Ventana Wilderness Forums • Marble Peak Trail - Page 8
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 1:26 pm
by moglythewildchild
Date Hiked: September 7, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This report is on trailhead off Indians road to somewhere between tassajara camp and willow springs camp.

Ok so this was a day trip for me from array seco to as far as i could scout on a Sunday knowing i had work the next day. From Ventana Wilderness sign to Tassajara Camp it was more of a wilderness freeway , I had never been hiking in the area before so i was taking my Time but shortly after passing Tassajara Camp the trail turns to brush and zig zaging across the willow creek several times. I'm not sure if tassajara camp is still there or if i passed it, or never reached it. [editor: Adobe Camp is located just past the Horsepasture Trail junction, and Tassajara Camp is a large camp on the right, where Tassajara Creek turns, and the Marble Peak Trail begins following Willow Creek, with many creek crossings.] either way the trail was gone.there were tons of small fly swarming and it was very dense brush.I loved it( other than bugs). not for everyone took 3.5 hours to reach my turn around point. 1.25 hours of that time was spent working my way threw dense growth on willow creek.i will be returning on may 12 this time for 7 days, can't wait to go off trail and find something new. i will report after the trip

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:16 pm
by jack_glendening
Date Hiked: April 21, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report is for the western-most section, between its junctions with North Coast Ridge Rd and Indian Valley Trail

The trail was considerably deteriorated from its condition on my last backpack to Indian Valley, just 5 months previous. due to extensive downfall along the eastern slope of Marble Peak, likely from the November windstorm. I took along a 15 inch saw and was mightily glad - it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible given the steep friable slope, had I not been able to saw limbs out of the way.

On my last visit I had noted that someone had been maintaining this trail, since many large diameter tree trunks had been sawed and moved aside and the path was "Passable". However the maintainer seems not be have been back since the windstorm. After my sawing, one can now squeeze through with a backpack, except for one place, hence is also currently "Passable", but not as easily as it was before.

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:16 am
by David Stone
Date Hiked: November 28, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Marble Peak Trail, from Tan Oak Camp to Lost Valley Trail

Apologies that this report is many months late, but I was thinking of coming back up to Big Sur soon and recalled that I had intended to write this report up.

My friend and I spent the last night of our 4-day Thanksgiving weekend trip at Tan Oak Camp. We departed for the coastal ridge before 7 AM and encountered intense brush on the Marble Peak Trail heading west from Tan Oak Camp about a half mile from camp. The trail went from highly camouflaged in the heavy, chest- to head-high brush to non-existent within a quarter mile after first encountering the overgrowth. We attempted to stream walk but were thwarted, again by dense overgrowth, and decided to bushwhack straight up the sides of the canyon (we both had to be back in San Diego the next day, so we didn't see much of an alternative at the time). What resulted from this was the worst bushwhacked I have ever done in my life, where my clothing and skin were abrasively tormented with everything from insurmountable brush to razor-sharp burned out and dead manzanita plants that populated the upper echelons of the canyon. We managed to cross the first ridge and recover some semblance of the trail when passing over. We were actually able to follow the trail 75% of the time to the Lost Valley Trail, mostly thanks to the survey tape one of the board members here had placed (THANK YOU). As the trail wound down through the canyon fringes, however, it was still relatively easy to follow but basically unfeasible to hike upon. The trail, mostly rough sand in texture, would frequently crumble underneath our footsteps and threaten to send us sliding 50 feet into what were essentially crevasses with dense brush hiding one's ultimate fate at the bottom; we frequently pondered some fate similar to the pack horse. It took us over 5 hours to hike around 4 miles to Lost Valley Trail; we lost a Nalgene and sleeping pad (!? I have no idea how my partner managed that, and we are both deeply regret leaving behind such traces) through the brush, and I came out, due to the immense amounts of cuts across my body, with systematic poison oak that lasted until late December, even after steroid treatment.

The Lost Valley trail junction was covered with signs of mountain lion, with enormous amounts of footprints and scat within a tenth of a mile around the junction. The signs became more sparse but still noticeable as we hiked up towards the Coastal Ridge Road; we were hoping that we might have the delightful surprise of encountering one, but the encounter never presented itself. The trail from Lost Valley junction to the Coastal Ridge Road is quite passable, aside from a few large downed trees, and had evidently been cleared up recently (again, thanks to forum members!).

In hindsight I wish I had the advice available here! Furthermore, this was my friend's first wilderness backpacking trip. I may have turned him away from this wonderful place forever, mostly thanks to this trail (and my poor planning).

Bottom line to take from this melodramatic report: avoid Marble Peak Trail east of the Lost Valley Trail junction (up until Tan Oak Camp) at all costs, the wilderness has reclaimed it.


Editors note: as the person whose previous Trail Report is mentioned by this poster (reporting impassable conditions west of Tan Oak Camp and placing the ribbons mentioned), I was certainly interested to hear that someone made their way through - I still consider it the worst bushwhacking experience I've encountered in the Ventana in terms of energy expended for distance made (and I had just a day pack). JG

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:05 pm
by Chad H
Date Hiked: February 19, 2012
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

From Strawberry Camp to Willow Creek Camp:
This is a nice section of trail. There are a few spots near Camp Creek, and Shovel Handle Creek where brush is encroaching. Green and fast growing near the water, but nothing difficult. The creeks were both flowing quite well. We were happy to run into Betsy, Jacob, and Greg doing some trail maintenance just west of Willow Creek Camp. They had taken care of the issues in Betsy's report (just before this one). This was also quite welcome after the Black Cone Trail.
Thank You Betsy, Jacob, and Greg for volunteering and working some trail magic for everyone to enjoy!

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:19 pm
by Betsy M
Date Hiked: January 14, 2012
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section: From the Trailhead on the Arroyo Seco-Indians Road to Willow Springs Camp

From the Arroyo Seco-Indians Road to Tassajara Creek Camp, this trail is a wilderness freeway. Actually it is an old jeep road, and still as wide as a jeep road for most of the way. At Tassajara Creek Camp the trail begins 14 creek crossings, which can take some time, but all the crossings are now clear of the alder log piles that had been obstructing them since last spring. In early January when we did this hike, the water level in Willow Creek was low enough that all the crossings were possible without removing boots.

Willow Springs Camp did lose a large white oak, but the other trees there are in good shape and this is a large, beautiful camp. There is a toilet located up the hill above the camp. To get to the toilet, hike out of camp as if you were continuing up the Marble Peak Trail. After about 100 yards, turn right at a small stump, and walk uphill about 200 yards.
toilet sized.jpg
Section: Willow Springs Camp to Strawberry Valley

From Willow Springs to the saddle the trail is in good shape, but brushy near the top. For about a mile past the saddle, to where the trail heads in towards Camp Creek, there is lots of encroaching brush, primarily warty-leaf ceanothus. The rest of the way to Strawberry Valley is clear, although brush is starting to push hikers off of the tread, and dry ravel has piled up on the tread, making it outsloped and difficult to walk on in many places.

We met two hikers who planned to hike to Marble Peak. They reported the trail is impassable from Strawberry Valley heading towards Tan Oak Camp.

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:05 am
by jack_glendening
Date Hiked: November 14, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

This report is for the section east of the trail's intersection with the Lost Valley Trail.

The tread is followable, although encroaching brush and downfall requires one to occasionally hunt for the path, making the trail "passable", until 0.4 miles west of Tan Oak Camp. There the trail descends to the creek and became "impassable" - a sea of ceanothus, vines up to one's hips, and some narrow deep gulleys make it the worst bushwhacking experience I've ever had. I spent 1.4 hours trying to find tread, making only 0.2 miles of headway in that time, and never reached Tan Oak Camp. For anyone trying to go along this section, I'd recommend trying to stay higher if possible, away from the creek and its vines - the vines are like Lilliputian ropes, tying one down, making even lifting a foot difficult, and sapping one's energy. And there are some very narrow but deep gulleys hidden by the vines - I once stepped on what I thought was solid ground but found myself falling down 4 feet into the gulley they hid. (After the hike I was told about someone taking horses along this stretch many years ago, their pack horse falling into a gulley and being hurt so badly that it needed to be put down!) Or else creek walk (although that is made difficult by the narrow gully it is in).

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:02 am
by jack_glendening
Date Hiked: November 14, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report is for the westernmost section, from the intersection with Lost Valley Trail west to North Coast RIdge Road.

Someone has been working on this section and the tread is in good shape, but some downed trees hinder travel with a backpack. There is now a new sign marking the intersection of the MP Trail with the Lost Valley Trail. Going westward from that sign, there can be some difficulty determining the correct route since pig tracks lead in many directions from the intersection sign and the path across the creek is rather thin - specifically, if one takes the path that aligns with the sign one end ends crossing the creek south of the actual trail crossing and separated from the trail by a wall of brush. It took me three tries before I found the correct path, so I placed a few flags there to help.

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:39 am
by rt1
The trail to ZigZag has been lost for decades

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 5:26 pm
by iivvgg
Date Hiked: September 5, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Trail is clear from Indians Road to Tassajara Creek. From Tassajara Creek to Willow Springs, we found some encroaching brush and forking use trails, plus swarms of gnats with admixtures of mosquitoes and biting flies. Poison oak was pretty bad around the shins; I unzipped my pantlegs and washed them with soap when we got to camp. Stock parties will find some nigh (neigh?) impassable deadfalls. Both the poison oak and gnats mostly disappeared once the trail pulled away from the creek. (Just below this point there is a nice campsite, not marked on the map, in a cathedral grove of oaks). We counted 18 crossings of Willow Creek. None were particularly difficult, thanks to our helpful trail crews.

Our destination had been Zigzag Camp, but we went all the way into the canyon of Camp Creek and never found the spur trail down the hill. At one point, we found some orange ribbons tied to the burned remains of manzanitas, appearing to be trail markers, but they led us to what was clearly just more brush and not a trail.

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Posted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:53 am
by js_radford
Date Hiked: July 10, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Beyond the South Fork Trail Jct. in Strawberry Valley, Marble Peak Trail tread is traceable once one is across the seasonal stream near there, to Tan Oak Camp and a few hundred yards beyond, which is as far as I went.

Between Strawberry Valley and the Tony Trail, tread is good to excellent with some slip-outs. I removed some brush and obstacles causing off-tread walking, which is extremely destructive of tread, which I repaired in critical sections. But there remain other problems needing repair soon. I also cut all the deadfalls between Willow Springs and the Tony Trail junction, except one small one 4" log (any backpacking saw can handle that last one).

There is some serious brush in the cove just before one rounds the corner going uphill to Camp Creek cove. That lasts a very short time and is but a very tiny hint at extensive problems to come on the South Fork Trail past the Black Cone Trail junction and on the BCT about .6 miles beyond Strawberry.

Otherwise, there is very little tall brush but a substantial amount of shin-brushing vegetation such as the gloriously blooming (now faded) Deer Weed.

Water this year (into mid-July!) between Willow Springs and Strawberry has been delightfully abundant, with fill-up sources every hour at most.