Ventana Double Cone Trail


Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by PaulS »

Date Hiked: November 13, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Trip overview:
2 night / 3 day loop, starting at Los Padres Dam, following the Carmel River Trail in southern direction until Hiding Camp (1st night), then Puerto Suelo Trail uphill in western direction, then Ventana Double Cone (VDC) Trail in northern direction until Pat Springs Camp (2nd night), then Big Pines Trail in eastern direction until it hits the Carmel River Trail again near the Los Padres Reservoir. Back on the Carmel River Trail to Los Padres Dam. I hiked alone.


The VDC trail from the intersection with Puerto Suelo Trail in northern direction to Pat Springs Camp is in much better shape than Puerto Suelo. The path is much more defined and even though it’s narrow and somewhat overgrown it is very passable. Great views from the trail to the ocean and the mountains, just spectacular. I could not find Little Pines Camp or recognize any trail that would lead to Little Pines Spring, the entire area was burnt and appeared difficult for off trail navigation. I did not spend a lot of time looking for the camp or water though. I made it to Pat Springs Camp where I set up my tent to the Northwest of the trail sign, up a little foot path that leads to an open platform with gorgeous views, fire ring and superb camp site. Water at Pat Springs (a couple yards Southeast to the trail sign) was abundantly coming out from the right of the two pipes.
The section on the VDC Trail from Puerto Suelo to Pat Springs took me 3 hours (including a comfortable lunch break).

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by cowtownrunner »

Date Hiked: July 4, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Generally the trail is less defined than in the Sierra- more of a thin scratch in some places, some overgrowing wildflowers, but not a steady plod. Careful hiking, not super fast hiking, in most sections.

I was glad to see signage all the way from Turner Creek Trail to Big Pines- after that it stops, and so did the obvious water. In general amazing views, most of the trail has shade, from trees growing back from the fires, which is nice.

Saw no other hikers on the trail, which was also unexpected for a long holiday weekend. Still cleaning the resin and oils off my hiking clothes from all of the not-bushwacking but not clear trails. Lots of overgrowing shrubs, but this is the first time I've hiked this trail, and it sounds like from other posts that it has improved significantly. Thank you to trail crews for all the work that has been done. Saw a golden eagle!

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by mflow »

Date Hiked: April 29, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Just wanted to say thank you to all of the volunteers and fellow hikers who made this trail passable. This was our first trip to the Double Cone. Done over 3 days/2 nights. The trail along Skinner Ridge to Pat Springs is in good condition. There are a couple spots where if the flowers grow any higher, you won't see a trail at all. From Pat Springs on it's as described below- shrub pushing, but the footpath is clear.

Water found in Lone Pine (where we camped), but it is a very slow trickle.

Picked off 2 ticks on me, and about 20 from the dog. Really amazing trip!
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:51 am

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by sfrake »

Date Hiked: April 17, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I would describe it exactly as Leor does below. Between the Puerto Suello Trail and VDC summit, there is more shrub-pushing and ducking/squatting (and 1-2 crawls) but the tread is in good shape and it's smooth hiking. Between Pat Springs and Puerto Suello there's less overgrowth, but the tread is often some combination of being loose, rocky, side-sloped and grass-covered. One has to be careful to avoid rolling an ankle, and if one does, it becomes a slow section (trust me).

Overall, by Ventana standards it's in great shape and I'm thankful for all the work that has been done!

Alas, I did not find Leor's jacket.
Posts: 116
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:16 pm

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by pantilat »

Date Hiked: April 3, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

From Pat Springs to Puerto Suello Gap: Passable. Pat Springs is flowing much slower than usual for this time of year (though still ample for filling bottles for now). The greatest flow is to the side of the pipes and stone pool. Above Pat Springs through Little Pines the ceanothus (lilac) is in full spring mode of growth and flowers. Together with scrub oak it is starting to encroach onto the trail in several spots so a little bit of push through. There are a few logs to to step over. The traverse beneath Uncle Sam features a lot of deer weed obscuring the tread which is a favorite plant of ticks. The tread is also a little loose and eroding in several spots throughout this section. Only a little bit of poison oak that is starting to leaf out. The lupine meadows are coming on nicely though the grassy fields look drier than usual for this time of year.

From Puero Suello Gap to Ventana Double Cone Summit: Mostly Clear. Overall this section of the trail is in better shape than the preceding section between Pat Springs and Puerto Suello. Many thanks to the volunteers who diligently worked this entire section creating a mostly clear corridor/tunnel through the tall brush that mostly did not burn in the Soberanes Fire. The extensive amount of work that went into improving this section is very evident and very much appreciated! There are a few snags hanging low across the trail requiring a crawl underneath.

My navy blue windbreaker jacket might have been left at the summit. Please let me know if you found it.

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by SeanAK »

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

13 hour dayhike of VDC from the Hoist with Mike Toffey via Turner Creek and the VDC trail. Trail conditions were great all the way. I’d say “Wilderness Freeway” all the way to Pat Springs, then a combination of “clear” and short sections of “passable” all the way to the top. There were a few short parts where we had to crawl, but after hearing from Mike how bad the trail was a couple years ago, I can’t complain at all. There is definitely poison oak along the route, but it is mostly below knee height and avoidable. Thanks to the all the locals who put in so much work to clear these trails!

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by dwilly415 »

Date Hiked: March 11, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Backpacked over 2 nights and 3 days on March 11-13. Trail is generally in good condition, some crawling, but poison oak not too bad. Pulled about 12 ticks off of me at various points, bitten by one.

Full write-up with photos here:
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:10 pm

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by geoffvirtue »

Date Hiked: February 5, 2022
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Bumped into John trail running back here on Sunday. Was a beautiful weekend to summit VDC and the trail is in great shape. No summit registry signatures since last November and only 5 total last year. John mentioned he's only seen 5 folks back in this area of the Ventana in the last year and a half. VDC was a difficult day hike from Pat Springs in Feb, we left at 8:30 and made it back to camp after 17 miles total around 5:35, just as full sunset was hitting. This is not for the faint of heart, make sure if you are attempting the out and back from Pat Springs that you are in good shape, otherwise plan to camp at Lone Pine Camp. Very worth the trip - beautiful country back here, wish we had been able to spend more time in Pat Springs exploring.

[Clear] Pat Springs to Little Pines - Trail is clear up to Little Pines and in very good shape. Coming out of Pat Springs make sure to watch for tread. Some friendly folks recently sawed and cleared a lot of deadfall that was obstructing the tread. There are one or two turns that the tread gets a little bit less evident on, so be careful if doing in the dark.

[Clear] Little Pines to Lone Pine Camp - Trail is clear all the way around Uncle Sam Mountain. The brush is not closely encroaching but there were a few patches of brush swimming that were very tick-y. Be careful and check for ticks after this section.

[Passable] Lone Pine Camp to Ventana Double Cone Summit - Trail is clear all the way up to the summit except for two army crawl sections. The deadfall was recently sawed but you still have to crouch low, very difficult with a backpack so recommend doing with day packs. Tread is evident the whole way up. Water is running at Lone Pine Camp and there is flagging that locals put up recently leading into the camp and down to the stream. Follow right fork and then look for flags/listen for flowing water.
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Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:28 pm

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by BP22 »

Date Hiked: May 29, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Day hike from Long Ridge to VDC summit:

Turner creek trailhead (Long Ridge) to Skinner ridge saddle: Passable
trail is easy to follow and hike through, but is quickly becoming choked out with poison oak, blackberry, ceanothus, nettle etc. Ever since the fire, its amazing how quickly all of this grows back, even with occasional brushings.
Saddle to Devil's Peak to Pat Springs: Clear
trail looks good, smooth sailing
Pat Springs to Little pine: passable
Flow at pat spring is as low as iv'e seen in awhile, but still good. trail is brushy right after pat spring and more brushy about a 1/2 mile before Little Pine. I actually lost the trail briefly cause I wasn't paying attention.
Little Pine to Puerto Suello: Passable
The trail is once again Brushy from little pine, then brushy again about a 1/2 mile before Puerto Suello. The second half of this section has a downward sloping tread and loose tread at several points.
Puerto Suello to VDC Summit: Passable
The trail to the summit has been cleared recently by locals. The whole way was quite pleasant. I considered calling this "Clear" but there is still some tight corridors and lots of debris on trail from clearing, and occasional brush, but this was a very pleasant surprise. Trail to lone pine camp is clear, and i found a trickle of water below lone pine and was able to fill my water bottle.

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by Sammich »

Date Hiked: March 30, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I just got back from 4 days starting at Long Ridge to Ventana Double Cone (March 27-March 30). Turner Creek trail has a bit of encroaching brush but otherwise totally fine. There's one huge fallen tree near the beginning which is quite difficult to maneuver, but of course right after traversing it I noticed a faint social trail that goes around. Everything up to Devil's Peak is totally fine, though the trail ended up going a slightly different way than maps indicated leading up to Devil's Peak. In some places it was as wide as a road - a fire break maybe? Devil's Peak to Pat Springs has several easy deadfalls, and there were a few streams leading up to Pat Springs. Pat Springs was full and flowing to the brim.

Toward Little Pines camp it starts to get brushier with pink ribbons guiding the way, but still easy to follow even if the ribbons weren't there. I camped at Little Pines Camp which was basically just a very small flat area that wasn't totally choked with brambles and deadfall. The trail down to the spring from Little Pines Camp as indicated on was totally nonexistent as far as I could tell. I gave up looking for the water there though and hoped that there would be water at Puerto Suello. On my way out I was on the lookout for the trail down to the spring from just North of the top of Little Pines Peak and it looked like there may be some kind of trail there.

Luckily there was water at Puerto Suello, though it was just a trickle, so I was basically refilling my water by the spoonful. There may be more water if you continue downhill, but the trail was VERY steep and overgrown. I also stopped at Lone Pine camp for water there, which was also a trickle, but it at least collected in pools, which made things much easier. Lone Pine is beautiful, as an aside.

The trail between Little Pines to Lone Pines is fine. After Lone Pine, getting closer to Ventana Spring Camp, the trail starts to get more and more overgrown and there were a few sections that required crawling on hands and knees, but I was able to do it with a ~40lb pack, (with difficulty).

I camped at Ventana Spring Camp, but I mistakenly thought that there wasn't water there because I'm stupid so I didn't look. There were however several snow patches that I melted for more water. The trail after Ventana Spring Camp is very tough. The previous day I met two wonderful women who lent me their clippers and pink ribbon roll. They attempted to summit VDC but ran out of time in the day and had to turn back. They had snipped and ribboned the way up to about a fourth of the way from Ventana Spring Camp to the summit. I vowed to avenge their disappointment so I took up the mantle and did my best to clear brush from the "trail" leading up to the summit.

The route up to the summit from Ventana Spring Camp is truly horrific. Very dense brambles that require extensive crawling on all fours, and at times even army crawls. Long pants, long sleeves, gloves, are a must. I would recommend safety goggles in fact, as my eyes got poked several times. The clippers helped and I would recommend bringing some if attempting VDC but sometimes they were like bringing a knife to a bazooka-fight. I did my best to clear brush with those and put ribbon on the rest of the route. There is an area about a half mile past Ventana Spring Camp that both on the way up and the way down I just couldn't figure out where I was supposed to go and was just bulldozing my way through the hellish vines through sheer force of will. There is a chance that I put up an incorrect ribbon around this area, but I don't think so. As I said, I did my best.

Then the last ~quarter mile of the trail is totally clear and great and easy (with just a few exceptions). It was is if you were on a trail that was actual maintained by a federal agency that did its job - what a concept!

On my way back I camped at Comings Camp, which was lovely. There was a warren of social trails through the blackberry vines that lead to the spring that was difficult to get to, and the water seemed just a trickle. Again, there may have been another social trail that got to a better part of the stream but I figured I'd had enough water to make it to Turner creek and didn't bother as I was mentally exhausted from botanical assault by this point.
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