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

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:40 am
by jdoelman
Fancy image of Manuel Trail
ToVado.png

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:55 am
by jdoelman
Date Hiked: January 27, 2019
General Condition: Difficult

This report is for the "historic" portion of trail from the Mt Manuel firebreak down to Vado. Heading northward from where the trail leaves the firebreak(at elev 3554), down to elevation 2600 feet where the trail crosses a minor drainage, I found very little sign of the original trail. In this area the hillside is sparsely treed and no dense brush, so it was easy to traverse without the trail.
From 2600 ft northward, the trail is usable with some difficulties when crossing each of the 3 redwood side-canyons. At these canyons I failed to follow the old footbed and descended down to the water, then up the other side to regain the trail. Each of these trail bypasses was no more than 100 yards (I think).
When approaching Vado, I found it necessary to descent the minor ridge west of Vado, rather than follow the trail. I followed the crest of the ridge downhill toward Vado (about 300ft) while keeping the dense brush just to my left. When the brush ended, I headed down and west along a canopied slope to regain the trail.
A short foray north from Vado toward Launtz was not successful as the Little Sur river was not easily crossable and I was not up for the challenge.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:36 pm
by jack_glendening
Date Hiked: September 14, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I'd heard a firecrew had worked on the trail but no details, such as how far they'd gotten, so went out to see for myself. This report covers the trail up to the ridgeline. [This was also a foot testing hike for me, since I've been trying to recover from foot problems for over 2 months - in fact, I tried to do this hike just last week but had to turn around after only 2 miles due to foot pain. Since I'm able to make this report today shows progress is being made!]

The good news is that the trail is in the best shape its been since the 2016 fires. Brush has been cleared along the entire route, though the corridor is narrow at times. The tread is in decent shape to the wilderness boundary but then starts to deteriorate, becoming rough and tricky to negotiate in spots. It is thin (boot width) at times, often sloped, and sometimes two layered. Beyond the seasonal spring (which I marked with a green ribbon to keep from being forgotten, since the use trail leading to it is now indistinguishable) I had to continually watch where I placed my feet. The worst section was from where the trail turns north, with the VDC being visible, to the ridgeline.

In many places the tread created by the firecrew departs from the smooth ascent of the old trail, instead dropping down then having to awkwardly ascend to get back to the old trail. Don't know whether they were following small usetails which had been created when there was a lot of brush on the trail or whether they simply followed the path of least resistance. In places the current tread is very un-trail-like, with relatively steep ascents/descents and sometimes has had steps kicked into it, like a ladder. Just below the ridgeline, new tread has been created to reach the ridgeline earlier, and more steeply, than the old trail. Interestingly, the old trail tread was _also_ cleared but then later blocked with brush on both ends - for some reason they seem to have decided to divert people to the new tread instead.

I found a pole _very_ useful in helping to deal with the rough sections, particularly on descent. There are no dangerous slide sections, as there have been in the past and may be again if we get strong rains, but a mis-step can easily cause a fall at many, many spots. So you do have to keep your eyes on the trail. Since the views along the trail are often wonderful, I found myself stopping so I could enjoy them and then pushing on again.

Jack

PS: I saw a condor on the hike, circling in a more stately manner than vultures do - so keep an eye out for them.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 3:56 pm
by Jpdoelman
Date Hiked: May 13, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Descended from Post summit by Manuel saddle to the Manuel trail then followed it to Vado camp. The trail was hard to follow in places. I missed some parts of the trail but always managed to find it again to proceed. Above the switchchbacks near Vado I did some x-country but gained the trail again in 1/4 mile. Put up some flagging so I can find the trail easier next time

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:52 am
by Todd Perkins
Date Hiked: April 22, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

IMG_8139.jpg
View from false summit of Manuel Peak trail as it reaches bulldozed ridge with low brush.


Described route: Up East Molera -> Post Summit -> Cabezon Preto Ridge -> Manuel Peak -> Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. If you are hiking up Molera Peak from Pfeiffer Big Sur, read this report from bottom to top.

Trail to Post Summit is wilderness freeway up past the Redwoods and the Golden Staircase. The left turn cutoff to the saddle to Post Summit is indistinct. The trail up Post Summit is similar to prior years. It was previously bulldozed and has many gravel sections easy to slip on coming back down.

The trail to Cabezo Prieto Ridge and across to Manuel Peak has been bulldozed and has ankle to waist high brush in patches, easy to get past for now. It likely will fill in and become difficult.

From Manuel Peak false summit down the west side of the ridge the trail passes 50 yards of brush tunnel followed by open trail. Hikers are cutting the switchbacks and creating erosion by descending directly down the steep face of false summit. There are a few more areas of brush, one detour around a tree, and some sections of narrow trail with steep drop-offs descending the east, then south side of the ridge. Two miles down from Manuel down to Pfeiffer State Park the trail widens to freeway width with passing lanes thanks to recent VWA trail work.

Enjoy this trail before the brush fills in the ridges at the top!

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:26 am
by gene a
Date Hiked: April 25, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Trail degrades from wilderness freeway to passable as it nears the false summit. No sign of Manuel spring. Trail winds around small deadfalls. Fifty yards of brush tunnel near false summit. Hikers are cutting switchback and creating erosion by descending directly down the steep face of false summit. From false summit to Cabezo Prieto bulldozers flattened the high brush; its is low to waist high and growing fast and will eventually become a labyrinth of tunnels as it did in years following 2008 Basin Complex fire - enjoy it while it lasts!

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:51 pm
by scottmacdonald
Date Hiked: February 18, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Starting from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, the first 2.5 miles or so of trail are wilderness freeway, great condition with recent trail work evident. After the trail turns north around the ridge things get a bit rougher, though still plenty clear and very hikable. There is some encroaching brush and you need to watch your step (instead of the incredible views) because the tread is tricky in spots.

Continuing on from the summit, the trail is clear and easily navigated along the ridge all the way to East Molera Trail. Some brushy areas but no problem to walk through them.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:34 am
by Trail Wanderer
Date Hiked: November 24, 2017
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

started at Cooper School, proceeded up a very steep and brushy slope keeping to the west of the fence line before exitting the brush to a flat grassy area at elev 1400ft. From this point to elev 2400 is an excellent use-trail to the base of Post Summit. The firebreak up Post-Summit is exceedingly steep and slippery on its western slopes. No brush related to live brush or fire mitigation encountered above 1400ft.
Descended from the Post Summit - Mt Manuel Saddle to elev 2880, where I was able to find the Mt Manuel trail. While searching for the trail I found a wood trail sign advising 3-miles to Vado, 4-miles to Launtz. This sign likely at the intersection of the Tin House trail ( will have to try the tin house trail some other day ). Followed the Mt Manuel trail for about 2 miles past 3 flowing springs until being confounded by particularly dense area of brush. Turned back there. The confounding brush was on the north-slope of the minor drainage 1/4 mile south-west of Vado Camp, ENE of point 3342

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 12:05 pm
by TimMcL
Date Hiked: May 21, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I started from Pfeiffer State Park and only hiked 3 of the 4 miles. For the section we hiked, there was very tall grass, but the trail was easy to follow. Starting at mile 2.5, the trail was still possible to follow, but there was a lot of scrub to wade through. We turned around after hearing others report that the final mile was even more grown in with lots of poison oak. We passed 3 groups that day, none of whom reached the summit.

Re: Manuel Peak Trail

PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 5:20 pm
by jack_glendening
Date Hiked: December 12, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

*NB* This report is for the NORTH end of the HISTORIC ("lost") Mt Manuel Trail, i.e. starting from the Little Sur Trail.

Roger Beaudoin, Jesse Cude, Jean LeBlanc, and I went out to see what we could find of the route to Launtz Creek Camp, my last trip out there being 3 years ago. We were pleased to find that a VWA trailcrew lead by Steve Benoit and Betsy MacGowan has cleared much of that route, partly following some clearing done by firefighters. In particular, an extremely brushy "Apex of Brushiness", which has always been problematic, where I've lost the trail twice in previous trips, now has a tunnel cleared through it and the route is very apparent (and easy). On our trip we did additional clearing up to where the trail lies above Launtz Creek Camp, such that I can now rate the route from Little Sur Trail to that point as "passable" - the tread is very apparent, albeit rough, and brush mostly cleared.

At Launtz Creek Camp, we found additional tread and some recent clearing heading up a gully northbound, ala Schaffer's 1988 map. The map below depicts the two separately cleared sections.

Unfortunately we could not find any old tread connecting those two sections. But we tended to stay somewhat high on the slope, where it was more open - the old tread might lie in the brushy band below our route. I think I will need to go back to explore that area in more detail.

I hope we can later establish the connected "historic" route for better backpack access to Launtz Creek Camp. Currently one can descend down the steep slope at the end of the passable route to get to the camp - but that is bushwhack and difficult on the return ascent. Alternatively, one could climb up a bit from the end of the passable section and go across relatively open terrain to connect the sections, as we did. But I did NOT put any flagging to indicate that connection, since I did not want to put flagging off the historic tread. Those who carry a GPS can easily go between the sections if displayed in the GPS, without needing any flagging.

To indicate the location of these newly cleared segments of the historic trail, I've created two "use trails" which I've added to my Big Sur Trailmap so others can see/use them. I hope that someday they will be connected, creating a "passable" route to the camp, so that I can change them into a resurrection of the "Mt Manuel Trail".

Jack Glendening

PS: personally, it was very gratifying to see faded green flagging I'd placed 3 years ago, when the trail was overgrown and nearly impassable, and think about how much the route along them has improved since then.