Ventana Double Cone Trail

Mickey Rush
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2024 7:17 am

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by Mickey Rush »

Date Hiked: March 18, 2024
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The Ventana Double Cone trail is extremely overgrown, blocked with deadfalls, and difficult to follow. Would not recommend traveling this trail without a GPS/ route downloaded for offline use (e.g., AllTrails). In particular, the stretch of trail leading east from Pat Spring was very difficult to follow due to many deadfalls and thick chaparral. The trail gets a bit easier between Little Pines and the junction with Puerto Suello, with lots of water in the drainages coming off of Uncle Sam Mountain. Going south from Puerto Suello, the chaparral is again very overgrown – prepare to duck your way through. We are generally fast hikers, but averaged less than two miles / hour due to the challenging conditions. Worth it overall, but would probably not do it again in this condition.

[JG: FYI the OSM track - used by All Trails, Gaia, etc - is off by as much as 300 ft in the 'very difficult to follow' section cited above, but reasonably accurate elsewhere]
calhobson

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by calhobson »

Date Hiked: February 13, 2023
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Pat spring to Puerto Suello gap: trail is in relatively good shape with some brush encroaching on the trail and some blowdowns (a couple larger ones on the traverse below uncle sam). Pat spring was flowing well

The section immediately after pat spring was the one difficult section of the trail and we lost it at first. There are many downed trees and the trail is pretty obscured by brush for the 1/2 mile until the top of the hill.

Puerto Suello gap to VDC summit: a bit more brushy and more downed trees, a couple we had to crawl under. Near the top some trimming had been done which opened up the trail a lot. Tread is clear, just lots of brush.

No water at lone pine camp, but the camp looked good and the trail down to it was passable
sfrake
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:51 am

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by sfrake »

Date Hiked: May 14, 2023
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This is an update of the report below. Thanks to some recent trail clearing work, my son and I were able to complete a day hike to VDC from The Hoist on 5/14. From the Skinner Ridge Trail to the Ventana Double Cone summit, the VDC trail is now passable, with some sections, particularly close to the top, clear. There is still plenty of brush to walk through in the usual places which makes hiking a bit slow, but there is now a good path through all of it (it really, really helps having the BigSurTrailMap GPS trace on the app of your choice to help you on occasion). The brush on the short section of trail to Pat Springs is getting quite thick.

The two "difficult" sections I described below are now fine.

There are trees down here and there but none are a big deal.

The traverse along the base of Uncle Sam Mtn. to the Puerto Suelo junction is not fast walking. Much of it is loose and side-sloped and there's a bumper crop of poison oak this year. It also includes probably the most annoying downed trees.

A big thanks to whoever did the recent clearing work. We were so happy when we encountered it!
sfrake
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:51 am

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by sfrake »

Date Hiked: March 26, 2023
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

My son and I attempted a hike to VDC from The Hoist on 3/26, but the going was so slow that we ended up turning around well short (the base of Uncle Sam Mountain). So, this report only describes the trail from the Skinner Ridge Trail to the begin of the traverse below Uncle Sam Mtn.

The short section to Pat Springs from the junction with the Skinner Ridge Trail was passable-difficult. My memory is hazy but I think there was a section where the trail disappeared (from a slide?); there were other obstacles, but none that posed a big burden. Pat Springs was flowing, but not very strongly, at least from the pipes. There was plenty of water flowing around the spring.

The 1/2 mile climb from Pat Springs up to the top of the ridge was difficult. In particular the trail is completely covered with blowdowns and overgrown where the short switchback is depicted on Jack Glendening's map. We ended up trying different routes coming and going and neither worked well. It took us nearly 30 minutes to travel this 1/2 mile.

The next mile down before the climb up to Little Pines was pleasant, with great views of course and clear-passable.

The mile after that was difficult. Up towards Little Pines and back down, the trail is mostly, sometimes entirely, overgrown, with regular blowdowns on top of that. We tried heading all the way up to the Little Pines ridge on the way out, hoping it would be easier, but it wasn't. On the return we generally tried to follow the path of the trail, and it was probably the better of two bad choices. It took us about 45 minutes to travel this mile.

At the point where the trail begins a traverse below Uncle Sam Mtn. we gave up. At this point we hadn't budgeted enough time to make it to Ventana Double Cone or even Uncle Sam. So, we had lunch (great views!), and turned around.

I hiked the entire trail last year, and section around Little Pines I remember as being somewhat overgrown, but one could fairly easily push through it all without being slowed too much. Sadly, what a difference a year (and lots of storms) makes.

There was some ice on the trail past Pat Springs and in the Little Pines area, enough to cause a couple falls, but that's obviously not a long-term problem.
PaulS

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.

Map:
https://caltopo.com/m/VG1HE

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).
cowtownrunner

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!
mflow

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!
sfrake
Posts: 18
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.
pantilat
Posts: 121
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.
SeanAK

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!
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