Big Pines Trail

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jack_glendening
Posts: 712
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by jack_glendening »

Date Hiked: November 21, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The northern end of the Big Pines Trail is outside the National Forest, so I hiked out to the serpentine rock outcrop to view the effect of the fire. What I saw immediately was backburn, but beyond lay the effects of the wildfire. Looking at Elephant Mountain from afar, of the tree foliage roughly half was green with the other half showing fire damage - of course could not tell how damaged the tree trunks were.

As to the trail itself, the ascent to the ridge was burned through but the tread remains good except for a 6 foot undercut section which had been marked with pink ribbon (apparently fire fighters since the same pink ribbon also marked such things as the end of the dozer cut). Don't know if a sign had marked where the trail met the ridgeline but if so it is gone now - the trail's departure from the ridge is easy to miss so I put an orange ribbon there. Beyond was essentially dozer tread. The first few places where the trail departs from the ridgeline firebreak had been cleared, but beyond they were not. I attempted to follow the first such one but it became messy so afterward I stayed on the ridgeline firebreak, being careful not to disturb the erosion control ditches along it.

A sign still marks the start of the Danish Creek Trail. A firecrew cut a hand line along the ridgelet crossing it, marked by cut stumps.

Jack
Attachments
Ribbon has "Killer Tree" emprinted
Ribbon has "Killer Tree" emprinted
Danish Creek Trail & sign
Danish Creek Trail & sign
Handline cuts
Handline cuts
Click to view panorama
Click to view panorama
Click to view panorama
Click to view panorama
Big Sur Trailmap: https://bigsurtrailmap.net
Mojave_Geek

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by Mojave_Geek »

Date Hiked: July 8, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Went up to where the fire break meets the trial on Blue Rock Ridge. We took the old road from the road around the lake rather than the trial given some of the TRs here and dislike of PO. The road is obvious and takes off where a "TRAIL" sign points you on the other fork. The road is fine. Note that the road is not aligned precisely with that shown on the USFS version of the 7.5 minute topo - it starts a bit later and ends a bit higher up the ridge from Danish Creek trail.

From there up to the main ridge the trail was quite overgrown but not too much PO and not overly hard to travel as it winds back and forth along the ridge. Whenever it swings to the south side of the ridge the trail is clear with evident dirt tread. On the other side, you have to keep your eyes open but there's not many places it can go so navigation is not difficult.
anon

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by anon »

Date Hiked: April 6, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked from the dam out toward big pines camp (not sure if I made it quite there b/c it was dark). First 3-4 miles of trail are great and passable without too much effort aside from copious amounts of poison oak, but after that the trail grows very faint at times and the brush is quite overgrown in places. I was happy I had a trekking pole that I could hold in front of me to push through the brush. No water on trail until two creeks near big pines camp (just as the trail bends south), which I am guessing is around mile 7. Several deadfalls in the forest. Do not expect to move quickly over this terrain with this much growth.

The second day, I simply backtracked back to the dam, and this proved harder than I expected. Ended up losing the trail a few times, most notably at a makeshift camp in the forest near the wilderness border. Ended up bushwhacking around for around 50 minutes looking for the trail, found it, immediately lost it again and eventually just followed a compass bearing until I saw a rocky ridge I recognized just outside of the wilderness border and hiked up to it to get back on the trail. Possibly since I did not know when I was on or off the trail, some areas were very eroded and the trail gave way a few times, to the point where I was flat on my chest to prevent sliding down the hill.

Overall I did not enjoy this trail. The almost complete lack of trail markers (tape tied to branches? really?) or signage really distracts from the natural beauty and enjoyment of the area.

[Ed.note: this is an overgrown _wilderness_ trail and so requires more experience/skills than does a parks trail]

to_the_editor wrote:
I wanted to point out that making comments like this, as an editor, you set a tone and example for the forums. If someone posts a trail report, I would expect you to be grateful, whereas the perceived tone of this note is sarcastic and condescending. No one needs _your_ opinion since it's not _your_ trail report. See what I did there? I suggest keeping your comments in check and instead simply being thankful of those providing valuable trail information since otherwise you will only succeed in alienating others from the VWA.
sboor

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by sboor »

Date Hiked: February 13, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked the Big Pines trail from Los Padres Dam to Big Pines where I turned towards Pat Springs. Generally I would say it was pleasantly challenging with the caveat that the thick poison oak is weeks away from being a real hazard. The PO was just starting to leaf out when I hiked it - definitely need pants, and maybe a full hazmat suit in a couple of weeks. I took the trail from the bottom up to the Rattle Snake Creek junction, but I would recommend the fire road instead. Looked clear and would cut out a lot of steep cross slope tread with PO to each side. A few large dead-fall trees were fairly easy to get around. When you switch to the south side of the ridge you get out of the PO and into low but dense chaparral. the trail was still pretty easy to find and the low brush was easy to push through - I found it almost pleasant as I wishfully imagined it was helping to scrub the poison oak oil off of my pants and shirt. As you get to Big Pines the trail gets luxuriously clear.
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Steve B
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 5:39 pm
Location: Del Rey Oaks, CA

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by Steve B »

Date Hiked: November 1, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked in from Bottcher’s Gap with the VWA trail crew with the intent of logging out the Big Pines Trail from the Double Cone/Big Pines junction to where the Big Pines Trail hits the dozer line. Someone has gone in to the Wilderness with a chainsaw and cleared most of the trees on the Big Pines Trail and some of the Double Cone Trail. We flagged the trail from the Double Cone Trail to the junction of the old Big Pines Camp. Big Pines Camp is now a ‘lost’ camp due to dead hazard trees and it is covered with blackberries and other vegetation. The Big Pines Trail is brushy but not too hard to follow. The creek at the old Big Pines Camp was flowing.
pantilat
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:16 pm

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by pantilat »

Date Hiked: June 6, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I last traveled the Big Pines Trail on January 10th and it looks like very few people have used this trail in the interim, thus the trail has become more difficult. My description of current conditions is from top (Pat Springs) to bottom (Los Padres Dam).

The Big Pines cutoff trail and the upper section of the trail through the burned pine forest are in better shape as many big blowdowns have been removed. These parts are now "clear." When the trail merges onto the crest of the ridge and onto the old firebreak things become increasingly brushy and difficult. The chaparral is growing vigorously on the fire break and there are several sections with push throughs and some doubts where the trail is actually located in spots, especially in areas of tall grass. The trail deviates from the ridge at a few points traversing on the north side of the ridge in oak woodland that is rife with poison oak of epic proportions. In the winter the flagging for these deviations to the north side were obvious but it has since become faded and/or more concealed in brush. In the oak woodland the poison oak grows in all forms... groundcover, bush, vine, small tree, you name it, making it a veritable poison oak jungle! Where the trail is not concealed in poison oak, it is covered in a thick layer of leaves making for slippery and faint tread. Lots of poison oak contact is unavoidable but travel in the poison oak woodland (where the official trail is located) is preferable to staying on the chaparral-covered ridge that includes some extra ups and downs. After the blue rock of Blue Rock Ridge there are still some sections of brush, poison oak and tall grass growing in the trail, but things improve as the fireroad becomes more defined. I took the Los Padres Usetrail down to the Los Padres Dam instead of the bottom part of the Big Pines Trail. In the winter the Los Padres Usetrail was deeply eroded after the winter rains, but heavy equipment recently graded the "usetrail" into a nice wide (albeit steep) dirt road, presumably to allow for quick access to the Blue Rock Ridge fire break in the event of a fire. Blue Rock Ridge is a pretty spot and the Big Pines Trail is an important link between Pat Springs/Ventana Double Cone Trail and Los Padres Dam. Hopefully it gets some more use to prevent some of the sections from disappearing.
YNVNE1
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:50 am

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by YNVNE1 »

Date Hiked: February 15, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Can confirm, the last post is accurate. There are many sections that are rife with poison oak. Beware.
pantilat
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:16 pm

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by pantilat »

Date Hiked: January 10, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We covered this trail on the last leg of a loop out of Los Padres Dam including the Carmel River Trail-Puerto Suello Trail-Ventana Cone Trail-Big Pines Trail (see forum for reports on these other trails). Heading down from Pat Springs, we took the Big Pines Cutoff Trail which is easy to follow and mostly clear except for some large toppled pine tree trunks over the trail. The upper part of the Big Pines trail has several enormous Pine Tree trunks to clamor over. After departing the zone of the once proud pine forest (mostly obliterated in the 2008 fires), the trail becomes more brushy but the brush is more of an annoyance than anything. There are times when the trail braids in the brush in sections where it shares with the firebreak, but the way is never in doubt. Along the ridge there are several points where the trail deviates from the old firebreak, which sits on top of the ridge religiously. It's now definitely easier to follow the trail, which is less brushy and also traverses the hillside without needless elevation gains. These points where the trail deviates from the fire road are marked with flags that are clearly visible. When the trail deviates to the north side of the ridge into oak woodland, which is a couple miles in the aggregate, the trail is entirely covered in waist to sometimes head high poison oak. It's festering with poison oak in epic proportions and pants and long sleeve shirt are highly recommended and required for those who are sensitive. I felt like we were swimming in the unavoidable poison oak and I can only imagine what it will look like when the leaves come in. Aside from the poison oak, the terrain in the oak woodland is steep and the trail is covered in several inches of dried oak leaves which are slippery. Past the Blue Rock (heading downhill), the trail is on an old roadbed and much less brush/poison oak. Near the bottom of the ridge we took the Los Padres usetrail shortcut. A dozer has cleared out this access point to the firebreak/Big Pines Trail within the last year and it's open and clear although the recent rains have dug some channels into the road.
sgilden

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by sgilden »

Date Hiked: October 18, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

From Los Padres Dam to Blue Rock Ridge the trail is mostly clear and the tread is well defined. There is one deadfall on the way up to the ridge, but it is easy to get over. Once past Rattlesnake Creek trail junction the Big Pines Trail becomes slightly overgrown with waist to head high brush when you get close to Blue Rock Ridge. I recommend long pants for this hike for the short sections of overgrown trail. We hiked this as a short day trip to the blue rock on Blue Rock Ridge.
Lynnelle n Derek

Re: Big Pines Trail

Post by Lynnelle n Derek »

Date Hiked: June 28, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Did overnight backpack Los Padres Dam to Pat Springs via Big Pine Trail. Whew, got beat up, poison-oaked, and broiled nicely in 90 degree heat, but was a good workout. Not a trail for the faint of heart.

Took Jeffrey Shaeffer's "Jeep Trail" shortcut and was easy to follow the road but with 17 degree calf-busting slope. Then it was just brushy but you could fairly easily see tread, until the Blue Rock Ridge. Then you start climbing in earnest. Thanks, Steve, for putting all the trail-marking tape! Gave us moral support to know we were headed the right way. Unfortunately, where the official trail is, in the lovely shade and gradually graded on the side of the hills, has now grown over with a fairly solid mat of calf-or-waist-or head-high Poison Oak. So, me being ridiculously sensitive to the stuff, we had to opt instead to hike the ridge/dozer cut most the way up, off-trail, sometimes on but sometimes not, on deer trails, pushing straight up or crashing straight down, through blackberries, yellow star thistles, and head-high ceanothus, so we were glad to have long pants and long sleeves. Cleared a few small trees along the way. Blue Rock is super-cool. Got my shoes full of stickers and spiky grasses, but saw chubby fat hyperactive Monarch butterfly caterpillars on milkweed, very sweet! Also many wildflowers, even though so dry. Fireweed, Wolf mint, yellow asters, 2 toned monkey flowers.

Opted to take the shady official trail on last big slope, by this time it was 90 degrees. But that's where I got PO, there's so much it's unavoidable at times. Didn't see Big Pines camp, maybe it's down by Danish Creek? No sign. After Big Pines, the cutoff trail to Pat Springs is clearly marked (Thanks, VWA, neat signs!!) and is a beautiful level clear trail for 500 yards, then it meets many big downed trees and becomes hard to follow, if not for Steve's flags. Great spirit-lifter to hear Danish Creek burbling happily away, a lot of water for this drought. Then you actually cross the creek and can take a much-needed bath in its shallow but clear, cold water. Good flow, even though only 2 in. deep. Crazy Tiger Lilies. Pat Springs also got good flow. Very few bugs, and 30 mph winds all night long kept them off us. We wanted a workout, and man did we get one.
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