Manuel Peak Trail

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Here give the SPECIFIC CONDITIONS ENCOUNTERED such as tread washouts, encroaching brush, downed trees, slides, or other difficulties following the trail.  Water reports or dangerous conditions particularly requested !

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Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by hydrologic » Thu Apr 18, 2024 1:07 am

Date Hiked: April 9, 2024
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

hiked Manuel across ridge to Post and down to Molera. Trail through state park for first 2 miles was clear with some tall grass encroaching trail. Next mile had been recently cleared and tread restored and was in great shape. Last mile or so through forested area was a bit brushy and tunnel-like but no major obstacles. Once on saddle and heading up to summit you can see the clear cut and many slash piles that had been left. Ridge is devastated. The crew left thousands of 6" stumps which can be a trip hazard. Ridge across to Post continues the destruction and hundreds of piles of dead and dry brush and old-growth chaparral they had cut. A very sad sight. Hardly any wildflowers as they had been cut down. Luckily they stopped at post and the hike down to HW1 was green and beautiful with some wildflowers starting to bloom.

Post Summit/Cabezo Prieto/Mount Manuel

by KChris » Mon Jan 08, 2024 8:47 am

Date Hiked: January 7, 2024
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Beautiful day for a north to south traverse of this ridge. The use trails across Post Summit, Cabezo Prieto and over Mount Manuel were generally clear and easy to follow. Thanks for the crews who did a great job of clearing that ridge! Last mile up to Post Summit was some waist to head high brush but tread was in good shape and easily pushed through. The worst of the trail was on the initial descent from Mount Manuel as we followed the fire cut and had to bushwhack off the ridge to regain the official trail. The next mile was occasionally brushy with some tread slippage but easily navigated. The final 3 miles back to Pfeiffer was in great shape.

Overall I would rate this as clear, but marked it as passable for the occasional brush and some basic navigation issues. When in doubt stay high and follow the ridge, either way its an adventure with incredible views into the heart of the wilderness from The Cabezo Prieto summit.
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Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by BP22 » Wed Aug 09, 2023 9:35 am

Date Hiked: August 8, 2023
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Day hike from Hoist to Launtz Creek Camp. From the scout camp up to the the saddle/divide, this route is a total mess. The so called "cardiac hill" section is littered with deadfall, and becomes a maze of dried thistle (sharp, sticky). I just could not find any trail to follow, even though I saw occasional flagging. This section's trail appears to be close to "lost." I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without Big Sur Trail Maps GPX, but even knowing I was near the trail didn't help. It's simply overgrown. I eventually just bush-whacked straight up the ridge until I reached the '2000 foot saddle, where I was able to find the very faint "trail."

On Launtz Ridge, I was able to follow in the footsteps of Jdoelman, and some helpful flags. Gorgeous area, but the trail was rough. Lots of poison oak, sloping, loose tread, etc. etc. There appears to be some major fire break being built on Launtz Ridge. Lots of recent work. Kind of peculiar, actually. The closer I got to Launtz Creek camp, the more difficult the trail was, and I lost the trail on several occasions. Trail disappears right before dropping down into Launtz creek valley, and from there I just thrashed straight down into the creek. The camp is in rough shape, but still has a grill and a fire ring. Creek is flowing well.

I would say that BSTM GPX, GPS, and route finding skills, as well as a good understanding of the area are required to attempt this hike.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by evanswa0606 » Tue Jul 18, 2023 1:20 pm

Date Hiked: July 17, 2023
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

On the way back I ran into a USFS fire crew that had been assigned to work on the Manuel trail due to a lack of fires at the moment. About a 15 man crew working with saws at the front and tread tools at the rear, I talked to them and they said that they were clearing the trail up to Manuel Peak and would be done in 3-4 days. Judging by the work they had already started, the trail will be in wilderness freeway condition to the peak, whereas previously it was in "difficult" condition with much brush and a couple of tricky washouts. Luckily, the most overgrown/difficult section was from the redwood drainage(where I had run into them) to the peak.

[ED: the fire crew was called away after work on July 18th and was not able to finish the trail to the peak.]

From the peak to open canopied grass slopes as described by the previous poster, the trail is in passable condition. Chaparral rarely exceeds waist height and the tread is recognizable for all of it. There is some tricky overgrown parts where 7ft coyote brush(?) creeps into the trail but never obscures the tread. Just some tedious stretches of swatting branches, my arms and white shirt gained a nice green tint after. Long pants recommended but long sleeves not necessary if you aren't bothered by some brush. PO not present on the ridge, and the PO that did exist is on the stretch being cleared by the trail crew. There is no water from grasslands to the southern trailhead so a good amount of water is needed, especially if ascending from the southern trailhead. Not sure if any of the drainages around the Tin House intersection are still active as I turned back at the steep grass slopes. There is little to no recognizable tread at the steep grass slopes other than a USFS sign. However, judging by previous poster's report, the tread reappears after the grasslands until the switchbacks above Vado. Overall, wilderness freeway part of the way to the summit, difficult beyond, passable/clear to grasslands, unknown condition to Vado but will probably be back in a few days to try and make it to Vado and look at the trail crew's work.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by jdoelman » Mon Jun 19, 2023 2:24 pm

Date Hiked: June 12, 2023
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

We followed the full Manuel trail from its intersection with the Little Sur Trail to Pfeiffer park. We used GPS initially at the northern end, then three times along the Launtz-Vado section, the first time getting out of Launtz to gain the trail 80ft above Lautz cabin site, the second time along the midway area and the third time to gain the correct altitude to access the trail where it meets the Little Sur river. When nearing the Little Sur river from the north going too low is cliffy as is going too high. The Launtz-Vado section seems to require GPS.
South of Vado I guided us above the initial switchbacks to regain the "trail" near a known cairn, this area is not navigable without prior knowledge (or GPS). Once on the "trail" it was remarkably followable, we stayed on track as far as the "3 miles to Vado" signage which is located at the former Tin House trail intersection. South of that is open canopied grass/steep slopes to the Manuel trail/firebreak.
Overall I was expecting more flagging along the route and thus would have to say the route was worse than expected.
-The sign marking the Little-Sur-Trail/Manuel-trail intersection is burned/gone but the roll of chicken wire at that spot is still there.
-The "Launtz Camp" sign is missing.
-The "vado camp" sign is still there
-The sign advertising 3 miles to Vado is still at the former Tin-House/Manuel trail intersection

The section from the summit to Pfeiffer is passable

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

by spowell » Sun Jun 18, 2023 6:41 pm

Date Hiked: June 18, 2023
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked to Mt. Manuel from Pfieffer Big Sur SP. Nothing significantly new since the 2022 reports. Still smooth sailing up to around 2.3 miles, where you turn sharply left behind the ridge. Brushy from there to the top except for the shaded areas. The trickiest part is not seeing some of the partial tread washouts because they are obscured by brush. Still, it's nothing particularly difficult. There seemed to be many more partial washouts than when I last hiked this trail in 2020. Plenty of PO, but not overwhelming. Still enough to recommend long pants and long sleeves. There are a 3-4 blowdowns on the brushy section of trail, which are easily climbed over for the agile hiker. A couple may pose a challenge to hikers who can't climb as easily. The first, which is shortly after where the trail becomes brushy, has a short, steep bypass on loose dirt.

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.

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