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THANK YOU FOR READING THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION - updated April 14, 2021

Highway One Closure: Due to a washout at Rat Creek, Highway 1 is closed from just north of Lime Creek Bridge in the north to Big Creek Vista Point in the south. Expect this closure to be in place until late April, 2021. Nacimiento-Fergusson Road -- which connects Highway 1 at Kirk Creek with Fort Hunter Liggett on the eastern side of the Coast Ridge -- is significantly damaged and will be closed indefinitely. 

What's Open: NEW: The Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station to Redwood Camp IS OPEN effective April 13, 2021. 

Effective January 22, 2021 U.S. Forest Service - Los Padres National Forest re-opened most unburned areas of the Monterey Ranger District. In the northern Ventana Wilderness, most lands north of and including the Marble Peak Trail are open. Wilderness trails inland can be accessed from the Arroyo Seco Recreation Area near Greenfield (off 101) and from Tassajara Road off or Carmel Valley Road). Along the coast, Wilderness trails may be accessed via the Pine Ridge Trail at Big Sur Station, the North Coast Ridge Road, the Boronda Trail, and the De Angulo Trail on Highway One.

Lands south of Willow Creek Road, including most of the Silver Peak Wilderness, are open. 

What's Closed: Click here for a map that shows the current fire closure boundaries

Road Closures: Del Venturi/Milpitas, Nacimiento-Fergusson, Cone Peak, Plaskett Ridge, Willow Creek/Los Burros, & South Coast Ridge Roads remain closed.

Know Before You Go: Not sure if a particular road, trail, or camp is open? Call the Monterey Ranger District at 831-385-5434. Please enjoy your public lands responsibly. Pack out everything you pack in (including toilet paper). Leave this special place better than you found it. Leave No Trace ethics are more important than ever. 

Current Fire Restrictions: Campfires and stoves are currently permitted in the backcountry. Click here for a permit and take it with you

State Parks: Check with individual State Parks to confirm access and for additional information. 
Open for day use: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park - Soberanes Canyon Trail, Andrew Molera State Park, Point Sur State Historic Park (tours only), and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Closed: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, John Little State Natural Reserve

 

Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Big Sur Trail

Big Sur Trail

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby sdmirer on Mon Mar 29, 2021 4:02 pm

Date Hiked: March 23, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This is really the tale of two trails...

As noted by others, Cold Springs to Rainbow Camp is brushy but passable. Definitely monitor for ticks, and I found myself going a bit slower than my normal hiking speed. But overall that section of the trail is fine.

I made the now regrettable decision to go from Rainbow on to Cienega, and thence to Pine Ridge Camp. Wow, that was hard/stupid. The tread is fine in most places, and thankfully GPS plus kindly placed flags made it possible to navigate. But most of the trail is very severely overgrown. As bad as I thought the climb from Rainbow was, the descent to the N. Fork of the Big Sur River was much worse. Really really miserable and slow.

To translate into metrics, Rainbow to Pine Ridge Camp was ~7.3mi in ~9hrs. By comparison, the following day from Pine Ridge Camp to Willow Springs Camp via Church Creek and Tony trails was 16.3mi in roughly the same time and with much less wear and tear (if you ignore the nasty poison oak along Willow Creek).

The Jan 15 '21 posting in this forum thread notes the section between Rainbow and Cienega is likely impassable, and I'd confirm that (despite having passed through it). That same posting suggested that Rainbow to the ridgetop is passable, which I think is an overly generous description. The Sep 24 '19 posting notes "Impassable it truly is. Unless you have a chainsaw and full body armor." Which I'd agree with -- it was insane to take that route.

Once past Cienega things got much better through to Pine Ridge Trail, and it was clear there was active trailwork underway (as noted in the Jan 15 '21 posting). Pine Ridge Trail was great for awhile, though quite brushy on the last stretch into Pine Ridge Camp (but that's another trail/thread).
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby driggsy on Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:57 pm

Date Hiked: March 26, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Attempted a trail run on this trail from Cold Springs to Rainbow Camp. It is pretty brushy in parts but easy to follow. Very hard to consistently run, but relatively easy to hike. Got 7 ticks. Little to no poison oak on Logwood Ridge and Devil's Staircase, however starting on the descent into Mocho and then also to Rainbow there was some PO, but not as bad as I feared thanks to the trail workers. Overall an absolutely gorgeous trail with big views, redwoods, Santa Lucia Firs, and nice creek crossings; definitely well worth your time. Just be smarter than me and bring some pants. Big thank you to all of the trail workers for keeping these trails passable! Next step is runnable and I would love to help the trail get there :)
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby BP22 on Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:06 pm

Date Hiked: February 6, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Big Sur Trail from Coast Ridge to Rainbow Camp. Trail is in good condition. A few minor blowdowns and some encroaching brush on Logwood Ridge and the Devil's staircase, but I was pretty impressed. Big thank you to Betsy and the VWA crews and the VWA volunteer rangers for keeping this important trail clear.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby VWA_Ranger on Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:10 pm

Date Hiked: January 21, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

*** VWA/USFS Volunteer Ranger/Trail Crew Report ***

Forest/Trail Status: OPEN per Forest Order 05-07-51-21-02
Current Fire Restrictions: No Campfires allowed. Stoves are permitted in the backcountry with a valid Campfire/Stove Permit.

Description:

The Monterey Ranger District Forest has partially reopened, VWA/USFS Volunteer Rangers have been preparing for its reopening and are continuing their regular patrols. Today volunteer trail crew workers scouted from Cold Springs Camp to Rainbow Camp. They cleared three trees and did some minor brushing. The faucet at Cold Spring Camp is not functional.

Trail conditions are as follows:


Cold Spring Camp to Rainbow Camp. - Passable with encroaching brush and approx. 10 trees down in the first 1.5 miles.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DISCLAIMER: This report is for informational purposes only. Trail conditions may change at any time. The Ventana Wilderness Alliance assumes no liability for the use of this information.
The Los Padres National Forest Website can be found here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf/
To learn more about the Volunteer VWA/USFS Ranger and Trail Crew Programs visit https://www.ventanawild.org/stewardship.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby VWA_Ranger on Wed Jan 20, 2021 3:11 pm

Date Hiked: January 15, 2021
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway

*** VWA/USFS Volunteer Ranger/Trail Crew Report ***

Description:

VWA/USFS Volunteer Trail Crew workers have worked on the Big Sur Trail from the Pine Ridge Trail, clearing to just before Cienega Camp. We installed a new sign at the junction of the Pine Ridge Trail and the Big Sur Trail. From the Pine Ridge Trail to Cienega Camp is a wilderness freeway. Cienega Camp itself has virtually disappeared in riparian growth but there might be room for a couple of tents, and there is a fire ring on a bench up above the creek before you get to the original camp. The section between Cienega and the North Fork of the Big Sur River remains brushy but passable, with some slumping tread and small trees. We flagged a couple of spots. There was no obvious place to camp at the North Fork crossing, and it is difficult to locate the trail on the far side. Look for flagging upstream. The section between the North Fork and the top of the ridge heading to Rainbow is super brushy - we didn't even try this. From the ridgetop to Rainbow is passable. We hope to continue work on this section from the Cold Spring side. Unfortunately the one mile of very brushy trail probably means this section of the trail is truly impassable.

We installed a new sign at the junction of the Pine Ridge Trail and the Big Sur Trail.
Big Sur Trail junction sign.jpg
New PRT and Big Sur Trail Sign.

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To learn more about the Volunteer VWA/USFS Ranger and Trail Crew Programs visit https://www.ventanawild.org/stewardship.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby taylor on Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:57 pm

Date Hiked: June 14, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked the five miles from Cold Spring to Rainbow. Tread was evident throughout, with the exception of the descent into Mocho Camp, where a deadfall and encroaching brush in two separate areas obscure the trail, but only briefly. There was also some trail erosion in this section.

There is no water flowing at Cold Spring, and tank is empty; however, if you hike about a quarter of a mile down the Big Sur Trail, there is a small stream with a very light flow, though it may not last long. Plenty of moving water at Mocho and Rainbow.

Biting flies were constant companions on the trail, but ticks were minimal. I made the rookie mistake of wearing trail runners, I'll don the dreaded hiking boots next time to keep the sharp hitchhikers from the grass out of shoes and socks.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby georged on Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:50 pm

Date Hiked: February 7, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Reporting on the southern section of Big Sur Trail to Rainbow Camp only, I continued onto South Fork trail and onwards. No real issues getting from Cold Spring Camp to Rainbow Camp, perhaps a couple deadfalls, some ticks, bugs, and some encroaching brush. Definitely not a fast trail, just a good amount of brush to push through. I am tall and I did not have to take my pack off or do any serious bushwhacking, tread was pretty much always evident if not there were helpful pieces of tape. Lovely piece of trail. Also, no update on the water situation at Cold Spring Camp, I waited for Rainbow Camp.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby pantilat on Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:40 pm

Date Hiked: October 20, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

From Cold Spring to Rainbow Camp Only: Clear

As noted in the prior report, there is one relatively new (and large) sycamore over the trail just before Mocho Creek. There are a few other easy step overs.

In the Devils Staircase section the trail is pretty narrow switchbacking on a steep slope so there is plenty of sloping and eroding tread. There is also a little bit of brush encroachment on the ridge traverse.

Rainbow and Mocho Camps both look good with ample water by the camps. Cisco Creek is also flowing.

Relative to what the Big Sur Trail used to be, and subject to the notes above, I'm willing to give this section of the Big Sur trail a clear rating, but don't expect a freeway by any measure!
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Re: Big Sur Trail (cold spring to rainbow)

Postby mkellman on Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:10 am

Date Hiked: October 5, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Clear except for a single dead fall right before Mocho river crossing coming from cold spring camp side.

Logwood creek is dry. Mocho and creek feeding into south fork Big Sur river are running.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby Firefly on Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:49 pm

Date Hiked: September 19, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I hiked Big Sur trail from Cold Spring to Rainbow camp as part of a longer trek, following it easily as it winds around and down into the river valley. There is a large downed tree right before Mocho camp next to the stream, obscuring the trail and forcing a walk around in the brush, but overall, the trail is in good condition. Rainbow is a beautiful camp, stay more than just 1 night if you can.

Out of curiosity, I decided to day hike the Big Sur Trail as far as I could toward Cienega Camp, knowing it was defined on this forum as "impassable" and wanted a sense of what that feels like. That section of Big Sur Trail is passable for about the first 3/4 mile, to about halfway between Rainbow camp and the north fork of Big Sur River. Then it quickly devolves into impenetrable thickets and poison oak. Impassable it truly is. Unless you have a chainsaw and full body armor.

There is a pretty overlook stoop a short walk up the hill (5 mins) toward Cienega camp from Rainbow Camp, which is a good place to sit and watch the afternoon light.
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