Effective January 22, 2021 U.S. Forest Service - Los Padres National Forest has re-opened most unburned areas of the Monterey Ranger District. In and around the northern Ventana Wilderness, most lands north of and including the Marble Peak Trail are open.

The Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station to Redwood Camp remains closed.

Lands south of Willow Creek Road, including most of the Silver Peak Wilderness, are also open. Most back roads (including Del Venturi/Milpitas, Nacimiento-Fergusson, Plaskett Ridge, Willow Creek/Los Burros, & South Coast Ridge roads) remain gated and closed.

This map depicts the closure boundary. Still 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, abide by NO CAMPFIRE restrictions, pack out everything you pack in (including toilet paper), and leave this special place better than you found it.

State Parks

The following are 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 (go online or call to find out if the park's campgrounds are open) 

The following remain closed: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, John Little State Natural Reserve, Limekiln State Park 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (additional US Forest Service information for the Monterey Ranger District): Please note that the information above is oftentimes more up-to-date than the US Forest Service site. Call 831-385-5434 with questions. 

Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Carrizo Trail

Carrizo Trail

Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Hydro-Logic on Tue May 26, 2020 12:36 am

Date Hiked: May 20, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The first 3 miles to the spring is great. Very little encroaching brush and perfect tread. The work that was done after the spring was still evident as was Leor's most recent "quick lop as he runs efforts" but it is getting bad again. There is about a mile that has some encroaching brush. Once you reach the part of the trail that goes north off the ridge and into the pines it gets better. A few blow down and some low hanging brush until the junction to Cook. we went right towards Cook and that was totally clear. The map shows this section as yellow but it's green. Cook is great. Lots of flat spots for a tent and the spring is running as usual. About a quart a minute.

We then backtracked and took the right turn on the Cook Spring Camp Trail to the NCRT and towards Cone. Lots of blow downs and some encroaching brush. The North Knife Ridge to Cone was great as always. No brush and easy to follow.

We came back down knife ridge and decided to take Carrizo back to camp. Good decision as the brush and blow downs are much less than NCRT.

Overall trail is great. A few people with some loppers could make it amazing in a day or so
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Cone peak via Carrizo Trail

Postby AaronP on Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:51 pm

Date Hiked: December 13, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Another trip up to Cone Peak via Carrizo. Just 3 or 4 days after a lengthy rainstorm, there were water sources at several places up to the summit. We camped out at trail springs and the white noise of the rushing waters there put me to sleep in just minutes. The trail from cone peak down to trail spring had one large tree blocking the trail that was slick to hop over but manageable. Over Saturday night/Sunday morning there was a bit of precipitation and the trail on the hike out was flocked with snow in some parts which was great sight to see.
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Cone Peak Summit via Carrizo Trail

Postby AaronP on Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:38 pm

Date Hiked: November 2, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Backpacked overnight to the summit of Cone Peak on the Carrizo Trail. The spring at Carrizo Camp was flowing enough to filter. Trail was mostly clear but there were maybe 4-5 small downed trees and some light bushwhacking involved closer to the junction towards the top. Ran into the VWA trail crew while they were working on the start of the Carrizo trail which was awesome.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby seagoat1724 on Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:33 pm

Date Hiked: March 15, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Carrizo Trail between the Milpitas Special Interest Area and Carrizo Spring Camp
Trail is wilderness freeway

Carrizo Trail between Carrizo Spring Camp and North Coast Ridge Trail
Trail is good and mostly clear. A few washed out sections, blow-downs and encroaching brush. Tons of snow at the top on North-Ease facing slopes of mountain, over 2-foot drifts in some places!
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby SMoore on Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:46 pm

Date Hiked: March 16, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This report covers ONLY the section of trail from the trail head (at the steel bridge over San Antonio River) up to the first saddle, about 3 miles in. We did an out-and-back day hike. This part of the trail is delightfully clear of brush all the way to the saddle, except for a scattering of maybe half a dozen small chemise bushes encroaching on the trail before you reach Carrizo Spring camp and a short section above the camp where manzanita is encroaching on the trail. The few poison oak plants along the way are easily avoided, so (for now) this is a good trail for anyone concerned about PO. There are no trees, logs, landslides or other obstacles across the trail; however, the trail is deeply eroded gullies with loose rocks in many of the steeper sections. This part of the trail climbs through some interesting rock formations, traverses different plant communities, and provides good views across and down the San Antonio River valley. Our hike was in March on a sunny but cool day (temperatures in the 40's and 50's F) following several weeks of on-and-off rain, so we didn't get too hot in spite of the steady, exposed climb. We crossed or paralleled 4 nicely flowing streams where we could refill water along the way. For part of the hike, we could hear and eventually see a waterfall between us and the gray rocks of the Indians outcrop. (Fair warning: We lucked out; at other times, this trail can be extremely hot and dry without reliable water on the way up to camp. Check weather and plan water accordingly.) We turned around about 100 yards after the saddle. At this point, it was getting late in the afternoon, the trail became more overgrown, and it looked as though travel would become more difficult. Seemed like a good time to call it a day and head home.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby leelogan on Thu May 24, 2018 1:40 pm

Date Hiked: May 18, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked this in late May 2018.

We had some embarassing difficulty finding the trailhead. The approach is clearly and accurately shown on BigSurTrailmap. Cross the steel bridge to find the trailhead sign.

Trail conditions are largely the same as Leor described previously. First three miles to Carrizo Trail Camp are sustained and sun exposed hiking but trail is in good shape. Spring at the trail camp was flowing nicely, probably about 2-3 L/min. Once you reach the saddle 15 minutes up the hill from the camp the trail becomes crowded by overgrown brush, but still easily passable. Once we reached the following saddle, trail again widened and the brush was subdued. It was another mile or mile and a half to the next junction, which was marked by an unmissable vertical sign post (no sign), with all three trails flagged with ribbons (carrizo continues left, cook spring connector to the right on a faint trail).

Cook Spring Camp was nice, there are enough flat spots to probably inhabit 5-6 tents, luckily we were the first party and snagged the picnic table and fire ring. A surprising number of groups came by throughout the weekend (probably overflow from closures in the rest of the forest), including a trailworking group of 6-8 folks. Seeping spring name was accurate, as the flow was no more than a seep (1L/min). The connecting trail to N Coast Ridge begins on the obvious ramp adjacent to the picnic table and is in great shape. Lesson learned that the interactive map is more accurate than any other old map bases out there, which don't reflect the little connector trails in this area.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby pantilat on Mon May 07, 2018 12:47 pm

Date Hiked: May 6, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Even though it's been six months, no change from the last report.

Clear to Wilderness Freeway for the first part through Carrizo Spring Camp (spring flowing very well).

About 1/4 mile before the first saddle and through the brush bowl, the trail narrows to passable but brush has not grown yet. There is one spot where giant yucca plants have occupied most of the trail - be careful skirting around them! At present, it's actually less brushy than the upper part of the nearby Arroyo Seco Trail.

The trail is clear from the second saddle to the junction with Carrizo Cook Spring Connector with the exception of a couple logs near the junction. The Sugar Pine Forest with incense cedar sprinkled in is always a treat. The last section from Carrizo Cook Spring Connector to the end point at the North Coast Ridge Trail is mostly clear with a few step over snags.

Note: The Carrizo Usetrail which connects into the Carrizo Trail from Road 8 is faint in spots with spring grass growth but followable. Its still a good idea to have maps or GPX from Big Sur Trail Map. After descending to the North Fork San Antonio River from the end of Road 8, the usetrail parallels Carrizo Creek before crossing the stream and briefly ascending to a saddle. The trail then passes through some low brush tunnels before emerging at the top of the grassy meadows where the Carrizo Trail begins climbing in earnest.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby pantilat on Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:24 pm

Date Hiked: November 12, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The Carrizo Trail remains clear except for the 1 mile section through the brush bowl which is passable (see early reports for specifics). I did some more light brushing to improve it but it remains narrow in spots. Once entering the Sugar Pines after the second 4140 ft saddle the tread becomes narrow and sloping as there is little evidence of human use this far up the trail. The last two times on this trail I have spotted bear scat in the vicinity of the brush bowl. Last time I heard a large animal running away through the chapparal (but did not actually see the animal to confirm it was a bear). Hopefully one of these times I will see the resident!

Photo Album:
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:28 am

Date Hiked: October 6, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Inspired by Leor's report, I went out to see what the Carrizo Trail is like these days. What a difference from the last (and only) time I hiked the entire trail back in 2009! Then there was much crawling in brush tunnels and much searching to find the trail. This time I only had to search once and never had to crawl. A much more enjoyable, less exhausting, experience so I got to look around more and appreciate the trail more. My thanks to all who have worked on this trail.

The trail is "Clear" except for the middle section, between the two northern saddles, which is still rough so "Passable". For details you can read Leor's post below.

For panorama photos:
Big Sur Trailmap:
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby pantilat on Mon Oct 02, 2017 2:51 pm

Date Hiked: October 1, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The Carrizo Trail is clear except for a 1 mile stretch that is now passable.

From the trailhead to Carrizo Spring Camp is clear thanks to extensive trail work. The Carrizo Spring is still flowing well, but lots of flies around the water source. Note that just prior to the camp, the trail follows more closely to the dashed black line on the USGS topo map vs the green GPX line drawn on Jack's (Big Sur Trailmap) maps. The difference is easily seen on the latest Google Satellite maps. I'm assuming the trail was realigned in recent trail work. The way is obvious and I mention this only to not second guess based on this GPX line.
Editor [JG] note: based on the above info, the Big Sur Trailmap maps have been altered so are again accurate for this trail, thanks to Leor.

From Carrizo Spring Camp prior trail work continues up the hill to the 3700 ft line with a lovely wide and clear path. From this point to the second higher saddle (est. 4140 ft) where the trail becomes clear again is exactly one mile. This stretch used to contain moderate to occasionally heavy brush passing through the infamous "brush bowl" which has gained notoriety for vigorous brush growth. It's the missing link in an otherwise clear trail. It appears this section was last brushed 5 years ago and it had become difficult with sections of interlocking brush over the trail. I spent the day brushing this one mile stretch. The predominant chaparral species is manzanita, though there are sections where chamise and scrub oak are dominant. The worst brush was found on the west side of the first saddle (est. 3920 ft) in dense chamise and then again closer to the second 4140 ft saddle where scrub oak had taken over. The chamise is layered with many overlapping limbs with a lot of dried leaves this time of year that are functionally more like small pine needles. This resulted in numerous "Chamise showers" while trying to clear it. This was a solo effort so the 1 mile stretch is not to the standards of the preceding 3 miles from the trailhead. However, I generally cleared it back to the cuts made in the last brushing. The path through the chaparral is narrow at times and there is still some low lying brush hence the passable rating versus clear. However, on the way back I was able to jog this 1 mile section, probably taking a third of the time it would have taken before so it's in much better shape!

From the second 4140 ft saddle to the intersection with the Carrizo-Cook Spring connector is a clear but with narrow, sloping tread in spots and a couple blowdowns near the connector. This is a spectacular section of trail under the old growth Sugar Pines with many beautiful incense cedars visible from the trail. From the junction with the Carrizo-Cook Spring connector to the junction with the North Coast Ridge Trail is also clear as the brushing from last year has held up nicely.

The Carrizo Trail is a beautiful trail passing through many ecosystems from oak woodland at the start to sandstone chaparral in the middle to perhaps the finest stand of Sugar Pines in the Ventana near the top. Great views abound virtually the entire way. It's an excellent choice for reaching the Cone Peak network of trails.

Note that the trailhead parking is likely not accessible to low clearance vehicles as there's a short steep section 0.25 miles from the parking area that sustained erosion and has large bumps.
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