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Marble Peak Trail

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Betsy M on Mon May 05, 2014 1:05 pm

Date Hiked: May 4, 2014
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

ARROYO SECO TO TAN OAK CAMP: Wilderness Freeway. Some poison oak between Tassajara Creek Camp and the streams beyond Willow Springs Camp, but if you're careful you can avoid it. There is a scary dead tree at Tan Oak Camp, I wouldn't advise camping there until this snag decides to fall down. If it fell on you, there would be a bad outcome. But a small party might be able to find bedsites away from this tree.

TAN OAK CAMP TO THE SADDLE WITH VIEW OF THE WINDOW: Difficult. For the first 1/5 mile, not bad. A few trees down. Then there are crawl unders, odd turns, climb over fallen logs. But it IS PASSABLE if you are willing to take the time to crawl in about 6 places, and watch for pink flagging. Not all that fun! After seeing the previous poster's detailed report, I was able to recruit a volunteer who recently hiked from Marble Peak to Arroyo Seco. They made it through only because their party was successful in finding detours for the worst of the log piles. We spent about 8 hours over the past 2 days clearing various log piles, and more time clearing the trail itself up near the top of the ridge. What we didn't have time to clear, we flagged extensively. Just a couple of warnings, especially for anyone going up the trail (as opposed to down the trail) above Tan Oak: In one of the bad sections we did not clear, you have to walk in the creek for 30 feet. You come out of the creek on the same side (North), walking steeply up a slope next to a large rock. There are flags to guide you. After you pass several log piles and the route climbs out of the creek to start up the side of the hill, watch for several switchbacks. Because this is an old tractor trail, the switchbacks have pretty good extensions that could seem like actual trail. I tried to put even more excessive amounts of flagging to mark the switchbacks. There is one crawl-under place soon after you leave the creek, and a place you have to step across fallen trees, but above there it is merely brushy. Up near the saddle which has a view of the window, there is one odd place where the tractor trail seems to be blocked with brush. A faint track leads down to the left. This track appears to be a bypass of the brush, but in fact, there is a trail down there, and the tractor trail continues up above. Keep left, and follow the trail. In a few hundred feet the tractor trail drops down and re-joins the lower foot trail. I should have flagged the start of this section, but wasn't sure it was correct. If headed downhill, you will not have a problem.

My recommendation: load Dr. Jack Glendening's GPS tracks before you go, and consult when necessary. This is the only way I was able to find this trail a year ago. The blackberries and fallen trees had totally obscured the trail. Jack's maps here.

Log pile before clearing:

Log pile clearing in progress, with volunteer in the middle for scale:

Log pile cleared. The two trees remaining are above head height, though you might have to duck, with a pack:

View of Black Cone and showing recent work on the Black Cone Trail, plus the Marble Peak Trail contouring down from the saddle:

SADDLE WITH VIEW OF THE WINDOW TO THE TOP OF THE RIDGE: Clear. Just watch for poison oak. You can avoid it, you just have to realize it is growing in tree form.

TOP OF THE RIDGE TO THE SANDSTONE OUTCROPS: Passable. Some chamise and ceanothus brush, but no real obstacles. Tread is deteriorating in several places, but you have lots of brush to hold on to to keep your balance when the tread disappears.

SANDSTONE OUTCROPS TO THE NORTH COAST RIDGE ROAD: Wilderness freeway. A real pleasure to hike!

Water is available at Tassajara Creek Camp, Willow Springs, Camp Creek, Shovel Handle Creek, Tan Oak Camp, and at the junction with the Lost Valley Trail. It looks like it will dry up within a month at the Lost Valley Trail location.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby rzucker1 on Thu May 01, 2014 5:40 pm

Date Hiked: April 26, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

ARROYO SECO to TAN OAK: Clear the whole way, a Wilderness Freeway (wide and obvious) to Strawberry Valley Junction, from there to Tan Oak somewhat fainter but still largely clear and easy-going. This was a wonderful trip, with over 30 species of wildflowers in bloom, dozens of birds singing loudly all day (it had just rained), and biting trout in Willow Creek.

BEYOND TAN OAK CAMP: Passable for about 1/5 mile; track indistinct, lots of brush and woodfall, crawl-throughs and climb-overs, with pink ribbons to mark the way in unclear spots. The next 1/5 was difficult: thick brush and heavy treefall require several detours; mostly marked by pink ribbons which can be hard to spot until you've reached them (telling you that you guessed right). At several points it is necessary to crawl though thick blackberry vines and poison oak on your belly, or climb as high as 6 feet above ground atop several layers of tree limbs. This would be impassable with a backpack. Eventually a point is reached where no sign of any track or break in the foliage is evident. Striking out in three directions led nowhere at 10 minutes each try. There may be a way through, but it would be easier to win the lottery than to find it. It took 1.5 hr to get this far, and we were only 1/4 the way through the rough part to the Ridge, although the return to TAN OAK took only 3/4 hour. At this rate, it would take 9 hours to the Ridge and back (assuming a way forward could be found), and another 2.5 hours to reach Marble Peak and return. Careful reading of recent posts indicates no one penetrated this region in Spring of 2014 or 2013. Only Betsy M seems to have gotten through from the other direction (from Marble Peak down), in Fall 2013. If you choose to go beyond Tan Oak, count on a full day without a pack, and go with Betsy if you can.

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby js_radford on Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:36 pm

Date Hiked: March 25, 2014
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway to Tan Oak Camp/a bad mile/freeway again to Coast Ridge

ARROYO SECO to STRAWBERRY VALLEY: VWA and recent ACE crew work has made this the best trail in the Ventana right now, I suspect. There is new tread as needed everywhere. It is a real pleasure to walk on the tread and not have ANY brush touching you with the exception of a little low Chamise and almost none of that. The only problem at all is Poison Oak being abundant and very near the tread roughly from Tassajara Camp to Willow Springs Camp. It can be avoided but I wish someone would grub it out a bit.

STRAWBERRY VALLEY to TAN OAK: The tread needs a little work but is very walkable. No brush to speak of besides a little thorny Rose, which is mostly cut back. Two large logs to step over.

TAN OAK to RIDGE-TOP (BM 3537): for about 1/3 mile, the trail is somewhat brushy (plenty of Poison Oak here and there but can be avoided with care in sections I was on) but easy to hike with all obstructing dead-falls cut away except for a couple of step-overs. I did dead-fall clearing (excepting some overhead stuff not in the way but needing clearing) and partial trail brushing. I stopped just beyond and after clearing the last really bad "crawl-through" section nearest to Tan Oak Camp. [I haven't seen the next section to top of ridge ; per Betsy's report below, it gets at times pretty bad for about 3/4 mile]. Also, MANY standing dead trees and large dead bushes are just waiting to fall at any time. So conditions will deteriorate with every new storm.

RIDGE (BM 3537) to COAST RIDGE ROAD: From the top of the ridge, trail is very low-brushy but quite easy for a mile or so and then one reaches the last ~2.5 miles to Coast Ridge Road, which is a wilderness freeway created by about half a dozen VWA trail crew trips since last fall.

No ticks at all over period of 3 days brushing work. But with new rains, they likely will be out in force again quite soon. Water no problem anywhere.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Betsy M on Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:15 pm

Date Hiked: August 27, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: Marble Peak to the Lost Valley Trail junction: Passable

The first part of the Marble Peak Trail is clear and easily followed, though some brush is encroaching in places.

Section: Lost Valley Trail junction to Tan Oak Camp: Difficult

The trail starts out nicely from the junction with the Lost Valley Trail. There is no water at all here, so don't plan on camping until we get some rain. As the trail contours up the ridge, there is some slumping where dead brush has fallen across the tread, pushing hikers down the hill. But as you get higher, this is less of an issue, partly because there is not as much burned brush on the slopes. There is one confusing spot where some pines fell across the trail, but someone has cleared it enough to make the route obvious. Once you round the top of the ridge and enter the Zig Zag Creek drainage, the trail follows a jeep road. This has enough brush growing on it, especially as it drops into the Tan Oak Creek drainage, that it becomes slow going. You have to climb up and around, or down and around, to get past several obstacles in the form of living or dead brush. There is crawling to get under fallen trees. And from looking at the number of dead standing trees, this is only going to become worse in the years ahead. Down at Tan Oak Creek, there are several places where you must rely on pink flagging. The worst part involves a bypass of a blackberry patch, where you walk in the creek bed for about 20 feet, then return to the trail on the north side of the creek.

There is water in Tan Oak Creek at several spots before you get to Tan Oak Camp, including one spot where the creek is right next to the trail and easily accessible. But AT Tan Oak Camp, which is actually on Zig Zag Creek, there is no water. You have a choice, of going to the creek crossing upstream from camp, where water flows just enough to fill your water bottle, or heading downstream to the confluence with Tan Oak Creek, where water is also flowing. Upstream is a lot more accessible, as the downstream option requires crawling over and under fallen trees.

Section: Tan Oak Camp to Camp Creek: Passable

Note: there is almost no water in Zig Zag Creek upstream of Tan Oak Camp, except as mentioned, at the first crossing, and a quarter mile above Strawberry Camp. This means NO WATER at the junction with the South Fork Trail, and NO WATER at Strawberry Camp. The only water in Strawberry Valley was a quarter mile up from Strawberry, on the Black Cone Trail, just before the switchback where the trail heads up the mountain.

The Marble Peak Trail itself turns in Strawberry Valley, and aside from some slumping tread in a few spots, is quite passable to Camp Creek. There is water at the small drainage with the equisetum, and a small amount of water at Shovel Handle Creek. Plenty of water at Camp Creek, though there isn't really anywhere to camp. Plus, with all the standing dead trees, you wouldn't want to camp there, anyway.

Section: Camp Creek to Arroyo Seco-Indians Road: Wilderness Freeway

This section has been cleared and maintained by VWA Trail Crew volunteers over the past few years, and the efforts are really paying off. The tree that was mentioned in the May report has been cleared, and the entire section is easily hiked. A sign has been installed at the start of the stock bypass just west of the Horsebridge. A post marks the west end of the bypass. The Forest Service has posted warning signs telling riders that the bridge may be unsafe for stock, but it appears that all the questionable boards have been repaired by attaching a second layer of plywood on top of them. There was water at Willow Springs Camp, but at Tassajara Camp the water was pretty low. The large, deep swimming hole downstream from camp was warm and mucky.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby mikesplain on Fri May 24, 2013 11:22 am

Date Hiked: May 21, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section- North Coast Ridge Road to Indian Valley-
There is LOTS of encroaching ceanothus, and quite a bit of deadfall (mostly small tanoaks) along this route,
but some recent clipping and a not-so recent saw crew's efforts keep it manageable.
The only place where one might actually lose the route is near the bottom, amid chamise-
if it feels like you're off track, you probably are, back up and find the last semblance of trail and try again.
In the end, getting to the Lost Valley Trail Junction in Indian Valley isn't difficult at all.
The junction sign apparently survived the 2008 fires and is a big help in staying on course.
Beyond the valley floor, the Marble Peak Trail degrades significantly on its way to Tan Oak Camp. (Editor's note: trail is impassible for a short section about a mile before you reach Tan Oak Camp.)
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Re: Marble Peak Trail (downed Oak Tree)

Postby Guest on Wed May 22, 2013 4:28 pm

Date Hiked: May 19, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

There is a large Oak Tree which has fallen down blocking Marble Peak Trail (MPT) at 36º 12' 53.3'' N latitude, 121º 31' 27.5" W longitude -- about a ten to twelve minute hike east of Tassajara Creek Camp (TCC).

This seems to have happened around mid-May, but as of May 19 the trail is somewhat passable, but with modest difficulty through this fallen oak, especially with large packs.  I realize trail maintenance is not a high priority of the USFS, but it looks like a (VWF volunteer?) crew with saws and patience will be necessary to clear this downed tree on Marble Peak Trail.

Otherwise, Tassajara Creek Camp is a very pleasant stay (we liked it so much we spent three nights there) -- a pretty little flat meadow that could accommodate a dozen or more tents (if necessary) and a nice little fire ring of river stones closer to one or two very cozy flat sites nicely tent-sized. If you have a sub-micron filter or can iodine-purify or boil with a camp stove, the creek right next to the fire ring provides all the water you need, and even a nice bathing area if you care to skinny dip. TCC's fire ring is crude, with no grate/grill, but 3 km west of TCC on Marble Peak Trail, (a tough, bush-whacky, poison-oak infested, many boulder-hopping/creek-crossing, somewhat difficult trail compared to the eastern part of MPT) Willow Springs Camp (WSC) has a decent grate/grill on which you could boil a pot of water without a stove: just use downed wood and get the fire going.

Clearly, our preference (starting from Arroyo Seco, south on Indians Road, then westbound on MPT) is to go as far as TCC (through the fallen oak, then a bit further) but not to WSC (unless you need a fire grate/grill).

Pretty heavy face-flies, mosquitoes and ticks on all of this trail. Bug juice is your friend, though it only helps, it doesn't solve it totally.

Santa Cruz

[Moderator's note: as of this writing, fire restrictions are in effect (, and open campfires are not allowed. Please bring a stove for your cooking needs, or plan on cold camping.]

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby Guest on Fri May 10, 2013 8:36 am

Date Hiked: April 1, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Commenting on the last observation of this trail and Adobe Camp. We hiked Marble Peak Trail earlier this Spring, and agree that Adobe Camp (this is the one just past the junction with Horse Pasture Trail) is a poison oak, face-fly zone of unpleasantness. There's a couple of campsites not too far along the trail towards the junction with the Tony Trail which are much more enjoyable and accommodating. I would avoid Adobe Camp.

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby rendodge on Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:53 am

Date Hiked: April 29, 2012
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Marble Peak Trail was clear and easy from horse bridge to Willow Springs.

There is a fire ring/campsite at the intersection of Tony Trail and Marble Peak which is not Willow Springs campgrounds.

Adobe Campground is infested with poison oak and we got stung when we took our pants off to take a swim.

The fee to park at Arroyo Seco is $10/day, not $5.

Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:59 pm

Date Hiked: April 12, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section: Strawberry Valley to Willow Spring camp

Nice trail meandering along the mountainside through the chaparral toward Arroyo Seco. Some brush but mainly a good and easily enough traveled trail. The little brush that does stick out over the trail was laden with ticks. About halfway to Willow Spring camp some nice trail work begins and the tread becomes clear. Don't count on camping at Camp Creek, the camp is gone after high flows and deadfall in the creek corridor there, now grown over with bramble and poison oak. Beautiful walk down into Willow Spring, a rather large and pleasant camp amidst some giant oaks. However, mosquitos have begun to hatch in the stagnant water that hangs in the area. Some deadfall does exist, recent in the gusty winds that have been blowing through. Not too much of a hinderance though.

Section: Willow Spring Camp to Arroyo Seco-Indians Road

Another beautiful stretch of Ventana trail, looking out over the Willow Creek and Tassajara Creek. Lots of creek crossings, but easy enough right now, no boot taking off required just some short rock to rock jumps and some log crossings. Poison oak was thick in some areas, the trail is clear in most sections. Nice hiking. The Arroyo Seco/Indians road from the Marble Peak trailhead we saw lots of mountain bikers and fellow hikers en route back to our car at the Gorge parking lot. Gorgeous day to be swimming in the Arroyo and enjoying the sun.
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Re: Marble Peak Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:45 pm

Date Hiked: April 12, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Strawberry Valley to Tan Oak camp

Flagged, good tread, not too brushy, some deadfall, short walk to Tan Oak camp from Strawberry. Decent Camp, beautiful area. Water was flowing.
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