Santa Lucia Trail

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Betsy M
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Spur to Arroyo Seco-Indians Road)

Post by Betsy M »

Date Hiked: March 9, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

A VWA Trail Crew, with help from Cal Poly students, worked on the spur trail, clearing all the logs and doing minor brushing. The spur from the junction where the sign points to Last Chance Camp is clear. There are still a few issues with brush in this section, but nothing serious.
Sign at the junction
Sign at the junction
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Re: Santa Lucia Trail (Arroyo Seco Side)

Post by mikesplain »

Date Hiked: March 4, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section- Camp Cawatre / Adobe to Santa Lucia Trail / Arroyo Seco-Indians Road Cutoff junction-
Passable, well-signed and easily followed except where the trail follows the creek bed (ample flagging there so you won't get lost);
I counted eight crossings, 1 large tree and 3 small trees down, not another human soul on the trail that day.
Not too brushy, but a good bit of off-camber and collapsed tread that could use a little work.
THANKS to the VWA Trail Crew's efforts on the first mile or so- a major improvement to the last time I hiked here.
Poison oak is unavoidable and I counted 3 species of ticks, which were fairly abundant in cool, moist north and east-facing pockets.
Lots of flowers already in bloom- annuals like Nemophila, Dodecatheon, Trichelostemma, Castilleja, Cardamine, Saxifraga, plus 2 species of Ceanothus- C. oliganthus and (I think) C. leucodermis.

Section- Cutoff junction to Last Chance Camp-
Passable, almost "clear", but lots of encroashing poison oak and a boggy stretch just before the camp that could use a few stepping stones;
Last Chance is a fine camp in a lovely meadow alongside SL Creek- you'd probably have the place to yourself any time of the year.
Again, not another human to be seen on this day.
Claytonia, Calandrina and many others in bloom throughout the area, trail appears to be well-flagged upstream, but I didn't go very far beyond the camp.

The cutoff trail back to Arroyo Seco-Indians Road would also rank passable, but it appears to have been poorly brushed somewhat recently, so watch for overhanging and protruding branches that could easily poke an arm, leg or eye.
LOTS of ticks encountered on this mostly shady stretch, and a large recently fallen coast live oak near the top makes for very difficult passage- above seemed easier than below.
Again, no other humans encountered.
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Re: Santa Lucia Trail only

Post by orfalecchio »

Date Hiked: December 30, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

My plan was to make a daytrip on Santa Lucia Trail up south as far as I could get in one day (including return). At Arroyo Seco parking, a couple told me about a slide from 2011 somewhere on this trail rendering it impassable and that it was closed at the intersection west below Junipero Serra Peak. I took Arroyo Seco Road until the cut-off at P. 1050 (Wilderness Press map) to the adobe hut at Santa Lucia Creek. So far so good. The trailhead beyond the ford was easy to find. The trail climbs out of the valley on it's west side. Easy to follow, no obstacles. After 30 minutes or so it eventually drops down until the bed of the creek. Now the creek has to be followed until a kind of promontory forcing the river to make a sharp bend to the east. Until that point I had to ford about eight times which was annoying and had quite some deadfalls. Though the trail was well flagged and easy to find. It was way more straightforward once the trail climbed out of the gorge to the junction with SE03 (see photo below).
Soon afterwards the trail drops again and Last Chance campground is reached. I then continued only until the top of the next step in the valley. The trail climbs this step on the east side and opposite you can see a waterfall (picture below).
Until there, it was easy to follow the trail, only some brush on the last stretch. Orientation was generally good and the entire stretch of trail from the adobe hut until the step above shown waterfall (I would say about a 3/4 mile south of Last Chance camp) was evident.

On the way back I chose the SE03 branch to Indians Road because I didn't want to deal with the 8 fordings down the gorge again. The first part where it parallels the contour lines is easy to find but you have to deal with more deadfalls. Then the trail climbs the slope directly to the west for about 400 feet and this section is through open wood and little meadows and is straightforward. Though I lost the trail on the last stretch until Indians Road due to lots of deadfalls and ended up on top of a little ridge above Indians Road, south of the official trailhead. To get back on trail, I decided to stay on the ridgeline which was easier to follow because of less vegetation and had magnificent views (below). I then reached the trailhead within a couple of minutes.
Following Indians Road and Arroyo Seco Road back to the parking was no problem.

All in all, I was hiking for about 8 1/2 hours (including breaks) and it was a magnificent day with the gorge views and the crest vistas. All but the last stretch of SE03 was fairly easy to follow and evident. On the sections hiked I have seen no evidence of a slide.
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greg meyer
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Re: Santa Lucia Trail (Arroyo Seco to Last Chance Camp)

Post by greg meyer »

Date Hiked: November 17, 2012
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

For the Fall Break the VWA sponsored a trail service project with students from California State University, Monterey Bay - for more details and photos see our Youth in Wilderness Facebook page ( ... ts&fref=ts)
Sections Hiked
Arroyo Seco Campground to the Adobe via the Santa Lucia Trail
Wilderness Freeway. This piece of trail is in good shape with excellent tread and clearly gets well used. We removed two small trees and cut back a number of shrubs and trees that were encroaching on the trail.

Adobe back to Arroyo Seco via the Cawatre Trail
Clear and passable. This trail is much less used, longer and steeper than the Santa Lucia Trail. The tread is narrow and uneven in places, with shrubby sections that are crowding the trail. We did some light lopper work to open up the path.

Adobe to Last Chance camp via the Santa Lucia Trail
Passable. We flagged two areas, cut back encroaching shrubbery, removed 4 small trees and worked on 5 washed-out sections of tread. Much of the thread is narrow and uneven. It should be noted that if you are using the Wilderness Press Ventana Map, the trail is clearly mis-marked on the map, showing it starting on the north side of the creek canyon and then staying down in the creek bottom. In reality the trail starts by crossing Santa Lucia Creek and then climbs up and stays on the southwest wall of the canyon for most of the way to Last Chance camp. The canyon is folded and steep; the exposed metamorphic rocks and sheer walls of the creek are really beautiful.
trail sign.JPG
trail work.JPG
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Post by KathyW »

Date Hiked: November 24, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from Trailhead near Santa Lucia Memorial Park Campground to the summit of Junipero Serra.

A beautiful day.

Although bushes do encroach on the trail in many places, the trail is easy to follow all the way to the summit. There are few down logs, but nothing difficult to go over or around. Just wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt to avoid getting scratched up.

Driving Conditions from Jolon to the trailhead: No problems - an easy drive. The gate did not have a guard on duty and it was open, there wasn't any water at the first creek crossing, there was a little water at the second creek crossing.

Some pictures of the hike: ... &k=3WQBS6F

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Post by Guest »

Date Hiked: October 8, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The lower portion of the trail is passable until the climb becomes steeper and switchbacks up to the junction of the trail coming from Arroyo Seco Campground. Brush is the major obstacle. Tread is in good condition. After the junction, brush quite often encroaches on the trail. The last 1 1/2 miles becomes unpleasant due to the degree of encroachment by manzanita, oak, and ceanothus. Contact with brush is inevitable and frequent, although the trail is obvious. Many trees have fallen over the trail on the last portion of the climb to the tower.

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Arroyo Seco Side)

Post by jpdoelman »

Date Hiked: October 7, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The hike from Arroyo Seco, past the Adobe to Last Chance Camp was passable except for the difficulty(described in an earlier post) in the short section in the Santa Lucia Creek. From Last Chance Camp to Eagle Creek-SantaLucia Creek divide is still difficult, though not as difficult as it was when I last passed through. No water at the "Ant Camp" (see map) in the Eagle creek area. Water was found (thanks to helpful hints from VWA expert JL) about 100 yards "downstream" of the camp area. That water prevented a hasty retreat back down to Last Chance Camp. Continuing up/south, the trail is very difficult to find just past some tree downage which spans the creek. On top of the tree crossing the creek is a rock marking the trail. After that point it is necessary to climb steeply going generally upstream until finding the trail about 100 feet above the creek. From that point the trail is in passable condition until getting near the Eagle creek/Roosevelt creek divide.... after that I presume the trail is in poor/impassible condition
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Post by mikesplain »

Date Hiked: May 13, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section hiked: Santa Lucia Memorial Park to Junipero Serra summit.

It occurs to me that we should consider separating the summit trail from the remaining Santa Lucia Trail to avoid confusion.
In the meantime, I'll rate the southern part of the route as generally passable. This is the section from the trailhead at Memorial Park (the Indians) to Junipero Serra Peak.

Section- Santa Lucia Memorial Park to the saddle at 3.7 miles -
Clear, but maybe not for much longer as lots of fire-killed manzanita and ceanothus is beginning to collapse into the trail;
poison oak is present but generally avoidable, deerweed (probably tick-ridden in the wet season) is seriously encroaching & completely unavoidable

Section- Saddle at 3.7 miles to the divide between the Roosevelt Creek and Santa Lucia Creek drainages-
Clear with a bit of encroaching ceanothus & scrub oak here & there

Section- Roosevelt/SLC divide to summit-
Passable, occasionally approaching Difficult-
lots of deadfall to step over & at least 2 significant detours

The summit is littered with unsightly debris & I dream of the day when hikers, pack stock & helicopters
have hauled off the remnants of the cabin, outhouse & tower once & for all.
Nevertheless, it's still fantastic up there & the weather was remarkably mild & bug-free for May.
deadfall past the second saddle
deadfall past the second saddle
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Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Post by jack_glendening »

Date Hiked: April 8, 2012
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

For the section from the adobe to Last Chance Falls viewpoint (just north of Bluff Usecamp)

In "clear" condition except for the creek-crossing section, where there were a good number of flags to guide one. I was expecting at best a "Passable" trail, instead found it a delight to hike through the gorgeous Santa Lucia Creek canyon. My thanks (and those of the other 9 hikers with me) to Jan Doelman and anyone else who has worked on it.

Jack Glendening

Added later: forgot to mention that the short section from Last Chance Camp to the crossing of Santa Lucia Creek just south of it is better rated "passable" as the tread was not well defined there, so relied upon flagging in its stead.
Big Sur Trailmap:
AT Girl

Re: Santa Lucia Trial (Pimkolam Summit)

Post by AT Girl »

Date Hiked: February 11, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The trail is still in good condition with the creeklet still flowing across the trail before you climb the headwall to the first saddle. From the first saddle to the saddle at the W ridge the trail is in good condition but the brush is growing to turn into a scratchworthy enterprise above the reddish rock outcrop. The treadway is easy to follow but the scrub oak makes for some scratching. From this point to the end of the traverse and the final climb up the summit dome the treadway is in good shape but covered with many many wind downed pines. (The "water" sign on the tree is gone but the nails are still in place.) The pines were burned in 2008 Indian Fire so the majority of small branches are off, enjoy your clambering over and around the trunks. The final climb up to the summit is in good shape.
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