North Coast Ridge Trail

karsten

Re: North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by karsten »

Date Hiked: October 22, 2023
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This report concerns the southernmost section of the North Coast Ridge Trail, from the end of the Cone Peak Road to the intersection with the Carrizo Trail. The first few hundred feet of the trail are fine. There are several slides on the North East face of Cone Peak, with the trail completely gone. These spots can be crossed with caution even in the wet, but need some basic scrambling skills. After the washouts, the trail is overgrown, sometimes so much that we lost it. We made it through, but it was quite a bit of bushwhacking. It took us 3 hours from Cone Peak Summit (heading South) to the intersection with the Carrizo Trail. Probably similar to how long it would take when following the more direct Cone Peak Trail / Gamboa Trail to the Carrizo Trail intersection.
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Jim Ringland
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by Jim Ringland »

Date Hiked: May 13, 2023
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: North End gate south to Cook Spring Camp Trail Junction: Difficult

Section: Cook Spring Camp Trail Junction south: Impassable


Depending on where you are, this trail is wilderness freeway, clear, passable, difficult, or impassable. Read on.

Some of this report is second-hand from a person I met up on the trail, so a little background is in order. I spent the night of the 12th at the Tin Can Use Camp. It’s about a 15-minute walk north from the Cook Spring Camp junction. On the morning of 13th, a mountain biker, his bike laden with bags of gear, came by from the north (heading southbound) on the NCRT. I was astonished. We talked very briefly, but he pressed on. About 45 minutes later, he returned from the south. It emerged that he was well scratched up, personally beaten down, very low on water, and (only on his return) acknowledging his GPS might not successfully lead him out of there any time soon. He was aiming for the Cone Peak Road but didn’t know of the huge washout there. His bike had some damage. He didn’t have a clue what Wilderness was. He was from overseas, was riding HW 1 on a grand tour of California and the Southwest, found the closures, and allowed his GPS to direct him up onto the NCRT. His bike *was* rough trail capable. His GPS, of course, had minimal trail information, much of which was wrong. It wasn’t a life-threatening situation yet, but it was headed in that direction. I walked him down the Carrizo Trail and drove him to King City. We talked. I’ve folded some of his trail experiences into the report below.

Back to the trail reporting. On the 12th, I day hiked north and south from the Tin Can Use Camp. Between the Cook Spring junction and 0.2 miles south of the Arroyo Seco Trail junction, I found the NCRT to be either wide open or easily passable through a few deadfalls or shrubs.

Continuing south, the deadfalls increase beyond the Cook Spring junction. At the saddle, where the NCRT meets the old dozer cut to the Carrizo Trail (shown as a spur on the Big Sur Trail map), the NCRT enters a south facing exposure and the shrubs closed in. Mostly Ceanothus. I pushed through for about 50 feet -- very, very slowly -- and then gave up. The mis-directed mountain biker had also tried this section during the 45 minutes between our two meetings … and had given up. So I think we have two votes for “Impassable” south from the Cook Spring junction.

Going north on the 12th, all was wonderful going down from Tin Can Camp for a while, but the yerba santa started filling the trail as it flatted out. Then the Ceanothus joined the party. This was not as dense as the stuff going south, but since I was just out on a day hike enjoy myself, I didn’t push through very far. The mountain biker, it turns out, had done the entire North Coast Ridge Road/Trail from HW 1, spending dry nights at Timber Top and somewhere between the Rodeo Flat Trail and Arroyo Seco Trail junctions. Obviously, all was fine on the NCR Road until the gate 3 miles or so SE of Marble Peak. Beyond that, he reported that the NCR Trail was very brushy early only, followed by a mix of fairly open sections and bad brush. He did, however, get though. I couldn’t identify from his stories exactly where the good and bad parts were, but it appears any longer section had some of both. He found one meager water source after the gate, but I couldn’t correlate his story with any of the sources I knew, and, of course, his GPS didn’t have the local place names. All told, I think this warrants a blanket description of “Difficult” for the NCRT north of the Cook Spring junction, at least until someone can provide better detail on individual sections.

Tin Can Use Camp (at Tin Can Point) is a wonderful place to stay if you are willing to haul water. The views are great, especially when the low light of sunset hits Junipero Serra Peak / Pimkolam or when the mid-morning light hits the sandstone monoliths near the end of the point. The sugar and Coulter pines are intact. Santa Lucia firs grow along the NCRT just to the north. Warriors plume, blooming bright red, was scattered all about. The manzanitas and mountain mahoganies are in flower now too. But there is also lots of open sand: the place is a mix of the vigorous and the austere. It almost has a spiritual quality. Tin Can Point needs a better name than one that celebrates detritus of years past. I wonder if the place has a recoverable Salinan name?

If anyone is interested in seeing what this area all looks like, I now have a photo gallery up at
https://jtringl.smugmug.com/Browser/202 ... izo-Trail/
Rob
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: SJC

Re: North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by Rob »

Date Hiked: January 9, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked this trail from its apex (between the Carrizo junction and Cook Spring connector) down to the junction with the Arroyo Seco trail.

The upper sections still had a surprising amount of snow left over from the holiday storms, mostly in north-facing shady sections.

There were a few downed trees and some brush in places. One spot in particular had become so brushy I decided to make a detour, but it was pretty short. It was mostly pretty easy, and very scenic; expansive views of Pimkolam to the east, and the Pacific to the west.

The sign for Cook Spring was still intact. The junction with Arroyo Seco had a cairn and a new-looking sign, but you have to walk down it a bit to see it.
runcyclegirl
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:58 pm

Re: North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by runcyclegirl »

Date Hiked: October 31, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

North Coast Ridge Trail (NCRT) between Rodeo Flat and Arroyo Seco Trail is passable with intermittent brush of mostly Yerba Santa. As the trail turns on the eastern side of the first peaklet, it is frequently interrupted with down branches. All are easy to negotiate.

From NCRT, I went down via Arroyo Seco Trail. Trail junction is easy to miss if not looking into the trail to see cairn or notice tread. Area around junction is brushy and growing inward. Also, I did not see the trail sign that is reported to be there and intact. Garmin map was helpful here.

Maria
NCRT, southward view with Mining Ridge on right.
NCRT, southward view with Mining Ridge on right.
View from Mining Ridge with NCRT below. Cone Peak and Twin Peak visible upper right.
View from Mining Ridge with NCRT below. Cone Peak and Twin Peak visible upper right.
NCRT
NCRT
Down trees on NCRT.
Down trees on NCRT.
awbell
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2020 10:40 am

Re: North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by awbell »

Date Hiked: June 14, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked almost the entire length of this trail, from North Coast Ridge Road to the junction with Gamboa trail. Pantilat's description from January was helpful and spot-on.

Between Rodeo Flat and Tin Can Camp was fairly brushy in places, but never too bad for too long. We did some pruning to thin out the worst parts of this section. The rest was reasonably clear with great ridgeline views.

Redondo Spring: seeping just enough to leave a line of wet dirt. We turned the knob but nothing happened. Either this spring is drying up for the season or we didn't figure out how to use it properly.

Seasonal stream at volunteer use camp north of Rodeo Flat: totally dry

Cook Spring: flowing well
Rob
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: SJC

Re: North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by Rob »

Date Hiked: May 23, 2020
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked from Lost Valley Connector to Rodeo Flat junction. Nice views, and breezy, which kept the biting flies from landing on me :) Still quite a few wildflowers blooming. Saw a number of horned lizards scurrying around, which is always a treat.

Redondo Spring was still seeping. The seasonal stream just before Rodeo Flat was in the process of drying up; just moist ground in places with a stagnant pool or two. What a difference a couple days can make.
Hydro-Logic
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:21 am

Re: North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by Hydro-Logic »

Date Hiked: May 21, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Pantilat's report below is still accurate and I don't have much to add.

We hiked from Cook to LV Connector. Found water in the stream just after Rodeo Flat junction and a bit after that is Redondo Spring which is flowing but very slowly.
Matt G

Re: North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by Matt G »

Date Hiked: April 3, 2020
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

hiked North Coast Ridge from marble peak to the Rodeo Flat trail turnoff. Total freeway, couldn't be easier. there's currently excellent water flowing in the spring just west of the Rodeo Flat turnoff.
pantilat
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:16 pm

Re: North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by pantilat »

Date Hiked: January 12, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The North Coast Ridge Trail (NCRT) has three sections: (1) single track trail between the end of Cone Peak Road and Tin Can Camp, (2) overgrown fire road between Tin Can Camp and Rodeo Flat, and (3) recently cleared fire road (from Soberanes Fire operations) between Rodeo Flat and North Coast Ridge Road.

Section 1 - Cone Peak Road to Tin Can Camp (passable): The first issue encountered is the washed out gully described in reports below. With some care in dry conditions this can be crossed without undue risk. The trail is becoming overgrown with brush in spots (mostly ceanothus and scrub oak), particularly between the junction with Carrizo Trail and the junction with Cook Spring Camp Trail.

Section 2 - Tin Can CAmp to Rodeo Flat (passable): This section is an overgrown fire road last cleared in the Basin Complex. This section is a patchwork of parts that are still relatively clear, parts that have narrowed into single track, and other parts have been nearly fully reclaimed by interlocking brush. There are dozens of tree skeletons that have fallen on the road over the years, particularly when the road deviates from the crest of the ridge. Expect many downed trees and some brush but the way is always obvious on the fire road alignment. A fire break goes up and over mining ridge at the north end of this part (also cleared in Basin Complex) and I recommend taking this break instead of the NCRT alignment for the fantastic views at the summit of Mining Ridge.

Section 3 - Rodeo Flat to North Coast Ridge Road (clear): This section of fire road was last cleared in the Soberanes Fire. For the most part, any brush is still low to the ground making for a pleasant section between Rodeo Flat to the north end of the NCRT at the North Coast Ridge Road. Water is currently flowing well at the headwaters of Big Creek at the Volunteer Usecamp. The spring box at Redondo Spring was functioning (water came out of the pipe when turned on) but it was very dirty water. Perhaps it needed to be flushed out, but we did not wait for the box to refill to find out.
LJeffers
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:57 pm

North Coast Ridge Trail

Post by LJeffers »

Date Hiked: November 21, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked from Gamboa Trail junction on a Clear trail with only a couple of spots with narrow and soft tread on steep hillside until a quarter mile before the end of Cone Peak Road. Other reports mention the washed out gully at that point but do not imply that it presents a challenge to cross. Perhaps I am growing excessively cautious but I would rate this as a dangerous spot. It is open and clear of brush, but the polished granite rock was steeply sloped and covered with loose gravel and leaves. One report suggested dropping below the rock outcropping into the runoff chanel, but that was full of loose rock and appeared equally unprotected. In rain or snow, especially with a pack, I would consider this a real obstacle to anyone trying to enter the wilderness from the end of the Cone Peak Road.
It has been a decade since I last took this trail, but I do not remember any issues at this point then. It is easily accessible from the road for repair efforts, but might require an expensive effort to bridge the gully between the two ends of the old graded road bed.
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