 74 trees from the trail between Church Creek Divide and Pine Ridge Camp. At the time of this report the trail remains clear of fallen trees.

Section: Bear Basin Connector to the Black Cone Trail junction - Wilderness Freeway
Except for about 1,000 feet where the brush is moderate.

Section: Black Cone Trail junction to the Pine Ridge Camp Trail - Clear
Pine Ridge Camp has been brushed out and there are numerous bedsites. Not too much of a view, however. There is still a wall of brush blocking most of the view.

Section: Pine Ridge Camp Trail to Redwood Camp - Wilderness Freeway (hiked in January, 2022)

Re: Pine Ridge Trail from China Camp to the Church Creek Div

Post by KatherineF on Thu May 12, 2022 4:33 pm

Date Hiked: April 18, 2022
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

We hiked the Pine Ridge Trail to the Church Creek divide and continued on the Carmel River Trail to Pine Valley. The entirety of that section of the Pine Ridge Trail from China Camp to the Divide is a wilderness Freeway. The VWA volunteers have done an amazing job making this trail a joy to hike. There is no encroaching brush or deadfall obstructing this trail whatsoever. Thank you Volunteers!

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

Post by VWA_Ranger on Sun Apr 24, 2022 11:09 am

Date Hiked: April 15, 2022
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

*** VWA/USFS Volunteer Ranger/Trail Crew Report ***

Description:

Over the past couple weeks two groups of VWA/USFS Volunteer Rangers patrolled the Pine Ridge Trail. One group started at China Camp, then hiked to the Big Sur Station. The other group started at the Big Sur Station, then ended up at China Camp. The two groups camped at Terrace Creek Camp, Barlow Flat Camp, Redwood Camp, Pine Valley and Pine Ridge Camp. The 23 miles of the Pine Ridge Trail can be considered, on average, CLEAR with several long sections of WILDERNESS FREEWAY; sections between China Camp and Divide Camp and west of Sykes, where the vegetation is predominantly tender spring growth, are wonderfully clear. The section between Divide Camp and the Black Cone junction is passable with sloping and uneven tread and the occasional brush with ceanothus and other pokey vegetation.

The Pine Ridge Trail is under active restoration by VWA/USFS trail crew and will be so for the next month. If you're out there and are lucky to catch up with them, say howdy.

Trail Conditions are as follows:

Pine Ridge Camp to Redwood Camp
The hike down to Redwood Camp is both spectacular and punishing with a ~2500ft drop within three miles. It was a sunny day with clear skies and mild temps made for a memorable hike. The trail was a mix of spring colors of California Poppies, Bush Poppies, and Indian Paintbrush. There is one tree across the trail just before you reach Redwood Creek.

Redwood Camp to Sykes
This three-mile section to the Big Sur River is a remarkably fast walk. With Redwood Creek and the North Fork and South Fork of the Big Sur River converging, the sound of cascading water is all around. There are three spots of encroaching brush about a mile east of Sykes Camp.

Sykes to Big Sur Station
With the exception of a down tree just east of Barlow Flat, the trail is clear and easy to hike. The spring vegetation is green and flowers are blooming. This section had abundant red columbine, lupine, purple ceanothus, pacific pea, wild strawberry (maybe). Poison oak is also in this section and it is mostly avoidable for now.
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Attachments
lower PRT log removal_before.jpg
Tree down along lower Pine Ridge Trail.
lower PRT log removal_after.jpg
Tree has been removed by VWA Ranger.
E of Barlow (36.246465, -121.695329).jpg
Tree down just above Barlow Flat.
down tree above Redwood.jpg
Tree down just above Redwood Creek.
massive down tree (old) on BBC.jpg
Bear Basin Trail Tree Down. Just Past Bear Basin Connector Trail

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

Post by runcyclegirl on Thu Apr 07, 2022 1:10 am

Date Hiked: April 2, 2022
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I hiked from China Camp to Big Sur Station with overnights at Pine Ridge Camp, Redwood Camp, and Barlow Flat Camp from April 2-5. The ~23 miles of the Pine Ridge Trail can be considered, on average, CLEAR with several long sections of WILDERNESS FREEWAY; sections between China Camp and Divide Camp and west of Sykes, where the vegetation is predominantly tender spring growth, are wonderfully clear. The section between Divide Camp and the Black Cone junction is passable with sloping and uneven tread and the occasional brush up with ceanothus and other pokey vegetation.

The Pine Ridge Trail is under active restoration by VWA/FS trail crew and will be so for the next month. If you're out there and are lucky to catch up with them, say howdy :-)

Pine Ridge Camp to Redwood Camp
The hike down to Redwood Camp is both spectacular and punishing with a ~2500ft drop within three miles. It was a sunny day with clear skies and mild temps made for a memorable hike. The trail was a mix of spring colors of California Poppies, Bush Poppies, and Indian Paintbrush.

Redwood Camp to Sykes
This three mile section to the Big Sur River is a remarkably fast walk. With Redwood Creek and the North Fork and South Fork of the Big Sur River converging, the sound of cascading water is all around.

Sykes to Big Sur Station
With the exception of a down tree which was an easy stepover, the trail is clear and easy to hike. The spring vegetation is green and flowers are blooming. This section had abundant red columbine, lupine, purple ceanothus, pacific pea, wild strawberry (maybe). Poison oak is also in this section and it is mostly avoidable for now.

IMG_1048.JPG
View of Church Creek

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View of western slope of Bear Basin with Ventana Cone (near) and Double Cone (far) in center view.

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On the ridge on our way to Pine Ridge Camp.

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Spring flowing at Pine Ridge Camp

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Sweeping views toward Redwood Camp with the ocean under a marine layer.

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Happy poppies

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View into Big Sur River watershed with Redwood Camp and Pine Ridge Trail far, far below.

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First view of the ridge between Pine Ridge Trail and Big Sur Trail.

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A mile or so to go before Sykes. Red enjoys the view.

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Looking back toward Redwood Camp and the hill we came down the day before.

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The west and east converge at Big Sur River.

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Barlow.

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

Post by Jim Ringland on Sun Apr 03, 2022 11:00 am

Date Hiked: March 31, 2022
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Section: Big Sur Trail Junction to Terrace Creek Camp

Really great shape all the way, so there’s not much to write. Just a few sections of narrow trail and tight turns on the way down to Redwood. I was surprised to see one hillside section above Sykes still showing some fire-following flowers now, six years after the Soberanes Fire. I saw fire poppy (Papaver californicum)! The river crossing at Sykes was about mid-calf deep. The two crossings near Barlow varied. The eastern one was easy: shallower than at Sykes and mostly over a bar of pebbles. The western crossing was perhaps a tad harder than at Sykes with some larger rocks to maneuver and a hole or two where I almost went down to the top of my calf (but not to the knee). Of the three crossing I did today, my guess is that this will be the first to get dicey in high water. I didn’t look up- or down-stream for a better crossing.

The familiar camps – Redwood, Sykes, Barlow Flat, and Terrace Creek -- don’t need more discussion, but there one new camp that does. On the new Barlow Cut-off, on the north side of the river, there’s a very large camp that I suspect was where the backcountry trail crew stayed. It’s fairly close to the west crossing. It’s got a grate with some huge logs around it. There’s lots of flat space for many tents. It has a toilet. This camp really needs to get on the maps.

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

Post by brahm on Sun Mar 20, 2022 4:36 pm

Date Hiked: March 7, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The section of the Pine Ridge Trail between the Black Cone Trail Junction and the Bear Basin Connector Trail Junction was covered in 2-3" inches of snow for at least 1/2 a mile from the Black Cone Trail junction on March 7, 2022. This is likely because the trail is in the shadow most of the day on the north side of the slopes. The trail was passable, though rather sketchy, as it was narrow in parts and the snow was fairly loose and slippery, with no bushes on the downward slope for a good stretch to break a slip and fall.
Attachments
IMG_3990.jpg
Snow on the Pine Ridge Trail between Black Cone and Bear Basin Connector junctions - March 7, 2022

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

Post by iainmacdonald on Mon Feb 14, 2022 1:30 pm

Date Hiked: February 12, 2022
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

I hiked the entire Pine Ridge Trail from China Camp to Big Sur on Saturday, February 12 and am happy to report on the trail conditions. Of course these are just my opinions. While I haven't hiked in the Ventana and Silver Peak Wildernesses as much as some people on this forum, I have spent about 10-20 days and hiked maybe 200-ish miles on the trails in both of these beautiful wilderness areas. Hopefully that provides some context for this report.

From China Camp to Church Creek Divide the trail is clear and easy to follow. I would rate it as a wilderness freeway even though it is not "heavily used." It is in very good shape and it appears someone has been in recently and trimmed the brush back for a couple of feet in both directions away from the trail tread. There was only one section of maybe 100' just before Church Creek Divide where brush was encroaching on the trail, but it was only a few bushes and quite easy to avoid.

From Church Creek Divide to Divide Camp the trail condition was a little bit worse, I would rate it as Passable. There was some overgrowth but nothing difficult. I don't think there were any blow-downs in this stretch but I can't remember exactly where the first one was.

From Divide Camp to the junction with Black Cone Trail the trail is a bit more difficult. It is not hard to follow the tread, but there are several trees down across the trail (maybe 10-20 total), some of them quite large and requiring effort to climb under or crawl beneath. Additionally, there is brush growing over the trail in many places, occasionally requiring some ducking and there are one or two spots were we had to push through brush. I would rate it as passable because the tread was obvious the whole way and there were only a couple of places that required pushing through brush, but it was on the more difficult side of the passable rating, so maybe it's a bit of a toss-up. I found this section of the Pine Ridge Trail easier than either the Black Cone Trail (which I hiked 3 years ago) or the southernmost section of the South Fork Trail (which I hiked 2 years ago), both of which currently have the same "Difficult" rating as this section of the Pine Ridge Trail, hence my recommendation to downgrade this stretch to Passable. As additional evidence, we only slowed from ~23 minutes/mile to ~25 minutes/mile through this section which suggests it was a little bit more difficult but on the whole not that bad.

From the junction with the Black Cone Trail to Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground, the trail is in excellent condition. I would rate it as a wilderness freeway, though the area east of Sykes receives much less traffic.

Sykes was a bit of a zoo on this beautiful, warm, winter Saturday. There were a dozen or so parties at the camp and making their way back and forth to the hot springs. Don't expect much solitude on the western half of this trail. The beautiful, rugged eastern half has plenty of opportunities for that, though. On the whole, this makes an awesome full-day outing across the Ventana Wilderness if you can manage the car shuttle.

In case it's helpful there is a GPS recording of my hike on Strava, here: https://www.strava.com/activities/6680193754

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

Post by driggsy on Sun Feb 06, 2022 9:19 pm

Date Hiked: February 5, 2022
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Very well maintained, took it all the way to the Big Sur Trail Intersection. I would say more, but there's not much else to add except that the river crossings are easy but require ankle-knee deep wading right now. Absolutely gorgeous trail, every second of it.

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

Post by JeffBobMarin on Thu Jan 13, 2022 1:29 pm

Date Hiked: January 12, 2022
General Conditions:

Big Sur Station to Pine Ridge Camp: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Pine Ridge Camp to Black Cone Trail Junction: Passable (Some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Black Cone Trail Junction to Divide Camp: Difficult (Brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Divide Camp to Church Creek Divide and Carmel River Trail Junction: Passable (Some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I did three days from Big Sur Station to Pine Valley Camp and Divide Camp - in and out on the Pine Ridge Trail. From Big Sur Station to Pine Ridge Camp the trail is very well maintained - Wilderness Freeway. On the way in, I took the Barlow Flat Camp detour (two water crossings). I spoke with a person on the trail who said they took the Barlow bypass, so on the way out on 12Jan22, I tried the bypass. It was a little steep but very passable, even with my pack. The river crossing at Sykes Camp was about knee deep when carefully selecting a path.

The condition of Pine Ridge Trail after Pine Ridge Camp is significantly worse to the peak. I would rate it as passable. Coming down from the peak to the Bear Basin Connector the trail is quite difficult - lots of overgrown brush and dead falls. Also, a fair amount of snow on the trail. I was glad I had my trekking poles. The Bear Basin Connector and the Bear Basin Trail to Pine Valley were also difficult.

Coming out, Pine Ridge Trail from Church Creek Trail to Divide Camp is Passable, but beyond to the peak is Difficult - very slow going.

[Ed.: Hikers may check flow rates in the Big Sur River at the USGS website. Any flow greater than 200 cubic feet per second will be difficult to navigate the crossings at Barlow Flat and Sykes Camp. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ca/nwis/uv?site_no=11143000

Re: Pine Ridge Trail

Post by Betsy M on Wed Dec 01, 2021 11:18 pm

Date Hiked: November 23, 2021
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Section covered: Pine Ridge Camp Trail junction to Terrace Creek Camp.

The Forest Service sponsored a professional trail crew working on the Pine Ridge Trail above Redwood Camp, and volunteer trail crew members supplemented this effort.

The trail between Terrace Creek Camp and the junction with the Pine Ridge Camp Trail is a wilderness freeway. Work has proceeded from Terrace Creek Camp 2 years ago, to Barlow and Sykes, then to Redwood Camp. This October and November the crew continued above Redwood Camp, and finished work at the junction with the Pine Ridge Camp Trail.

The crews restored slumping tread that has made the section between the Big Sur Trail junction and Pine Ridge a miserable hike for about the last 30 years. This section is a pleasure to hike - and with the clear trail, you can enjoy the wonderful views all the way to the ocean. The crew ran out of time and was not able to finish grubbing out manzanita, chamise, and scrub oak in the last half mile. However, the entire trail up to Pine Ridge has been cleared of brush, and there is a wide trail corridor for hikers.

Pine Ridge Camp had water at the spring - barely. The camp was quite overgrown and doesn't have much of a view even though it is at the top of the ridge. A camper reported a mouse living under the abandoned metal job box that rests next to the fire ring in the center of the camp. If you camp here, be sure to secure your food.

Note to hikers: if you carry a hand saw and loppers, you can really help keep the trails open. But please take the time to consider the effects of your work. Trail crews devote vast efforts to carefully pruning back the trees so they will not grow into the trail. All of this can be ruined in a moment by someone sawing off the main trunks of these trees. It was difficult to decide what to do with the numerous healthy oak trees that someone had sawed off 3 feet above the ground - apparently in the past year. This kind of thoughtless brushing results in the trees growing sideways, into the trail, rather than upwards where they would shade the trail. If you cut the oak trees all the way to the ground, they will re-sprout in all directions. If you leave a main trunk, and prune the side branches, that main trunk will eventually shade the trail and will stop re-sprouting. Please help us keep the trails passable by leaving these main trunks.

Morning fog in the South Fork drainage - it was pouring over the Coast Ridge down by Marble Peak, but there wasn't any fog farther north
Fog in the south fork drainage.jpg
Volunteers assisting the professional crew
VWA volunteers with ACE crew.jpg
Flyin Brian with manzanita - before
Brian with manzanita before.jpg
Flyin Brian taking a break before finishing grubbing out a manzanita root
Brian manzanita break.jpg
Professional crew lead bumping up to the next section
ACE crew lead bumping up.jpg
Professional crew brushing
ACE crew brushing.jpg
Professional crew before the start of work - heading up to Pine Ridge
ACE crew before start of work.jpg
Professional crew at work
ACE crew at work.jpg

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