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Kirk Creek Trail (Highway One to Vicente Flat Camp)

Re: Vicente Flat Trail (Girard Trail, Kirk Creek Trail)

Postby Rob on Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:34 pm

Date Hiked: March 14, 2010
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

From Highway 1 to Vicente Flat : Passable
There are a couple of blowdowns, including the big logs just past Espinosa Camp noted below. The trailhead had a sign which says the trail is impassable -


It looked like this -


I'd think this would be difficult or impossible if you had a big pack, small children and/or dogs. Otherwise, it takes some careful scrambling, and would be particularly treacherous when wet.

From Vicente Flat to Cone Peak Road : Wilderness Freeway
No problems on the way up from Vicente Flat to Cone Peak Road that I could tell. Tread in great shape, no blowdowns, no brush. Best shape I've ever seen it.
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Re: Kirk Creek Trail

Postby C M Heard on Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:53 pm

Date Hiked: February 3, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: Cone Peak Road to Vicente Flat Camp (4E13 - Vicente Flat / Stone Ridge Trail). From the trailhead at the Cone Peak Road to the first crossing of Hare Creek (in the descending direction) the trail is clear of obstacles and the tread is in generally good condition, with only minor erosion. On the long straight section between the first crossing of Hare Creek to the steep switchback just before the second creek crossing there are three significant obstacles: (a) a complex consisting of a fallen redwood about 3' in diameter and four smaller trees; (b) a tanoak about 2' in diameter; (c) a tanoak about 1' in diameter. In addition, there are debris deposits at two watercourses where rock spillways were built last year, and the top half of the steep switchback has some ruts eroded into it. The next significant problem area is the creek crossing where the trail is rerouted around the remains of a logjam that was burnt in the 2008 fire. This crossing has become badly eroded (again -- the same thing happened in the October rain) and because of the high water it's necessary to scramble over the logjam remains and cross a little further downstream. The final obstacle is another downed tanoak just before the last tributary above Vicente Flat Camp. Once in Vicente Flat Camp there is another enormous redwood tree down next to the one that fell last October, and the area where the camp trail was rerouted around the October deadfall is now flooded. Here are a couple of photos, taken on January 28, 2010:

Photo credit: Mike Heard

Photo credit: Rich Popchak

[Reported by Mike Heard from hikes on January 28, 2010 and February 3, 2010]

Section: Vicente Flat Camp to Highway 1 (4E17 – Kirk Creek Trail). Between just beyond Vicente Flat Camp there is one downed tree (dating back to the October storm), which is easily stepped over. There are the old problems of sagging tread in the open areas and some uncleared slides dating back to the 2008 fire, and then in a redwood draw about 200 yards before the perennial stream that's 1/4 mile from Espinosa Camp there is a 20' long mudslide followed by an enormous redwood jackstraw pile. There are four trees, the smallest about 2.5' in diameter and the largest probably close to 5'. While it is passable, it is seriously dangerous. Here is a photo:

Photo credit: Dave Nelson

It's a classic redwood obstruction where the trees are too big to hump over, at too steep an angle to even grip on to, and too slippery to even try. There are a few branches, both detached and attached to the trees that allow for risky footing. They are cluttered with enough foliage to obscure a visual assessment of their stability. Each step is a test step to see if they will hold weight.

Approximately 300 yards below Espinosa Camp there is a burnt redwood tree about 18" in diameter. The trail is clear for the rest of the way to Hwy 1.

[Reported by David Jacobs from hikes on January 30, 2010 and January 31, 2010]
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from Hwy 1 trailhead to the ridge road

Postby lori on Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:57 am

Date Hiked: January 10, 2010
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

We hiked up 1/9 and camped then hiked up from the main camp to the ridge on the way to Cone Peak. Trail crews have done excellent work in this area - there are places where the trail seems to lose a little cohesion, sliding downhill, but all the way up to the ridge road the tread was defined and easy to find in daylight. The trail heading up from the highway to about halfway is a wilderness freeway, easy to walk and very clear, but in the steeper sections you do need to take more care in where to place your feet as the track narrows. The section between the Vicente Flat camp and the beginning of the switchbacks (along the creek) was sometimes confusing, particularly at the spot where a second stream runs into the one you've been walking along and you end up crossing a few times to get to the trail - people have wandered around leaving boot tracks in many places - but we finally found the right path which even in areas where needles and leaves have covered it you can see the tread. There is one spot where you step around the end of a burnt log and up on another right next to it - the trail crew cut a step there!

There is a single recent deadfall before you reach the main camp but it's a stepover. There's another stepover deadfall on the trail up the canyon, and a monkey climb through a fallen tree on one of the first few switchbacks - if you have a backpack you may have to take it off, but otherwise this is easy to navigate. Trail crews worked wonders on this trail - many spots where they cut and moved large logs are obvious.

The camp itself was clear of large deadfall. There's a lot of wood lying around, but it was easy to find a flat spot to pitch a tent. It looks nothing like the pictures in the previous report. During the night we heard a large branch or tree fall somewhere up the hill so be careful out there!

We saw a couple ticks and the flies were only around at dusk. Great time of year to visit - the stars were brilliant and two of us saw a shooting star! Was quite warm at night, probably the high 40s.
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Clear Highway 1 to Vicente Flat Camp; Redwood on Picnic Tabl

Postby jbl on Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:09 pm

Date Hiked: October 18, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I did a "post-storm" hike along the Vicente Flat trail from Highway 1 up to Vicente Flat camp and the trail had not suffered noticeably from the heavy rain or wind of last week. However:
--there were a number of very minor slides, some slumping and some sections where the trail bench has become quite narrow (some of which predated the storm); although all of this is negotiable, there is definitely a need to rework/clear the trail in these areas;
--there was a small tree down over the trail (at about 1.5 miles above Highway 1) which you need to go under;
--there are a few short sections where the "active" trail is obviously misaligned above or below the actual trail grade.

On arriving at Vicente Flat camp, I discovered that a large redwood tree had fallen down in the "main" camp, just missing the top of the picnic table but landing squarely on the corner of one of its benches, rendering the table somewhat inoperative (with a little bit of minor clearing, the bench on the other side as well as the table top itself will be functional).

On a more postive note, once the fire restrictions are lifted, campers in this site will have ready access to a large quantity of firewood.
VF Table 10-18-09b.jpg
VF Table 10-18-09.jpg
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Postby gfelsman on Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:40 pm

Date Hiked: September 12, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Twelve of us hiked this trail on Saturday, September 12th, 2009. The weather was cool with few bugs and no ticks. As everyone has mentioned the first three miles of the trail is in good shape. There were a few spots where the tread is starting to fall away due to slides or encraoching brush. After you reach Espinosa Camp the tread is easy to follow. Where the fire burned the tread is already falling off with new vegetation growth and the sluff continuing to move down hill. These areas are easy to pass one just needs to take care when traversing these sections. I saw the flags where there are potential reroutes. All are warrented in my mind. They may seem not necessary at present, but once done the tread will stabilze in theses sections for years to come.

Thanks Mike for all your hard work. The trail is a nice hike to take.

P.S. There is still water 1/4 mile past Espinosa Camp, and at the upper parts of Vincente Flat Camp.
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Highway 1 to Vicente Flat Camp.

Postby Carl Mounteer on Sat Aug 08, 2009 7:38 pm

Date Hiked: August 4, 2009
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

There is a little brush encroaching but nothing to hinder you for the time being. No ticks were evident. The bugs were present but minimal and not really a bother. They were exclusively those tiny, silent creatures that hover in front of your eyes. With Ben's Tick and Insect Repellent smeared on my face they hovered but did not land. There was water at the unnamed spring about 1/4 of a mile east from Espinosa Camp. The spring was very shallow so to filter it you will have to dig a temporary hole in the stream to insert your water filter if that is how you collect your water.

I noticed at least three portions of the trail, 10 to 15 feet in length, were flagged for rerouting. But these portions of the existing trail were quite passable. So I, most respectfully, question why anyone would make the effort and spend the time to reroute these perfectly usable portions of the trail when so much more effort is needed to clear the "difficult" to "impassable" Stone Ridge, Gamboa, and Ojito Camp trails within the same general vicinity.
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Trailhead on Cone Peak Rd to Vicente Flat Campsite

Postby Bmiller on Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:43 pm

Date Hiked: July 31, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

First off....many thanks to Mike for all the hard work he has done to maintain that trail and the campsite, it looks amazing!

The entire trail from the top to campsite is clear with no obstacles. Brush is coming back strong in most burned areas but nothing covering the trail itself. The flies are out in full force from start to finish.
Please be careful with kids on this trail, the first 1 to 1.5 miles is VERY steep and not much shade to rest in! Once you start getting close to the canyon floor with the redwoods it levels out for the most part and has plenty of shade. There is plenty of water with a couple of side creeks as well. The campsite like i said earlier is in great shape with several decent spots for more tents.

Overall its a great place for a quick overnight backpacking trip.

Vicente Flat Trail

Postby TRAILS on Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:08 pm

Date Hiked: June 6, 2009
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)
Conditions Reported by:Rob Yang

The trail up to Vicente Flat was in the best shape I'd ever seen it. No deadfalls and good tread in most places. Surprising number of wildflowers out too. Kudos to all who have worked on this trail!

There was water near Espinosa camp at the usual place.
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Kirk Creek Trail

Postby mikesplain on Fri May 29, 2009 8:24 am

Date Hiked: May 24, 2009
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)
Conditions Reported by: tfuhs

Trail in great condition with only minor sloughing in a couple of areas. Beautiful hike and camp location with most people packing out their trash, etc (LNT).

Leopard lily, ceonothus, monkey flower, & Indian paintbrush were flowering all along the trail. Star thistle on sun exposed slopes-long pants help. Ticks/flies were not an issue. Water limited to one creek drainage (approx 3 miles in) and Hare Creek-dry for May. Caution to families with smaller children (<10 yrs) carrying backpacks. Our 10 year old made the hike fine, but with very close supervision: Several areas of steep drops.
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Vicente Flat/Kirk Creek Trail

Postby mikesplain on Fri May 29, 2009 8:23 am

Date Hiked: May 14, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)
Conditions Reported by: Mike Heard

Section: Coast Highway to Vicente Flat Camp (Kirk Creek Trail, 4E17)

The first 1.33 miles of this trail (starting from Hwy 1) are outside the Chalk Fire burn area, and there is some encroaching brush that is starting to push people off the trail. It's not yet a severe obstacle to hiking, but it is starting to cause resource damage. Please note these areas and make an effort to stay on the trail.

Starting at the burn boundary there are numerous places where debris has come down onto the trail, resulting in some large slides and long sections of trail covered by a layer of rocks and debris that is often 6" thick or more. On the coastal front (i.e., up to the mouth of Hare Canyon) the most dangerous sections have been dealt with (and about 1/4 mile has been completely cleared), and there is a reasonably safe and well-defined (if not always comfortable) tread surface. Within Hare Canyon less work has been done, and many hazardous areas remain (some new, some from before the fire). Hikers are admonished to stay off the outside edge of the trail to avoid a repeat of the accident that happened last year (see Dennis Maggard's report below from 24 May 2008).

There is only one downed tree on this section. It's a small madrone about halfway between Espinosa and Vicente Flat camps, and it's easy to step over.

Section: Vicente Flat Camp to the Cone Peak Road (Vicente Flat Trail, 4E13)

This section almost qualifies for Wilderness Freeway status. The tread is 2' wide all the way, and the trail corridor is sufficiently clear of brush to allow passage for loaded pack stock. The are two problems, however, that I feel compelled to report. FIrst, the stream crossing about 1/2 mile above Vicente Flat Camp at the site of a former logjam washed out during a winter storm, and the original route is blocked by a couple of redwood logs. A temporary detour consisting of rock steps and chopped-out steps in the logs had been constructed, and with a little bit of caution it should not be too much of a problem even with a heavy pack. Second, there is a lot of rock debris down below the burned hillside areas most notably between 1 and 1.5 miles below the Cone Peak Road. Some of these are marble-sized and it's easy to slip when going downhill.
Last edited by C M Heard on Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: correct some inaccurate historical information
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