Cone Peak Trail


Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by Matthew_Tenenebaum »

Date Hiked: July 8, 2023
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Went up overnight Saturday 7/8 - Sunday 7/9.

Be ready to tramp through some real wilderness, especially after Vincente Flat. But the views are impeccable and the sense of victory after completing this hike will leave you riding high. Don't be stingy with water either, it's hot out there in the sun.

Trail Report:

Eric's recent report is pretty solid representation of the trail, though with a full pack on your back the obstacles are a bit tougher to navigate.

The trail up to Vincente Flat's campground area is honestly pristine.
A little overgrown in spots and a few encroaching poison oak plants to watch out for but otherwise lovely. Up to this point is where you'll see the most people. Espinoza camp further back was full and Vincente Flat had 4-5 groups camped out.

After the campground, the rest of the trail up the spring is almost completely washed out. Someone kindly has put flags up to guide the path but highly recommend downloading the map if hiking this section because it's pretty easy to get lost in some spots. Be mindful that at one point there's a fallen redwood that you'll need to army crawl to get under. You do also have to walk across the creek on another fallen tree which was fun enough to make me forget how dusty I was. There were a few intrepid groups who also made it this far but ultimately turned back.

Before the switchbacks out of the canyon is the last spot for water before reaching the peak so be mindful to stock up if you're planning to stay overnight. From here until Cone Peak Rd, the trail is probably in the worst shape. Lots of overgrowth and trees blocking the trail to crawl over, under, and around. Prepare to be thwacked, scratched, and beaten for the pleasure of making forward progress. The trail itself is reasonably visible but a bit washed out in places. Once you've left the switchback the remainder of the trail until Cone Peak Rd is heavily overgrown and you'll need to trust your pathfinding skills (or the downloaded map) as in some places it's completely obscured for 10-20 ft sections.

Cone Peak Rd is a dirt road, not much more to say. The views are pretty nice of the eastern side and I came across a trucked that looked recently parked (it wasn't there the next day when I returned). There's one section with burrows belonging to bees/wasps that I didn't bother investigating closely but went around. You'll hear them and they won't bother if you're at a reasonable distance. Keep an eye out for the large, blank brown sign at the turn-off to head up towards the lookout. The smaller trail sign is a bit obscured in the plants.

Getting up to the lookout is very much a repeat of the trail to Cone Peak Rd. Heavily overgrown, but a clear trail. Trust your feet and keep an eye out for fallen trees or branches that may trip you. Bugs, surprisingly, weren't a problem as they mostly went back to their business after I passed through. Though you'll have to contend with lots of frantic buzzing around your head before they settle back. Once you get to the final trail sign it's the final set of switchbacks to the lookout. There's allegedly a spring a mile and change further, before the 1/4 mile up to the overlook but by this point I was craving death more than adventure so I'll leave it to someone else to verify if that's true.

The last switchbacks are overgrown with some particularly scratchy sections where you barge through many spiky leaves for 5-10 ft. The trail here is pretty narrow and washed out in places so take care with where you step. A lovely yucca in bloom is the flag indicating you're almost done before the trail straightens out to the peak. From there the lookout is at the very top and some very comfy rock formations are spread around.

If you, like me, planned to sleep on the peak and didn't research this information is for you.
There's not really a place to put down a tent on the peak. The concrete pad the lookout is on has just enough room for a tent. Emphasis on just. There is a fire ring but you'll find nothing but rocks and more rocks in every spot you'd think to sleep. Armed with a better shovel I might have been able to clear the pointy rocks in a section by the lookout. But I slept on the pad and it was perfectly fine, for one. Use rocks to stabilize your tent and take care they're heavy enough. The wind blew one corner loose and made my tent sound just like a beast snuffling in the night right around 3am. 2/10, would not recommend unless craving a jolt of adrenaline.

I headed back the next day and largely re-encountered everything mentioned above. Only think I'll note is that it definitely felt easier going down. You know where to expect suffering and that does a lot for getting through it. The last 5 miles are pure bliss as it's mellow gradients on clear trails. Really puts how overgrown the rest of it really was into context.

Honestly this trail is hard to recommend in its current state. But in some ways I'm glad, because if it was in better shape there'd be a lot more people. Solitary places like this are rare. It felt like a piece of beauty just for me and I'm grateful for it.
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2015 4:26 pm

Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by Eric_Hightower »

Date Hiked: June 10, 2023
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I went up Cone Peak from the Kirk Creek Trailhead on 6/10/2023.

The trail has a bit of overgrown chamise in the first few miles that is about shin to knee high that wasn't too problematic but obscured the trail tread slightly and prevented easy running on the downhill. The trail tread was washed out beyond Vicente Flat until the climb out of the canyon. There was some flagging that was somewhat helpful. On the climb out of the canyon: there were a few branches of poison oak that I had to avoid and one tree that I had to crawl under with some poison oak that was uncomfortably close. The trail is getting overgrown once it reaches the summit before meeting Cone Peak Road. There's a chainlink fence that screams 'Wilderness' there to prevent anyone from easily cutting through the brush to the road. Brush is growing over the first quarter mile of the trail once it departs from Cone Peak road on the final few miles to the summit. There was some Ceanothus overgrowth that required crawling under just a bit before the junction with Gamboa/Stone Ridge Trail.

I started at 11:30 AM and returning to my car at 7:30 PM. I spent about 45 minutes on the summit. I stopped briefly to fill my 3 liter water reservoir about .5 miles beyond Vicente Flat. That was probably more than I needed, but YMMV.

I had a great time despite some of the brush. Definitely not as pristine as the trail was before the fire. A group I met at the top had a terrible time and hated it and said they would never come back unless the trail was maintained. I met another group that tried going down Stone Ridge Trail. They met a solo hiker who was now with their group who had pushed on beyond Trail Springs to try to get to Goat Camp and said it was so overgrown that it was dangerous. I do think it's funny that trails like that are open but PRT gets closed over a single slide.
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Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:22 am

Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by driggsy »

Date Hiked: May 22, 2022
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

For Cone Peak Road to the Fire Lookout on the summit:

More or less the same as it has been since October. Some sections are brushy or eroded, but the first section is a bit easier to follow as more people are summiting again. Overall pretty good (although there is one head high poison oak branch about halfway from the road to summit). And the view at the top is to die for!
Ken Kienow

Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by Ken Kienow »

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

This report is for both North Coast Ridge Road and the Cone Peak trail itself.

My prior report said North Coast Ridge Road was impassable, but being out there in the daylight this time, I was able to see that it's not too hard to hike up the hillside and around the giant washout. The road itself is totally gone for maybe 30-40 feet, but you can get around it on foot or carrying a bike.

Cone Peak trail itself is in good condition - a little brushy at a few points, but definitely passable and a nice hike.

Here's a photo of the washout on North Coast Ridge Road, about 2.5mi north of Nacimiento-Fergusson:
Ken Kienow

Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by Ken Kienow »

Date Hiked: December 28, 2021
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

NOTE: This report is for North Coast Ridge Road, NOT the actual Cone Peak trail, but I didn't see a trail report section for North Coast Ridge Road.

There is a massive washout that took out the entire road roughly 2.5mi north of Nacimiento-Fergusson road. It is an impassable chasm. The road is entirely gone, the hillside to the left is nearly vertical, and to the right of the road way the washout chasm continues down into the ravine. There is also a 90% washout right before the total washout, but that one can be walked around carefully.

Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by darren »

Date Hiked: December 10, 2021
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked this trail from Cone Peak Road to the Cone summit. The trail is steep and rugged, and one or two spots with a bit of brush, but clear and well defined otherwise. Worth all the effort at the top..
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:24 am

Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by crockettonearth »

Date Hiked: November 11, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

11/11/2021 Trail Conditions - trip report

This trail segment is quickly being taken over by the growth of vegetation. Trail conditions are yellow for sure.

I suspect that this area has received less visitation with closures due to the pandemic (2020), fires (2021), and Nacimiento-Fergusson Road being closed to cars (2021).

Poison Oak, manzanita, Chamise, and various other Chaparral plants are growing over the trail system.

Growth is most common in segments of the trail the burned most recently.

There are also several segments of the trail that have been taken out by small landslides. Take extra care when crossing these areas.

Consider bringing a had saw and garden clippers to help clear the smaller brush from the trail. If everyone does a little bit of work the trail will continue to exist for human use.

Link to the film of talk through:

Link to photos of the trail from the trip:
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Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:22 am

Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by driggsy »

Date Hiked: October 17, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Last report is very accurate. After the third switchback up from the road, it is easy to lose the trail in the dust / ash / yerba santa, all of which are all over the place. After you round the ridge, it becomes brushy but not hard to follow. Summit trail junction to the peak is good to go!
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:10 pm

Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by geoffvirtue »

Date Hiked: September 26, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Took a group through the lollipop this weekend. Tread is passable up to Cone Peak. There is encroaching brush growing in the middle of the tread and it will likely be difficult come spring.

There are a few sections near the start where tread is hard to pick up due to the burn scar. Lot of ash and loose ground is obscuring the tread with new growth sprouting through. Be careful and back track if you think you lose the trail.

Once on the higher sections the trail becomes much more evident and is clear to the summit.

Re: Cone Peak Trail

Post by terrapin44 »

Date Hiked: July 19, 2020
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This trail could almost be considered a wilderness highway but there are a few places where the brush is encroaching on the trail and a couple of places where the downhill side of the trail has given away a tiny bit--not enough to be an issue but something to look out for especially of hiking down from the peak after sunset. Great views from the peak!
New Report