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THANK YOU FOR READING THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION - updated December 7, 2020

Despite the closure of public lands, many Big Sur businesses (including private campgrounds) are open for business. Call the business you wish to visit ahead of travel for hours of operation. 

As of 12/07/2020, Highway 1 is open along the Big Sur coast. 

Most other roads in the region are closed.   

US Forest Service Managed Lands - The US Forest Service continues to maintain a closure of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas. Trails and backcountry camps are closed. Effectively, the entire Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest is closed.  Click here for the Forest Closure Order dated 10/09/2020.  This link includes a Forest Closure Map.  Call the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest for more information: 831-385-5434.  

Fines for entering closed areas can be up to $10,000.  

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 Hisoric 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 - Marble Peak Trail

Marble Peak Trail

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Firefly on Tue May 07, 2019 11:23 am

Date Hiked: May 1, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I hiked the entire length of Marble Peak trail from its junction with North Coast ridge road to Arroyo Seco-Indians Rd.

There is a lot of up and down, but the trail is obvious the entire time. Lots of water in creeks at least every half hour or so. A lot of poison oak in the valleys, especially around Willow camp. Went mid week and did not see anyone else on this trail for 3 days.

Tan Oak camp looked particularly beautiful, at the junction of two creeks. I stayed at Willow, which is in a wooded clearing.
Firefly
 

Re: Marble Peak Trail - Marble Peak to Strawberry Valley

Postby Betsy M on Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:31 pm

Date Hiked: December 30, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Some updates based on several recent trips. Generally there is water everywhere now. Conditions are improving as the VWA volunteer trail crew gets time to work on these sections.

Section: Marble Peak to the junction with the Lost Valley Trail
This first mile and a half is in good shape, I would call it CLEAR. The yellowjacket nest got excavated by someone and there are no more wasps to worry about.

Section: Lost Valley Trail junction to the top of the ridge above Tan Oak Creek
This next mile is also in good shape, I would call this CLEAR also. Still use caution across the mudstone slopes. It is brushy in a few places near the top of the ridge. Watch for flagging at the top, and don't take the old dozer tracks that cross the trail, following the ridgeline.

Section: Tan Oak Creek
CLEAR. Work in this section notably by Flyin' Brian has greatly reduced the level of brush and the deep gully has been filled in.

Section: Strawberry Valley
CLEAR. From Tan Oak Camp the trail looks great. The work by John Radford is holding up beautifully. We noticed hiking down from Strawberry Camp that it gets much colder at the Tan Oak Use Camp. If you are traveling towards Marble Peak, make sure you cross the creek immediately after you pass the burned sign at the junction with the South Fork Trail. I'm wondering if people might have stayed on the left side here. There are a few roses here and there on the right side, but nothing like the field of roses on the left side.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby hydrologic on Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:42 pm

Date Hiked: October 14, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I generally agree with Betsy's previous report however the wild rose hip around Tank Oak Camp is pretty bad. There is a path through it but if you wear shorts you will get scratched up! I would say from the junction of Lost Valley Trail going towards Arroyo Seco the trail is most yellow with lots of green sections and few orange sections.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail - Yellowjacket Alert

Postby Betsy M on Tue Oct 02, 2018 3:31 pm

Date Hiked: September 30, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

One update - there is a nest of yellow jacket wasps at the unofficial camp below Marble Peak, at the junction with the Lost Valley Trail. The nest is a hole in the ground about two feet from the trail, as it leaves the fire ring area, headed towards Tan Oak Camp. Basically right in the middle of this camp. I left a rock with some pink flagging next to it. Be careful!
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Re: Marble Peak Trail Marble Peak to South Fork Junction

Postby Betsy M on Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:01 pm

Date Hiked: August 26, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Marble Peak to the junction with the Lost Valley Trail
This first mile and a half is in good shape, I would call it CLEAR. Some brush growing into the trail corridor but no difficulty finding the route and you have lots of opportunity to enjoy the views north to the Double Cone and south to Lost Valley.
Water: there is no water anywhere on this section.

Section: Lost Valley Trail junction to the top of the ridge above Tan Oak Creek
This next mile is also in good shape, I would call this CLEAR also. There are a couple of sections where the trail traverses a mudstone slope and there is basically no tread. Despite repeated attempts to create tread, the rock just crumbles away. You can get past, it just requires careful stepping.
Water: there is no water anywhere on this section.

Section: Tan Oak Creek
DIFFICULT. The descent to Tan Oak Creek starts out okay. This entire section burned and much of the brush that blocked the trail is gone. BUT once you get down to the creek, the riparian corridor is definitely a challenge. Keep an eye out for flagging at several questionable spots. There are plenty of blackberries growing everywhere, covering everything in their path. When they cover the trail it becomes difficult to get through. The vines grab at your ankles and leave thorns in your hands.
Caution: there is one small gully that got scoured out by water and is about five feet deep. Even though it is only a foot across. You can easily step across. But if you don't see the hole, and step INTO this gully, it would not be good.
Water: when the trail drops down to Tan Oak Creek there is water at several locations. The best water and easiest access is several hundred yards upstream of Tan Oak Camp. The trail drops right down to the creek and you can just hold your water bottle next to the bedrock where the creek pours down. There is also water at Tan Oak Camp on Zig Zag Creek. This isn't flowing as well, but this water flows all year even if Tan Oak Creek dries up.

Section: Strawberry Valley
CLEAR. From Tan Oak Camp the trail looks great. Looks like John Radford did a lot of work in this section and it is holding up well. Just a small amount of brush in a few places. And you don't have to walk through the wild rose jungle!
Water: Tan Oak use camp does not have water. In fact, there was no water in Zig Zag Creek (the creek that flows through Strawberry Valley) anywhere upstream of Tan Oak Camp.
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Marble Peak Trail Arroyo Seco to South Fork Junction

Postby Megan Sebay on Wed May 30, 2018 7:25 am

Date Hiked: May 25, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We hiked from Arroyo Seco to Strawberry Camp on May 25th. The first few miles to the junction with Tony Trail are clear and passable, though poison oak and blackberry are beginning to encroach some. The ticks were also out in full force!

After Tony Trail the vegetation encroaches a bit more, and by the time you get to the top of the ridge there's a lot of vegetation on the trail. Most of it is grass/wildflower type, but there's some actual brush. There's no question about where the trail is, though.

There is NO CAMP at Camp Creek (No-Camp Creek?), but there's a use camp at Shovel Handle Creek that will do in a pinch.

Coming down into Strawberry Valley the trail continues to be brushy, especially around the creek crossings. There's a big camp just past the junction with South Fork Trail, but we didn't go all the way to Tan Oak.
Megan Sebay
 

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Jim Ringland on Sun May 13, 2018 10:27 am

Date Hiked: May 9, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

On the 9th, I hiked from the South Fork Trail junction to Willow Springs Camp, having started at Strawberry Valley Camp. On the 10th, I continued the short distance to the Tony Trail junction. In addition, on the 9th I dropped my big backpack at the South Fork junction and dayhiked west toward and beyond Tan Oak Camp.

South Fork junction west through the Tan Oak Creek corridor: Passable (!)

The creek crossing is now right behind the sign at the Marble Peak / South Fork Trail junction. Tan Oak Use Camp, just a few hundred feet down the trail, looks well-used and has the same general feel as it had in 2016 when I stayed there. The shrubbery burned and is regenerating. The trees are mostly intact although some lower limbs burned.

The trail beyond to the original Tan Oak Camp is in good shape and easily followed, mostly. I did miss the last stream crossing right before Tan Oak Camp but figured that out within a few 10’s of feet. A few branches leaning into the trail are the only obstacles. Tan Oak Camp appears to be little used. The fire ring and grate are still there but there was nothing that looked like a bedsite. The sign I saw in 2016 is gone.

I was going to stop at Tan Oak Camp, but the trail on looked fine, so I kept going … and going. Despite the earlier reports, I found this easy hiking. Somebody’s cleaned a lot of blackberry away from the trail. There are still a few residual vines on the ground (easily stepped upon), softer things leaning into the trail, and a few things growing *in* the trail, but mashing through the occasional patches of bracken or shoots of deervetch (Hosackia crassifolia) wasn’t hard. No route-finding issues. The area burned hard so there were open views down to the creek and up the hillside.

My intent once I got going was to continue until the trail began switchbacking away from the riparian corridor. I stopped about 300’ short, at least according to my GPS. I heard a rattlesnake in the blackberry at the side of the trail. (The berries were low and mounding there, maybe 12” to 24” high.) I never saw the snake and couldn’t quite localize the sound. Rather than throw a bunch of rocks or do a lot of careful probing into the blackberry with my poles to encourage him to move on, I just decided I was the interloper and he the resident. I turned around.

South Fork junction east to the Tony Trail junction: Passable to Clear

The jradford report from April still fits well.

Passable certainly fits through the Zigzag Creek drainage. Good trail with some brush that occasionally needed to be pushed aside. Sometimes there was some growth in the trail too: I have a nice picture of a popcorn-flower-filled trailbed. No footing issues. The Shovelhandle Creek Use Camp doesn’t look much used and the Camp Creek camp is long gone.

The trail widens about half way between the Zigzag Creek / Willow Creek divide and Willow Springs Camp. From here to Willow Springs, it’s essentially Clear. The camp is a big and nice as always, sitting under its huge oaks and bays. The trail’s a little narrower between Willow Springs and the Tony Trail junction with some soft stuff leaning in occasionally, so it’s a toss-up whether to call this Clear or Passable. Either way, no problems.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby jradford on Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:22 pm

Date Hiked: April 25, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

One can now hike at a steady quick pace all the way from Arroyo Seco to Tan Oak Camp w/o any slow-down for brush or obstacles. It's a far cry from "wilderness freeway", such as it was just 2 years ago, alas, but it is easy to navigate. However, about 4 miles of it has vegetation growing IN the tread such that more and more people are stepping around such and occasionally breaking down the outside edge of the tread - a bad situation on steep slopes!

Horse Bridge to 1/2 mile west of Willow Springs: there are 4 low logs (before Willow Springs Camp) easily stepped over; much Poison Oak, the worst I've seen here but mostly broken back and it could be quite a bit worse. The section is technically "passable" only because of encroaching PO but that's all. Most would simply call it "clear".

[Suggestion: cut a walking stick with a fork at the bottom end, forking for 2-3" or so. PO is generally brittle and it is easy to break outreaching long twigs, to push (weave) stems backwards into nearby growth, to uproot small plants. Uprooting is best done by hand, of course.]

Willow Springs to Saddle (triangular metal sign): in the last 1/2 mile or so Chamise and other brush encroaches, some in your face but the tread is ever-obvious. No snags to duck under or step over or around. Definitely "passable".

Saddle (triangular sign) to Strawberry Valley: most of the tread, though obviously present and easy to follow, is mostly covered with grass or annuals (some beautiful floral displays now) or perennials such as new Chamise, Deer Weed, Mountain Balm. No snags to duck under or step over. Definitely "passable" but rapidly filling in and getting threatened by overgrowth.

Strawberry Valley to Tan Oak Camp: "clear" all the way.
jradford
 

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Jacob Nie on Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:02 pm

Date Hiked: April 21, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked West->East

The trail from Marble Peak to Indian Valley Campground is in good shape--make sure that you take the correct turnoff from Coast Ridge Road. Some maps are wrong--the Marble Peak trail begins south of the peak and has a sign.

The uphill stretch from Indian Valley to the ridge had a couple of sketchy spots where the trail crossed a bunch of steep scree slopes. I had a couple guys completely slide off the trail here, so please be mindful of that.

The trail down to Tan Oak camp is totally obscured with vines, with only a faint indication that people have previously walked through. Big thanks to Betsy M for flagging this section of trail--I was very glad to see that they were all still there. Getting through efficiently wouldn't be possible without these flags.

The entire trail east of the Strawberry Valley junction is in ok shape, shouldn't have problems there.
Jacob Nie
 

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Betsy M on Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:53 pm

Date Hiked: December 30, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from the North Coast Ridge Road to Strawberry Valley on the New Year's weekend. Pantilat has described the section from Strawberry Valley to the trailhead at the Horsebridge. The other end of the trail is as follows:

Marble Peak to Indian Valley, to the junction with the Lost Valley Trail:
Wilderness Freeway, maybe a couple of spots with minor issues. This section has been kept clear by volunteers in the past months (thank you!).

Junction with the Lost Valley Trail to the top of the ridge, and down to Tan Oak Creek:
Passable. There is some brush encroaching in a few spots to the top of the hill, but most of this section did not burn and the work done before is holding up. From the top of the ridge down to Tan Oak Creek, almost the entire section burned, and is quite passable.

The Tan Oak Creek section, which had been lost, then located, was almost impossible to find this time. Let's call this Difficult. Huge piles of blackberry vines covered large sections of the trail. Even though I've been on this section many times, it was very difficult to locate the trail. I ended up taking an entire day and flagging most of it, clearing out blackberries where I could. The section from Tan Oak Camp to the junction with the South Fork Trail in Strawberry Valley was similarly difficult to locate. Not from blackberries, but roses. Again, I flagged most of this but there were a couple of creek crossings where I wasn't sure where the crossing was, so I left them unflagged. Note to hikers: please don't remove the flags. The way the blackberries are growing, it will be essential to have flagging to find this route in another 3 months.

The Marble Peak Trail turns at the burned sign in Strawberry Valley, and heads up the hill. The half-mile long section beyond is actually the start of the South Fork Trail. Again, Difficult. And as Pantilat describes, it is quite overgrown. I was really glad that someone had gone through before I did, since even a couple of hikers seem to be effective at smashing down the clover and other vegetation that is clogging up the meadows. Again, I flagged most of this. The one section that isn't well flagged is at the end, just before Strawberry Camp. Here, you should stay to the right, in what appears to be a new streambed. This is the trail that got gullied out by the water last spring. It goes without saying that you need to be wearing long pants, since this is the Ventana. The wild roses will rip your legs to shreds if they get a chance.
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