Carrizo Trail

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Re: Carrizo Trail

Post by evanswa0606 »

Date Hiked: January 7, 2024
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail is clear up to the aforementioned thick brush from the connector intersection to NCRT intersection. The tread is starting to get pretty eroded under the sugar pine forest as well as the section right before it amidst yucca plants. Still, the trail is easily followable. The brushy section is tolerable as the brush rarely exceeds waist height but multiple use paths exist in a wide basin.

Re: Carrizo Trail

Post by karsten »

Date Hiked: October 22, 2023
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Carrizo Trail from trailhead to 4600 ft is clear. Last half mile from 4600 ft to the saddle at 4700 ft is overgrown, sometimes such that it became impossible to find the trail. But the brush is not very thick, so it is fairly easy to navigate around those spots.

Re: Carrizo Trail - Best Access to Cone Peak Country

Post by veganshredder »

Date Hiked: May 27, 2023
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and/or well maintained)

Used the Carrizo Trail to start out a 2.5 day backpack through Cone Peak Country. We started around 8:00AM Saturday morning, and were blanketed by a layer of fog until around 1,500' worth of climbing up the trail. Hardly any bushwacking and the tread was in great condition. The spring at Carrizo Springs Camp was flowing great, and the old growth Canyon Oaks provided much needed shade compared to the earlier, more exposed sections of Carrizo Trail. The upper, western portion of the trail (somewhat of a bowl after the first big ridgeline) was in great condition compared to my last visit here in 2019 thanks to the Dolan Fire. Definitely the best way to access the Cone Peak area at this point as the North Coast Ridge Road has a huge slide on it and Limekiln's probably a lot busier than Indians.

As Jim mentioned below, the section west of the Cook Springs Connector is a little brushy, but not too bad. With our digital GPS, we could easily follow the trail, although tread was difficult to find in sections. No need to crawl on hands and knees in this section. Mostly just meandering through the post burn area on the south facing slope to get across to the Cone Peak saddle and connection with NCRT.

[ED: the brush bowl is in great condition thanks to two VWA volunteer trail crew trips. The Dolan Fire burned everything to the ground, and then the brush re-sprouted like mad. So much so that you could not find the trail after a year. Fires are responsible for killing mature trees and everything else. Repeated fires on a 5-10 year basis are destroying the forests which take 50-100 years to grow.]
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Jim Ringland
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Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Carrizo Trail

Post by Jim Ringland »

Date Hiked: May 12, 2023
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Section: Above (west of) the Cook Springs Connector

I checked this out on a day hike. The trail is clear, if narrowing with encroaching brush, for the 150 feet or so between the Cook Spring Connector junction and the saddle above where the old dozer cut (shown as a stub on the Big Sur Trail Map) once met the trail. But beyond that, now on a south-facing aspect, vigorous brush has just closed off the Carrizo Trail. *Maybe* somebody could push through, but I wasn’t that somebody. (And see my report on the North Coast Ridge Road, which lies just above.)
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Jim Ringland
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Post by Jim Ringland »

Date Hiked: May 11, 2023
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Milpitas Road 6 to Cook Springs Connector

I hiked up on the 11th, then back down on the 13th. I saw the same things stretchrothman saw, but have a more positive conclusion on the overall difficulty.

If one doesn’t want to wiggle through the gate on the Salsipuedes Ranch Road bridge, the ford of the San Antonio River is no more than mid-calf deep. Delightful after the hike down.

As stretchrothman noted, the first mile or two is clear, save some grasses and deerweed beginning to lean in. There’s a very little bit of dancing around poison oak or more woody shrubs too, but that’s fairly rare. Higher up, there are several places where the trail became stream channel in the rains. I suspect that’s the washout mentioned in the earlier report. There’s some erosion and extra rockiness but I didn’t find it especially difficult nor all that unusual for Ventana trails. Still, on the steepest sections, it really helps to plant a hiking pole to provide a little extra support. As one climbs, there are occasional sandstone steps and boulders to dodge. Again, nothing hard, just more effort on what is already a big climb. All this burned. There are a few places where Coulter Pines survived, but most of the route up to Carrizo Spring was out is now in the open. I saw some spectacular flowers on this section. The red paintbrush, orange monkeyflowers, and yellow bush poppy do not offer a subtle palette.

Carrizo Springs Camp at 3400’ is an oasis. There’s plenty of water. The big oaks, all intact, offer welcome shade.

The trail then climbs to a saddle at 3950’ and enters a south-facing aspect which some previous reports have called the “brush bowl”. The Dolan Fire hit hard here, so, while there is some brush, overgrowth is not (yet) a serious problem. There are other issues. It is quite rocky in spots. A few places have narrow, somewhat angled tread crossing steep loose hillsides. Nothing is all that difficult if taken with caution and patience. The steam at the bottom of the “brush bowl” had lots of water when I went though.
The trail then climbs to another saddle at 4150’ and crosses to a north-facing aspect. Here, the trail enters the forest of sugar pines, Coulter pines, and incense cedar. There are also some big leaf maples, just leafing out. The fire took out much of the understory but most of the huge sugar pines and many of the large Coulter pines are intact. I do think there are fewer cedars than before. Unfortunately, with understory gone, this doesn’t feel like the verdant forest I remember from previous trips. There are some fallen logs, but all were easy stepovers.

There’s no sign at the junction with the Cook Springs Connection, but the 8’ high post is intact. Some old rusting tools lie at its foot. The Carrizo Trail makes a hard turn to left (as viewed coming up) at this point while the connector goes straight ahead.
Last edited by Jim Ringland on Sun May 14, 2023 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Carrizo Trail

Post by stretchrothman »

Date Hiked: April 23, 2022
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Trail fairly clear for 1st 2 miles. Washout on a switchback below Carrizo Camp. Camp looks good; still decent water in the creek.

Flag markings are very useful; could use more.

Downed trees within the fir stands. Most have short detour trails around them, some require climbing over.

Overall trail is in decent shape. Highly suggest gps for navigation through trickier areas.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Post by jack_glendening »

Date Hiked: January 12, 2022
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Saturday I hiked the Carrizo Trail as far as Agua Duce (heading to peak 4275). The Dolan Fire spared much of the lower trail but the upper trail burned hot. The trail was easily followed until the start of the 2017 re-route, then disappeared. I suspect many are taking the old route - but also found some ducks in a nearby gully showing some have used that alternative. I put flagging along the re-route, and at places above Carrizo Camp where I had a question (there is existing flagging, but now faded white so harder to see). The hot burn created many barren spots so the route no longer stands out as it used to, the question now being which barren spot is the trail.

Given a single choice I'm rating this as "Clear" (to Agua Dulce), but from the start of the re-route to Carrizo Camp is closer to "Passable" (with the flagging).

Many, many of the pines are now gone - even very tall pines did not escape the fire and are now dead.

Also of note is that patches of chaparral pea are growing all around - not now greatly hindering passage, but that will change in the next few years if no work is done. I stomped on all that lay in the trail - unsure how much good it did, but made me feel that I was doing something. [For those unfamiliar, chaparral pea is a very stiff plant with thorn-like spines that penetrate fabric, making hikers erode the edge of the trail in trying to avoid them. Also making removal difficult, since the spines inhibit reaching inside the plant envelope to get at its branches.]

There was evidence of both equine and bike usage on the lower Carrizo.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Post by Rob »

Date Hiked: January 8, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked this trail from the bottom up to the Cook Spring connector. It was in surprisingly good condition. I could see at least a few other people had been on it since the rain and snow over the holidays. Some brushy spots near the bottom, and again on the steep part before Carrizo Spring camp (scrub oak growing in the middle of the trail).

The trail became indistinct in the flattish section just before Carrizo Spring, probably due to the winter rains and new growth. I wandered around, aided by cairns and a GPS track I took in 2017 and roughly followed the creek up to the camp, or what was left of it. From there I made my way across the creek, where branches and brush became a brief issue, but the aforementioned flagging helped here.

It was smooth sailing from there up to the first saddle, and I didn't see any of the downed trees noted below. The trail here was remarkably devoid of brush compared to 2017, though there were a couple of washed-out spots. Agua Dulce was flowing well. The trail became very eroded just before that point and was a bit difficult to follow, since the brush and thus the brush tunnel burned, but I guess if you follow the gullies it is doable. Once I got back on what I thought was the trail I noticed flagging tape lying on the ground; probably the snag it had been affixed to fell during the storms.

The last bit of trail from there to the second saddle had some narrow, sloping tread from there, and the brush did not burn, but was not too bad.

At the second saddle I could see there was still a good bit of snow on the shady north-facing aspects, some of which was quite hard. I was glad for the footsteps, as I hadn't brought traction devices. Probably this will all be melted over the next week or so. I counted about 7 or 8 largish trees down, some of which required climb-overs or other detours, and several places with overhanging branches requiring push-through.

Someone had left a large and expensive-looking Canon lens in a baggie on a burned log near the Cook Spring connector. My pack was already a bit cramped for space, otherwise I would have packed it out so it could be returned to its owner, sorry :(

I tried to take the Cook Spring connector, but the snow was shady and hard and the tread narrowed to the point where I was afraid of taking a nasty fall, so I bushwhacked up the ridge to the high point of the North Coast Ridge Road (a lot of brush had already burned so this wasn't as bad as it sounds) and headed down from there instead. Still snowy, but lower-angled and a bit softer.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Post by VWA_Ranger »

Date Hiked: March 22, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The Monterey Ranger District Forest has not reopened the Dolan Fire area, however VWA/USFS Volunteer Rangers have been allowed access to survey burned areas. Today volunteer Rangers and Trailcrew members scouted the Carrizo Trail for the first time after the Dolan Fire. The trail was severely burned with a few unburned sections. They flagged several miles, making the trail easier to follow.

Trail conditions are as follows:

The Carrizo Trail remains closed to the general public at this time. Only authorized personnel with the approval of the USFS are allowed to access this trail corridor.

Carrizo Trailhead to Carrizo Spring Camp - Passable, with lots of burned sections. Carrizo Springs Camp with its large oaks survived the fire. Water was flowing well at Carrizo Spring.
Carrizo Spring Camp to Carrizo-Cook Spring Connector - Passable; there are 13 downed trees ranging from 6 to 24 inches across the trail along the last mile up to the saddle with a view of Cone Peak just past the junction with the Cook-Carrizo Connector Trail. The Connector Trail was mostly clear with 2 downed trees. The brush bowl was completely burned. We flagged extensively in this section not only for navigation now, but because brush will grow back quickly and the route will not be so easy to find. Note: there was water flowing at Agua Dulce but it was green and mucky. Even going up the drainage we did not find a good place to get water that looked clear. Looks like this may dry up quickly.

Carrizo-Cook Spring Connector Jct. to NCRT - Passable. Sign on NCRT marking the trail is intact.
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.

VWA/USFS Ranger at NCRT/Carrizo junction
VWA/USFS Ranger at NCRT/Carrizo junction
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Post by Hydro-Logic »

Date Hiked: May 20, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The first 3 miles to the spring is great. Very little encroaching brush and perfect tread. The work that was done after the spring was still evident as was Leor's most recent "quick lop as he runs efforts" but it is getting bad again. There is about a mile that has some encroaching brush. Once you reach the part of the trail that goes north off the ridge and into the pines it gets better. A few blow down and some low hanging brush until the junction to Cook. we went right towards Cook and that was totally clear. The map shows this section as yellow but it's green. Cook is great. Lots of flat spots for a tent and the spring is running as usual. About a quart a minute.

We then backtracked and took the right turn on the Cook Spring Camp Trail to the NCRT and towards Cone. Lots of blow downs and some encroaching brush. The North Knife Ridge to Cone was great as always. No brush and easy to follow.

We came back down knife ridge and decided to take Carrizo back to camp. Good decision as the brush and blow downs are much less than NCRT.

Overall trail is great. A few people with some loppers could make it amazing in a day or so
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