Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Backcountry suggestion?

Backcountry suggestion?

This is the place for general discussion and backcountry information.

Moderators: dknapp1, Betsy M

Re: Backcountry suggestion?

Postby jack_glendening on Fri Feb 04, 2022 11:33 am

Funny thing about the route to Alta Vista. I once went out and found to my surprise that the trail had been completely cleared, for quite a width. Was amazed by the size of some of the cut redwood trunks - I remember one was over 18 inches. So had to think that had not been a casual group who did it and assumed it was a crew from the park - and wondered if there were some plans to incorporate the trail into the park (since there is a marker up there). Never happened again. Since the route lies along a ridge where firebreaks have been put in, wiping out that part of the trail as happened during the Dolan fire, wonder if they decided it would not be maintainable.

In any case, there will always be places in state parks where people go off trail regularly enough that they are visible in satellite imagery.

Big Sur Trailmap:
User avatar
Posts: 702
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Backcountry suggestion?

Postby jdoelman on Fri Feb 04, 2022 9:00 am

It is unfortunate that offtrail is not allowed I state parks, I had not known that. I suppose that means some use-trails may be “illegal” such as
- the route to post summit, I doubt the last 1/4 mile is a designated trail.
- sea to sky (cone peak use trail)
- route to “Alta vista”

This rule seems to be so lightly enforced that it I going to try to forget I learned about it. :^)
User avatar
Posts: 78
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:47 am

Re: Backcountry suggestion?

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Feb 03, 2022 1:08 pm

Big Sur Trailmap:
User avatar
Posts: 702
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Backcountry suggestion?

Postby jpdoelman on Thu Feb 03, 2022 9:19 am

You are obviously capable of some hard "trail", so I will offer some ideas that will get you off the beaten track.

1. Start at China Camp, proceed to Pine Ridge camp along the Pine Ridge trail (camp), next proceed offtrail to Ventana Cone, then down north and into the drainage which takes you to Round Rock Camp (camp) next proceed to the carmel river trail and back to your car at China camp.
2. Start on Old Coast road follow the Pico Blanco trail until you enter the national forest then climb through a short offtrail to gain the Granite Rock Rd, follow that east until you can "easily" drop down to Pico Public Camp (camp here), next follow your way east along the Pico Blanco trail (this 1 mile could be tough) until you meet the historic Mt Manual trail, follow this to Vado Camp (camp here). Next follow the historic Mt Manuel trail south to a point where you see a sheet of old tin against a tree then proceed offtrail to gain the saddle between post summit and Mt Manuel, continue from here to post summit and on to Molera and walk the old coast road back to your car. (use GPS track from to stay on track)
3. From Salmon Creek, proceed along easy trail to Dutra Flat (camp), continue east up to the coast ridge rd, then north to lions Den camp (camp), next proceed west over the top of Silver peak and use the soda route to get back to the buckey trail and walk back to your car at Salmon.
4. As a variation on trip 1, don't go down the drainage north from Ventana cone but proceed along the ridgeline to Ventana Double Cone peak then on to Lone Pine Camp (camp here), next day use the always tough Puerto Suello trail to get to the carmel river then back to your car at China camp (use another camp day at Pine Valley as needed)

No one said it would be easy.
Get GPS tracks for almost all routes from

Re: Backcountry suggestion?

Postby soox on Tue Feb 01, 2022 6:36 pm

Very helpful responses, thank you. Yes, I guessed from our trail adventure last year (totally overgrown, lots of poison oak) that any off trail would be difficult. Let's see what we cook up.. Rob I am glad you mentioned Bottcher's gap is closed and that you reaffirmed the specifics of off road difficulty in Ventana.
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2022 5:29 am

Re: Backcountry suggestion?

Postby Rob on Tue Jan 18, 2022 3:26 pm

You don't see a whole lot of suggestions for backpacking trips which have significant off-trail travel in the Ventana Wilderness. Ever wonder why that is ?

Some personal observations from having hiked there for about 20 years -
* The brush is huge and impenetrable in many places.
* Wildfires sometimes clear the brush in places, but it grows back quickly.
* Winter rains carve out huge slides from areas that burned recently.
* Poison oak is abundant on many established trails, let alone thrashing through brush ... though it tends to be more prevalent near water.
* Terrain is often very steep.

I enjoy off-trail travel in the Sierra and elsewhere, but the Ventana is a whole other level of suffering. I've bagged a few Ventana peaks off-trail, but generally they were after fires had cleared some of the terrain, and there was always some amount of bushwhacking, followed by the inevitable poison oak rashes a few days later. This can be tolerable as a daytrip, but with a full pack it gets old very fast.

Try googling "bob burd ventana cone" or his trip to black cone sometime ... also note that Bottcher's Gap has been closed since the Soberanes Fire in 2016 and the ensuing winter rains washed out the road.

One time I headed up from Kirk Creek to Vicente Flat, then on to the Stone Ridge trail headed for Goat Camp. This was a number of years ago, and the Stone Ridge trail had not yet been blessed with the work of Mike Heard and his crews. The winter had not been kind to the trail. I ended up bailing at the West Fork Limekiln, and scrambled downstream until I found an old fire road which crossed the creek and headed down a meadow to highway 1. I ended up walking the remaining couple of miles on the highway past Limekiln state park and back to my car. It was what we call "class 2 fun" ...

I am sure there will be people who chime in with suggestions on things to try, but they are likely to be highly dependent on current conditions, which may or may not be amenable. Be prepared to turn around and/or have alternate plans.
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: SJC

Re: Backcountry suggestion?

Postby toejam on Tue Jan 18, 2022 11:55 am

I'm not that familiar with the Ventana Wilderness, but most of the Condor Trail route is really rough faint trails. Puerto Suelo is awful. Black Cone and Lost Valley are no joke.

In the Silver Peak Wilderness the Willow Creek Trail is rough. Trails over Silver Peak including Soda Wild Trail are a challenge. Mt. Mars routes are rough. And the official Lottie Potrero Trail is probably worst of them all.

Make sure you have gps data from with you.
Posts: 44
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:41 am

Backcountry suggestion?

Postby soox on Mon Jan 17, 2022 8:25 am


My friend and I are returning to the Ventana Wilderness and are seeking a backcountry adventure, possibly with some off-trailing, where permitted. Actually, we are very curious about areas that are a match for off-trailing using routefinding with some bushwhacking (as some is inevitable) and some less dense or even open areas. As well, elevation change can make areas impassable. We can see this on the map, but I want to field any suggestions from the community. It would be nice to for example do partial on and off-trail.

I have done some online research and have found only one suggestion that includes Level 5 climbing -- we are willing to scramble on all fours but have no actual climbing skills.

In our prior trip, we went Pfeiffer campground -> China campground -> Tan Oak camp -> Terrace Creek camp -> Pfeiffer campground. It was a very intense 3 days and 3 hours (~50 miles and 15,000ft gross elevation change).

Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2022 5:29 am

Return to Ventana Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests