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THANK YOU FOR READING THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION - updated December 7, 2020

Despite the closure of public lands, many Big Sur businesses (including private campgrounds) are open for business. Call the business you wish to visit ahead of travel for hours of operation. 

As of 12/07/2020, Highway 1 is open along the Big Sur coast. 

Most other roads in the region are closed.   

US Forest Service Managed Lands - The US Forest Service continues to maintain a closure of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas. Trails and backcountry camps are closed. Effectively, the entire Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest is closed.  Click here for the Forest Closure Order dated 10/09/2020.  This link includes a Forest Closure Map.  Call the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest for more information: 831-385-5434.  

Fines for entering closed areas can be up to $10,000.  

State Parks

The following are open for day use:  Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park - Soberanes Canyon Trail, Andrew Molera State Park, Point Sur State Hisoric Park (tours only), and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (go online or call to find out if the park's campgrounds are open) 

The following remain closed: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, John Little State Natural Reserve, Limekiln State Park 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (additional US Forest Service information for the Monterey Ranger District): Please note that the information above is oftentimes more up-to-date than the US Forest Service site. Call 831-385-5434 with questions. 

Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Cruikshank Trail

Cruikshank Trail

Re: Cruikshank Trail

Postby gfelsman on Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:52 pm

Date Hiked: March 16, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

A great day hiking the Big Sur Coast today. Darlene and I were on one of our volunteer Patrols as VWA/USFS Rangers checking out the trails, talking to people, cleaning camps and enjoying the beautiful day. The ACE Crews hired by the Ventana Wilderness Alliance did a great job on the Cruickshank Trail with the help of many volunteers. The trail is now clear from bottom to top with only a couple difficult sections.

The creek past Silver Camp is running high at this time. You may get a wet foot or two.

The Slide just past the Creek is much more easily traversed. Hiking poles really help.

Lots of flowers today.

Happy hiking!
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Re: Cruikshank Trail

Postby toejam on Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:59 pm

Date Hiked: February 23, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The trail has been worked through the sketchy slide above Silver Camp. It's much improved but there is still about a 30' section where you lean against the cliff face walking on tread a little wider than your foot with a steep, long drop on the other side (gfelsman's middle picture). The whole trail is clear besides that short stretch.

An ACE crew is working the trail again. They were doing tread work above the slide and traversing through the sketchy part twice a day. I've crossed it several times and my buddy and some backpackers we saw had no problem with it. Be careful and use trekking poles if you are concerned.
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Re: Cruikshank Trail Silver Creek Slide

Postby gfelsman on Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:09 pm

Date Hiked: January 26, 2019
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Here are some pictures of the Silver Creek Slide Area. As you can see the tread is very narrow with lots of loose gravel. Similar conditions exist after the slide as well until the rocky outcropping. Hopes this helps those that might adventure across this slide.
Attachments
Slide 1.jpg
Slide 2.jpg
slide 3.jpg
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Re: Cruikshank Trail

Postby gfelsman on Sat Jan 26, 2019 5:26 pm

Date Hiked: May 26, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Darlene and I hiked this trail today from Hwy 1 to Upper Cruickshank Camp. It was a beautiful day. We saw our first Star Lilies. The trail is clear all the way to Upper Cruickshank Camp to the Buckeye/Lion Den Junction. Water is flowing everywhere. The creek crossing just before Lower Cruickshank Camp is now covered in water. about 6 inches deep.

A great day to be on the trail.
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Re: Cruikshank Trail

Postby pantilat on Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:40 pm

Date Hiked: December 8, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This covers the section of trail from Hwy 1 to the Silver Peak Usetrail (saddle between Villa and Salmon Creek watersheds). The trail is mostly clear save for a few new small blowdowns from the storm a couple weeks ago. Water is currently flowing in all streams. From Buckeye Camp to Silver Camp the trail is covered in a lot of small debris as this is the only stretch that has not seen recent trail work and it seems very little use.

The slide area just after Silver Camp (~mile 3.3 from Hwy 1) looked essentially as it did prior to the Mud Creek slide closure and heavy storms of 2016-2017, which is to say I thought it was "passable." Perhaps some tread work has recently been completed after the "Impassable" reports below? The tread through this section has always been thin and there has always been accumulation of small rocks over the tread as the slope above and below is virtually all steep scree. The road closure simply allowed more to accumulate. This is not to say that it was a wilderness freeway before - care and attention was always needed through this section - but I didn't see a deterioration in conditions. Unfortunately the nature of the loose and steep slope will continue to make this a problem area, but I was glad to see that it was basically the same as before and no major new slide had occurred. While this may be beyond some folks comfort level I found the slide area to be passable.

After the slide area there is continuous evidence of the trail crews widening the trail corridor through the brush. This section is wonderfully clear save for a couple new blow downs from recent storms. There are several sections where the alignment of the trail will be straightened but isn't quite finished yet. Unfortunately the drought, which was most severe along the south coast, resulted in high mortality of the Santa Lucia Fir grove in upper Villa Creek. There are lots of young healthy firs along the trail so hopefully they are given a chance to flourish, but it seems the southern groves of the Santa Lucia Fir are under threat in a changing climate regime :(

Near the saddle that separates the Villa and Salmon Creek watersheds the rare Sargent's Cypress grove has filled in substantially over the past few years. Turning off on the Silver Peak usetrail there are some wonderful older cypress trees. After the cypress grove is an expansive forest of maturing Coulter Pine along the north ridge of Silver Peak. The Silver Peak usetrail is in good shape with some sections of light brush to Silver Peak. After Silver Peak moving south the usetrail becomes brushy in spots as the brush reclamation of the old fire road is almost complete. At Silver Peak usecamp there was water. The "Secret Trail" section of the Soda Wildtrail probably needs a trim soon, but still passable.

I counted 7 different conifers along the Cruikshank Trail: Gray Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Coulter Pine, Redwood, Douglas Fir, Santa Lucia Fir, Sargent's Cypress. I didn't see knobcone pine along this stretch of trail although I know of some nearby.
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Re: Cruikshank Trail t Villa Creek Camp

Postby gfelsman on Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:22 pm

Date Hiked: November 10, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Today VWA/USFS Volunteer Rangers patrolled from Highway 1 to Villa Creek Camp. For the most part the trail is clear all the way to the camp. We cleared a few overhanging snags and removed one large tree branch that fell at Upper Cruickshank Camp.

Water is flowing at all the camps.

Remember to be fire safe as Fires and Stoves are currently not allowed to be used in the backcountry.

Happy Trails
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Re: Cruikshank Trail to Silver Camp Slide, Impassable Beyond

Postby gfelsman on Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:07 pm

Date Hiked: September 17, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

VWA Rangers Patrolled the Trail from Highway 1 to the Silver Camp Slide/Creek. We can say the trail is basically clear for hikers all the way to the Creek past Silver Camp. Once past the Creek, the trail is very difficult or impassable for the next 1/4 mile to the rocky outcropping.

If you choose to traverse this section of trail, be very careful. Hiking poles can be helpful with the terrible conditions in this area. We erred on the side of caution and did not cross the Silver Camp Slide Area on this trip.

Be safe, no fires, no stoves for the remainder of the fire season.

More details are in Trevor's report below.
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Re: Landslide on the Cruikshank Trail.

Postby Trevor W on Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:16 pm

Date Hiked: August 8, 2018
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Cruickshank Trail.jpg
Silver Camp Slide area in dark red shows impassable section of trail. Click image to enlarge.

On August 7th I hiked up the Cruickshank Trail from Highway 1 to conduct a detailed pre-work survey in preparation for a series of contracted professional trail crew hitches intended to restore the Upper Cruickshank Trail this fall and next winter/spring.
Because of a dated trail survey that’s about 2.5 years old and a few trail reports from various hikers I have been aware of a landslide on the Cruickshank Trail about .25 mile east of Silver Camp. But I didn’t realize how bad it was until I had a chance to see it with my own two boots.

There is a series of slope failures in this section that I’ve been calling the Silver Camp Slide. In some areas the trail has been buried in landslide debris and it’s a mild scramble to get past.
Other areas have slipped out to the point that the trail is indistinguishable from the naturally steep slope of the hillside and fine sediments have piled up to the angle of repose. Hiking over it feels like walking on a slope covered with ball bearings—and it’s a long way down to the creek bed, where one can find the nearest boulder that could break a fall…and a femur.

I ended up leaving by backpack at a safe spot where the trail still existed and very carefully traversed the slide area while recording data with my GPS unit.
slide with backpack.JPG

The length of the Silver Camp Slide area is just under 400 yards, and most of it is cliffed out on the uphill side and so steep on the downhill side that a slip/fall could result in tumbling all the way to the creek bed. For obvious reasons I decided not to measure that distance, but I estimate it to be between 70-100 feet down. There is no way to go around the slide on the uphill or downhill side. I highly recommend avoiding this area until we have a chance to realign and widen the trail. If you feel you must cross the slide, do so with extreme care and caution.
Silver Camp Slide.JPG


Yucca and slide.JPG

Please note that the rest of the Cruikshank Trail is passable. The section east of the junction with the Buckeye Trail needs a lot of work though. The good news is that this fall I will be working out there with a contracted trail crew from the American Conservation Experience, and we will do as much as we can without risking our own safety and wellbeing to restore the Cruickshank Trail between the junction with the Buckeye Trail and the South Coast Ridge Road.
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Re: Cruikshank Trail Hazard Tree Gone

Postby gfelsman on Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:05 pm

Date Hiked: August 12, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Just a quick update:
VWA Volunteer Rangers cleared the Hazard Tree at Upper Criuckshank Camp.
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Re: Cruikshank Trail to Villa Creek Camp

Postby gfelsman on Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:40 pm

Date Hiked: August 2, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

We had a chance to patrol this section of trail and I am happy to report it is clear for the most part. The first mile is a Wilderness Freeway and the remaining sections could be considered clear with encroaching brush.


Water is flowing at Lower, Upper Cruickshank Camp and Villa Creek Camp in the usual places. If it is warm the bugs will come out.

The Hazard Tree at Upper Cruickshank is on the verge of coming down. It has dropped about a foot since our last visit.

One of our biggest issues on this trail is the White Flower Garden known as TP that seems to crop up at the camps as they are quite small. We ask that people pack their TP out, or at least bury it properly. Carrying a gallon Ziploc Bag make the job much easier. Stashing your TP in the fire pit is not an option this time of year as no campfires are allowed in the backcountry.

There is nothing worse than coming into camp finding it litered with TP as some recent backpackers mentioned on this day. We all need to do our part keeping thr backcountry in good condition. Happy Trekking where ever your travels take you.
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