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Backpacking Cone Peak Loop / Stone Ridge Trail

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Re: Backpacking Cone Peak Loop / Stone Ridge Trail

Postby toejam on Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:38 pm

A lot to unpack here. I'm not the best authority, but I'll try.

1) I did a hike from Hwy 1 up the Twitchell Elevator to the Stone Ridge Trail, camped at Goat Camp, up Cone Peak the next day and camped in Vicente Flat Meadow, back down Twitchell Elevator the next day. Easy. Would be longer hiking from Kirk Creek on probably the busiest trail in the Ventana right now.
2) I don't think the direction matters.
3) I think Goat Camp and Trail Spring are big enough for your group if there's not a crowd. Those camps can get a dozen people on weekends in the spring. Middle Fork Camp is tiny.
4) It's a long hike to Cook Spring if you start at Kirk Creek.
5) Vicente Flat Camp along the creek is a messy overcrowded place I wouldn't stay. When I stayed a quarter mile up the hill in the meadow I heard screaming kids, barking dogs, and hollering drunks down in the creek every waking minute.
6) Maybe way upstream from Vicente Flat. Nice waterfall in Lime Kiln SP.
7) I wouldn't expect a lot of bugs other than ticks. April & May are both great. Definitely avoid weekends.
toejam
 
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Backpacking Cone Peak Loop / Stone Ridge Trail

Postby jtack7 on Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:50 pm

Hi,

I am planning a backpacking trip to Big Sur and ran across these message boards. Very useful information, and I am shocked at all the volunteer effort, both online and particularly offline in maintaining these trails. You folks rock.

I am planning to bring 8-10 people to Big Sur in late Spring (April or May) for a 2-night, 3 day hike. Everyone attending has experience backpacking throughout Utah, anywhere from 1-5 night treks. No one has been to Big Sur. While we have most experience in the desert, there have been a few hikes through the Uintas.

Given suggestions from these forums, and taking into account all the trail/campsite closings, I think I’ve settled on the Cone Peak loop for a ‘Big Sur experience’ that doesn’t include the crowded state and federal parks. After more digging, I think what I want to do is something like the ‘Sea-to-Summit” hike (https://bigsurtrailmap.net/ROUTES/SEA-T ... route.html). I, of course, have some questions:

1) Timing: Given the 3 day time frame, is Sea-to-Summit doable with full packs. I think it comes out to 25 miles, but I’m trying to understand the elevation gain issues and any bushwhacking. I had considered just the Cone Peak loop, parking at the Vicente Flat TH. However, Cone Peak Road appears to be frequently closed. What are chances of it being open in April or May? If Cone Peak road is closed, and I still want to shorten the trip, can I consider (with packs) the Twitchel flat usetrail (directly off of rt 1 at an old roadbed?) and/or Limekiln ->Alvin->Twitchel Flat usetrail (starting at the beach and parking at Limekiln?). In other words, should I incorporate part of the Sea-To-Sky route to cut time (https://bigsurtrailmap.net/ROUTES/SEA-T ... route.html)?
2) Direction: I have the Heid Wilderness Press book, which suggests doing the Cone Peak loop clockwise (starting at Vicente TH or Cone Peak TH, and ending at Cone Peak), but most people on here suggest counterclockwise and starting with Cone Peak. Thoughts? I am particularly interested in this answer if I enter the Cone Peak loop via the Twitchel route and not at Vicente camp.
3) Camping: With a group this big, Goat, Ojito, and Trail Spring all seem too small. Is that a correct impression? I know in the wilderness we can camp where we want (respectfully of course), so does anyone have any suggestions for the place(s) to aim for. I know Vicente Flat Camp is pretty large, but I also see that is has become popular and crowded. I can see us camping there one night (if we take the Sea-To-Summit route) but not for two. I read one post mention a “Middle Form Camp” but I can’t find it on any maps. Where/what is it?
4) Trip Additions/Changes: Off of Cone Peak Loop, is it worth checking out Cook Springs and/or staying there a night? If we park at Vicente TH, and just do the loop, we likely have enough time.
5) Trip Additions/Changes: Is it worth checking out Vicente Falls?
6) Trip Additions/Changes: Any other places to consider with pools/cascades? Yes, I know this isn’t going to be Sykes.
7) Dates: I know we are going to contend with ticks and poison oak. I have no idea what the bug situation will be like in April or May. Should I aim for one month over the other? How about crowds? Is the default just to avoid weekends?

Any other comments, typical mistakes people make, or interesting and often missed locations around Cone Peak loop are much appreciated.

Thank you so much,

Justin
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