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Carrizo Trail

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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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby paulfine on Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:30 pm

Date Hiked: June 13, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I spent the night at Cook's camp and hiked down Carrizo trail to the Indians Road on June 13th. It was my first time on this trail, and the only reason I didn't get lost in the middle was thanks to the judicious use of flagging tape by a good samaritan earlier this year. I added some more orange flagging tape on some of the difficult to find sections. Besides the middle section the trail was clear, both at the top and at the bottom.

Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby anadem on Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:13 pm

Date Hiked: April 4, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

We backpacked a loop of Arroyo Seco trail from Santa Lucia Memorial campground up to Coast Ridge, spending the night at Cook Springs, returning down Carrizo trail.

As in other reports the upper part of Carrizo trail is very grown-in and hard work to push through with a pack, even going downhill. Wear long pants or get scratched legs, and arrange packs to be slim and tall instead of short and wide (my pack ripped a side pocket).

It wasn't quite scree, but on a small section one of our group crawled on hands and knees to avoid sliding on the loose, steeply-sloping surface - the trail just wasn't there.

The lower half of Carrizo trail was wonderfully open freeway; many thanks to all who did such a great job!
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Rob on Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:17 am

Date Hiked: March 31, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Things were pretty much as last reported. I don't think I have ever seen the stretch from the Salsipeudes Bridge up to Carrizo Springs in such good shape. The spring was running well.

The "difficult" brush started a few hundred feet above camp (~3600') and up to the second saddle (~4000') and was somewhat intermittent. There was plenty of water in Agua Dulce creek. The flags were fairly recent, so there is little chance of getting lost in it. I would advise long pants and long sleeves for this part.

From the second saddle up to the Cook Spring connector junction was in fine shape, except for two large-ish blowdowns just before the connector. Trail tread was narrow and sloping in a few short spots.

The upper section to Coast Ridge was in great shape -- thanks to the folks who just brushed it (fresh clippings in abundance).
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby pantilat on Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:08 pm

Date Hiked: March 19, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Nothing to add to the prior reports for the lower section but the uppermost 0.7 mile section from the Carrizo-Cook Spring Connector Trail to the junction with the North Coast Ridge Trail is now clear. This 0.7 mile section was becoming moderately brushy but now this is a nice stretch of clear trail passing through some adolescent Coulter pines with occasional views to the rugged NE face of Cone Peak. The Carrizo-Cook Spring Connector Trail is also clear and a new PVC was recently placed at Cook Spring to enable easy filling of hydration systems.

Carrizo will be a great, clear trail from bottom to top once the mile long brush stretch from Carrizo Camp (3400 ft) to the saddle at 4120 ft is cleared.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby hydrologic on Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:24 pm

Date Hiked: March 12, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Betsy's last report was spot on. The brush is horrible after camp. I had shorts and a tank top and got scratched up pretty bad. It's less than a mile section. It needs major work!

Hanging a left at the cook carrizo connector and heading south towards the NCRT the trail again becomes rather brushy. Not as bad as the carrizo section but it too could use some work.

Carrizo is one of my favorite trails and if it were cleared it would be an absolute pleasure.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Betsy M on Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:54 pm

Date Hiked: February 4, 2017
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Thanks to a group of VWA trail crew volunteers, building on the efforts of Ventana Wilderness Rangers and the Gabilan Crews last year, the trail is CLEAR from the Trailhead at the Salsipuedes Ranch bridge to Carrizo Camp. Including the large rock that made stock access challenging. Hikers and horses should have no trouble in this section.
However, up above the camp is A MESS (difficult to passable rating). Don't even think of taking your horse here. The brush begins immediately after the Camp. It continues to the saddle at the "rock garden", and then the brush continues, even more dense, to the next (mudstone) saddle. From there to the uppermost saddle, with a view of Cone Peak, conditions are WILDERNESS FREEWAY. Work was done 5+ years ago, yet the trail is still a pleasure to hike. The only issue on this mile long section is a small tree that you need to crawl under or walk around.
Did not have time to continue beyond the uppermost saddle, where the trail contours south to meet the North Coast Ridge Trail. However, we flagged the start of the Cook Carrizo Connector that takes off to the north, which is at a wood post just below this saddle.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Yesenia Fernández on Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:04 pm

Date Hiked: June 25, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Cliff Bell and I hiked with our 2 dogs Henry and Tevah. This Was Our second attempt to get to the Carrizo Springs as labeled in the sign at the begging. This time I took a picture of the brochure ( to leave comments for future hikers. The first time on May 29th 2016 we were just exploring and had no idea what was out there. It was late and once we hit the bushy area were we had to swim through the bushes at about 2miles, we decided to head back to the car thinking it was impassable or the trail was still in the process of being cleared (since we saw much brush cut off to the sides evidence work was being done)

June 25 2016 we Headed back to complete the trail. Temperature was 102 but we carried enough water for us and the dogs. We knew the difficulty of the hike, straight uphill so we were hoping that the trail had been cleared already.

The Trail was passably clear up to about mile 2.30,up here temperature went down to the 80-88 . Along the way I took beautiful pictures of boulders and breathtaking views of the mountains .

At @2.47 miles The bushes from both sides started closing in on us again so we knew no work had been done but we pushed through. Most bushes were soft , but there was this one bush that was very spikey and got me with scratches on my legs everytime, Cliff never complained about it, he was wearing jeans, long sleeve and gloves and he opened the path for the dogs, I was a bit behind so cliff made me stop and put on a long sleeve shirt and long thicker pants (since my yoga style pants weren't preventing scratches, thank goodness I listened to him )

We saw the flags on some trees that told us we were on the trail . We reached an area where we lost the trail, cliff walked around a bit with the dogs (I was exhausted lol ) there was a huge light brown rock on the right hand side, cliff came back and we saw the faded flag on a branch , we kept swimming through the bushes (pokes where bearable now from that pokey bush)

We Passed an area with some kind of lavender growing plant which smelled heavenly. We reached a big blackish Boulder with holes in it on our right hand side, here cliff heard water flowing, so we headed to the left following the sound and saw the water spring which was surrounded by what looked to us like raspberry bushes and beautiful huge oak trees, nevertheless It was a small stream going down into the ground. I was disappointed that it was nothing We could jump in) We saw No SIGNS anywhere saying that we had arrived to Carrizo springs at 3 miles as marked at the sign in the beginning. It was obvious it was a campsite with clean flat land and a fire pit.

The GPS at this point said 2.67 miles so I wanted to keep going until we hit 3 miles like the first sign had announced, still had hopes I'd find a nice water spring I could relax in. We jumped over fallen trees and saw another flag on the tree to the left. We saw more evidence of people working on clearing the trail , but still the trail was closing in with bushes, it was already @5:30pm so we decided to head back especially when we realized we had finished out water supply.

Overall it was beautiful, extremely exerting (heart rate in the 150-170s) great workout burned over 2,500 calories
Yesenia Fernández

Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Wilderwill on Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:56 am

Date Hiked: June 16, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Alan Robertson and I backpacked the Carrizo Trail on a warm June day. As reported much trail work has been done for the first 2 + miles, for clear hiking. Then some brush and poor tread (climbing over boulders) for the third (passable) mile before Carrizo Springs campsite. Good camping spots and abundant water at Carrizo Springs.

Then climbing west, mixed clear /brushy hiking (swimming is a good description for some areas) but mostly passable above the Springs. A few trees down, most are easy to step over, and one crawl-under downed tree. Some cairns and a few flags to guide in the less obvious spots. We hiked to the Cook Springs cutoff, marked by a tall post with no sign. We took a short, faint but follow-able path heading north to Cook Springs camp site. We left the area the next day by the Arroyo Seco Trail.

If a further upgrade was to be planned for this historic trail, I would suggest a few switchbacks in the steep areas, and avoiding climbing over the large boulders. The trail was mostly enjoyable. The clearing of brush would attract many more hikers, of course, but thanks to all who have worked on this historic pioneer route.

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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby runcyclegirl on Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:18 pm

Date Hiked: April 10, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report is for the first ~2.5 miles.

We didn't get very far on Carrizo before the threat of rain chased us down, but we got far enough to see the work completed thus far by Steve and Beth Benoit, the Gabilan Conservation Corps., and other VWA volunteers. The first 2.5 miles of trail are clear and wide with no obstructions. That plus the elevation gain made for a nice hike.

It was obvious where the trail work ended as the brush on both sides of the trail touched making "swimming" necessary to pass through. It's not so bad, really. The brush was soft with tender leaves and flowers so I thought it was lovely.

Many thanks to Backcountry Horseman of California for funding this project.



Clear, wide trail.

End of clear section but tread is good.

Lovely surprise of Harlequin Lupine in a meadow nearby.
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