Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

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Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by Shazam »

Likely you will have the place to yourself. A... Fire reported by Kate !!
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Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by mikesplain »

During the Basin Complex fires (2008), overzealous suppression efforts led to heli-torching of the magnificent old growth ponderosa pine forest on the slopes around Big Pines. The resulting crown fire killed hundreds (if not thousands) of trees & completely re-shaped the place. By all accounts, Big Pines Camp is basically gone & unusable; hazard trees are plentiful, so be careful where you camp in that area.
colonial Adams

Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by colonial Adams »

That is a good point related to Little Sur camp, or pico blanco public camp along the little sur trail. These are crowded camps.
In the north ventana, try Pine Creek Camp, Lone Pine Camp, Comings Camp or one of the camps on Turner Creek for less crowds. Big Pines camp is viable option, there should be water there though it could be a treasure hunt finding the camp.

Rattlesnake, and Danish camps are likely candidates for a lonely night if you don't mind going inland into a bit more heat.

I have not camped at all of these and have not visited them in many years but that won't stop me from posting info. As the other guy said, you are well advised to view other posts. You are unlikely to find trail beta on these because they are seldom seen... when was the last time someone posted info on "pine creek camp" ?
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Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by jerb »

Great stuff, Jim and C. Adams! Sorry I didn't see this sooner.

I know it will probably be very hot but I'm considering taking a short trip into Ventana again within the next few weeks so I may very well try one of these camps! :) I appreciate your attention to the detail of my original post, too.

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Jim Ringland
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Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by Jim Ringland »

There's been a lot of discussion in this thread about the most- and least-visited destinations, but there's been relatively less on what the original poster concluded his opening comment with: "... if anyone has suggestions for little gems where one might find a nice and isolated wilderness experience, I would love to hear about them." So here are my favorite lower-traffic spots in Ventana. All are fairly large camps that can accommodate a goodly group or more than one party if that odd event occurs. I've spent at least a night (in several cases, more) at each. At the moment, all are accessible by clear to easily passable trail. I'll note all my experience is in the spring. Many of these will be dry, buggy, and toasty in summer. Add these to the 2017 planning list ...
  • Comings Camp. Pretty camp under oaks and madrones on the route from Bottcher's Gap to Pat Spring. It gets some visitation and is the least isolated of the ones on the list. Still, most go all the way to Pat Spring rather than stop here. You may have to go down the creek a ways to find good water.

    Cook Springs. In the high sugar pine forest.

    Fish. I'm thinking of the one the way to Lost Valley, not the one just short of Jackson Camp on the Little Sur River. Great campsite in a quiet forest grove next to a stream. Not much to do or see but a nice place to chill out.

    Lost Valley. Fascinating place when the grass is green and the spring wildflowers are out. Spectacular hike in. The camps themselves are OK but not great. You may have company on weekends, but it's a big place and the camps are well-enough spread that you can be (mostly) unaware you have neighbors.

    Rainbow. Gorgeous riverside camp (South Fork of the Big Sur) under oaks and madrones.

    Strawberry Valley. Pretty camp in a meadow. Many trails connect in the area, so it might make a good base camp to dayhike from.
I could add a few others, but they may or may not fit the bill: Pico Blanco (maybe too busy, but on a mid-week visit I had it to myself), Fox (up a usetrail on the Little Sur; I've hiked though but have not spent a night; I don't know about overall traffic levels in area), Buckeye in the Silver Peak Wilderness (been there only once so I'm not sure about traffic here either; nice spot). On the other hand, if you avoid the few hot spots everyone has mentioned -- the Big Sur River corridor to Sykes, Pine Valley, Pat Spring, Vicente Flat, the lower part of the Carmel River corridor, and maybe parts of the Little Sur corridor -- the Santa Lucias are not a crowded place.

I definitely recommend reading the trail reports before going to any of these or to any of the other camps mentioned in this thread. Sometimes the trail reports discuss the camps too. Trail and camp conditions change with time. Some of the recommendations (not these) can only be reached via trails that were last reported as being difficult or even impassible. Some speak to camps that were last reported to be in poor condition.
Colonial Adams

Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by Colonial Adams »

Some ranking from Most-travelled to least-traveled,

-Pine Ridge trail West Heinously crowded, if you want to party down with some 20 year olds this is your trail. Start at Big Sur station for best results.
Ventana camp
Terrrace camp
Redwood (not as used as the others)

-Pine Ridge trail East (or nearby) Very crowded on busy weekends enroute to the Pine Valley camp
Pine Valley Camp - Crowded
Divide camp - no-one wants to camp here so you will have it to yourself
Pine Ridge Camp - not crowded usually but solitude is unlikely

Double Ventana cone trail(and nearby)
Pats Spring camp - crowded
Turner Camp - uncrowded
Apple Camp - uncrowded
Spaghetti camp - unused, unfound, abandoned
Big Pines - unused, difficult to find.
Little Pines -unused, unfindable not campable.
Lone Pine - uncrowded

Carmel River
Bluff camp - crowded
Carmel River camp - used lightly but solitude is unlikely
sulphur camp - uncrowded
Hiding camp - uncrowded
Round Rock - uncrowded

Vincente Flat

Vincente camp - crowded
Goat - used -solitude unlikely
Ojito - solitude likely
trail - no one wants to camp here, solitude likely.

Others..... Lightly used and solitude is likely.
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Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by jerb »

Wow, so many suggestions. :) Thanks all! We'll definitely be checking out some of the suggestions here and I also reviewed some of the info about volunteering. I think we're going to do one session to learn the basics and then carry a couple of trail tools on subsequent trips to help out a bit.

For this weekend, we were going to go out to Hiding Canyon or maybe try to find Round Rock (both of which are a little far for us to do in a day), but we decided to just to make it a chill trip this time since it was hot and we didn't realize how far of a walk it would be just to get first trail sign from the dam parking lot.
Country Boy

Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by Country Boy »

Hmm, the advisor missed some of my favorite camps:

Along the Rattlesnake trail:

Rattlesnake camp
Danish Creek Camp

Along the seldom visited South Fork trail:

South Fork Camp
RainBow Camp

Along the seldom traveled, but aptly named "Big Sur Trail":

Cienega Camp ... Don't forget to search for the lost springs above the camp.

Or even a lightly used camp along the heinous PineRidge Trail:

Redwood Camp.

Or sketchy camps along the Black Cone Trail:

Redondo Spring Camp... or is that along the coast trail..?
Mosquito Springs Camp
Venturi Camp.

Don't worry, your camping trip will be memorable and the memory won't be about too many people. :D
The Advisor

Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by The Advisor »

It is not difficult to find solitude in the Ventana, some Ideas:

- Rock Creek Camp
- Round Rock Camp
- Little Pines Camp ... Could be a bit difficult to find this one.
- Lone Pine Camp ..
- Camp atop the Double Cone Peak... Carry lots of water for this one.
- Ojito Camp
-Vado Camp.. Don't be discouraged by unwitting advise from would-be ventana experts.
- Launtz Camp. Recent activity along the way to this camp seems to have made it easy to access
- Miller Canyon Camp.
- Upper/Lower Bee camps
- Higgins Camp
- New Indian Valley Camp.

Enjoy ! You won't soon forget your hike.
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Betsy M
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Re: Lowest traffic trails/destinations?

Post by Betsy M »

Lori is right! You really need to check trail conditions before you hike. I can't tell you how many trail reports start off with something to the effect of "I wish I'd read the trail reports before going on my hike." And Lori is also correct that it would be a great idea to volunteer on a trail crew. We have lots of trips and volunteers are desperately needed.

Plenty of people do a lot of good work on their own, but you should be authorized by the Forest Service, as we are. And there are also a few people who are out there creating hazards for the next person by doing "bad brushing." There are a lot of fine points to trail work, like making sure to saw branches way back, make sure you understand where the tread should be before you do any brushing, cut branches back to the main trunk. This is the kind of thing you would pick up on a trail crew.

As far as crowds, you may find that there are 25 people in a camp, but in some camps that isn't super crowded. You aren't going to spend all day in the camp, you're going to be out hiking most of the day. For trip planning, review the excellent map of the Ventana here: http://bigsurtrailmap.net/
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