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Big Pines Trail

Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby ajrunr on Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:01 pm

Date Hiked: April 27, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Just back from a 3 day, 2 night trip from the dam to Pat Springs / Big Pines.
Time in: 7.5hrs (12:30pm to 8pm)
Time out: 5hrs (9am to 2pm)

We had 3 in our group. We met one that was already out there (had left 2hrs before us). We met another that left after us.

Trail: The last trail report is still accurate. Trail decent to the boundary, after that it is tougher going. Well marked in areas, but we still lost the trail several times. Some of the trail is eroded and narrow. GPS was very helpful with the latest updates from BigsurTrailmap.

If you are good at trail finding, experienced hiking/backpacking, and/or know the route, you should be fine. Definitely give yourself an extra hour to get there. It tooks us a lot longer than expected.

Pat Springs sites on the ridge are still good. Nice spots. Ones down by the trail aren't around. We marked one ~100 yards back (had a grill), but was slightly overgrown.

Big Pines: we camped here as the water was great from Danish Creek, and it was out of the cold wind (cold and eventually foggy/misty). We stumbled upon someone that found an old site at Big Pines, found a cooking grate. Site was overgrown (we slept on blackberry bushes), but we cleared off as best we could and redug the fire pit.
We marked this site, but it's ~30 yards off trail (down towards the creek) and a bit hard to find. Should be able to see it now.
Big Pines area still looks like a bomb went off. Will be a long time before it lives up to its name.

Trails -- More info
The person that camped w/ us at Big Pines had planned to do Double Cone (allocated himself 2 days to do it), but turned around and hiked out after Pat Springs. The weather was changing and conditions wouldn't be great.
Fog sat in Saturday night, by Sunday AM everything was wet and cold. Misty.
Hiked out with soaked clothes and boots (wet grass soaks everything!!).

Good trip and look forward to the next one.

Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby lmoncher on Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:19 pm

Date Hiked: April 15, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The last report stated that the trail from the trailhead to the wilderness boundary is in good condition. This is still the case. From the wilderness boundary to the junction of the Ventana Double Cone Trail, it becomes difficult. The trail has been flagged throughout this section. The 3 sections of trail starting at the wilderness boundary that veer to the north side of the ridge enter forested areas with 6" soft vegetation growing in the tread making it difficult to see. Approximately 40 trees of varying sizes are across the trail with some up or down hill walk arounds. At about mile 4, the trail crosses the dozer line and continues on the south side of the ridge. Chamise and yerba santa are growing into and in the tread. At about mile 5, flatter terrain and grass make the tread very faint and disappears often. Follow the orange flagging. The area around the connector/Big Pines junction burned very hot in the Soberanes Fire and consequently is very open now. Danish Creek is happily tumbling down the drainage. Splashes of wildflower color on the open slopes are all around.

Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby dillinger on Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:33 am

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

Lower part of trail, from reservoir to the blue rock itself, is in good shape.

Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby jdoelman on Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:47 pm

Date Hiked: January 21, 2018
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

This trail is transformed since prior to the Soberanes fire. The "trail" loosely follows the blue rock ridge. The former trail bypasses all high points along the ridgeline by traversing along the northern side of the ridge(except the westernmost bypass). Each bypass leaves the ridgeline at a point where the ridge becomes steeper than a decent hiking trail. There is one such bypass section just east of the Blue Rock, and another 4 west of the Blue Rock.
These bypass sections of "trail" form most of the trail (part of the trail does follow the ridge) between the blue rock and the point where the trail leaves the ridge toward the bottom of the "Big Pines" basin. In many cases the beginning of the bypass section of trail was flagged with ribbon. If you elect to folllow these sections of "trail" you will find most are followable but tread is almost non-existent and following the tread is difficult. The largest two of these bypass sections were unfollowable. Of the bypasses on the north side of Blue Rock ridge I failed to follow the easternmost bypass section and only succeeded in following the 2nd-most-easterly section on the return from Pat's Spring.
The trail through the "Big Pines" area is horribly overgrown. I was not able to follow the trail and elected to make a bee-line for the Pat's Spring area. This worked well. The former big-pines camp site is now more visible as all Pines within 100 yards of that site are burned and dead, the "Big Pines" area is now more aptly named "Dead Pines".
The Pat Springs area has many large pines remaining and is as beautiful as ever. There was no sign of anyone camping at any camps in the area, this includes the two overflow sites prior to reaching Pat's Spring, the slopy main Pat's Spring site and the two use-camps along the ridge. The table exists and has been moved to the lower of the use-camps.
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Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby Fred Watson on Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:51 pm

Date Hiked: November 23, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Started at dam. Went up just past the blue rocks, to high point 1/4 mile inside NF boundary. Tall grass & weeds & sticky seeds (hedge parsley? Torilis arvensis) after reaching Blue Rock Ridge. Concur with previous posts. Stuck to ridge line / dozer line. Tread apparent most of the time; but more like following a steep deer trail than a hiking trail. Didn't see any off-ridge route that might have existed.
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Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby Erik on Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:49 pm

Date Hiked: November 11, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

It was a wilderness freeway up to Blue Rock ridge, it was game trails or no trails between Blue Rock ridge and the Ventana [aka VDC] trail. The trail is gone so we had to hike the dozer line which ended about a mile from the Ventana trail. Big Pines trail should bypass some of the knolls, but we stayed on the dozer line which added a lot of very steep ascending and descending to the hike. The last mile was difficult with many dead ends due to overgrown foliage. There is water flowing in the creek right below the Ventana trail (I believe it is the source for Danish creek). It is the only water source that we came across. We didn't make it to Pat Spring due to time constraints. There is some poison oak and thistles so long pants are needed. We also found some bear scat about a mile in from Los Padres dam. Out and back from Los Padres dam took a little over 9 hours.

PS: I would like to clarify that the last mile after the end of the dozer line was difficult because of many dead ends due to overgrown foliage. We made it to the ridge where the Ventana trail used to be. It appeared passable where we were at towards Pat Spring but the trail was gone. It's only a matter of time before new growth makes it impassible.


Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:43 am

Date Hiked: November 21, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The northern end of the Big Pines Trail is outside the National Forest, so I hiked out to the serpentine rock outcrop to view the effect of the fire. What I saw immediately was backburn, but beyond lay the effects of the wildfire. Looking at Elephant Mountain from afar, of the tree foliage roughly half was green with the other half showing fire damage - of course could not tell how damaged the tree trunks were.

As to the trail itself, the ascent to the ridge was burned through but the tread remains good except for a 6 foot undercut section which had been marked with pink ribbon (apparently fire fighters since the same pink ribbon also marked such things as the end of the dozer cut). Don't know if a sign had marked where the trail met the ridgeline but if so it is gone now - the trail's departure from the ridge is easy to miss so I put an orange ribbon there. Beyond was essentially dozer tread. The first few places where the trail departs from the ridgeline firebreak had been cleared, but beyond they were not. I attempted to follow the first such one but it became messy so afterward I stayed on the ridgeline firebreak, being careful not to disturb the erosion control ditches along it.

A sign still marks the start of the Danish Creek Trail. A firecrew cut a hand line along the ridgelet crossing it, marked by cut stumps.

Ribbon has "Killer Tree" emprinted
Danish Creek Trail & sign
Handline cuts
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Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby Mojave_Geek on Thu Jul 14, 2016 8:24 am

Date Hiked: July 8, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Went up to where the fire break meets the trial on Blue Rock Ridge. We took the old road from the road around the lake rather than the trial given some of the TRs here and dislike of PO. The road is obvious and takes off where a "TRAIL" sign points you on the other fork. The road is fine. Note that the road is not aligned precisely with that shown on the USFS version of the 7.5 minute topo - it starts a bit later and ends a bit higher up the ridge from Danish Creek trail.

From there up to the main ridge the trail was quite overgrown but not too much PO and not overly hard to travel as it winds back and forth along the ridge. Whenever it swings to the south side of the ridge the trail is clear with evident dirt tread. On the other side, you have to keep your eyes open but there's not many places it can go so navigation is not difficult.

Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby anon on Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:21 am

Date Hiked: April 6, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked from the dam out toward big pines camp (not sure if I made it quite there b/c it was dark). First 3-4 miles of trail are great and passable without too much effort aside from copious amounts of poison oak, but after that the trail grows very faint at times and the brush is quite overgrown in places. I was happy I had a trekking pole that I could hold in front of me to push through the brush. No water on trail until two creeks near big pines camp (just as the trail bends south), which I am guessing is around mile 7. Several deadfalls in the forest. Do not expect to move quickly over this terrain with this much growth.

The second day, I simply backtracked back to the dam, and this proved harder than I expected. Ended up losing the trail a few times, most notably at a makeshift camp in the forest near the wilderness border. Ended up bushwhacking around for around 50 minutes looking for the trail, found it, immediately lost it again and eventually just followed a compass bearing until I saw a rocky ridge I recognized just outside of the wilderness border and hiked up to it to get back on the trail. Possibly since I did not know when I was on or off the trail, some areas were very eroded and the trail gave way a few times, to the point where I was flat on my chest to prevent sliding down the hill.

Overall I did not enjoy this trail. The almost complete lack of trail markers (tape tied to branches? really?) or signage really distracts from the natural beauty and enjoyment of the area.

[Ed.note: this is an overgrown _wilderness_ trail and so requires more experience/skills than does a parks trail]

to_the_editor wrote:
I wanted to point out that making comments like this, as an editor, you set a tone and example for the forums. If someone posts a trail report, I would expect you to be grateful, whereas the perceived tone of this note is sarcastic and condescending. No one needs _your_ opinion since it's not _your_ trail report. See what I did there? I suggest keeping your comments in check and instead simply being thankful of those providing valuable trail information since otherwise you will only succeed in alienating others from the VWA.

Re: Big Pines Trail

Postby sboor on Mon Feb 15, 2016 11:41 am

Date Hiked: February 13, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked the Big Pines trail from Los Padres Dam to Big Pines where I turned towards Pat Springs. Generally I would say it was pleasantly challenging with the caveat that the thick poison oak is weeks away from being a real hazard. The PO was just starting to leaf out when I hiked it - definitely need pants, and maybe a full hazmat suit in a couple of weeks. I took the trail from the bottom up to the Rattle Snake Creek junction, but I would recommend the fire road instead. Looked clear and would cut out a lot of steep cross slope tread with PO to each side. A few large dead-fall trees were fairly easy to get around. When you switch to the south side of the ridge you get out of the PO and into low but dense chaparral. the trail was still pretty easy to find and the low brush was easy to push through - I found it almost pleasant as I wishfully imagined it was helping to scrub the poison oak oil off of my pants and shirt. As you get to Big Pines the trail gets luxuriously clear.


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