Big Pines Trail

Andrew Carter
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:22 pm

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by Andrew Carter »

Date Hiked: April 18, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail clear, easy to follow, however uneven footpath in most places where the trail tries to slab around the up-and-down ridgeline.
User avatar
Jim Ringland
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by Jim Ringland »

Date Hiked: April 17, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section: VDC Trail junction to Big Pines Camp

There been a bit of work of this part of the trail, here at the top of the Danish Creek drainage: new flags, some simple shovel work on the trail bed in places, and saw cuts on larger deadfalls. The net result is easy hiking with at most very minor route-finding and obstacle issues.

There is no trail to Big Pines Camp any more, but it's easy cross country down to the camp site. As Jack noted last year, the camp has been reconstructed. I think there's been some expansion since he took his picture. The grate and surrounding rocks are not too different from when I camped there in 2006 (in a mostly intact pine forest). The picnic table is long gone. There’s an excellent bedside where, I think, the table had been. Camp is still marked by a big pole with a tape flag a top, moved some from Jack's picture and certainly very prominent. It almost seems a defiant statement: the Big Pines Camp will survive, even if the pines of Big Pines haven’t.
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:34 pm

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by jeff_aa6xa »

Date Hiked: October 26, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked up from the dam to a Blue Rock Ridge high point (2787). Took about 2 hours.
Some sections had grass growing over the trail. Lots of poison oak in the shady sections. Tread was well defined and easy to follow. Flagging was still there, but didn't seem necessary.
User avatar
Posts: 712
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by jack_glendening »

Date Hiked: June 18, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I went out to see the current state of the Big Pines Trail. Someone has kindly marked the trail with orange flagging, which did follow the old terrain-contouring trail instead of up-and-over the knobby firebreak (except the section just before the Blue Rock serpentine was skipped. Also a section near the last knob was not followed, but I can understand why since the ascent there is small, only 30 ft, and vegetation much less dense - I could see that becoming the new route, but for now am leaving it as "stubs" on my trailmap route). Following through the contouring sections can be tricky since the flags are widely spaced and branching "use tracks" have been beaten into the vegetation, but it is certainly possible. "Tread" is rough or non-existent in those sections. Lots of PO, of course. Overall, I found the trail generally "passable" but with some "difficult" spots - for those my GPS did help.

At one point there was a "Y" with a orange flag leading right but an even clearer path through the grass to the left - had it not been for the flag, I'd have thought the trail went left. Decided to see where the left fork went but it petered out after ~150 ft. It was headed towards Big Pines Camp so I went to check that out. Was surprised to find the camp in such excellent shape - see photo. The last post indicates that cleanup was done by "ajrunr", so kudos to him.

Was surprised to find a USGS geodetic marker along the trail, at an unusual spot since not on a high point. Also surprised it was not on the supposedly "official" compilation of USGS markers I have. Wonder what the story behind that is.

Mystery marker
Mystery marker
Big Pines Camp - resurrected
Big Pines Camp - resurrected
Big Sur Trailmap:

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by ajrunr »

Date Hiked: April 27, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Just back from a 3 day, 2 night trip from the dam to Pat Springs / Big Pines.
Time in: 7.5hrs (12:30pm to 8pm)
Time out: 5hrs (9am to 2pm)

We had 3 in our group. We met one that was already out there (had left 2hrs before us). We met another that left after us.

Trail: The last trail report is still accurate. Trail decent to the boundary, after that it is tougher going. Well marked in areas, but we still lost the trail several times. Some of the trail is eroded and narrow. GPS was very helpful with the latest updates from BigsurTrailmap.

If you are good at trail finding, experienced hiking/backpacking, and/or know the route, you should be fine. Definitely give yourself an extra hour to get there. It tooks us a lot longer than expected.

Pat Springs sites on the ridge are still good. Nice spots. Ones down by the trail aren't around. We marked one ~100 yards back (had a grill), but was slightly overgrown.

Big Pines: we camped here as the water was great from Danish Creek, and it was out of the cold wind (cold and eventually foggy/misty). We stumbled upon someone that found an old site at Big Pines, found a cooking grate. Site was overgrown (we slept on blackberry bushes), but we cleared off as best we could and redug the fire pit.
We marked this site, but it's ~30 yards off trail (down towards the creek) and a bit hard to find. Should be able to see it now.
Big Pines area still looks like a bomb went off. Will be a long time before it lives up to its name.

Trails -- More info
The person that camped w/ us at Big Pines had planned to do Double Cone (allocated himself 2 days to do it), but turned around and hiked out after Pat Springs. The weather was changing and conditions wouldn't be great.
Fog sat in Saturday night, by Sunday AM everything was wet and cold. Misty.
Hiked out with soaked clothes and boots (wet grass soaks everything!!).

Good trip and look forward to the next one.

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by lmoncher »

Date Hiked: April 15, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The last report stated that the trail from the trailhead to the wilderness boundary is in good condition. This is still the case. From the wilderness boundary to the junction of the Ventana Double Cone Trail, it becomes difficult. The trail has been flagged throughout this section. The 3 sections of trail starting at the wilderness boundary that veer to the north side of the ridge enter forested areas with 6" soft vegetation growing in the tread making it difficult to see. Approximately 40 trees of varying sizes are across the trail with some up or down hill walk arounds. At about mile 4, the trail crosses the dozer line and continues on the south side of the ridge. Chamise and yerba santa are growing into and in the tread. At about mile 5, flatter terrain and grass make the tread very faint and disappears often. Follow the orange flagging. The area around the connector/Big Pines junction burned very hot in the Soberanes Fire and consequently is very open now. Danish Creek is happily tumbling down the drainage. Splashes of wildflower color on the open slopes are all around.

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by dillinger »

Date Hiked: January 22, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Lower part of trail, from reservoir to the blue rock itself, is in good shape.
User avatar
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:47 am

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by jdoelman »

Date Hiked: January 21, 2018
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

This trail is transformed since prior to the Soberanes fire. The "trail" loosely follows the blue rock ridge. The former trail bypasses all high points along the ridgeline by traversing along the northern side of the ridge(except the westernmost bypass). Each bypass leaves the ridgeline at a point where the ridge becomes steeper than a decent hiking trail. There is one such bypass section just east of the Blue Rock, and another 4 west of the Blue Rock.
These bypass sections of "trail" form most of the trail (part of the trail does follow the ridge) between the blue rock and the point where the trail leaves the ridge toward the bottom of the "Big Pines" basin. In many cases the beginning of the bypass section of trail was flagged with ribbon. If you elect to folllow these sections of "trail" you will find most are followable but tread is almost non-existent and following the tread is difficult. The largest two of these bypass sections were unfollowable. Of the bypasses on the north side of Blue Rock ridge I failed to follow the easternmost bypass section and only succeeded in following the 2nd-most-easterly section on the return from Pat's Spring.
The trail through the "Big Pines" area is horribly overgrown. I was not able to follow the trail and elected to make a bee-line for the Pat's Spring area. This worked well. The former big-pines camp site is now more visible as all Pines within 100 yards of that site are burned and dead, the "Big Pines" area is now more aptly named "Dead Pines".
The Pat Springs area has many large pines remaining and is as beautiful as ever. There was no sign of anyone camping at any camps in the area, this includes the two overflow sites prior to reaching Pat's Spring, the slopy main Pat's Spring site and the two use-camps along the ridge. The table exists and has been moved to the lower of the use-camps.
Fred Watson
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:29 am

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by Fred Watson »

Date Hiked: November 23, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Started at dam. Went up just past the blue rocks, to high point 1/4 mile inside NF boundary. Tall grass & weeds & sticky seeds (hedge parsley? Torilis arvensis) after reaching Blue Rock Ridge. Concur with previous posts. Stuck to ridge line / dozer line. Tread apparent most of the time; but more like following a steep deer trail than a hiking trail. Didn't see any off-ridge route that might have existed.

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by Erik »

Date Hiked: November 11, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

It was a wilderness freeway up to Blue Rock ridge, it was game trails or no trails between Blue Rock ridge and the Ventana [aka VDC] trail. The trail is gone so we had to hike the dozer line which ended about a mile from the Ventana trail. Big Pines trail should bypass some of the knolls, but we stayed on the dozer line which added a lot of very steep ascending and descending to the hike. The last mile was difficult with many dead ends due to overgrown foliage. There is water flowing in the creek right below the Ventana trail (I believe it is the source for Danish creek). It is the only water source that we came across. We didn't make it to Pat Spring due to time constraints. There is some poison oak and thistles so long pants are needed. We also found some bear scat about a mile in from Los Padres dam. Out and back from Los Padres dam took a little over 9 hours.

PS: I would like to clarify that the last mile after the end of the dozer line was difficult because of many dead ends due to overgrown foliage. We made it to the ridge where the Ventana trail used to be. It appeared passable where we were at towards Pat Spring but the trail was gone. It's only a matter of time before new growth makes it impassible.

New Report