ALERT: Due to a January 26-28 storm, Highway 1 is closed from Big Creek Vista Point in the south to just north of Lime Creek Bridge in the north. Long-term, there is a significant washout of the Highway 1 at Rat Creek (just north of Big Creek Reserve and just south of Esalen Institute). Expect this closure to be in place until summer 2021. Nacimiento-Fergusson Road (which connects Highway 1 at Kirk Creek with Fort Hunter Liggett on the eastern side of the Coast Ridge) is also significantly damaged and may not be open for quite some time.  

Effective January 22, 2021 U.S. Forest Service - Los Padres National Forest has re-opened most unburned areas of the Monterey Ranger District. In and around the northern Ventana Wilderness, most lands north of and including the Marble Peak Trail are open. Wilderness camps in the backcountry can be accessed from the Arroyo Seco Recreation Area near Greenfield (off 101) or via Tassajara Road deep in the Carmel Valley. 

The Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station to Redwood Camp remains closed. 

Lands south of Willow Creek Road, including most of the Silver Peak Wilderness, are also open.

Most secondary roads (including Del Venturi/Milpitas, Nacimiento-Fergusson, Plaskett Ridge, Willow Creek/Los Burros, & South Coast Ridge roads) remain gated and closed. 

This map depicts the closure boundary. Not sure if a particular road, trail, or camp is open? Call the Monterey Ranger District at 831-385-5434. Please enjoy your public lands responsibly. When in place, abide by NO CAMPFIRE restrictions. Pack out everything you pack in (including toilet paper). Leave this special place better than you found it. Leave No Trace ethics are more important than ever with visitors concentrated in fewer places to go.  

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 Historic 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 - Salmon Creek Trail

Salmon Creek Trail

Re: Salmon Creek Trail to Spruce Camp

Postby gfelsman on Sat Dec 08, 2018 8:13 pm

Date Hiked: December 8, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

VWA/USFS Volunteer Rangers Patrolled from Highway 1 to Spruce Camp and back today after the recent storms. For the most part the trail is clear all the way to Spruce Camp. There are a couple new snags that have been cleared so you can easily walk under them. One snag is hung up in a tree and may fall soon. The water in Spruce Creek was too high to safely cross the stream on this trip.

Other Notes: The Spruce Creek Slide has held up reasonable well.

Lastly though it is quite wet at this point, it is still Fire Season until further notice. Hopefully that will be lifted soon.
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Re: Salmon Creek Trail

Postby David Hirsch on Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:25 pm

Date Hiked: October 20, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

From Hwy 1 to Estrella Camp, trail is excellent. Above Estrella, in the last mile before the SCRR, brush encroaches and tread has some slumps.
David Hirsch

Re: Salmon Creek Trail

Postby VWA Admin on Tue Jul 24, 2018 11:09 am

Date Hiked: July 20, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

(Editor's note: This Trail Report was submitted to the VWA office via email. It reports on conditions experienced during a recent loop completed using the Salmon Creek, Cruikshank, and Buckeye trails.)

Salmon Creek Trailhead to Estrella Camp -
The trail is in good condition. Lots of Poison Oak present throughout this trail. Most of the PO is avoidable, but the climb from the start to approximately the first mile of this trailhead is fairly vertical from the start so due to the fatigue factor, it is not always easily avoidable. We hit the trial fairly early (0800) so the coast was shrouded in fog which really helped us get through the initial climb and successive climbs to follow.

Estrella Camp to Lions Den -
Easy to miss where the trail continues at this point as the trail looks to head east but ends shortly after a campsite. The actual trail goes downhill after the middle campsite. The slide area about a third of a mile north of Estella Camp was fairly stable with two areas of active slide. This slide looks the same as it did 15 years ago. This is a fairly large slide but easily passable. The trail is in good condition until you hit the chaparral. At this point the trail has areas that close in with vegetation (and PO) with lots of areas where stooping, bending and working through equipment snagging on vegetation. At this point of the trail, there is little shade available and you are in mostly full sun with some minimal shade provided by the chaparral. I was also annoyed at the amount of debris that was on my neck and down my shirt due to the dried vegetation falling on me as my pack worked through it. I wore my baseball hat backwards which helped a little, but recommend a hat with a shade cloth on the back in this section as well as the upper Cruickshank. Additionally, in this area and the upper Cruickshank, I recommend wearing long pants and long sleeves. If you are very sensitive to PO, I also recommend gloves.

Lions Den to Buckeye Trail- (editor's note: presumably via the Cruikshank Trail)
This is the most challenging part of the loop (in terms of vegetation closing in) as the vegetation and trail are both challenging. In this 4 mile part of the trail there are numerous slides (all fairly small) that are very recent and still moving with little or no established trail. Some of the slide areas have trails that are not more than a foot width wide ( a hiking boot wide, not 12 inches) so footing is important as is your pack stability. A recent report states that PO is present from the ankle to overhead and that is an accurate report. It is everywhere and not avoidable. The most recent report also states that crawling is necessary along with hand-fighting and stooping. Depending on your height and the size of your backpack this may or may not be correct. I am 5'-7" and my daughter is 5'-2" so we never had to crawl but we did have to stoop, bend, hand fight and traverse sideways to maneuver the trail due to the vegetation. We experience the most equipment snags and slips on this part of the trail. I "hit the deck" when my shoe laces snagged on small cut stumps. Gaiters would have helped had I owned them!

The number and size of Madrone trees on this part of the trail (and the upper Salmon trail) is fascinating and beautiful. Additionally, in the first mile after Lions Den the old forest road is full of obsidian rock in small shards and large rock or boulders. Really fascinating.

Buckeye Trial to Salmon Creek Trailhead -
Great trail, very easy to maneuver. Some PO, especially in the climb from the Cruickshank trail to the saddle (1 to 1.5 miles). The rest of the trail is a joy. All down hill, with little PO which is easily avoidable. There is a new Oak branch fall that blocks the trial where your need to either go under or squeeze by it on the uphill side. We both squeezed by fairly easily on the uphill side. The end of the trail closest to the Buckeye trailhead is getting overgrown and there is some PO at hip to shoulder level in this area.

Other item of interest -
If folks are traveling from the south to the trailhead, watch for a small herd of Elk. We saw about 20 cows on both sides of route 1 on our trip to the trailhead and then saw 2 or 3 stags west of route 1 on our trip back home with the cows on a ridge on the east side of route 1. This was about 3 miles south of Ragged Point.

Mike Meko
VWA Admin
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Re: Salmon Creek Trail to Estrella Camp

Postby gfelsman on Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:12 pm

Date Hiked: July 14, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

To all:

Had a chance to patrol to Estrella Camp and back.The trail is clear as stated in the previous reports. The good news is the 3 foot diameter tree before Spruce Camp has been removed. Photo in previous report.

Also remember, we are now in higher fire restrcitions no campfires in the back country. Only portable Stoves with a valid Campfire Permit are allowed.

Happy Hiking.
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Re: Salmon Creek Trail

Postby gfelsman on Sat Mar 31, 2018 7:05 pm

Date Hiked: March 31, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Had a chance to explore the Salmon Creek Trail from Highway 1 to above Estrella Camp.

For the most part the trail is clear, except for a 36 inch downed tree just before Spruce Camp. The camps are clean at this time. Spruce Creek was crossable with care. Hiking poles make it much easier. Once past Spruce Camp, the Salmon Creek Slide is in fair shape and easily traversable. There are a few places where recent rains have caused minor slides along the trail

The tree snag and big rock are still in the trail shortly past Salmon Creek Slide.

Lots of flowers today.

Went a 1/4 mile past Estrella Camp, Trail was it good shape. Still a 1 mile brushy section past the camp.
Salmon Creek Tree before Spruce Camp.jpg
Large Tree before Spruce Camp.
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Re: Salmon Creek Trail

Postby gfelsman on Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:09 am

Date Hiked: February 25, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

The VWA hosted a Youth in Wilderness Outing with Cal Poly Students the weekend of 2/23/2018. 11 volunteers, four VWA Staff and a Trail Crew leader were on the Trip. They did lots of work brushing and rebuilding tread above Estrella Camp. They fixed two slide areas and removed the tree just before the Spruce Creek Junction. Trail conditions are as follows.

Highway 1 to Spruce Creek Camp Clear
Spruce Creek Camp to Estrella Camp Clear with one set of rocks still in the trail and a tree snag that will be hard to remove.
Estrella Camp to Coast Ridge Road, Passable. The Top 0.9 mikes is clear, a 1.2 mile section below that is very brushy. From there down to Estrella Camp Clear.

The trail is getting better all the time thanks to the efforts of VWA, Volunteer Rangers and Trail Crew members.
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Re: Salmon Creek Trail

Postby pmallory on Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:16 pm

Date Hiked: February 18, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The trail is in great condition from highway one until just before Spruce Creek Camp. At that point there was a very large tree across the trail. We bushwhacked uphill to get around the log. It look like other people clambered over at various points. There isn't a well worn detour yet.

The trail is in good shape between Spruce Creek Camp and Estrella Camp.

Uphill of Estrella there is a landslide, but the path across it is well worn so it's easy to follow. Uphill of that there are some very brushy sections. We made it through with lots of ducking and getting whacked by branches. It'd be helpful if someone came through with a machete.

Re: Salmon Creek Trail

Postby tuanx5 on Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:02 pm

Date Hiked: January 6, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Pretty much clear except for one deadfall between Spruce and Estrella Campgrounds. Clear skies made for a great trail and an excellent overnighter.
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Re: Salmon Creek Trail

Postby toejam on Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:21 pm

Date Hiked: December 29, 2017
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail is in great shape from Hwy 1 to Estrella Camp. Tread is narrow and trail is brushy for a couple miles above that, but not as bad as it's been - didn't make me bleed. Little over a half mile at the top near Coast Ridge Rd. has been beautifully cleared.
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Re: Salmon Creek Trail to Estrella Camp

Postby gfelsman on Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:28 pm

Date Hiked: August 28, 2017
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

My wife and I had a chance to hike from Hwy 1 to Estrella Camp and back. Despite the predicted warm weather. We lucked out as it was relatively cool with no bugs until we reached Estrella Camp. We promptly left and returned to Spruce Camp for a pleasant lunch stop.

Since our last trip on July 4th, things have improved along this stretch of trail. The downed trees have been removed, the slide shortly past Spruce Camp has been made wider and now is easy to cross thanks to the USFS.

There are two trouble spots at present both easily traversed on foot.

1. Shortly past the slide there is a snag of trees. Most of the limbs have been cut. But beware of the tree limbs above when you cross this section.

2. Just past the tree snag is a group of rocks that have fallen on the trail.

Other than that there are a few narrow spots and very little encroaching brush all the way to camp.

We encountered two groups of hikers on the trail and 9 people at the falls during our journey.

Remember, at this time no campfires are permitted in the LPNF. Only portable gas stoves with a valid Fire Permit. Please do not build any fire rings or have campfires until the ban is lifted. This is usually in early December.
Tree Snag 1.jpg
Tree Snag
Rock on Trail 1.jpg
Rocks on Trail
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