Stone Ridge Trail

Inger

Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Post by Inger »

Date Hiked: December 8, 2019
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

I've hiked Kirk Creek to Cone Peak several times. On this rainy December day I decided to try Stoney Ridge out of Vincente Flat. Made it just past Limekiln Creek before I encountered a large tree across the trail. Note, this was not a tree trunk but a thick network of branches (crown?). The best that I could see, it was covering at least 10 feet of the trail. I would have had to scramble down slope (in moist soil, thought this was a bad idea) or up around the obstacle, but was not in the mood to bushwack. In my opinion, it was fairly impassable, although, like I said, I think that a determined soul could have bushwacked above the fall and made it through. I turned around back to Vincente Flat and down to the trailhead.
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SMoore
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:40 am
Location: Monterey, CA

Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Post by SMoore »

Date Hiked: June 21, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked from up near Cone Peak down to Goat Camp, then returned the way I came, so this report covers ONLY the upper portion of the Stone Ridge Trail, between Goat Camp and Ojito Saddle (where the trail connects to the Gamboa Trail and Ojito Camp Trails). This upper section of the Stone Ridge trail is passable. The tread is well defined and easy to follow. Most of this section is easy sailing (except that it's essentially all uphill from Goat Camp to the saddle). There is encroaching brush along most of the trail, but most of it isn't encroaching too badly. There is a notable exception, not far above Goat Camp, where one has to push through Ceanothus that's dense enough to steal inadequately secured things off the back of your pack without asking or telling you. A variety of wildflowers are in bloom right now (June 2019), and the views out over the Pacific Ocean (or over the layer of fog covering it) are stunning, so it's a beautiful trail. Several spots along the route are getting damaged by people stepping off trail, usually to get around encroaching deer weed or other vegetation, but sometimes to shortcut switchbacks. At this time (June 2019) there is a strongly flowing creek with a pretty waterfall and interesting limestone-like deposits about 100 yards east along the trail out of Goat Camp toward Vicente Flat, but there is also a smaller flowing creek about 100 yards west of Goat Camp as you head up out of camp toward Ojito Saddle. Other than that small creek, there is no water between Goat Camp and Ojito Summit, and much of the trail on this SW-facing slope is shadeless, so it can be a sweaty uphill journey to the saddle. The steepest part of this trail segment (roughly the middle third of it) climbs through a long and rather interesting Ceanothus tunnel. That tunnel provided me with welcome shade during my hike back up to the saddle on a warm, sunny day, but the exposed parts of the trail offered a cooling ocean breeze that was absent inside the tunnel.
Carl Mounteer
Posts: 105
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:51 am

Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Post by Carl Mounteer »

Date Hiked: May 2, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked this trail inbound from Vicente Flat Camp on May 2nd to Goat Camp and outbound on May 3rd back to Vicente Flat. The tread is clear but the trail is ridden with poison oak and other brush is encroaching the trail. Also, between the use camp on Limekiln Creek and Goat Camp, I counted 20 downed trees on the trail. Most of these were easily negotiable but 2 required crawling under. There were three substantially flowing streams that had to be crossed. The stream crossing the trail about 100 yards before Goat Camp was flowing nicely but difficult to cross without getting your feet wet and slipping.

This was, for me, and extremely strenuous trail, even before the last ascent to Ojito Saddle.

I picked up one nymph Black Legged Tick at Goat Camp. I saw no ticks on me on my out or back.
Erika

Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Post by Erika »

Date Hiked: April 13, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Trail from Vicente Flat to Cone Peak via the inland route (joins the service road) is completely clear. There are some downed trees from Trail Spring to a bit past Goat Camp which are a minor nuisance. There is tons of poison oak, didn't encounter any ticks. Water flowing at Trail Spring, Goat Camp, Middle Fork, and Vicente Flat. For navigation, Gaia topo has the correct trail (Gaia USGS topo does not). However Goat camp on Gaia is nowhere near the true location. The National Geographic paper map has it in the right spot. If you're only going to do half of the loop I would recommend the coastal leg that passes Middle Fork and Goat camp. It has wildflowers and the coastal breeze, whereas the inland leg is hotter and doesn't have many nice views.
emlennon
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:52 am

Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Post by emlennon »

Date Hiked: December 31, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The trail was dangerous in spots between Goat Camp and the Middle Fork crossing. There was one area with a large tree fallen over the trail on a steep dropoff. We had to climb over and it was a bit sketchy with packs. A fall would have been dangerous in this area but the only other option would be to have turned around. There was one additional area where the tread was washed out down the hill with just a narrow area to pass with bad footing. Those were the only 2 areas I considered dangerous, but there were other fallen trees, most of which could be stepped over, some of which required crawling on our hands and knees to pass. Definitely could use some maintenance but would require a chainsaw. [Ed: reminder chainsaws illegal in wilderness, would require logging crosscut saw] In other areas the footing was very soft on the downhill side, with footprints where others had stepped deep into a soft area. The trail is eroding in spots.

There is plenty of water in all the usual spots.
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jbl
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Stone Ridge Trail

Post by jbl »

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

We enjoyed the day after Winter Solstice by hiking from Kirk Creek to Limekiln State Park via Vicente Flat Trail and Stone Ridge Trail and Twitchell Elevator/Twitchell Road/Alvin trail.

Stone Ridge Trail report from Vicente Flat Camp to the Apex (Stone Ridge crossing):

General Comment: I was shocked at how well this has all held up and in particular by the fact that there is still virtually no brush intrusion and that there are so few deadfalls.

Section: Vicente Flat Camp to Hare Ridge crossing: Wilderness Freeway, no obstructions, very minor slumping in a few spots as you get close to Hare Ridge crossing

Section: Hare Ridge Crossing to Middle Fork crossing: Wilderness Freeway, no obstructions, a few of the gullies are eroding a bit

Section: Middle Fork Crossing to the Apex: Passable to Clear: Overall in pretty good shape, there are a few deadfalls on the climb up from Middle Fork, they can be negotiated, we cleared a snag that involved a number of 1"-4" branches in this vicinity and another snag that had sharp branches poking at your face; there is erosion and slumping in the section directly above Middle Fork as well as on the grassy sidehill below the Stone Ridge.
Jeff Cannon
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:02 pm

Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Post by Jeff Cannon »

Date Hiked: November 23, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Just got back from a fully immersive, wet, sloppy hike around the Cone Peak loop from PCH. Celebrated the first storm of the Winter by getting out in it! The whole trail is in the best shape I have ever seen it. Brushy areas under control and all dead fall cut. Water is good in all the regular places: Trail Springs, Goat Camp and the main branch of Lime Kiln Creek. One note: the use trail from Lime Kiln SP up Twin Peak gets more use than the Stone Ridge Trail, so be sure you continue North/South and don't get suckered in to turning onto the use trail. A sign would be helpful here.
pantilat
Posts: 116
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:16 pm

Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Post by pantilat »

Date Hiked: October 28, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The section from Twitchell Flat Usetrail to Ojito Saddle is clear except for a couple sections of sloping and badly eroded tread between the Twitchell junction and Goat Camp, hence the "passable" rating. The good news is the half dozen spots where poison oak was encroaching on the trail (sometimes waist high) were cleared on this hike. Some additional light brushing cleared out brush/tree saplings growing into the trail corridor. Plenty of water still flowing at the headwaters of the West Fork Limekiln Creek near Goat Camp. The ceanothus brush tunnel just before Ojito Saddle is starting to collapse but the trail is still clear.
Jessica

Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Post by Jessica »

Date Hiked: May 4, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked this trail as part of a loop starting at Kirk Creek Trailhead. I hiked the 5 miles to spend the first night at Vicente Flats which was wonderful. The camp area is very clear with lots of beautiful spots by the river. Even as the camp area began to fill up the stream kept the noise down and the experience pretty serene. Day two I headed up to summit Cone Peak and over the pass to Goat Camp. Upon arriving at goat camp I realized quickly that there are very few actual spots to camp so if you want one that is relatively flat, plan to get there early. The views from Goat Camp out to the pacific are beautiful but the crowd made it a bit difficult to enjoy being out alone.

The final day was the day that I spent on the Stone Ridge Trail. I am not typically a complainer when it comes to trail conditions but I have to admit this was one of the hardest days I've had on trail. I will be the first to admit that it could definitely be the fact that I was most likely the first on trail and it is prime tick season that made this such a challenge. The first few miles out of Goat Camp I had to stop every 10-15 steps to flick off several ticks and once we leave the open meadows of the Stone Ridge you are quickly met with waist high poison oak. There is not a trail sign marking the turn off left back toward Vicente Flats so make sure to print out a map from the wonderful interactive Big Sur Trailmap page. There are also a few large down trees on this trail which required hands and knees maneuvers to get under.

Overall this was a beautiful hike but I am not sure I would complete the loop again in this way especially during this time of year. A few fellow hikers said they passed down through Limekiln State Park and had a beautiful hike down but I also saw them walking back on the highway after I was on my way home.

Happy trails!
cel
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Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 10:01 pm

Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Post by cel »

Date Hiked: April 21, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

We hiked the entire trail from Vicente Flats to the Ojito Gap. The Stone Ridge Trail was an amazing experience as always, and seems to have weathered this past light rainy season well. The section between Vicente Flat and Hare Ridge is in great shape and has changed little since I last hiked it in November 2017. The tread on this section was wide and stable compared to a few years ago, and free of brush, slides, or washouts.

After the apex, we continued to the Middle Fork of Limekiln Creek, encountering a few downed hardwood trunks that we managed to get over even with with packs. I think these are the same deadfalls noted in posts over the last couple years, with no new ones to report. The Middle fork of Limekiln Creek was flowing strongly, and the trail section up to the Apex and Twitchell usetrail junction was in great shape. From the Apex to Goat Camp, the tread is well-defined. The only real obstacle along this section is poison oak, which is sporadic except for a few memorable stretches with plants up to waist height.

Both the West Fork cascades and a side stream are flowing around Goat Camp and provide surround-sound at night. The camp was more heavily used than I've previously seen it (November-January visits). We camped here along with a dozen other hikers. Flat ground is a rare commodity at Goat Camp, and late-comers ended up improvising sites above the trail. The camp was free of trash, but I swept some scat that didn't look animal in origin down the hill...The songbirds and ocean views over the redwoods made up for that unpleasantry the next morning.

The ascent from Goat Camp to Ojito Gap marked the brushiest part of the trail. Ticks seemed most abundant here, maybe because there were fewer hikers ahead of us early in the day. Views north towards Pacific Valley were excellent. About 2/3rds of the way uphill, the brush is replaced by a shady tunnel cut through the ceanothus. This tunnel has held up well, with a just a few dead ceanothus collapsed onto the trail. Otherwise, the walls and ceiling of the tunnel are well-clear of the tread.
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