Ventana Double Cone Trail

Jeff2012
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 4:28 am

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by Jeff2012 »

Date Hiked: October 15, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I HIKED UP TO PAT'S SPRINGS VIA PALO COLRADO RD. tHE TRAIL TO THE SPRINGS (WATER THERE) IS IN GOOD SHAPE AND I WAS UP THERE ALONE. aS I GOT THERE A FEW PEOPLE WERE LEAVING THOUGH. A DAY AFTER I GOT THERE I DECIDED TO HIKE THE TRAIL TO THE CONFLUENCE TO PUERTO SUELLO TRAIL AND I HAVEN"T BEEN UP THERE FOR YEARS ( ONE BEAUTIFUL VALLEY ON THE TRAIL WHERE A STREAM FLOWS N THE WINTER IS ESPECIALLY) IS CLEAR, BUT ANY FURTHER ON THE VENTANA DOUBLE CONE TRAIL IS OUT OF THE QUESTION; AT LEAST WHEN I WAS THERE. BACK ON THE FROUNT OF THE TRAIL I PUT UP A LOG WHERE THE TRAL MEETS THE BIG PINES TRAIL TO SHOW PEOPLE WHO WILL ASK, HOW TO GET BACK DOWN TO THE DAM. dON'T LOOK FOR THE BIG PINES CAMP UNLESS YOU FIND THE STREAM, THEN GO NORTH IN THAT AREA AND HIKE IT NORTH TILL YOU GET TO THE CAMP I BELIEVE. ENJOY FELLOW HIKERS.
Venturing_Doc

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by Venturing_Doc »

Date Hiked: September 3, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Whew. Rough one. Pretty much agree with Mepex' previous post. Within 500 ft of Pat Springs we hit heavy scrub which didn't let up. We quit at Lone Pine Camp approx 5.5 miles in, not because the trail wasn't passable but because we'd exhausted two gallons of water and were irritable. The trail is technical enough without the overgrowth, but the multitudes of poison oak and scrub coupled with the hot summer temps made this hike miserable, particularly beyond Porto Suello. Suggestions for future hikers: bring a machete [Ed. note- machetes are an inappropriate tool for chaparral, please use loppers & cut brush at ground level to avoid endangering other hikers], long pants/gaiters, marking tape and at least two gallons of H2O/person. Note: you will get scuffed up.
mepex

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by mepex »

Date Hiked: June 23, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Perhaps the foliage has grown quite a bit since the last report; we found the trail to be very difficult, almost impassable in places. Less than a mile out of Pat Spring we were pushing though thick bushes, although the trail was definitely there. It did not get any easier. When the trail was open it was rocky and sloped on the hillside of Uncle Sam Mountain, and the soft dirt would give way- we had a few falls. Close to Porto Suelo the ceanothus was so thick it took considerable effort to get though, and we could follow the trail with our feet- sometimes. There were multiple times where it wasn't clear which way the trail went, and a few times we had to backtrack to find the trail again. We were hoping that it would get easier after that, but it didn't. More guessing about trail directions, many of the trail markers, though well intentioned, were easy to miss. There were lots of dead bushes that encroached on the trail that would scrape you as you went by, and some of the alive ones were even more stubborn. We finally gave up about 5 miles from Pat Springs. I can't say it was very enjoyable, and would only recommend for the seriously hard core. We arrived back in Pat Spring tired, and completely covered in dirt and sap from the overgrowth. No water to be found at all.
colyoung

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by colyoung »

Date Hiked: May 27, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We did a day hike from Pat Spring to the top of VDC. We were pleasantly surprised how easy the trail was to follow. There were several areas where the ceanothus was overgrown on to the trail and over our heads, but the trail below, though not visible, was fairly easy to follow by feeling with your feet. All of the overgrown sections where the trail is hard to see are marked with flagging tape now. There is no water along the main trail, so definitely bring plenty with you. A beautiful view from the top made the slight amount of bushwacking well worth it (though the bushwacking was pretty fun too).
DeborahR

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by DeborahR »

Date Hiked: May 1, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Sorry to be late on my login. We found Jim Ringland's 3/4 description to be very accurate and useful. As with the other two reports, if this trail is not opened up, the ceonothus will soon completely knit together and become impassable. The view from VDC was spectacular as all have said. Large rattler on trail. Lone condor.

We found no water at Lone Pine.
Carl Mounteer
Posts: 105
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:51 am

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by Carl Mounteer »

Date Hiked: May 8, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I hiked this trail from Pat Springs Camp to Puerto Suelo Camp. I found the same brush conditions that Jack did when he hiked this trail two days before I did. The last 100 yards before reaching Puerto Suelo from Bottcher's Gap were absolutely clogged with ceanothus that required a lot of pushing through. Also, for the half mile before Puerto Suelo, approaching from Bottcher's Gap, the trail was sloped making it difficult to walk on. This bothered me more on my return trip than the trip in towards Puerto Suelo. There is also a lot of this pushing through ceanothus between the beginning of the trail to Little Pines Camp. As to the latter, I certainly saw nothing to indicate water was anywhere near that camp. It was dry, dry, dry all the way to Puerto Suelo. It is very warm on this trail now. So it is important to bring lots of water.

The bugs are out in force on this trail. It seemed there were twice as many insects, mainly flies, including those sulphur-colored biting flies, on this trail than were on the Skinner Ridge Trail the day before and on the 10th when I returned on the Skinner Ridge Trail. These bugs were also much more aggressive on the Ventana Trail than the bugs on the Skinner Ridge Trail.
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jack_glendening
Posts: 703
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by jack_glendening »

Date Hiked: May 6, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The last report by Jim Ringland still applies and I've given the same rating because of the trail's most difficult section, but much of it I'd consider "passable". The difficult section is from (heading south) 100 ft prior to the junction with Puerto Suelo Trail to 900 ft past it, where the trail make a very sharp switchback, ceanothus is very thick and one must feel one's way through with the feet. I missed that same sharp switchback that Jim did, so put a flag on each leg there, as well as in a few other places where disturbed earth showed people had been hunting for the trail (including a segment where I found myself on a short usetrail some people have been using which departs and then comes back to the real trail).

I checked out the water along the route at Little Pines Spring, Puerto Suelo Spring and Ventana Spring, but not Lone Pine Spring (which is supposed to be perennial). None of these sources are directly on the VDC Trail. Puerto Suelo Spring, 1/8 mile down PS Trail, was just a thin layer of water on the surface of the trail (I did not investigate off-trail). Ventana Spring, 1/16 mile off VDC Trail, had more water than PS Spring - I found several shallow pools 70+ ft downstream of the old camp, not at what I think is the actual spring, but in many no flow was visible; that must be due the the rains since Jim did not find water there. [The water flow was excellent at Little Pines Spring, about half that at Pat Spring, but you do NOT want to try to go down there via the 1/4 mile route which was clear just 18 months ago - thick and tall (over my head) ceanothus combined with downfall for almost the entire route makes it essentially impassable. I tried it two ways - once following what looked visually best from climbing atop downed pines, once closely following the old route on my GPS; the latter was somewhat better, but still tough. There was too much brush for the old flags to be visually helpful.]

View from VDC was spectacular as usual.

Jack
Big Sur Trailmap: https://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Jim Ringland
Posts: 124
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by Jim Ringland »

Date Hiked: March 4, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I traveled the length of the trail, from the Skinner Ridge / Big Pines/ VDC Trail junction to the Double Cone. Conditions on this trail varied widely, depending on the section.

There were a few easily-managed deadfalls just beyond the Big Pines junction and on the ridge above Pat Spring, but on the whole the north end of the trail was clear until Little Pines. That area had a bit of brush on the trail and a few more deadfalls, but nothing serious. There was some trail slumpage as the route traversed the face of Uncle Sam Mountain. Other posters have dismissed this, but having slipped at one of these slumped sections (around a deadfall), I'm wondering if the problem is getting worse. About a half mile before Puerto Suello the brush closed in a bit more. There were a few stretches with almost no opening at body level even though things were clear at the feet.

I stayed at the Puerto Suello Usecamp. It's a flat spot with a fire ring, enclosed by a wall of Ceanothus, with dead trees above. The March 3 review of the Puerto Suello Trail links to a picture. I found the camp more utilitarian than aesthetic, save for a melodious owl at dusk and some very energetic woodpeckers at dawn. I located water a few hundred feet down the Puerto Suello Trail, but the flow was pretty meager. I looked for something better farther on – dropping 300 vertical feet all told – but I didn't see any other sources. Puerto Suello Spring supplied me for the night, but it took 10 to 15 minutes to collect the 5 liters I carried back to camp.

I day hiked the rest of the way to Ventana Double Cone Summit. The uphill section just south from Puerto Suello was pretty bad. It started with about 1,000 horizontal feet (200 vertical feet) of that fully overgrown trail. Things were again OK at foot level. This section was hard enough with a daypack; it would have been miserable with a full pack. Then the trail opened up a bit and made a hard right turn. (That turn is a trail re-route. The old route goes straight ahead and it's easy enough to miss the turn. I did. Things got *real* gnarly. ) Anyway, from that hard right turn until a little past the Lone Pine junction, the conditions were a mix: an open section here, more completely closed-in trail there, a brush tunnel in a third place, some very scratchy shrub oak in another, all seasoned with deadfalls that range from easy hop-overs to one on-the-belly crawl-under. None of these subsequent bad sections were anywhere near as long as the first. Each offered maybe 50 to 200 feet of difficulty before things opened up again. Then a bit past the Lone Pine turnoff, the problems eased off. And after one last brushy deadfall just past the Ventana Spring area – no water in the Spring – the trail was clear to the summit. Nice to see the Santa Lucia firs on the way up. Superlative view from the top. The hike back seemed a little easier, maybe because I knew what to expect, but also because that nasty 1,000 foot stretch was downhill. Gravity is good.

I've rated the trail as difficult because of the brush problems between Puerto Suello and Lone Pine, but people are getting through. I was one of three solo hikers (plus one canine) who summited that day. And if you add up all the really brushy sections, it's probably less than half mile total. Still, parts of that half mile required some heavy pushing. I was glad I was armored with long sleeves, long pants, and a nylon hat, but I still picked up some scratches.
sugg
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:11 am

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by sugg »

Date Hiked: February 18, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I used this trail on 2/18/12 moving from the Big Pines "cut off"/"short-cut" trail over to Puerto Suello. After the Pat Springs area there were a few section where the trail was becoming a bit brushy. What usually happens is that a large dead tree falls down and then the trail gets lost for a short bit. If a person has never used the trail before, simply pay lot's of attention to the "trend" of the trail, and you will quickly find where it resumes. There was some snow out along the trail, not much. Here's some reference shots hosted on Flickr from this outing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38029403@N ... 9392744051.
stumpyjoe

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Post by stumpyjoe »

Date Hiked: August 20, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)


On August 20th I set out on an overnight trip from Bottcher's Gap to Ventana Double Cone. My report is colored by the fact that I am not a super experienced hiker. I have been as far as Pat Spring before, and have hiked other Ventana Wilderness trails, but this was my most ambitious hike to date. More experienced hikers may have a different view. Overall I would call this hike somewhere between Passable and Difficult.

Skinner Ridge trail is in good shape up to Pat Spring. There are some slumping sections, but nothing that would deter you from continuing. If someone had never been on this trail before, they could get confused at the Mt. Carmel trail junction, simply because the main trail takes a sharp turn to the right, while the Mt. Carmel trail continues straight. When approaching Pat Spring there are two burned posts that I understand are supposed to mark a junction with the Big Pines trail, but I could not see any trail leading away from there. Just before arriving at Pat Spring you pass an unofficial camp with an old gas can in the middle of it. That is not Pat Spring camp. When arriving at Pat spring you will see a trail going straight to the spring and another going right to the campsites. The Ventana Trail is off to the left.

Pat Spring to Ventana Double cone on the Ventana Trail: Between here and the Double Cone conditions get gradually worse. Other posters seemed to think that the trail was in pretty good shape, but either things have deteriorated, or they are just experienced hikers and not bothered by much. It's true that some sections are in good shape, but the closer you get to VDC, the more frequent the tough sections become. In the Little Pines area I was forced off the trail twice by deadfalls. Because of the burned conditions it is hard to tell what is a use trail detour and what is just loose, burned soil. However I was able to pick up the trail again without too much trouble. Between Little Pines and the Puerto Suello junction there is much more slumping tread. Nowhere was it completely washed out, but there were lots of sections where I had to watch my step. When I arrived at Puerto Suello junction I didn't realize that I was there. There is a small clearing with a fire ring and a conspicuous, open trail leading off to the left. I didn't see any other trail so I continued down what I now know was the Puerto Suello trail. As has been reported elsewhere there is a usable water source a few minutes down the Puerto Suello trail. Once I realized my mistake I returned to the junction to look for the trail. It is very faint and leads into waist to neck high brush. I had to continuously look down to see if I was still on the trail because the trail could not be seen ahead. In this section there is a significant drop off to the left and it would be easy to step off of the trail because you can't see where you are stepping. Once you get through that section you begin to climb up through lots of dead brush. The dead brush forms short tunnels of sharp sticks that frequently caught on my pack. I never had to crawl, but being a tall guy (6'3'') I spent a lot of time stooped over. This is probably the most difficult section, though the location of the trail is never really in doubt. I arrived at Lone Pine camp about 7.5 hours after leaving Bottcher's gap. There is a post as well as a cairn marking the way to camp. The trail to camp isn't great, but if you have made it this far you will have no trouble. The camp is in good shape and I was able to find water. The water is perhaps 100-150 yards down the creek bed that runs next to camp, but getting there involves some scrambling on a slippery, leaf covered slope. When I arrived at camp I realized my water filter had come loose from a side pocket on my pack, presumably while ducking through one of the brush tunnels. It could have been anywhere, but I decided to backtrack a bit and hope to find it. Luckily it was sitting in the middle of the trail only about 20 min back! I camped at Lone Pine and continued to VDC the next morning. The last section of the trail is a little better. There are still some sticks to duck under, but not as many. Just before the summit there are some sections where the trail runs across steep granite slopes. The trail is eroding away in some spots and if it were to completely wash out it could be impassable.

Of course the summit is gorgeous. But overall this was not the most pleasant hike. After the Puerto Suello junction I had to spend most of my time either looking at my feet or ducking under brush, so there wasn't much chance to enjoy the scenery.
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