Three/Four Day Loop Leaving Big Sur Station

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Moderators: Betsy M, VWA Admin 2, dknapp1

Jack B Nimble

Re: Three/Four Day Loop Leaving Big Sur Station

Post by Jack B Nimble »

There are many "impassable" trails accessable from Big Sur in the Ventana. Including:

Big Sur trail (cienega-Rainbow)
South fork trail.
Marble Peak trail (evidence here is specious), much of this is an old jeep road/tractor trail and it seems likely this could be followed.
Mt Manuel trail.

The combination of these bad trails leads me to believe there is no real loop that can be done. Some wimpy loops are possible like pine-ridge-terace creek-coast road.

I recommend taking the route less travelled. Punch through one of the "impassible" trails, these ratings are done as impassible because people do not want to sand-bag. In reality, it is possible to push through on a route assuming you have visibility and a compass, or a GPS. This may involve a lot of bushwacking. Following one of these "impassible" trails will become an cross-country route at worst.

I recommend hiking up pine ridge, past sykes, and along the Big Sur trail to Rainbow. You will feel like you earned it. That is not a long way. The Big Sur trail out of cienega creek will be visible to the south as you hike down into the cienega creek watershed.

Take the pain.
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Greg M
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Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 3:24 pm

Re: Three/Four Day Loop Leaving Big Sur Station

Post by Greg M »

I'm glad you said it, Betsy. Rhewitt's original outline is definitely a 5-6 day adventure. To do so in less time would be a death march; I don't care how well you are "in shape"! Jerry's variant of PRT-BST-CRR is much more suitable for a 3-4 day outing. Never underestimate the Ventana in Summer: the heat and bugs can be brutal.
Jerry Lee
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Re: Three/Four Day Loop Leaving Big Sur Station

Post by Jerry Lee »

It is possible to do the long loop:
Pine Ridge Trail
Black Cone Trail
Marble Peak Trail
Tony Trail
Church Creek Trail
Pine Ridge Trail

in 4 days if:
You are very fit
You have a lot of endurance, start at daylight and are prepared to hike with a headlamp on the PRT
The heat will not get you

You can get to Pine Ridge Camp the first day. Second day to Tony Trail junction. Third day back to Pine Ridge Camp. Last day back to Big Sur. I have done all these things in my late 50's, but never all at once. The combined heat stress of each of these marches would have been too much for me.

Trail conditions are pretty good on all these trails this year, although the Black Cone Trail obviously has some brush issues. The Church Creek Trail has been very difficult to follow, but Betsy marked it just last week. Tony Trail is hard work both up and down, but not really difficult.

If you try this, have bailout plans in case you have to abort to Arroyo Seco or China Camp. The people at Tassajara Zen Center can also be very helpful, and you might be able to catch a ride to Carmel Valley and take the bus back to Big Sur. Always have options.

The other possibility mentioned
Pine Ridge Trail
Big Sur Trail
Coast Ridge Rd

Is more practical. The only difficult part seems to be between Cienega and Rainbow, not very long but could take a lot of time and energy. The hike along the road offers spectacular view and is all downhill, but there is no water past Cold Spring.

You will also need to pack sensibly for this hike. Large packs are difficult to push through heavy brush, so it is imperative to keep a small profile. You do not need a tent or heavy sleeping bag. You can get by without a jacket or a change of clothes. Think in terms of doing without things for 100 hours. Good luck!
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Betsy M
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Re: Three/Four Day Loop Leaving Big Sur Station

Post by Betsy M »

Doesn't seem unreasonable to do Big Sur to Black Cone Trail, to Strawberry, to Marble Peak, to Tony Trail to Church Creek Trail, and back to Big Sur. Read up on the Church Creek Trail, especially. Only thing is, this sounds more like a 5-6 day hike. And you really need to have a reasonable map that shows the trails. Keep in mind the USGS topos showing the Black Cone Trail are wrong, wrong.
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Re: Three/Four Day Loop Leaving Big Sur Station

Post by Jeff2012 »

sorry, but I just discovered a Big Sur Trail report that says the trail is fine until you get to the saddle at which time it's a nightmere.
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Re: Three/Four Day Loop Leaving Big Sur Station

Post by Jeff2012 »

According to trail Reports the Big Sur trail at coast Rd has had a make over all the way to Rainbow Camp (read the discription in trails) I bet that a hike loop from, you say you wish to start at Big Sur Sta, to the Big Sur Trail past Redwood Camp to Cieniga that's supposed to be in fine shape on out (or turn around retrace) plus I heard the Big Sur Trail climbing up to Coast Camp/Road is sort of difficult. I hope this helps you some.
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Three/Four Day Loop Leaving Big Sur Station

Post by rhewitt »

Never been to Ventana Wilderness and am looking for advice and suggestion about a three-four day loop hike. I have read through as many of the postings related to three-four day hikes and loop hikes that I could find on this site and realize that a few trails that we would like to hike may not be doable. Here is what we would like to do: Leaving from Big Sur Station, take Pine Ridge Trail to Black Cone Trail to Marble Peak Trail to Tony's Trail to Church Creek Trail back to Pine Ridge Trail. However, in light of trail reports, it seems as if Tony and Church Creek might not work out. We are locked into leaving from Big Sur Station and would like to take Black Cone Trail but are not quite sure if we can loop back. South Fork Trail and Big Sur Trail seem to be impassable, according to reports. We could out and back down Pine Ridge but also would like to take "road less travelled" if we could. Any help will be appreciated greatly:)
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