Manuel Peak Trail

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Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by abuchwa » Sat Sep 17, 2022 1:29 pm

Date Hiked: September 17, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We had a nice hike with very good trail conditions up to the 2.5 mile distance as noted in April. As we turned the corner to the north, the brush closed in and there was gradually increasing poison oak. The trail itself was eroded in places on the downslope that we had not previously noted. We are both poison oak allergic and had to turn back around mile 3. AB

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by Hydro-Logic » Wed Apr 13, 2022 10:08 pm

Date Hiked: April 12, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

From the park to about 2.5 miles up it's virtually a wilderness freeway. As you make the bend around the ridge and start heading north the trail gets much brushier. The last mile or so is even more brushy with a few "tunnel" sections and increasing poison oak that is unavoidable. Some small deadfalls that are easy to climb over. Some slumping tread but nothing major. The entirety of the trail is easy to follow with no major risk of getting lost. I plan to do some work up there in the coming months as it should be relatively easy to improve the passibility of the trail and make it a pleasant day trip.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by jack_glendening » Sun Mar 27, 2022 11:31 am

Date Hiked: June 23, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to far end of Mt Manuel ridgeline (on way to Post Summit). "Wilderness Freeway" along SP maintained section to wilderness boundary - trail then turns north and is "Clear" to where it turns east. Beyond is, strictly speaking, "Passable" to first view of VDC - but thin and slumped tread makes it difficult and unpleasant - I hate that section, it takes a lot out of me. Trail then turns corner to give inland views and contours along a lessened sideslope so becomes much more hikeable and enjoyable. From there to end of ridgeline is mostly "Clear", though a bit rough.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by jdoelman » Mon Nov 08, 2021 7:32 pm

Date Hiked: November 7, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Returned to Lautz to find my Ridgecrest sleeping pad on the way from Pico Boy scout camp to Launtz camp. I did find it. The trail is rugged, lots of poor tread and trees over the trail but I don't recall crawling under any trees or brush so that is a huge plus.
On this trip I did a dayhike to Vado camp, the trail seems to have been rerouted using flagging as the old trail is not to be found. Again, no crawling was required if I remember correctly. Don't stray too far from the last flagging or you will become lost.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by jdoelman » Sun Oct 03, 2021 7:26 am

Date Hiked: October 1, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I followed the Historic Manuel trail from the Little Sur trail to Launtz creek camp. The Manuel trail starts at a large roll of chicken wire along the Little Sur Trail, from there the route/trail meanders south along the ridge. A nice campsite is found a few hundred feet south of the Little Sur trail, this campsite is nice but it requires that you get water near the "byles cabin"(maybe no water in late summer/fall) which is a short walk away.
The trail/route does not require crawling at any point but does require exceptional trail following skill, flagging is always nearby if you are on the trail. When nearing Launtz, the trail is lost at a point 1/4 mile NNW of launtz, at this point the route goes steeply down and direct to Launtz camp. The last 1/4 mile is along a treed slope with few obstacles (I followed the route from, this is a big shortcut , and in my mind an improvement to what is shown in Shaeffer's guidebook. The "Launtz Creek Camp" sign has survived the fire. I believe the best camp site is accross the creek from the signed site, at the homestead site.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by LondonHiker » Fri Jul 30, 2021 9:40 am

Date Hiked: July 29, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Very similar conditions to the trail report immediately below - the first few miles are really well maintained, with grasses and other foliage cut back. Once you turn the corner away from Highway 1 and head in toward some of the redwood groves, there are some passable landslips and rather a lot of brush. There is also quite a lot of poison oak.

I made it to around 900m in altitude before the poison oak got too thick to pass through sensibly - you’d need long trousers or poison oak immunity to go further in my view. Beautiful views though throughout - certainly worth it especially if you take poison oak precautions!

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by driggsy » Sun May 16, 2021 2:17 pm

Date Hiked: May 14, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Started in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, headed to Manuel Peak. The first 2.5 was in great condition, some really tall grass was a little annoying but not at all a problem. After the first major gulch/canyon with the redwoods just before mile three, there is a long section of trail that is either run out or overgrown with sage, or both. It is definitely passable, but it's also definitely annoying.Then you get out of the sage section and start going in and out of short wooded sections. Between the wooded sections was mostly clear, in the wooded sections there was sometimes poison oak (among other plants) crossing the trail. Then you get up onto the ridge for the final push to the summit, and it is dense chaparral. I was trying to run this trail, and while some of the more sage and PO covered trail before forced me to hike some, I could not run a single step up to the false summit. From the false summit to the true summit was half very dense chaparral and half semi-open ridgeline. The trail can sometimes be hard to follow up here between the summits.

Long story short: first 2.5 miles is easily passable with tall grasses
next 0.75 ish lots of sage
next 0.75 ish in and out of PO
last 0.5-1 (depending where you turn) dense chaparral, sometimes lose the trail for a few meters

That being said, it was an absolutely SPECTACULAR trail. So beautiful. Views of Big Sur Slot Canyon, redwoods, Ventana Double Cone, and if you go to the high point past Manuel Peak then you also get Pico Blanco! And a lot of other spectacular views. Super worth it. Just accept the overgrowth or fix the trail.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by jdoelman » Fri Apr 02, 2021 3:59 pm

Date Hiked: March 30, 2021
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

I loaded the Manuel trail KML from into my Iphone GPS and set out to follow the trail from the Little Sur Trail intersection to Launtz camp. I was partially sucessful, the blue line in the image shows my route and the red-line shows the route loaded from As you can see I did not make it to Launtz. With some care it would be possible to follow the flagging which I put up to the endpoint of my route then punch through down to Launtz camp. When I did the hike I ran out of water so I decided not to push through to Launtz. The route has lots of poor tread and many fallen trees obstructing the desired path.
Note: On my hike out I spoke with a guy, he may have been the Pico Boy Scout camp caretaker, who advised that I was not allowed to hike through the boy scout camp. If you meet this guy you may need to be firm in your assertion that you are within your rights. I offered to show the guy my Shaeffer guide book.
Date Hiked: March 30, 2021
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by Todd Perkins » Fri Feb 12, 2021 9:43 am

Date Hiked: February 10, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Generally good condition after the heavy January storm. Brush encroaching into trail especially after mile 4, superficially trimmed (very helpful) through Cabezo Prieta, several 2-6 foot segments of partially washed over sloped or rocky segments easily traversed, two large tree trumps at mile 4.5 easily stepped over.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by VWA_Ranger » Tue Feb 02, 2021 9:43 am

Date Hiked: January 18, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

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

Forest/Trail Status: PARTIALLY OPEN, Los Padres Monterey Ranger District is partially open per Forest Order 05-07-51-21-02
Current Fire Restrictions: Campfires and Stoves are permitted in the backcountry with a valid Campfire/Stove Permit.


The Monterey Ranger District Forest has partially reopened, VWA/USFS Volunteer Rangers have been preparing for its reopening and are continuing their regular patrols. Today volunteer Rangers and Trainees patrolled from Big Sur State Park to the summit of the Mount Manual Trail. They did spot tread work and brushing.

Trail conditions are as follows:

State Park to Wilderness Boundary. - Clear with no obstacles

Wilderness Boundary for the next mile. - Passable with encroaching brush.

From hear to the Summit. - Passable, There were two instances of washed out tread beyond their repair capabilities (about 3.5 and 4 miles up the trail). These areas are passable but are getting sketchy. The last 0.75 miles of the trail to the summit were not brushed or scouted. with encroaching brush.

DISCLAIMER: This report is for informational purposes only. Trail conditions may change at any time. The Ventana Wilderness Alliance assumes no liability for the use of this information.
The Los Padres National Forest Website can be found here:
To learn more about the Volunteer VWA/USFS Ranger and Trail Crew Programs visit