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Big Sur Trail

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby FlyinBrian on Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:15 pm

Date Hiked: April 28, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Recently the bigsurtrailmap was updated to show the section of the Big Sur Trail between Rainbow and Cienaga as yellow (passable to clear.) This is NOT correct. While the Big Sur Trail from Cold Springs to Rainbow IS clear, the trail beyond Rainbow is in very poor shape. In the last 2 months I have cleared numerous blowdowns, overhanging burned brush skeletons, encroaching oak branches, poison oak, ceanothus, yerba santa, deer grass, etc. only the first half mile has been reasonably cleared. Beyond that is a tangled grassy area beneath large oaks that has never had much tread. In the past, this area could be traversed by following flag tape, but there is currently NO flag tape, so this area is essentially a no-trail cross-country route to the top of the divide between the south and north forks of the Big Sur river. I have not scouted beyond. I recommend the entire stretch from Rainbow to the Pine Ridge trail be considered red (impassable to difficult) until someone can get in there to say otherwise.

ED[jg]: my error - in updating the rating for the section between Mocho and Rainbow I accidentally also changed the section beyond. That has now been corrected on the trail conditions map.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby Betsy M on Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:01 pm

Date Hiked: February 4, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)


Several work trips have cleared the trail between Cold Springs and Rainbow Camp. This section still needs a bit of work but overall it is quite passable. All the fallen trees have been cleared, approximately 62 in all over the 3 trips. The effect of many feet on the trail has beaten down a path in the grass in the open areas where it was difficult to find the tread. Keep an eye out for flagging. At a few of the switchbacks where the route was not clear, we left some flags. I don't think this is ready for stock, yet. There are sections of sketchy tread, a few poky sticks, and one small creek crossing is a bit iffy.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby Dmitry on Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:29 am

Date Hiked: December 19, 2017
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

I completely agree, the trail is impassable and signs should be posted at the trailheads on both sides. From Cold Spring camp it starts OK, but down the switchback towards the Mocho camp there is substantial deadfall. Now, after the fire, there is multiple burned up smaller trees that are curled in a way a match does after it burns through, blocking the trail. There is an obstacle about every 50 ft.

From the South fork to the North Fork it gets crazy impassable - completely overgrown on the downhill side. You can guess where the trail used to be by looking at the ground, but if you look eye level there is no clearance. In fact, when I finally got to the North Fork, I couldn't tell where I came from, the shrubs were so dense.

From the North Fork to the Pine Ridge trail connection, I lost the trail and had to spend the night. It rained at night, so the next morning I had to wade through wet brush and got completely soaked. Not a good thing if you are trying to take the Pine Ridge trail peaks across to the China camp. It's a lot cold and windy up there.

The only reason I went that way, is because I did it in 2010 and thought nothing could happen to a trail in 7 years. WRONG. The only reason I was able to go through, is because I couldn't turn back, physically or emotionally. I wish I had read the review before I did it, but it doesn't always work that way for people, so I would request whoever is in charge to officially add this trail to the list of closed ones due to excessive deadfall, overgrowth and obliterated tread.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby jeffbigsur on Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:36 am

Date Hiked: July 6, 2016
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

I had the misfortune to hike this trail last month. Just so you don't get involved with this trail in any way, stay the heck away from it. I started hiking the Big Sur Trail at Cold Springs Camp all the way to Rainbow. Now this part of the trail is in excellent shape as well as the South Fork Trail. This trail has been completely worked out by the Trail Crew (Betsey) and is quite enjoyable to South Fork Camp. I haven't been here since 1980's. The trail to Strawberry Camp is in good shape also, but I didn't like the remoteness of it as well as pestering knats. (Sp) Strawberry camp isn't worth the struggle up the hundreds of feet to it. It is a high camp.
But do not take the big sur trail over the saddle to cienega, it has whole sections tread loss, trees growing (California Laurel) where trail is. I had to cross country all the way to the left of the south Fork drainage to the top. The other side worse, the switchbacks are overgrown to the dirt and I had to spend the night sleeping on the trail. I guess over the past years nobody has hiked this once beautiful and fun trail.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby Jacobnie2008 on Thu May 19, 2016 4:12 pm

Date Hiked: January 2, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The stretch of trail from the start of the trail all the way to Cienega trail camp is quite brushy, but the trail is still present for most of the way. However, there are some parts where we did lose the trail. From Cienega Camp to the North Fork of the Big sur River is completely brushless and made for pleasant hiking. At the Big Sur River, cross at the pink trailblaze. Then parallel the river for a bit until you see a faint trail going to the right. Everything from that part up to the ridge south of the river is completely obliterated by brush, but still passable. The tread is still there, and if you keep your eyes on the trail and not the brush, you should not have to lose the trail. Once past the ridge, the brush disappears. I did have some trouble regaining the trail past the ridge, but maybe I was just not aware enough. However, some trail reports have mentioned losing the trail too, so be wary. From Rainbow Camp to Cold Springs Camp, the trail is perfect and there is a lot of brush, but none of it covers the trail. I was able to do that stretch in the dark.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby Wolfie on Sun Mar 27, 2016 11:03 am

Date Hiked: March 24, 2016
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Trail from Pine Ridge to Cienegas was incredibly brushy with many deadfalls but we did not lose the trail.

Ciengas camp had 2 giant redwoods that had fallen through it.

Trail from Cienegas to Rainbow was incredibly brushy with many deadfalls on the way up to the ridge. On the way down to Rainbow we completely lost the trail for a good portion of it, and eventually found it again. These 3 miles took us 6 hours to navigate.

We cut our trip short and instead of hiking on the South Fork trail, we took the Big Sur Trail. It was passable, there was some brush and/or deadfalls but it was really easy to find/follow the trail.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:44 pm

Date Hiked: March 2, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The Big Sur Trail is in the best shape it's been in years from its western end to Rainbow Camp. There are a few obstructions due to recent storms, but they are mostly minor step-overs or brush-throughs and the tread is in good shape. The trail corridor does get a bit thinner nearer Rainbow camp, but is not bothersome. Though I've rated it "Passable" because there are some obstructions, it is on the "Clear" side of that category.

As one who first hiked the trail back in 2011 -- with numerous trees to climb over, under, or around and much brush to push through -- I very much appreciate the work done by the VWA trailcrews and sawyers under Maria Ferdin and Betsy MacGowan. Many thanks! I was able to enjoy the scenery along the trail instead of having to continually watch for trees and brush to avoid.

Big Sur Trailmap:
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby smd on Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:31 pm

Date Hiked: December 6, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Fire road was clear but after that brush and fallen trees in trail which we cleared as much as we could.

Beyond rainbow camp (assuming leading into South Fork) was quite over grown, we turned back to camp due since it was getting late.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby krands on Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:39 pm

Date Hiked: November 22, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Pine Ridge to Rainbow is so overgrown that the trip was not fun. Frequently, the trail was hard to find because others have made side trails looking for the route. Rainbow to Cold Spring is great. Thanks to all who worked on it.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby Betsy M on Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:20 pm

Date Hiked: October 18, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This report is for the section between Cold Spring Camp and Rainbow Camp ONLY.

A VWA trail work trip cleared the fallen trees just before Mocho Camp, and between Mocho and Rainbow.
There are some tread issues, and a few spots with ceanothus encroachment, but you can easily hike between Cold Spring and Rainbow. You do not have to detour anywhere on this section, and while the tread has some issues, most of it is in great condition. Rainbow is just as beautiful as ever, even with a madrone fallen across the camp.
We heard owls and coyotes at night at Rainbow Camp.

Water: there is plenty of water in Cisco Creek, Mocho Creek, and the South Fork of the Big Sur River.
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