Marble Peak Trail

Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:53 am

Re: Marble Peak Trail (South Fork to Marble)

Post by mkellman »

Date Hiked: October 6, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Epic trail with top out on Marble Peak!
Heavy brush on first mile of trail. Fill up water at south fork trail/strawberry camp this is last running water. Tan Oak was dry.

Great ridge line views on intermediate peaks!

Our legs were shot at fire trail junction, but the last quarter mile to the apex of Marble peak is worth the view. We are forever grateful to the two very kind souls we met on the way for their generosity and for the bed of their pickup truck. :D

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Post by fishheaddz »

Date Hiked: September 28, 2019
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

We hiked from Arroyo Seco to Willow Creek Campsite as a weekend overnight. This trail is in pretty good shape and water abounds in Willow Creek. I was prepared for low flow and we were carrying a lot of water in, but there was plenty of water in the valleys below 2000 feet.

After the turn up willow creek canyon at Tassajara Creek Campsite (when all the creek crossing start), there is a little more brush and more poison oak close to the trail that is harder to avoid. Looks like I escaped with only a minor case of poison oak though, which is a miracle for Ventana! Great weekend.
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Joined: Tue May 07, 2019 5:07 pm

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Post by Firefly »

Date Hiked: September 23, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked Marble Peak trail from the junction with South Fork trail to Marble Peak ridge as part of a longer hike. It was really amazing to see how much had changed since I hiked here in early May of this year, only 4.5 months ago. The trail from South Fork junction to Tan Oak camp had a couple of insignificant water sources (small trickles and standing water) but very little. I camped at Tan Oak, a camp I'd mentally marked in May as "return here, very beautiful grassy knoll at the nexus of two babbling streams", but found it completely dry. Water was accessible from the scant stream a 5 minute walk down the trail in the direction of Marble Peak. The grassy knoll had turned into spiky dead grasses that that entirely covered my pants with burrs. There was no comfortable place to sit or to string a hammock. It was a good lesson to pay attention to the season when reading trail reports and a helpful experience to notice how drastically trails and camps can change in a very short time.

The section from South Fork junction to about 1/2 mile past Tan Oak camp was overgrown, with 8 foot high brush to move out of the way. I tapped my stick ahead of me to scare away any critters as I could not see where my feet stepped in this section. Slow going. So I was very pleased when after this short section, the trail became clear as it gained elevation and I could continue with ease. This overgrown section happened in less than 5 months! In May it was clear. Plants grow quickly!

There was no water at Indian use camp at the junction of Lost Valley. If you were really desperate, I found some standing water farther along, toward Marble Peak before the ascent, but it didn't look appealing. In May, there was a beautiful stream here. In Ventana, don't assume that is always the case.

I found bear scat on the this trail, and bear tracks in the sand in the middle of the North Coast ridge road.

I hiked 6 days & nights this week and never saw single other person. That is one of the reasons I love it here. But also why these trails get overgrown so quickly. Wish there was more federal funding for making wilderness areas accessible. This access to nature and solitude is one of the treasures of our country.

Thanks for all the work volunteers have done on the trails! You made my week!
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:50 pm

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Post by Dmitry »

Date Hiked: August 23, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked from Arroyo Seco to Big Sur on Aug 23-24, 2019. The Marble Peak trail takes about 8 hours of brisk walking. It has three parts.

The first part, up the stream from Arroyo Seco is clear and mostly flat. There is a few downed trees here and there, but I agree with the interactive map, it's a wilderness freeway. I didn't meet any other hikers, but bugs kept me good company.

Then the trail starts to climb and when it reaches the top, at the fork to the Zigzag camp, it flattens out again, staying on top of the mountains. It's really pretty up there, but the trail itself becomes overgrown. There is quite a bit of pushing through vegetation so I had to deploy my secret weapon, knee high socks, otherwise the brush scratches the ankles raw. There is water every half an hour or so.

Then the trail drops into the Strawberry camp area, and instantly becomes a jungle, complete with monkey cries and Viet Cong. I could only find water at the Tan Oak camp area, and that's where I wanted to stay for the night, until suddenly I saw a pile of scat which judging by its girth came from a bear, or a dinosaur. So, yeah, I changed my mind, and hiked all the way to the bottom of the Marble peak. I had enough momentum to climb the peak too, but it got dark, so I camped at the junction of Lost Valley Trail. It's a great spot, but Higgins Creek was dry.

The next morning, I climbed up the peak, and hiked north on the Coast Ridge Road. Until finally, Betsy M, who was on her way to a trail clearing event, was kind enough to share her water with me. And just when I started to smile, she showed me a game cam photo of the BEAR. Beware, the bear is real.

I hiked north along the Coast Ridge Road and met a few cars, which I deduced were headed to the meet too. I went downhill at Timber Top, and refilled my water bottles at the stream just off Boronda Trail. And then it was back to civilization, along Hwy 1 to the bus stop at Nepenthe.

Overall, it's a great weekend hike, if you can figure out the logistics.

[Ed: post edited to comply with our standards.]
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun May 26, 2019 3:39 pm

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Post by seagoat1724 »

Date Hiked: October 8, 2018
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Between Lost Valley Trail Junction and Coast Ridge Road.
Trail is wilderness freeway. Hot and exposed but good trail and tread.
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:10 pm

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Post by aaronmcd »

Date Hiked: June 16, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked Arroyo Seco to Horse Pasture, up to Tassajara cutoff, Tony Trail, to Shovel Handle camp and straight back on Marble peak. At Arroyo Seco I was informed of a black bear cub sighting last week.

Part of the trail was more difficult than Horse Pasture trail, which is labeled "difficult".

From Shovel Handle camp eastward the tread is evident, there is a ton of low brush growing into the trail but easily plowed through. One rattlesnake stopped me for a moment. The trail is washed out in a few spots but easily passable. Fairly fast moving here if you really need to but it isn't fun.

Further east as it descends there were a great many bushes growing together across the trail. Some thorny ones (don't know the name, these are the ones with spiky shiny leaves) grow all the way across and require pushing through and getting scraped up a bit even with sticks to help push them aside. Much slower going here, maybe 1.5 mph.

Towards willow spring camp there are a few places where brushing poison oak is unavoidable but mainly below hip level. Here and eastward it was mostly clear with maybe a half dozen scrambles down to creeks or over hip height deadfall. Much of the way is 8" wide lined with poison oak.

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Post by dgrey »

Date Hiked: May 30, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Backpacking trip from Arroyo Seco campground to Marble Peak. First tried to do a loop route going up Arroy-Seco Indians road to North Coast Ridge Trail and returning on Marble Peak Trail, but the first few seasonal streams on Arroy-Seco Indians road were completely dry, so went back down to Marble Peak trail and took that up to Marble Peak. Willow Creek water current is good throughout. About 1/3 of Marble Peak trail is covered in brush, sometimes quite dense, but passable, plus about 15-20 stream crossings, so progress is slow. Camp Creek and Shovel Handle Creek water current is good, plus some of the seasonal creeks near those have some water. The unnamed campsite below Strawberry Camp has water where the trail meets Tan Oak Creek. After that there is more dense bushwhacking going uphill, then pretty clear downhill to Indian Valley where the stream is pretty strong. Went about 10 minutes south into Lost Valley and the stream was still good. Flies, ticks, and poison oak all very friendly throughout.

(Ed. The unnamed camp below Strawberry where the trail meets Tan Oak Creek is officially Tan Oak Camp. A truly unnamed camp upstream from there on Zig Zag Creek, near where the South Fork Trail starts, is often called Tan Oak Use Camp.)
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Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:19 am

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Post by js_radford »

Date Hiked: May 28, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked from Arroyo Seco to Strawberry and thence to Rainbow and back, May 24-28. Delightfully moderate weather (drizzly a bit Sunday) and lots of water everywhere it is usually found and then some. FAR fewer flowers than last year but some nice displays here and there. More water than I've seen this late though a few remnant trickles on or near the tread dried up between my entry and exit across the same route.

- Horse Bridge to Willow Springs Camp: not of much concern except PO is a little worse than I've seen in years. I did not get a rash, though, despite lightly touching many leaves/twigs and having average sensitivity.
- Willow Spring to Strawberry: about 3 miles getting badly overgrown, including roses in Strawberry Valley (surprisingly passable now but on the verge of soon being bad). In-your-face brush getting a little annoying in last 1/3 mile above Willow Springs camp. Low brush after that, mostly thousands of Deer Weed bushes. It is so discouraging that a wilderness freeway of 3 years ago now requires plowing through "endless" low shrubbery.

- Horse Bridge to Strawberry: about 30, all but 2 easy to negotiate. A large branch fell apparently on May 27 (maybe even minutes before I got there) about 1/2 mile west of Horse Bridge with NO bypass possible except down a cliff or up a heavily covered slope of PO. Luckily I had my 18" pruning saw by then and cleared it in about 45 minutes (wet Oak is SO easy to cut!) except for the main branch on the ground. Just 100 yards away, I met 2 guys (only people I'd seen in almost 2 days) who were so deterred by the pile of branches that they wondered if they had taken the wrong trail.

TREAD: even if not visible (low brush!), never in doubt.


SUGGESTION: Carry a light folding saw if in doubt or there are reports of difficult dead falls. I carried only an 8" folding saw hiking in and was able to cut innumerable limbs and even an Alder (soft wood) over 8" diameter. Hard Oak limbs over about 4" diameter I left alone. It was amazing what I could dispatch pretty quickly!
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Jim Ringland
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Post by Jim Ringland »

Date Hiked: May 3, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked this westbound from the Arroyo-Seco Indians Road junction to the Lost Valley Trail junction over two days (with a layover day in between at Strawberry Valley).

Horsebridge to Tassajara Camp: Clear. There may be a few trivial deadfalls to step over and the ever-present poison oak to mind, but nothing much.

Tassajara Camp to Willow Springs Camp: On the edge between Clear and Passable. There's a tad more vegetation reaching into the trail here, but it is still non-woody stuff (including, of course, poison oak), and still fairly minor. A few simply managed blowdowns. The real obstacle, and one that probably doesn’t “count”, are the 19 crossings of Willow Creek, some of which, even on this early May trip, were ankle-deep wades rather than rock hops.

Willow Springs junction to South Fork Trail junction: Passable. The brush is closing in on the first climb from Willow Springs. Here it is woody, including a fair amount of shrubby oak. It’s not completely across the trail, but in places it's close. I was just a bit scratched up by the time I arrived at the divide between the Willow and Zigzag Creek drainages. From the divide on, fully clear sections mix ones that are bit more brushy. There's a little bit of slumped trail around Camp Creek and Shovelhandle Creek. As for flowers, there are lots of bush poppies and Ceanothus shrubs in bloom, but fewer annual flowers than I saw last May. The deerweed, this year's big new winner, is crowding them out. And on this section, I was surprised to meet a party of 10 hikers coming the other way. That’s the largest group I think I’ve ever seen in the Ventana.

South Fork Trail junction to 3500’ high point: Passable. Some sections where the growth is filling in -– Ceanothus, chamise, thimbleberries, and others -- and a bit of slumped trail make me reluctant to call this Clear, but it’s not very far into Passable territory. What’s not a problem are the California blackberries, even though they are lush at the side of the trail in the Tan Oak Creek section. What did Flyin’ Brian use to clear them? A light saber? The work is still holding. Still some of the rare fire-following pink-flowered Sidalcea hickmanii ssp. hickmanii (Hickman's checkerbloom) but much less than last year.

3500’ high point to Lost Valley Trail junction: Wilderness Freeway. To merely call this Clear understates what a magnificent piece of (very recent) trail work we have here. Nice use camp at the Lost Valley Trail junction. Those are valley oaks down there.

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Post by Firefly »

Date Hiked: May 1, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I hiked the entire length of Marble Peak trail from its junction with North Coast ridge road to Arroyo Seco-Indians Rd.

There is a lot of up and down, but the trail is obvious the entire time. Lots of water in creeks at least every half hour or so. A lot of poison oak in the valleys, especially around Willow camp. Went mid week and did not see anyone else on this trail for 3 days.

Tan Oak camp looked particularly beautiful, at the junction of two creeks. I stayed at Willow, which is in a wooded clearing.
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