Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Cone Peak Trail
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Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:45 pm
by C M Heard
Disappointed Hiker will be happy to hear that a Forest Service crew has cleared most of the downed trees from the WIlderness segment of the Cone Peak Trail. However, since it's still in significantly worse shape than the non-Wilderness segment, I am once again reporting the conditions on the two segments separately.

Segment: Cone Peak Road to Cone Peak Lookout
Date Hiked: August 28, 2012 (road to lookout spur trail junction) & October 1, 2012 (lookout spur trail junction to lookout)
Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

This portion of the trail remains pack stock passable.

Segment: Lookout Trail Junction to Trail Spring Camp
Date Hiked: October 1, 2012
Condition: Passable: Some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident

Operating under the authorization of a Minimum Tool Decision, a fire crew hired from the Sequoia National Forest worked from August 27, 2012 to August 31, 2012 to clear all but a handful of the 60+ downed trees, mainly with chain saws. Although some trouble spots remain, this portion of the trail can now be considered passable. The photos below show the remaining trouble spots, starting from the spur trail junction and working down toward Trail Spring Camp. Except where stated otherwise, the photos were taken looking in the descending direction.

Stump hole

Incompletely cut tree (looking in the ascending direction)

Incompletely cleared switchback (the sixth one from the spur trail junction) looking up from the turning platform.

Stump hole

Encroaching rootball (looking in the ascending direction)

Outsize downed tree that the crew did not have a big enough bar to get

Stump hole (looking in the ascending direction)

Encroaching rootball

Stump hole

The District plans to have one of its fire crews cut out the remaining trees in the near future, but it is not known when or if resources to repair the tread damage will be available.

Mike Heard

Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:48 am
by Disappointed Hiker
Date Hiked: July 31, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Let me reiterate what has been said before, YOU CAN'T HIKE TO TRAIL SPRING CAMP. When reading through posts on trail conditions, I occasionally skim through unless I see reports of "Difficult" or "Impassible". When I saw the first couple posts were "Wilderness Highway" I was happy and felt no need to look further in. I was punished.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, my girlfriend and I did not summit until later on in the evening, around 7:00, at which time the harsh reality of Trail Spring Camp lack of existence came as a crushing blow. Left without water or a place to wash off poison oak oil, my girlfriend and I decided to ruck out that night with our 35 lb packs filled with gear we were intending to camp with.

All in all, we were not happy campers by the end.


I rated this trail as impassable to catch the eye of readers who may skim these posts, such as me. The trail to the summit is nearly completely clear, with the occasional grouping of brush or poison oak. You can summit just fine, it is finding a campsite near by which is difficult.

Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:31 pm
by Drew
Date Hiked: July 1, 2012
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Beautiful views!

The trail was clear with only light brush in some spots from Cone Peak Road to the summit. This trail is quite exposed and was very hot. There is lots of poison oak on the trail and no way to avoid brushing up against it.

Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:15 pm
by mikesplain
Date Hiked: June 12, 2012
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Section: Cone Peak Road to Cone Peak summit-
wide open & easily travelled; just a tiny bit of encroaching brome/grass, more posion oak than I remember pre-Chalk Fire, but it's easily avoided.
By all accounts the north side of the CP Trail (descending from the Cone-Twin saddle to Trail Spring Camp) is difficult to impassible due to an extreme wind event in Nov/Dec 2011;
here's a view of the incredible amount of deadfall brought down by what some have called "Arbor-geddon" as seen from the upper Gamboa Trail-

Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 11:04 pm
by N Block
Date Hiked: April 22, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

We hiked a loop from trail-head at Nacimlento-Fergusson Road and South Coast Ridge Road around Cone Peak Road, Vicente Flat, Stone Ridge, Gamboa, and Cone Peak trails returning to our starting point. We took the following trails:

1) Cone Peak Road to Vicente Flat Trail-head (Wilderness Freeway)
2) Vicente Flat Trail to camp at Stone Ridge Trail junction (Clear)
3) Stone Ridge Trail to Goat Camp (Impassable)
4) Gamboa Trail to Trail Spring Camp (Freeway)
5) Cone Peak Trail from Trail Spring Camp to Cone Peak Summit (Impassable)
6) Cone Peak Trail from Cone Peak Summit to Cone Peak Road (Wilderness Freeway)

As we ascended Cone Peak Trail from Trail Spring Camp, we made it about half way up to the ridge-line climbing over downed trees every 100 feet before the trail finally disappeared. It seems that a windstorm or something downed so many trees that the mountain-side eroded. What remains is a gravel-wash that is very difficult to climb up. We ended up climbing straight up to The section of the trail from Trail Spring Camp to Cone Peak Trail was under 2 miles but took 3.0 hours. Here are some photos from that section:






I wouldn't recommend the section from Trail Spring Camp to the ridge on the way to Cone Peak to anyone who isn't looking for an extreme challenge. Ascending the gravel slide that has wiped out the switchbacks was very difficult (especially with a heavy pack).

Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:31 pm
by TreeProf
Date Hiked: March 21, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Trail a wilderness freeway from Cone Peak trailhead until the decent down to Trail Spring Camp, which was an absolute disaster on the north aspect at the time of hike due to LOTS of 4'+ diameter trees being blown down (perhaps I should have listed it as impassable, except for the criminally insane). Only a good deal of providence and a good GPS with downloaded maps detailing switchbacks enabled our successful decent (took several hours and MANY broken-body near-misses to hike the 1.5 miles).

While it was certainly a nightmare for us, the trail will hopefully will be repaired by a trail crew, which was supposed to start staying at the Trail Springs Camp starting March 28 according to the sign there. Look forward to seeing updated report following work by trail crew (God bless'm if they can't use chainsaws...).

Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:18 pm
by wilderwil
Date Hiked: February 5, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Three of us, Joe, Alan and I hiked a four day trip around Cone Peak, down to Fresno camp, the first camp on the San Antonio trail, and hiking out the Vicente Flat trail. The Cone Peak road gate is closed, due to washed-out road shoulders on parts of the road I presume. All was well until we started down from Cone Peak. This segment of the trail was almost completely blocked out by the December storm (recent wind event). Most of the trees were 2 ft. to 4 ft. in diameter pines and firs, with one 5 ft diameter tree right on the trail. It took us most of the afternoon to go one mile to Trails Springs Camp. The trees were uprooted in what looked like a soft soil base by really high winds. The 5 ft diameter tree must have been at least a hundred years old. We managed to climb through this pile of giant "pick-up-sticks" with our packs, but we were overawed by the destruction.

Thanks to CM Heard & Co. et. al. for all the trail clearing for the rest of the trip. Walking out Vicente Flat and up the Stone Ridge trail for a few miles. There is a great overlook on the north Hare Canyon ridge. ... anaTrip212

Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:26 am
by rt1
Date Hiked: December 22, 2011
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Cone Peak Road to Cone Peak Lookout
Conditions remain unchanged from previous post

Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:03 pm
by C M Heard
Because the conditions vary so drastically on the non-Wilderness and Wilderness segments of the Cone Peak Trail, I am reporting the conditions on these segments separately.

Segment: Cone Peak Road to Cone Peak Lookout
Date Hiked: December 9, 2011
Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

In late November firefighters from Monterey Crew 1 and from Engines 15 and 16 substantially improved the non-Wilderness segment of the trail in order to make it stock-pack passable. This was done so that new batteries could be packed up to the repeater housed in the lookout building, a mission that was originally scheduled to take place on December 2, 2011. The lower section was brushed out, a pile of fallen boulders was cleared, and the following section was widened by over a foot to allow adequate pannier pack clearance:

Widened section of Cone Peak Trail

The wind event of Dec 1-2 resulted in some blowdowns and caused the packing mission to be postponed, but the fire crew came back the next week to clear the blowdowns (both from the trail and from the road), and the packing mission took place on December 9, 2011. Here is a photo of the mules returning from the lookout:

Mules descending from the lookout after delivering new repeater batteries

Unfortunately, the remainder of the trail did not fare so well in the wind event.

Segment: Lookout Trail Junction to Trail Spring Camp
Date Hiked: December 9, 2011
Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

More than 60 trees of substantial size came down on the Wilderness segment of the trail during the recent wind event. Most of these were green firs or pines with little or no fire damage that were simply uprooted, and over half of them were 2' or more in diameter. In at least a half-dozen places there were enormous holes in the trail where a large tree just below the trail had been uprooted, and in some places multiple large trees were stacked on top of each other in jackstraw-pile fashion (two of the switchbacks were covered up by such piles). Here is an illustrative photo:

Multiple uprooted trees on Wilderness segment of Cone Peak Trail

In rating this trail segment as merely difficult instead of impassable I am probably being generous. Granted, I was able to get through, but I was carrying only a day pack, and I doubt if I could have made it with a backpack — certainly not with the usual top-heavy expedition pack I carry when doing eight- to ten-day trail work trips. If you plan to travel between Trail Spring Camp and the Cone Peak Road, my recommendation would be to use the upper Gamboa Trail and the North Coast Ridge Trail; that route (as of this writing) is clear.

Mike Heard

Re: Cone Peak Trail

PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:44 pm
by C M Heard
Date Hiked: August 20, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

We've fixed the additional washouts and we've done the tread widening that was needed about one mile from the Cone Peak Road, but the heavy brush near the Cone Peak Road still remains. However, I'm upgrading my assessment of the condition to "clear" since I'm able to hike in carrying a heavy backpack with a crosscut saw on it without any particular problems (apart from the usual issues one has with a heavily loaded pack :( ).

Mike Heard