Lost Valley Connector Trail

Rose Mo

Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by Rose Mo »

Date Hiked: June 6, 2020
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

My friend and I began our loop at St. Lucia, expecting the Lost Valley Connecter to be tough. We are hardy backpackers and have done long trails including the Tahoe Rim Trail and Lost Coast. Hikers beware! The first section of the trail is followable, yet seems to peter out near the top of a ridge, within view of the north ridge trail. We spent an hour following many false trail leads, clearly tread by unfortunate hikers like ourselves that lost the path. After an hour we turned back defeated, only to discover a pile of rocks on the way back down, with a small path beside it leading to North Ridge. Super easy to miss. The rest of LVC was unbelievably overgrown, and while the path was discernible, I strongly discourage using this trail unless you enjoy getting torn to shreds and and covered in poison oak. I believe if people continue to use the trail in the current condition, there will be necessity for a rescue before long.
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Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by Rob »

Date Hiked: May 23, 2020
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I hadn't done this one in a while. I headed uphill, and got a fairly early start.

The lower mile or so wasn't too bad. Most of the "brush" on the lower section actually consisted of knobcone pine seedlings or small trees of various sizes. As time goes by perhaps these will become more of a problem.

Brush on the last half mile increased quite a bit, and became the more usual manzanita and other shrubby stuff. There was some poison oak as well.

I got to a left-hand turn (heading uphill) where a nice, open rock outcropping made for a scenic overlook. The breeze there was nice, and kept the biting flies at bay. This might have been within the last / upper quarter mile of it, where it becomes less firebreak and more trail.

Following that I spent some time sawing an interlocking section of small blowdowns, which was ugly. It could certainly use more work.
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Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:21 am

Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by Hydro-Logic »

Date Hiked: May 22, 2020
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The infamous Lost Valley Connector. I've done this a few times over the last 10 years. This time was by far the worst I had seen it. From the top the first 1/4 mile is hardcore encroaching brush and faint, slumping tread. Without GPS and Jack's AMAZING maps this woudl have been tough. We had loppers and gloves and tried to do our best as we hiked. We didn't buff it out by any means but we did spend a bit of time clearing the worst of it. I feel like someone behind us woudl have a relatively easy time staying n the trail and not getting scratched up to all hell. Still needs work. A two person crew could clear it in a day.

the bottom 3/4 is very easy to follow and doesn't have much brush. It's steep, it's hot, it's exposed but hell it's the Ventana. A few hours of work will have the bottom 3/4 of the trail in prime shape

Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by CoyoteRyan »

Date Hiked: May 25, 2019
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

We tried to hike this from North Coast Ridge Trail down into Lost Valley but turned around after the first 100 feet. The trail was heavily overgrown, but it seemed possible to see the tread. It may potentially clear up as you move down the ridge. It was shortly before dark when we reached the trail intersection and as such didn't want to find ourselves on a trail of this quality with just headlamps.

Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by kevee »

Date Hiked: December 29, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Did a loop up Arroyo Seco Trail, to Lost Valley Connector, toodled around Lost Valley, then returned via Escondito and Lost Valley Trail.

If you are coming from Lost Valley to Coast Ridge, you are going to be in fine shape, just keep following the tread up. [Ed note: the trail starts contouring near the top, easy to miss that and continue along the ridgeline, as some ended up doing]

We went from Coast Ridge to Lost Valley, and got turned around a tiny bit, but since the trail clearly follows a pretty narrow possible area in any topo map, I would not let the rating of "Difficult" discourage you. It's slow going here and there, but definitely not dangerous, exposed, or that difficult.

The top 0.5 miles (starting from Coast Ridge) is pretty overgrown, but the tread is clearly visible and the path is easy to follow. As you drop down to the last ridgeline, you should hug to the left (west) to stay on the trail.

Most of the confusion in the lower section is sapling pine trees growing in the middle of the trail.

Well worth the struggle, and an easily surmountable challenge!
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Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by lylegordon »

Date Hiked: May 27, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Trail is marked with a weathered sign along the North Coast Ridge Road, easy to find. Tread is evident but the top section is heavily overgrown, still passable even with large packs but you need to push quite a bit of brush out of the way. Although brushy, navigation in this section was straightforward.

Lower section is burnt out and easy to travel but the trail is diffuse and if you don't pay attention and follow a map or GPS it is easy to lose the trail. We were able to quickly notice when we went down the wrong path and not end up going down another ridge.

Someone has spelled out "NO" along with an arrow pointing up at the base of the LVCT indicating it isn't passable but this is not correct.

Biting flies were pretty bad and followed us most of the way down.
Jacob Nie

Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by Jacob Nie »

Date Hiked: April 20, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked from north to south:

The trail marker at the junction with Lost Valley trail doesn't actually indicate the existence of the connector trail, but make sure that you turn when you see the sign. The first 1/2 of the trail is easy to find, but there are some places where there are like 10 possible "trails" that you can follow, and the actual trail is not so obvious.

The upper third of the trail is very brushy in a couple of places. At this point, it's nothing that you can't push through.

As the report below mentions, do NOT lose your way at the said coordinate. I was leading a group of ~10 people, and we spent about 2 hours bumbling our way down dead ends at the exact coordinate before we finally found the trail. Use the gpx track from the bigsurtrailmap.net website if you're interested in staying sane.

Note: I thought that the marker at the top of the connector trail was rather tiny and practically unnoticeable even in broad daylight. So just for reference, it's a wooden post with a small wooden board diagonally lashed on.
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Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by lancew04 »

Date Hiked: June 17, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)


Two day hike. Hiked from Escondido campground to Fish in 5 hours. It was over 100 degrees this weekend so we needed to be off the trail by 1ish made it by 1:30. The trail is over grown in a lot of places. Lots of bush whacking, rattlesnakes were resting on the trail under the overhanging brush. It seemed like an easy hike but the elevation goes up and down. Very exhausting. Fish camp is beautiful, has much needed water and plenty of shade. Caught some brook trout too!

Next day fish camp to Santa Lucia Memorial Campground 10 miles using the connector. This is an long hike and uphill 2/3 of the time. Leaving at 6:30am we made it to the end at 1:30. We took only short breaks for a few minutes, needed to get off the trail before the afternoon heat. The connector has many trails segments that are completely collapsed, loose gravel covering the once trail. One slip and it is a long way down. Additionally the trail is non existent in many areas. The only way we knew to go forward is to look for the soil that is more compact and look at our gps. Without the gps we might have had to turn back or worse.

This coordinate is essential to follow the trail. 36° 7'49.35"N 121°33'21.45"W [36.13037,-121.55596]

It looks like the trail follows the ridge line up, but it does not!

There is a trail that goes right at the coordinate above. Follow this. Kind of not intuitive because it goes down and around the right side of the ridge. At this point you are on your way but the trail will completely disappear before long. Check your gps and make sure your on the trail and push through the bushes and trees and down trees. Eventually it will open up to North Coast Ridge Trail. We ran out of water on the way down but the Forks usecamp had a river flowing and got some much needed water and jumped in to cool our core down.

My brother and I are in good physical shape but this is an exhausting hike. If the weather is too hot would not recommend taking this trail. Cheers and happy trails! God Bless.

Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by jjjjeremy »

Date Hiked: May 28, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

We only made it .3 miles coming SW from Lost Valley Trail. Even with a GPS the trail wasn't easy to find. There are plenty of markers, but they lead to nowhere. Following markers going SW we found ourselves around 150' off the GPS trail. Having never done this trail before, and without someone else who had, we headed back to Fish Camp.
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Jim Ringland
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Lost Valley Connector Trail

Post by Jim Ringland »

Date Hiked: May 13, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked from the Coast Ridge Trail down to the junction with the Lost Valley Trail. The old sign up top, the one that was laying in the grass last time I was here, is now mounted on a metal stake. It is clearly visible from a distance. No more hunting around for the trail. Behind it, the obvious trail drops off the ridge and onto a cut on a fairly steep hillside. Almost immediately, it becomes very, very brushy. Over head-high shrubbery has grown across the trail. A few deadfalls and some poison oak add the complexity. That really nasty stretch was short. My GPS log –- I set a waypoint when I emerged -- says the bad section was less than 200 feet long and took only 5 or 6 minutes. It was a very long 5 minutes. After that awful section, though, I saw no more than a few modestly brushy spots. The route is recently flagged and, for the most part, pretty obvious. The only potential issue, I think, would be at about 3000’ where, after going down (more or less north) one ridge, the trail turns east (for me, right), drops through a saddle to another ridge, and then follows that ridge north and down. If it’s not clear where to go at that saddle –- there’s downed wood, scattered low shrubby growth, and fewer flags than one might like -- just aim up to the high point on the second ridge. The flags and trail tread will appear.
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