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Big Sur Trail

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:24 pm

Section: Cold Spring Camp to Rainbow Camp

We began our trip from Cold Spring and descended the "Devil's Stair Case", (
to Mocho and Rainbow camps. This trail is egregiously overgrown in some sections, primarily with ceanothus--wild lilac and warty leaf, and makes for some serious brush pushing, but certainly not impassable for those willing to go toe to toe with mother-nature. There are also some downed trees in sections that require some maneuvering over and sometimes under. Can be challenging, especially in one particular section soon after the first creek crossing and the descent from Logwood ridge that requires a bit of a stretch to get yourself up and over a rather large log thats fallen on a steep section of trail. Nothing out of the ordinary for the Ventana Wilderness, this is your average difficulty rating and a doable hike in present conditions. We encountered a many number of ticks along the way and some poison oak, but not so bad as some places. The tread is good and fairly easily followed despite the brush, except however in a few of the overgrown switchback sections of the "Devil's Staircase", as is often the case, people miss a switchback and continue on, creating use trails to nowhere that then more and more people follow over time (and sometimes end up connecting with the actual trail but with much difficulty).

Such a treat to get out to this section of the Ventana and spend time on the Big Sur River. A really gorgeous place and worth the effort to get back there. Rainbow is a beautiful, spacious camp. We encountered no people while hiking. We did not hike on any further past Rainbow on the Big Sur Trail and cannot report on those conditions.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby Jace on Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:56 am

Date Hiked: April 21, 2013
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

We came in through Timber Top and hit the Coastal Ridge Road before turning off onto Cold Springs' Road. We then proceeded on through the brush to try and connect the loop with the Pine Ridge Trail. -That never happened. The Spring growth has completely covered the trail and we lost it quite a few times. We made it down to about Mocho creek before we decided to turn around and head back instead of just completing the hike for the day. There are several downed trees and branches but that just makes for a more interesting hike. Ticks are everywhere and I probably picked 20-30 off of my friend throughout the day despite a heavy amount of deet. Until the US Forrest Service can clear this trail - Bring a machete or stay away! And be prepared to move SLOWLY!

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby Guest on Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:57 pm

Date Hiked: March 10, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This trail goes through some very beautiful country, too bad it's in the condition it's in, as it makes a great loop hike from the Pine Ridge Trail to the Coast Ridge Road back to Big Sur Station. From the Pine Ridge Trail to Rainbow camp the trail is passable. Tread is reasonably defined, although in a few places the tread has disappeared completely and becomes a series of braided game trails but picks up again if you go the right way. The trail is quickly becoming overgrown with brush however, and most of the hike is spent pushing your way through it to make progress, most of which is poison oak. From Sykes Hot Springs to Rainbow camp it took me four hours. In a previous post it was mentioned about an abandoned site at Cienega Camp. I checked this site out and found an external frame backpack, some trash bags and a coleman sleeping bag, along with some clothing. I found more abandoned clothes strewn along the trail, as well as a wheeling suitcase further up the trail with more assorted camping camp. To me it looked like a couple seriously ill-prepared campers got in here and decided their load wasn't worth the hassle and ditched all their stuff rather than carry it out.

From Rainbow Camp to Cold Springs however the trail is difficult. There are fallen trees with branches every fifteen feet it seems, in many places completely overgrown with brush and poison oak. In two separate places the tread had completely disappeared due to fallen trees that created a serious hassle to navigate. Overall it took me four hours to climb the four miles out from Rainbow Camp. All the streams and springs were running nicely however, so there's a plus. Overall if you want to walk the Big Sur Trail it's doable, but expect slow going, a lot of scratches, TICKS!!! and pains to avoid all the poison oak.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby anonimous on Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:56 pm

Date Hiked: March 2, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We took big sur trail from Pine Ridge Trail junction, and connect to coast ridge trail.

Trail is bushy, with some deadfalls but totally passable.

Caution! Lots of ticks!

IMPORTANT NOTICE!! just after cienaga camp, after crossing the north fork of the big sur river, there is a SUSPICIOUS abandoned camp.
Proceed the hike with caution.


Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby AdamW on Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:41 pm

Date Hiked: November 26, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Note: Storm damage from11/29-12/2 will likely change conditions

Section: Pine Ridge Trail junction to Cienega Camp

From leaving the junction with the Pine Ridge Trail, the trail quickly becomes brushy with mostly warty-leaf Ceanothus. See photo.

Between the top of the hill/ saddle just beyond the Pine Ridge Trail Junction and Cienega Camp, the trail meanders awkwardly through brush, grasses, ferns, and berry bramble thickets. Tread is not evident and it is likely someone could take a game trail/ deer path on accident. There is some flagging.
Only one significant deadfall, which is a large Redwood just before Cienega Camp. However there are other deadfalls that seemed to block where the trail once may have been.
Top of hill just beyond junction with Pine Ridge Trail.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby schwinn bikes on Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:30 pm

Date Hiked: October 7, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This is my first time posting a trail report so maybe take it with a grain of salt. I hiked the big sur trail from north coast ridge road to the pine ridge trail. The trail was very brushy, often I couldn't see my boots and the brush reached right across the trail and overhead. There were many dead trees to crawl over, around and under. I lost the trail a couple of times and had to wander, guess and route find to get back on the trail. Most of the trail I would consider passible but because of many overgrown sections and the overall number of deadfalls I felt it was difficult.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby CJDiM on Wed May 30, 2012 9:41 pm

Date Hiked: May 27, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Though there are certainly many stretches of clear and passable conditions along the Big Sur Trail, and though its tread is generally quite stable except for a few loose patches on the ridge between the north and south forks, this trail should be considered DIFFICULT and hikers should plan for a long, slow, brushy slog. My party of three experienced, fit backpackers in their mid-30s took 10 hours to traverse between Redwood Camp and Cold Spring Camp, with a lunch stop at Rainbow Camp. There are too many deadfalls to count; some are trivial, but many take a lot of time and effort to negotiate, especially those between Cisco Creek and Cold Spring Camp. Poison oak abounds along almost its entire length, but otherwise the chaparral is mostly soft, fragrant ceanothus and really not all that bothersome. Route-finding was never really a challenge, except for a couple of brief episodes of head-scratching around some of the larger deadfalls, where we were forced above or around; patiently look around the deadfalls for good tread until you find the trail again.

As for the camps, CIENEGA is surprisingly tidy and lovely and easily found at the obvious crossing of Cienega Creek among recovering redwoods and nice riparian greenery. It's so remote that it's hard to imagine more than one party camping there, but the camp actually consists of two two-tent sites on the west bank of the creek separated by about 50 yards. There are also a couple of flat spots on either side of the north fork crossing that have been used as unofficial camps, each with room for a tent or two. RAINBOW is lovely, as well, with a nice dipping pool and weathered table and room for perhaps 6-8 tents, but quite buggy when we stopped there for lunch on a warm afternoon. MOCHO is overgrown but serviceable in an emergency, with room for 2-3 tents. The tank at COLD SPRING CAMP has water, but you'll need a multi-tool to operate the spigot. Alternatively, the small creek/spring on the trail 50 yards below the camp is still flowing reasonably well.
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Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby wilderwil on Fri May 04, 2012 9:49 am

Date Hiked: April 27, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Alan, Steve and myself started at China Camp on a Clear Pine Ridge Trail. The sign is gone, but the junction at Big Sur Trail is obvious. Bushwacked much of the way into Cienaga Camp and camped on the sandbar. The Redwoods are fire damaged but coming back with new growth. We avoided camping spaces under large trees, it appears that branches are still coming down, one branch "speared" into the ground. A skunk came in to investigate our camp at dusk, but we never saw it, just a wiff!

Coming into Cienaga Camp we found a discarded pile and fabric vest hanging on a branch. We left the vest but cleaned up some minor trash.

The next day we proceeded up the Big Sur Trail, some light brush, but mostly passable and pleasant hike with a few deadfall trees over the trail. Before getting to the first saddle we came upon a rolling fabric suitcase, and some clothing belonging to what looked like some disgruntled job-seeker (the clothes had suit pants and a tie). We didn't think to look for identification. It looked like some one gave up and decided to get away to nature. (I would have picked an easier trail to drag a suitcase). We left the suitcase and clothes next to the trail.

It was a nice hike to spacious Rainbow Camp with its picnic table, where we had lunch. The next stop, Mocho Camp is getting overgrown and we didn't stop. After Cisco Creek the trail conditions get worse, classify it as difficult. We spent much time going over, under around much deadfall timber. A few large trees, but most of the deadfall is small trees under 8" in diameter, and brush that could be handled with a timber saw and pair of loppers. Poison oak, of course but most of it avoidable. (I only got one spot of rash on my shoulder). We continued to collect some minor trash discarded along the trail. We hiked to Cold Springs camp where the tank was empty, but abundant water flowing out of the spring. A good open and flat camp, previously used for work crews, etc.

We met two professional survey crew monitoring the condition of the forest. They say it is coming back, but slowly. I was surprised that the fire appears to have "jumped" leaving islands of trees lightly singed or untouched, the pine trees seem to be thinning out after each fire. We hiked out north on the Ridge Road to Ventana / Posts for our pickup. Someone has removed the " Boronda Trail" sign that was on the road just a month ago! Just the post sticking out of the ground.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Postby Guest on Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:11 am

Date Hiked: March 11, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Had the misfortune of night-hiking this section of trail between it's juction with the redwood trail and Cinega camp due to mild foot issues that slowed us WAY down. Trail is clear and in good shape, though there are a few deadfallls, including a massive redwood that you have to first slide your pack, then crawl under. Cinega creek is flowing just fine and is an excellent water source. Just a heads up to any would be hikers in that area, my hiking partner and I were tracked by what we believe was a juvenile mountain cat on the way down off the ridgeline to the campsite. The cat actually got to within 10-15 yards of us (we could see the cat's eyes glow when we hit it with a flashlight). Just be on your toes if traveling the area near dusk.

Big Sur Trail

Postby Guest on Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:37 pm

Date Hiked: November 1, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

If you're used to hiking deep in Ventana's backcountry, then you'll be used to these trails. Roughly every 10 minutes there's some obstacle that you have to go around, overgrowth abounds (but is rarely extreme), and poison-oak is abundant (but not directly on the trail).

The key thing to look out for when you're going east on the Pine Ridge Trail is to catch the junction toward southeast. When I saw it, it had tree branches blocking the trail. It made me think that that was a false junction, so I kept hiking up for another 15-20 minutes until I realized that was the junction that I had been looking for.

Obviously the rangers put the branches there to discourage people from taking that trail, but they really shouldn't be there since the trail is quite passable. Thanks to occasional pink/blue tags, it's easy to see follow the trail, even though it's not in great shape.

There were a few springs still pumping out water, but the only dependable sources in the fall are the main creeks.


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