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Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby Gotsu on Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:47 pm

Date Hiked: February 22, 2014
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Trail mostly walkable with significant overgrown patches of poison ivy and tall weeds. Sage and other plant branches sticking out on eye level is frequent. After decending into Danish creek camp meadow the trail tread disappeared. Some sign of trail to the right covered mostly by dead leaves and large amount of deer poops. Continued on showed barely visible yet tractable trail. A section of class 2 climb was necessary to negotiate before trail disappeared right before the creek crossing. Vines were covering the foresight and does not seem friendly to cross. An adventurous trekking to rattlesnake camp to base and summit double cone the next day therefore abandoned. It was late in the afternoon and the only viable campsite was only Danish camp. A trace back about 1/4 mile turned out to be easy but still omnipresence of overreaching poison ivy plants. However, it was later discovered that what were often detected as small spiders by an insect expert-less were ticks. Theses ticks were actually from the overgrown weeds sticking out on trail all the way from the dam to campsite.

It was not until 5am that ticking crawl through the arm freaked me off the tent. It was then time to pack and get out as soon as possible from already a failed mission to VDC. A keen alert of ticks from every moment of brushing through the weed created some nightmarish sight of tiny black dots under headlamp. A constant brushing off pants and sleeves all the way to the dam was my last time visiting this place. Not to mention that I was determined to give up backpacking with unsleepful nights. This experience puts nails to the coffin. Lucky it was only a few miles.
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Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:59 am

Date Hiked: November 10, 2013
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

The section from Little Pines Spring up to the VDC Trail is now completely impassable (the worst bushwacking I've ever experienced) with interlocking branches making progress slow and energy consuming. Ascending from Little Pines Spring (I bushwhacked into the spring from a different direction), after making only 375 feet in 25 minutes I moved over to the stream gully where I found less brush and faster progress. Total time was 50 minutes (and a lot of energy) to go 0.18 mile. No water was found at Little Pines Spring.
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Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby Rainer on Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:42 pm

Date Hiked: February 17, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Los Padres Dam to Rattlesnake Camp:
Doable with some determination. Be prepared to duck your head and
push through dense brush. I reached Rattlesnake Camp about 3 hours
after setting out from the parking lot at the dam.

Beyond Rattlesnake Camp:
I went on another hour, turning back about 1/2 mile from the camp.
The trail is completely obliterated in those sections where it is
most needed. While an occasional blue or pink flag indicates that
a trail had been there, the brush gives no such indication.
As I don't easily give up, I can fairly say that this is impassable.
Rainer
 

Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby RSIBryce on Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:57 pm

Date Hiked: January 17, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: from Danish Creek Camp to Rattlesnake Camp

I was out here this trip to continue the Rec-Site-Inventory project I've been fortunate to be helping with. Having hiked into Danish Creek the previous day where I made camp, I opted to leave my backpack behind and day hike to Rattlesnake, having heard the trail might be tough. Indeed it was! The initial start from Danish Creek can be a little tricky if you don't take a careful look at your map, as the faint tread leads you across Danish creek at the confluence with Rattlesnake and seems to continue up into the Rattlesnake watershed. However, this is not the actual trail, and you want to continue to the right along what is Danish Creek. You'll know your on the right path when you come across an old homestead site; lots of metal roofing and other rusted out whatnots. Crossing the creek, The trail then follows steeply up to the ridge between these two creeks, following metal trail markers nailed to the trees. The markers lead you true and its best to follow them, especially since all sort of animal trails and probably human too meander and criss cross you off course. There's also some flagging at various points to keep your eye out for. The further up the ridge the brushier it gets and as long as you take your time looking for the markers and stay true to the tread you'll be alright. This trail is quite difficult, however, and there was a few times where I got off course and found myself in a sea of chaparral walled in on all sides. Either way expect to be doing quite a bit of bushwhacking following the trail itself. It seems the growth really took off after the fire in 2008 and has gotten a little out of hand.

You'll notice on the previous post Jack Glendening hiked this trail recently and has made this a special project of his given the historical nature of this old route to the Ventana Double Cone. My hat is off to you sir. If you make it to Rattlesnake camp, be sure to sign the camp register and claim your fame, not too many people have made it there since Jack put the register there in 2010. The hike out was easier, as is often the case, and I didn't loose the trail like the first time. To continue on up to the VDC from Rattlesnake would be a courageous act, a sea of bramble awaits and a lot more brush.
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Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:32 am

A Brief History of Rattlesnake Creek Trail

Rattlesnake Creek Trail has a long history, having been one of the earliest Ventana trails. The 1924 Santa Barbara National Forest map [ http://bigsurtrailmap.net/MAPS/HISTORIC ... p-1924.jpg ] shows it connecting with Devils Peak and the Little Sur drainage prior to the existence of the current Danish Creek Trail, Big Pines Trail, Ventana Double Cone Trail, Puerto Suelo Trail, and even the Carmel River Trail. It is also shown on the 1921 Jamesburg Quadrangle [ http://bigsurtrailmap.net/MAPS/HISTORIC ... ersize.jpg ] essentially as it exists now, except at its western end where it headed NW from Little Pines Spring to connect to what is now the Ventana Double Cone (VDC) Trail, aka Ventana Trail. Currently (2013) a signpost still marks its original intersection with the VDC Trail but the Rattlesnake Creek Trail sign has been removed, though a bolt from it remains (see photo below). This was the route initially used to support construction and resupply of the VDC lookout tower and trail, via mule train (the later resupply route was via Bottchers Gap).

At some later time its uppermost end was rerouted, probably to make the VDC ascent more direct, to head SW from Little Pines Spring to intersect the VDC Trail. The original (black) and current (green) routes are depicted on the on-line Big Sur Trailmap [ http://bigsurtrailmap.net ].

"Little Pines Camp" used to exist along the trail about 150 feet below Little Pines Spring (not along the VDC Trail, as shown on some maps) - a basin up in a tree marks that location, near a tree blaze [at N36.35502,W121.72225 - see photo below]. However, fires led to erosion which filled its flat area after which its USFS icemaker stove were relocated to a large flat area 1/8 mile below Little Pines Spring, 50 ft south of the trail [at N36.35550,W121.72075]. But a huge pine (visible in Google Earth) later fell into that area, largely covering it.

Metal markers along the trail were placed by H.J. McCracken, who reopened the trail circa 1965. The markers can be found all the way up to Little Pines Camp, though sparser at the higher elevations, but to date none have been found above there so his route may have followed either the original or the current route. The metal signs found at the eastern trailhead near Danish Creek and at Rattlesnake Camp itself were placed circa 1990 (see photos below).

Jack Glendening
Attachments
RattlesnakeCampSign.jpg
Rattlesnake Camp sign
RattlesnakeCamp.jpg
Rattlesnake Camp - Rattlesnake Creek in background
RattlesnakeCamp_TrailheadSign.jpg
Rattlesnake Creek Trail - eastern trailhead sign
RattlesnakeCreekTrail_HistoricTrailheadSign.jpg
Rattlesnake Creek Trail - historic western trailhead sign
note bolt remaining from removed trail sign
LittlePinesCamp_VDCbackpack.sixthsize.jpg
Little Pines Camp - note basin up in tree
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Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:44 am

Date Hiked: January 2, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Dayhiked from Danish Creek to Rattlesnake Camp as my first hike of the new year. Lots of false animal trails on first section uphill to the ridge, ceanothus growth obscures portions of trail along the ridge, vines cover some of final section of trail from ridge down to Rattlesnake Creek. Prior knowledge of trail and/or GPS track of actual trail very useful.

I also spent some time cutting the more prominent brush intrusions into the trail

The register indicates that in 2012 Rattlesnake Camp was visited by 3 groups totaling 6 people - so its a place to go if one wants a unique experience. After reading the entry by the group heading beyond Rattlesnake Camp, up to the VDC Trail, it was nice to find their Feb 18 trail report below and learn that they did indeed reach their goal, albeit by having to bushwhack since the upper trail was overgrown.

Jack Glendening
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Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby Paul David Tuff on Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:11 pm

Date Hiked: November 23, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The trail up Danish Creek from Danish Camp isn't bad until the confluence of Rattlesnake and Danish Creeks. From there and continuing up Danish Creek, the vines are taking over. The trail to Rattlesnake Camp from Danish Creek is getting much harder to follow. There are many new trails in some of the grassy slopes made by people and/or critters. If it's people creating these trails, it's likely due to the fact that the main trail is harder to follow due to the new growth and burned brush/trees from the last fire, and probably because some of the metal guides were obscured by new vegetation. Along the ridge before dropping down into Rattlesnake camp there are long sections where interlocking branches of ceanothus (starting at about 1-2 feet over the trail and extending up way overhead, and sometimes combining with madrone and vines), are making the trail impassable to anyone who doesn't want to engage in major bushwhacking. After dropping down to Rattlesnake Creek but before crossing, the vines are waist-to-chest high. The camp itself is in fine shape, with the camp register safe and dry.

[The Editor's note pleading against using a machete is duly noted, but if there are no plans to rehab the trail, it will be difficult for some of us to watch it fade into the undergrowth without attempting to stop the decline, however amateurish the effort. I'd be willing to help anyone who wants to work on the trail, but it seems (and I admit I haven't done much trail work) that in some sections, grubbing out and pruning the brush would take a small army of volunteers, and I've noticed that the majority of work done on trails in the Ventana focuses on the most popular routes.]
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Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby jack_glendening on Wed May 09, 2012 3:51 pm

Date Hiked: May 6, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

This report is for the section from Little Pines Spring (and old Little Pines Camp) up to the VDC Trail.

The route which was clear and flagged 18 months ago is now a sea of ceanothus. Brush thick and tall (over my head) combined with downfall for almost the entire route to make it essentially impassable. I tried it two ways - once religiously following the old route on my GPS and once following what looked visually best (climbing atop the large downed pine trees to look for a better path) - the former was less brushy, but still tough. There was too much brush for the old flags to be visually helpful.

Overnighting at the old Little Pines Camp (now just a flat space for one small tent, due to debris after an old fire, marked by a basin in a tree), 100 ft from Little Pines Spring (which had much water, about half that of Pat Springs), I did not want to try to backpack that route so opted to hike out to the VDC Trail via the "historic" route, heading NNW to the sign post which still exists along the VDC Trail. I'd come in to the camp via that route so knew it was mostly open under a pine canopy or with sparse vegetation except for a 500 ft brushy stretch immediately above the old Little Pines Camp). Not easy, but much better than the sea of ceanothus, especially with a backpack. If anyone really needs to go to/from Little Pines Spring to VDC Trail I'd recommend that route - going up slope from the tree blaze at the old Little Pines Camp (trying to follow existing pines since there is less ceanothus growth around them), I simply picked my way as best I could uphill until I reached the open pine-needle-floor under the pines, then stayed within that by contouring and ascending north until I reached a region with sparse vegetation just beyond a gully, beside which I ascended to reach the sign on the VDC Trail - see red route on map below.
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LittlePinesSpring-ascent.png
Little Pines Spring/Camp to VDC Trail
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Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby richard_n on Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:37 am

Date Hiked: February 18, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked the Rattlesnake Trail over President's Weekend with two friends. Trail to Danish Creek is in great shape with only some minor brush in the way (and plenty of ticks on the switchbacks up on Big Pine trail). There is a somewhat misleading creek crossing that takes you into Rattlesnake Creek well before the remains of the cabin, but if you stay on the right side of Danish Creek (walking upstream), there is an obvious enough trail up to the cabin site. After that, as other posters have said, the trail gets very steep and less obvious, though it's straightforward until the top of the ridge. There, the trail is very brushy but still visible except for one spot where it just disappears. But after a hundred yards or so of bushwhacking, we rejoined the well-marked trail down to Rattlesnake Camp. It took us 5 hours from Los Padres parking lot to the camp, with about 4 hours spent getting from Danish Camp to Rattlesnake Camp.

The camp was really wonderful, and we spent a great night there. Signed the log on our way out and really appreciated all of Jack's hard work in blazing the trail. The trail from the camp quickly gets lost in head-high brush, but is regained after about 200ft higher up on the right hillside. We blazed a trail, but without a machete, who knows how long the trampled brush will last. After that, the trail is passable but difficult at times until the valley turns due west. The combination of southern sun exposure and moisture from the valley makes for 8ft high brush with no sign of a trail other than the occasional pink flagging. We found easier going on the very steep north facing side of the valley just until the creek turns south-southwest and Little Pine mountain is visible from the valley. We regained the flagged trail there but after only a couple hundred yards the brush became completely impassable. We resorted to heading straight up the hillside through charred manzanita up to one of the ridgelines coming off of Little Pine. There we followed some deer trails until VDC trail. It took us 5 hours to get there from Rattlesnake Camp.

Bottom line: the trail is well worth the effort with lots of interesting trees in the valley, but bring a machete and wear long pants. The trail should now be visible until about 1 mile below Little Pines Camp if someone repeats our trek before the brush moves in again.

(Editor's note: PLEASE do not bring a machete. Lots of us think it should be easy and simple to clear brush with a machete. Unfortunately, use of a machete on the brush in the Ventana is a great way to slice open your legs or arms, and is ineffective at making any meaningful dent in the brush. Most brush is best grubbed out, lopped below ground, or judiciously pruned, just like you would prune roses. The sharp cuts made by a machete result in hard, dead stubs, which poke at the next hiker, OR they result in several branches growing where there was only one before. Doing the job right takes longer, but it lasts longer, too.)

(Poster's response: my apologies for suggesting that everyone should bring a machete. I wanted to make the point clear that in sections of the trail, it would not be a matter of pruning to make it passable. There were many areas where the trail has 8 ft tall brush that is indistinguishable from the surroundings (other than a faint leveled step in the hillside). We used sticks and our body weight to push through, but it will take a lot more than a pruning effort to rebuild the trail the full route. I wanted to give future hikers considering this trail fair warning of its current condition. It IS passable, but with much difficulty and it takes a long time.)
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Re: Rattlesnake Trail (aka Little Pines Trail)

Postby K Vandevere on Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:54 am

Date Hiked: January 28, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Walked the lower portion of the trail from fairly close to Rattlesnake Camp down to Danish Creek. Encroaching brush, deadfalls, and faint tread conspire to make this section difficult - though certainly not impassable.
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