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THANK YOU FOR READING THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION - updated April 19, 2021

Highway One Closure: Due to a washout at Rat Creek, Highway 1 is closed from just north of Lime Creek Bridge in the north to Big Creek Vista Point in the south. Expect this closure to be in place until Friday, April 23, 2021. Nacimiento-Fergusson Road -- which connects Highway 1 at Kirk Creek with Fort Hunter Liggett on the eastern side of the Coast Ridge -- is significantly damaged and will be closed indefinitely. 

What's Open: NEW: The Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station to Redwood Camp IS OPEN effective April 13, 2021. 

Effective January 22, 2021 U.S. Forest Service - Los Padres National Forest re-opened most unburned areas of the Monterey Ranger District. In the northern Ventana Wilderness, most lands north of and including the Marble Peak Trail are open. Wilderness trails inland can be accessed from the Arroyo Seco Recreation Area near Greenfield (off 101) and from Tassajara Road off or Carmel Valley Road). Along the coast, Wilderness trails may be accessed via the Pine Ridge Trail at Big Sur Station, the North Coast Ridge Road, the Boronda Trail, and the De Angulo Trail on Highway One.

Lands south of Willow Creek Road, including most of the Silver Peak Wilderness, are open. 

What's Closed: Click here for a map that shows the current fire closure boundaries

Road Closures: Del Venturi/Milpitas, Nacimiento-Fergusson, Cone Peak, Plaskett Ridge, Willow Creek/Los Burros, & South Coast Ridge Roads remain closed.

Know Before You Go: Not sure if a particular road, trail, or camp is open? Call the Monterey Ranger District at 831-385-5434. Please enjoy your public lands responsibly. Pack out everything you pack in (including toilet paper). Leave this special place better than you found it. Leave No Trace ethics are more important than ever. 

Current Fire Restrictions: Campfires and stoves are currently permitted in the backcountry. Click here for a permit and take it with you

State Parks: Check with individual State Parks to confirm access and for additional information. 
Open for day use: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park - Soberanes Canyon Trail, Andrew Molera State Park, Point Sur State Historic Park (tours only), and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Closed: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, John Little State Natural Reserve

 

Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Pine Ridge Trail

Pine Ridge Trail

PRT from China Camp to Redwood Creek Camp

Postby johnradford on Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:53 am

Date Hiked: August 8, 2009
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

BRUSH: very little the whole way. After Pine Ridge Camp, the trail is sometimes weedy but almost always easy to follow.

TREAD: little damage until after the PR Camp junction. There is a little degradation after that, especially on the long exposed slope above the BST junction, but not serious.

SHADELESS: In hot weather, there will be precious little relief anywhere. Fire burned out 90% of what shade there used to be (for the past 30 years, at least), starting at Tassajara Rd. and on to the junction with BS Trail. Pine Ridge (the main saddle section) now has 2 live Pines left. Downslope to N and to the sides, there are Pines left with a clump 150 yards W of the trail and others here and there. But the saddle itself is woefully bare.

SHADED: Church Creek Divide Madrones to 10 minutes past Church Creek Camp, the Firs on Pine Ridge, the brush going into Pine Ridge Camp. The camp itself was re-burned but 2 Oaks and some Pines are still providing some shade. The main part of the camp is totally open, however - not good for hot daytime camps.

BLACK CONE TRAIL: Interestingly, most of the upper sections of Cienega Creek watershed, including the Black Cone Trail terrain as far as I could see, were un-burned. I was unable to detect the Black Cone junction AT ALL. But judging from experience with BCT in the past, I noted that the slopes it traverses look VERY lushly green and healthy. I wonder if all the work VWA put in is fast getting lost?

REDWOOD CAMP: the trail down to the camp is fine with just some weediness much of the way (annuals, I guess). The camp itself is a mess and is closed most likely because it is DANGEROUS! From above, it looks as if the camp area was spared. But it wasn't totally. Fire snaked through the entire area and selectively burned.

I always camp where the PRT crosses the creek. No more: one large Redwood 100 feet NNW was burned clear through the base up to 20ft height and is likely to fall across that camp area soon. The tree is 6-8ft diameter with the uphill half of the base in tact but the downhill half burned through such that the tree is "standing" on a rather slender "leg" as it were (maybe 4ft of trunk circumference). One could easily walk through the tree from SW to NE. Another mature but smaller Redwood 40 feet SW of that tree was burned out 1/3 of the entire base up to 8 feet or so. It grew with a significant tilt to it and the burn might have cut much of the strength of the tree such that it may fall on the larger, more weakened tree and cause it to fall - likely just missing the main fire pit area but perhaps not. Never know.

Halfway S to the main Redwood Creek regular camps is an area that resembles a javelin tossing contest with much debris and fallen branches stuck in the ground. Just beyond that is a 5ft diameter giant fallen across the trail. I didn't verify deadfall threats in the main camp areas; I never liked to camp there anyway. It might be OK, however.
johnradford
 

PRT: Church Creek Divide to China Camp

Postby Riker9000 on Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:56 pm

Date Hiked: June 14, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This is a VERY scenic climb - highly recommend! No issues to speak of - just bring water since there is none along the trail!
Riker9000
 

Pine Ridge Trail

Postby TRAILS on Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:26 pm

Date Hiked: June 5, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Reported by Lindsay Jeffers:

The Pine Ridge Trail from China Camp to Pine Ridge Camp turnoff is in very good shape. From China Camp to Church Creek Divide the trail is open for stock travel: it's as good as I can remember it. And the Carmel River Trail as far as Pine Valley is equally good. There were no step-overs or encroaching brush or low-hanging branches.

From Church Creek Divide west, there were at least four obstacles that would probably prevent stock from passing: three rather tricky trees across the trail required careful straddling and one recent rock-fall on the slopes of South Ventana Cone required careful steps among very sharp-edged granite blocks. Other than that and the post-fire slippage of gravel and small rocks onto the trail where it traverses the rocky slopes of South Ventana Cone, the way is much better than it was in the spring of 2008.

Once the trail reaches the top of Pine Ridge and comes into the open flat area leading to the BCT-Bear Basin junction, it becomes a bit faint and obscured by ferns. Because the trail wanders around obstacles from previous fires and fallen trunks that no longer exist, I found myself letting my feet discover the trail's indented footbed. But once at the trail junction (no longer marked by a significant pine tree) there is evidence of very professional trail widening. As far as the trail junction to Pine Ridge Camp and beyond, the brush has been cleared back 4 or 5 feet to either side, and the mass of fallen trees just before the junction has been cut up and rolled away. The footbed is still rough and rocky, but there are no encroaching bushes or poison oak. I did not go further west, but it would be nice to think that the trail has had this treatment as far as Redwood Camp.

The Pine Ridge Camp Trail has not been brushed out but it is passable with one unpleasant obstacle: there is a 6 inch branch crossing it about 2/3rds the way to camp that requires crawling under. It will be easy to cut for the first person to bring a saw and willing to take some time to remove. Beyond that, the ceanothus intrudes into the trail but opens up at the camp. The camp itself is both more open and less pleasant than it was before the fire: the big madrone in the middle is gone and the views to the south and west are becoming obscured by flourishing ceanothus and other brush. Water was flowing freely through and around the pipe when we visited; this was nice to see because the hillside above burned off and most of the trees are only stumps, which sometimes results in a loss of water in springs nearby.
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Pine Ridge Trail

Postby TRAILS on Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:38 pm

Date Hiked: June 4, 2009
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Reported by Paul David Tuff:

China Camp to the top of Pine Ridge: clear.
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Trail CLOSED from BIG SUR to SYKES Hot Spring

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 11:45 am

Date Hiked: May 14, 2009
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Conditions reported by: David Knapp
Survey date: 14-MAY-2009
General: SPECIAL!
Specific:

The Pine Ridge Trail is CLOSED from BIG SUR to SYKES Hot Springs - over 70 trees down across trail - Many are dangerous to cross - one slip and you're in the gorge!
China Camp to the Divide is in good shape.


No reason to think that past the Divide is any better than the previous reports.
===========
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Trail Conditions History 2004-2008

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 11:43 am

Date Hiked: May 26, 2008
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Conditions reported by: Dave Laredo
Survey date: 26-MAY-2008
General: Difficult
Specific:

China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Excellent

Church Creek Divide to Pine Ridge Camp - Difficult - Many deadfalls; some loose, slanting tread. Had to crawl on hands and knees at least 5 time. the remainder could weave through or pass over deadfalls with some effort.

The Black Cone Trail appears to have had quite a lot of fine work, but the junction can confuse those unfamiliar with the area as the sign to Pine Ridge Camp appears to offer only a spur route, and does not mention that it is the main path to Redwood, Syches and Big Sur Station.

Pine Ridge Camp to Redwood Camp - Difficult; the descent is overgrown and quite obscure. Some pruning has been done, but dangerous branches snag packs, arms and legs for much of the way to Redwood. The river was at its lowest end-of-May level I have seen in 8 years. Quite easy to rock-hop across.

Redwood - Sykes - Barlow - Excellent; wilderness freeway.

Ventana Camp to Big Sur Station - Good; tread is in poor condition in about 5 spots, but quite easy to navigate around.
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Conditions reported by: Adam
Survey date: 6-MAY-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Redwood Camp - Wilderness Freeway

A team from the USFS was finishing up a tour of duty during my hike, and they did a fantastic job.

Section: Redwood Camp to Pine Ridge Camp - Passable

Unfortunately, they stopped about 1/3 of the way up the hill to Pine Ridge Camp. Beyond their work, the trail gets progressively worse the closer you get to the Pine Ridge itself. The trail itself is well defined, but the coyote brush and holly bushes are overgrowing the trail pretty badly.

I counted more than 50 trees down across the trail between Pine Ridge Camp and the Bear Basin Trail.
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Conditions reported by: Nicole Clark
Survey date: 2-MAY-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Many fallen trees on the way down to Ventana Camp. A few required care when straddling to cross - with heavy back pack and poles. The trail looked like it had been recently cared for though. Ventana Camp was in great condition. Someone had left a huge black garbage bag full of trash at the site closest the river! Also left a fishing pole (looked in good order) and a metal grill for using over a fire. Only spotted one field mouse hanging around the fire at night...gathering up any crumbs. Enjoyed the trail. Would be nice to let hikers know the distance from the Pine Ridge Trail to Ventana Camp on the sign. Also to know it is quite steep with lots of switchbacks. My knees were toast and legs were jello when I reached the bottom. Made it up VERY easily the next day - to my relief. First time hiking in 2 yrs - since injury. AMAZING JOB to all who tend the trail! HATS OFF TO YOU
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Conditions reported by: Todd Silberman
Survey date: 27-APRIL-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Passable to Clear

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Ridge Camp - Difficult

Many deadfalls, loose, slanting tread on several steep traverses.
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Conditions reported by: GANGA
Survey date: 18-APRIL-2008
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Divide Camp to Pine Ridge Camp - Difficult

Between Divide Camp and Pine Ridge Camp at least 50 deadfalls on the trail.

Section: Pine Ridge Camp to Redwood Camp - Difficult

After Pine Ridge, the trail descent is dangerous, overgrown and obscure all the way to Redwood camp. Encountered Dario and crew after Redwood. Please handwrite your congressman for financial support of the Ventana.
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Conditions reported by: Adam Wachtel
Survey date: 13-APRIL-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Pine Ridge Camp - Passable to Difficult

I encountered at least a dozen deadfalls, most of which require climbing over, under, or around, and difficult with a pack.

The worst of the brushy areas were the first few miles beyond China Camp, some of the area past the Divide, and especially around the Black Cone Trail junction and Pine Ridge Camp.

Also, the tread gets a little poor around the side of South Ventana Cone between Divide Camp and the Black Cone Trail junction.
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Conditions reported by: Brian Remas
Survey date: 1-MARCH-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Ventana Camp Trail - Wilderness Freeway

It was gorgeous and green on the trail and at the camp site. It was very easy to hike out there. Then we came to the Ventana Camp Trail [see also reports for that trail - ed.]. But long story short, the Pine Ridge Trail up to the Ventana camp cut off was great, but it was a real pain to get down to the camp sites. Although once you are down there it is really pretty and quiet.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers (Stevenson Wilderness Expedition)
Survey date: 2-MARCH-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp - Wilderness Freeway

With the exception of ten or a dozen fresh tree trunks across the trail. All can be straddled or stepped over: there are no off-trail detours.

Section: Sykes Camp to Redwood Camp - Clear

The trail is clear but some fresh growth is encroaching on the trail.

Section: Redwood Camp to Big Sur Trail - Mostly Clear

Clear except for the large redwood that has covered the trail above Redwood for years and which requires climbing up and walking along it to continue forward.

Section: Big Sur Trail to Pine Ridge Camp junction - Passable

Very brushy in many places, has deteriorating foot bed with numerous places where the trail goes up or down unexpectedly because of slumping, and has had to be detoured over rock-slides in spots. On the final push up the ridge, brush and fallen timber require great care and make staying on the trail difficult. The first group to go from Redwood to Pine Ridge took over nine hours because they had to clear a way through the brush and negotiate detours. Since then, the trail remains difficult but later groups were able to make a more normal transit of this trail section.

Section: Pine Ridge Camp Trail - Mostly Clear

Brushy but otherwise clear, ignoring some fresh step-overs. The camp site itself has taken a beating, and the central madrone tree presents an interesting challenge to one who sees the possibility for more timber to fall into the camping area. Ceanothus is beginning to colonize the original tenting areas.

Section: Pine Ridge Camp Junction to Church Creek Divide - Passable

This section is made difficult by many freshly fallen trees. Diameters range from two to three feet for the largest. Some require detours up or down the hillside, but most must be crawled under or climbed over directly. Because of the steepness of the hill, this is not particularly safe. Some of the overhead obstacles were only six to ten inches but we could only cut a few of these. The brush has been largely clipped away, but significant work remains to open the trail to bipedal travel. The first group to pass took eight hours to complete this section.
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 11-FEBRUARY-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Terrace Creek Camp - Passable

I counted 8 deadfalls, 7 VERY recent, between the trailhead and the turnoff to the Ventana Camp Trail. Three of these are in one 15 foot interval. After the Ventana Camp Trail trailhead, the Pine Creek trail is clear to Terrace Creek Camp.

Because of the recent rains, there was water running at Bad Gulch, the first very deep gulch on this trail after entering the Ventana Wilderness.

It was a beautiful day for a hike. My thermometer recorded 79.5 degrees in the shade. I noticed that it can get quite warm on this mostly shaded portion of the trail and even when the temperature at Big Sur was forecast at 66 degrees.

It is evident that an enormous amount of work has very recently been done clearing tree trunks blocking this trail between the trailhead and Terrace Creek Camp. If it were not for this work, there would have been more like 20, rather than 8, trees blocking the trail. God bless you anonymous trail angels, whoever you are.
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Conditions reported by: Zensen Steve Kent
Survey date: 6-SEPTEMBER-2007
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp - Wilderness Freeway

Terrace Creek was running and there was also water at Sykes.

Section: Sykes Camp to Redwood Camp - Difficult

There was encroaching brush, tread washout, and poison oak along the trail.

Section: Redwood Camp to Pine Ridge Camp - Difficult

There was thick brush to push through, many trail washouts. Wear long sleeves, gloves, and long pants. Avoid hiking this trail in the middle of the day, it was 101 degrees F at Pine Ridge Camp at 12 p.m. Most of this climb is in the shadow of the ridge until about 9:30 a.m. Otherwise, it's a mostl ysun exposed trail. The spring was flowing at Pine Ridge Camp. Sweat flies and biting flies were abundant.

Section: Pine Ridge Camp to Black Cone Trail - Difficult

Also heavily overgrown. Although a short distance, it is still difficult.
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Conditions reported by: John
Survey date: 3-AUGUST-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Barlow Flat Camp - Wilderness Freeway

HUGE suprise upon arrival. NO fires allowed, not even backpacking stoves. Come prepared for cold eating. Trail was clear and very well marked. We passed by Terrace Creek on the way to Barlow Flats. Spoke to people who were staying at Ventana Camp, they said the trail there was fine as well. Barlow Flats was clean and well maintained.

Some poison oak encroaching on the trail, however, you can avoid it by paying attention. I would recommend long pants. I also wore a long sleeve shirt. Ran into about five downed trees on the trail, no sweat getting over them however. First pit toilet at Barlow was hard to find, even with directional signs. By the toilet paper strewn about, many people gave up looking for it. You have to follow the signs, and climb up a ways to reach the toilet (seemed somewhat like a throne!)
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Conditions reported by: Sarah
Survey date: 11-JULY-2007
General: PASSABLE
At the time of our visit, the Big Sur River and its tributaries were low, but there was plenty of water in all we crossed: Redwood Creek, Logwood Creek, Terrace Creek. The springs crossing the trail in the Big Sur watershed were flowing as well. We didn’t stop to check the springs at Pine Ridge Camp. The springs crossing the trail above Pine Valley in the Carmel River watershed were running and many were filterable. Our feet never got wet in any crossing on this trail during this visit.

Intrepid blue jays forage all day--and rats forage all night--at the campsites along the Big Sur River. Be warned that if you leave food or garbage unattended even for a second, they’re on it, and you need rat-proof storage 24/7.

Specific:

Section: Carmel River Trail to Redwood Camp - Passable

Carmel River Trail junction to Redwood Creek Camp: passable. Above Pine Valley, there are some sections with slippery madrone leaves coating narrow, canted trail on steep slopes. We also encountered lots of encroaching brush to head height and beyond on this whole section. Crumbling, steep tread here and there, especially on the Big Sur River watershed side. Some deadfall.

At the junction with the Black Cone Trail, pay attention to the colored ties and follow the color for the Pine Ridge Trail so you don’t meander onto the spur for Pine Ridge camp or the like. The section just past this junction is full of waist-high brush and a few forks in the tread, but if you keep heading downhill you won’t go wrong. Wouldn’t want to take this section of trail uphill from the Big Sur side in the summer.

Section: Redwood Camp to Sykes Camp - Clear

Section: Sykes Camp to Big Sur Station - Wilderness Freeway
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Conditions reported by: Karen
Survey date: 14-JULY-2007
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Black Cone Trail to Redwood Camp - Difficult

The trail from the juncture of Pine Ridge and Black Cone down to Redwood camp was overgrown and difficult to walk through. Wear long pants and long sleeves! Lots of poison oak. Brush was tall and one had to push one's way through in many places. Sections of the trail were washed out, making it difficult to pass by as they were on steep slopes. Also, its very hot now so be careful. One member in our group suffered from heat exhaustion and had to recuperate and rehydrate at Redwood Camp. After about an hour, he was feeling better. That said, it's a spectacular trail with awesome views. The vegetation(esp blooming Yuccas) was varied and amazing.
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Conditions reported by: Helen Degenhardt
Survey date: 31-MAY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp - Wilderness Freeway

Section: Sykes Camp to Redwood Camp - Passable

Section: Redwood Camp to Pine Ridge Camp and Black Cone Trail - Very Difficult

The trail is heavily overgrown, lots of bushwhacking through 6-10 foot high brush in very steep terrain. Lots of tread washout. but easy to follow trail.

Black Cone Trail to China Camp - Passable, then Clear

In general a very dry year but the spring at Pine Ridge Camp was running. No signs in the camp to the spring - as you come in just keep walking west along a small path. We found a large smoldering dead tree log in one of the fire pits!!! A party coming from Pine Ridge Camp (those who did the campfire??) warned us about a rattlesnake living in the dead tree at the entry to the camp. We didn't see any evidence.
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Conditions reported by: Kalista
Survey date: 15-MAY-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

If entering the trail from Carmel River Trail or Pine Valley Meadow, make sure you have plenty of water. There are no places to refill once you begin your ascent and the ridges have no shade and very hot sun at points. Heat exhaustion is possible. Clear and open trail.
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Conditions reported by: Chad
Survey date: 4-MAY-2007
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Bear Basin Trail to Redwood Camp - Difficult

The Pine Ridge Trail to Pine Ridge Camp, and down to Redwood Camp is very over-grown in many places, and there is some deadfall. The tread is ok, and aside from pushing through the brush the trail is not hard to follow. Signage is poor. The Bear Basin-Black Cone-Pine Ridge junction had only a sign pointing to "Strawberry", and a sharpie written on the tree indicating the Pine Ridge Trail. We freshened up the sharpie marks. The sign indicating Pine Ridge Camp was fallen over in the brush. I proped it back up, but it is only really noticeable when headed East (there is some tape on the bushes here visible when headed West). There is quite a bit of poison oak when you get to the lower elevations toward Redwood Camp.

Section: Readwood Camp to Big Sur Station - Wilderness Freeway
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Conditions reported by: Brandon Hall
Survey date: 26-APRIL-2007
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Bear Basin Trail to Redwood Camp - Difficult

Overgrown with ceanothus, chamise and scrub oak. The steep switchbacks above the Big Sur Trail junction can be mildly treacherous due to overhanging brush and loose tread.
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Conditions reported by: David C. Laredo
Survey date: 26-MARCH-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Clear

A crew was working on the trail from China Camp to Church Creek Divide. I have never seen it in better shape! The tread is excellent and the vegetation has been cut well back from the path. This condition for this section more than qualifies as Wilderness Freeway.
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Conditions reported by: Reed Thayer
Survey date: 5-MARCH-2007
General: PASSABLE/DIFFICULT
Specific:

In general, the tral is not well signed. Signs are lacking at critical points such as the Black Cone Trail junction and the Ventana Camp junction and signs are inadequate at Terrace Creek and Pine Ridge Camp. I would be glad to hike some in.

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Passable

Very brushy to the top of the first ridge, then clear along the top. Once you begin to drop down to the divide there are several downed trees and more encroaching brush. The tread is in relatively good condition.

Section: Church Creek Divide to Black Cone Trail Junction - Passable

There are tall bushes on each side of the trail that encroach the trail. There are many low hanging branches that you must duck under.

Section: Black Cone Trail Junction to Big Sur Trail Junction - Passable/Difficult

There is a lot of knee high brush. Once you pass Pine Ridge, the tread can be hard to find among the brush you must wade through.

Section: Big Sur Trail Junction to Redwood Camp- Passable

The tread is in much better condition. I would rate this section clear if it weren't for a switchback above Redwood where you must climb on top of a log and walk along it for 10 feet or so and some other minor brushy places.

Section: Redwood Camp to Sykes Camp - Clear

The tread is in excellent condition. There are a few small deadfalls and places where the tread is slightly washed out.

Section: Sykes Camp to Big Sur Station - Wilderness Freeway

The tread is in excellent condition and there is very litte encroaching brush. Do be aware that for the entire distance from Sykes to Big Sur the trail is perched on a cliff above the gorge, so please watch your step.
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Conditions reported by: Ryan
Survey date: 17-FEBRUARY-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY/DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp - Wilderness Freeway

Section: Sykes Camp to Big Sur Trail - Passable

Somewhat overgrown.

Section: Big Sur Trail to Pine Ridge Camp - Difficult

Continuing on the Pine Ridge Trail from the Big Sur Trail junction, the trail is VERY overgrown at times, which makes the steep ascent to the Pine Ridge Camp quite difficult.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 12-FEBRUARY-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Passable/Clear

From the China Camp trailhead to top of the first ridge is easily passable: only one downed oak trunk near the top presents a three foot straddle. It is about 12 inches in diameter and a foot or more off the ground. The ceanothus is growing back along that section of trail but is still low to the ground. The tread has been re-worked and is good. From the top of the ridge all the way to Church Creek Divide, the trail is clear. There has been significant work on clipping out the brush.
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Conditions reported by: Fred Miller
Survey date: 12-FEBRUARY-2007
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Bear Basin Trail/Black Cone Trail to Sykes Camp - Difficult

The trail is heavily overgrown with 3-12 foot high brush.

Section: Sykes Camp to Big Sur Station - Passable

The recent rains have caused a few minor treefalls between Big Sur and Sykes, and made the river crossing at Sykes a challenge. The hot springs are in the best shape I've ever seen them (since 1969).

Section: Big Sur Station

Beautiful landscaping, clean toilets, and a kiosk with lovely color photos that shows you what you could've seen if you'd been around back when the Forest Service employed rangers, not parking lot attendants.
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Conditions reported by: John Wandke
Survey date: 3-FEBRUARY-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Clear

Trail was in great condition as expected from this route. However, during the first 1/2 mile out of China Camp the brush was beginning to grow into the trail, making for lots of scrapes on bare legs. Also, a couple of deadfalls to climb over. Otherwise, clear all the way to Pine Valley.
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Conditions reported by: Michael
Survey date: 22-JANUARY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Passable

As always (at least as long as I've been hiking it) from the trailhead to the point where you cross over to the south aspect of Pine Ridge you can expect significant brush encroachment and a few somewhat difficult to pass deadfalls.

More notably, right now about 90% of this first section climbing the north apsect of the ridge is covered with either ice or 3-4" of snow. On the bright side, the turnout at the trailhead is dry and I traversed Tassajara Road in a 2WD Chevy Blazer w/o having to use chains. [Ed: conditions change quickly!]

Once you cross over conditions are mostly dry and warm, w/a few small spots of snow and or ice in the shade.
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Conditions reported by: EW
Survey date: 14-JANUARY-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Terrace Creek Trail junction to Big Sur Station - Wilderness Freeway

Hadn't hiked the lower PRT in almost 15 years and oh what havoc Sudden Oak Death (SOD) has wrought since then! Many stretches formerly cloaked in dense forest are now nearly open sunny slopes, with a few (hopefully immune) live Tanoaks and countless fungus-laden snags atop a ceanothus and deadfall understory - VERY SAD.

Probably saw more hikers (median age- approximately 21) along this 5 miles than on every other Ventana Wilderness hike I've taken in the last year COMBINED. Not sure if it's the USFS that so avidly maintains this route, but it's a bit obscene how much attention it gets with so many quintessential trails withering in disrepair. Why not put all these Sykes-bound, able bodied youngsters to work!?!?

PLEASE help stop the spread of Phytophthera ramorum(the fungus responsible for SOD) by spraying your boots and washing your clothes after this hike!
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Conditions reported by: Reed Thayer
Survey date: 23-NOVEMBER-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Passable

There is major overgrowth encroaching the trail until the top of the first hill. It's soft, though. After that the trail becomes very clear to the Divide. Somebody did some excellent trail work, it's in great condition.
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Conditions reported by: Patrice
Survey date: 20-NOVEMBER-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp - Wilderness Freeway

My buddies and I started at Big Sur Station on Saturday morning and stayed the night at Terrace Creek Camp. Save for a few fallen trees/branches to navigate around, the trail was clear and well-maintained. Water was easily accessible and Terrace Creek Camp has been well-kept.

On Sunday morning, we left Terrace Creek for Sykes Camp. Again no issues. There were a couple of areas where some of the trail had washed out but when we reached these areas, the rangers were already there repairing the trail. The rivers could be crossed with ease. We stayed the night at Barlow Flats on Sunday and the camp was in immaculate condition.

Overall, as I said before, the trail had some fallen trees and some overgrowth but otherwise it's in great condition. It's getting pretty cold at night and in the mornings this time of year but still a great trail to do. Highly recommended for anyone visiting Big Sur for the first time.
===========
Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 2-OCTOBER-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Ranger Station to Ventana Camp Trail - Wilderness Freeway

This is a beautiful wilderness freeway. It has lovely views of the ocean, Coast Redwoods soaring into the sky from invisible canyon floors, the canyon wall beyond, the Big Sur River from nearly a quarter mile above it, and the majestic Ventana Double Cone.

You can estimate your distance to Ventana Camp Trail when you reach the sign announcing the entrance to the Ventana Wilderness. This is approximately 1/2 way to Ventana Camp. (Another 1/4 mile inbound is exactly halfway.)

Poison oak is present but not to bad. A fallen tree has downed a power line about 1/4 mile inbound from the trailhead, but it was still about 3 feet overhead at the point where it crossed the trail. So it was easy to cross under it safely. It was unclear whether the power was still on but I doubt it since the tree had brought it into contact with the ground.

A very enjoyable and not-to-strenuous hike especially when it's good hiking weather: 70 degrees and clear.
===========
Conditions reported by: Betsy MacGowan
Survey date: 9-JULY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Passable

The first quarter mile from China Camp is getting overgown with brush, although it is the soft, gentle ceanothus so maybe you won't mind that it is brushing up against you on both sides and sometimes swatting yu in the face. There is a fairly clear section from there to the Divide.
===========
Conditions reported by: Betsy MacGowan
Survey date: 4-JULY-2006
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Ridge - Difficult

The trail becomes progressively more brushy as you climb from the divide up to Pine Ridge. When I hiked on the July 4th weekend, there were many groups who had gone in to Pine Valley, avoiding the worst of the brush. But pity the hiker who is headed to Big Sur! First it is the green-stem ceanothus, taller than your head and growing into the trail from both sides. Then in the last mile or so, the wart-leaf ceanothus also grows into the trail. It is mostly 2 feet tall or less, so it swats at your legs but not much more. But there is enough on Pine Ridge that is growing 8 feet tall and into the trail that you will quickly become coated with sticky resin.
===========
Conditions reported by: Boy Scout Troop 60
Survey date: 29-JUNE-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Trail Junction to Barlow Flat - Wilderness Freeway

Trail is open and clear. There is an occasional tread blow-out and two deadfalls, but the trail is good. Barlow Flat was very clean and in good condition.

Section: Barlow Flat to Big Sur Station - Wilderness Freeway

Trail is open and clear. This was the last day of our 5 day/36 mile Trans-Big Sur Hike and was a welcome respite compared with the first three days of very poor trail conditions in the eastern and central portion of the Ventana.
===========
Conditions reported by: Hitch
Survey date: 22-JUNE-2006
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Redwood Camp to Bear Basin Trail junction - Difficult

The area above Redwood heading up hill toward the Bear Basin junction is badly overgrown. Much of the trail is not visible even when standing on it.. Although the tread below the brush is is good condition. Nearing Pine Springs there is a fair number of deadfalls.

The Bear Basin Trail, at the junction, is badly obscured although marked with flagging tape. Its easier to follow heading up from the camp site.We saw a good sized rattler about 500 yards up from where the creek crosses the trail.

The flies were no less than world class everywhere above 1500 feet, but the Pine Ridge-Bear Basin juinction was the best place to encounter this form of wildlife enmasse.
===========
Conditions reported by: Dave Lautzenheiser
Survey date: 5-JUNE-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Trail junction to Sykes Camp - Clear

We hiked down from the junction with the Big Sur trail to Sykes Camp. After fighting brush and deadfalls on the Big Sur trail for over 6 hours, this felt like flying! There were a few obstacles and a bit of brush and some tread problems but otherwise this is an easy section - particularly in the downhill direction.

Section: Sykes Camp to Big Sur Station - Wilderness Freeway

The trail is in good shape. Other than a couple of slide areas where caution must be used, you can move along at whatever pace suits your style, weight of pack or uphill versus downhill direction.

===========
Conditions reported by: Dave Lautzenheiser
Survey date: 3-JUNE-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Black Cone Trail junction - Clear

The trail is quite easy to follow. There is some new growth brush in some areas that is annoying but not a particular problem. Two recent dead falls roughly a mile before the intersection with the Black Cone Trail were easily straddled.
===========
Conditions reported by: Greg Minter
Survey date: 27-MAY-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Wilderness Freeway

This section is clear and the trail was in good shape- no deadfalls, decent tread.

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Ridge Camp - Passable

Some brushy spots past Divide Camp, but tread was evident. Only a couple of deadfalls, easily negotiable. The trail is very brushy between the BCT trailhead and Pine Ridge Camp. At times it felt like you were swimming upstream. Good flow at Pine Ridge Spring.
===========
Conditions reported by: Geoff & Kristen
Survey date: 21-MAY-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Trail Junction to China Camp : Wilderness Freeway

This section of trail was easily followed with no obstacles that I can recall. No poison oak along the way, and no overgrowth. Wonderful views, I'm sure, if the clouds and rain aren't keeping your visibility to 100 feet like it was ours. Many wildflowers to be seen here though (great variety).
===========
Conditions reported by: Josh and Emily
Survey date: 29-APRIL-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Clear

The trail is in good shape, little encroaching brush and several deadfalls that can be easily stepped over. There was surprisingly little poison oak, not bad at all. Only found 3 ticks between the two of us over 2 days.
===========
Conditions reported by: Jon Benner
Survey date: 26-MARCH-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Black Cone Trail junction

ood shape through here. A few recent blowdowns that require ducking under or climbing over, but generally no obstacles.
===========
Conditions reported by: John Yeo (email: j at colluvium dot org)
Survey date: 20-MARCH-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to the Big Sur River (Sykes) - Wilderness Freeway

This trail is wilderness freeway and is heavily used by Sykes-goers.

Section: Big Sur River (Sykes) to Big Sur Trail - Clear

The trail has some encroaching brush but is still very good by the Ventana standards. One or two minor deadfalls to get around. The tread is still in pretty good shape.
===========
Conditions reported by: Brian Wiese
Survey date: 11-FEBRUARY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Sykes Hot Springs - Passable

[0] (8:30) started hike from the parking lot
[1] (8:51) where the trail does a "V" there is a downed tree "off" the trail ('attempting' to disrupt night hikers from going the wrong way) [http://tinyurl.com/goazx]
[2] (9:04) rock fall washout, dangerous at night [http://tinyurl.com/qxf8j]
[3] (9:06) light tree crossing trail [http://tinyurl.com/qd7h5]
[4] (9:20) long dead tree on trail (I might have rolled this one over) [http://tinyurl.com/oh7d7]
[5] (9:54) duck under tree w/branches, minutes before Ventana Camp sign [http://tinyurl.com/egmpn]
[6] (10:13) old tree blockage, wear on trail - should be cleared out, need good footing. 20min before redwood grove at 5 miles. [http://tinyurl.com/fwul2]

Quite clear from 5 mile mark Redwoods/stream to Sykes. I left the Redwoods/stream at 16:05 to head back towards the parking lot, and took note of a couple other downed trees:

[7] (16:50) good 3-4" diameter down [http://tinyurl.com/zzonh]
[8] (17:21) 2-3" that has been down for some time, tripping hazard [http://tinyurl.com/f4mz9]

Perhaps bring a hatchet or saw with you, just in case you come across obstacles like I did... would be nice for someone to just clean it up.
===========
Conditions reported by: Mark Stevens
Survey date: 5-MARCH-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Barlow Flat - Wilderness Freeway

The trail was fairly clear with a couple of tricky spots due to a small slide that had been repaired with talus and a couple of downed trees.

===========
Conditions reported by: Robert Parks
Survey date: 12-February-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Tassajara Road/China Camp to Church Creek Divide - Clear

The VWA Trail Crew removed all log/brush obstacles on this section of the trail. Brush is encroaching somewhat, tread is generally in good shape.

text

Section: Church Creek Divide to Black Cone Trail/Pine Ridge - Clear

Some relatively small step over logs and dry deadfall provide minor annoyances on this section of the trail. Tread is generally in decent shape. Brush encroaches occasionally.

===========
Conditions reported by: Jeff Minter
Survey date: 25-NOVEMBER-2005
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Pine Valley - Wilderness Freeway

Wilderness freeway, with some tricky spots where the trail has slid.
===========
Conditions reported by: Ron Sanders
Survey date: 1-OCTOBER-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Pine Ridge Camp and Redwood Camp - Difficult

Very heavy brush and dead limbs too low for backpackers without stooping, or crawling; the worst trail i've seen in forty years of backing
===========
Conditions reported by: Greg Minter
Survey date: 25-SEPTEMBER-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Angel Camp to Divide Camp - Clear

Free and clear. Some erosion on steep sections; take care here. Trekking poles recommended.
===========
Conditions reported by: Mike Miller
Survey date: 16-SEPTEMBER-2005
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Barlow Flats Camp - Wilderness Freeway

Only one deadfall worth mentioning, and that was no problem. Lots of traffic on the trail, but everyone goes to Sykes. I had Barlow all to myself for five days. The trail to the gorge, 0.8 mi upstream, is getting overgrown like nobody uses it.

I had a good time, but had to take a hike each morning to find sunshine, as the sun doesn't get in there much in Sept., and no camp fires are allowed now.
===========
Conditions reported by: Dave Eshleman
Survey date: 1-JUNE-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Bear Basin Trail to Redwood Camp - Difficult The trip down to Redwood Camp was VERY tough, with overgrown brush and eroded trail sections that were downright treacherous in the steepest sections
===========
Conditions reported by: David C. Laredo
Survey date: 29-MAY-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Pine Ridge Camp - Wilderness Freeway

A romp among the rampant wildflowers!

Section: Pine Ridge Camp to Redwood Camp - Difficult

This portion is quite difficult. Long stretches have dense overgrowth impinging on the path of travel. Tread areas at time give way. The treacherous path through the cliff area, though,has been greatly improved as compared to the past two years. Ticks and poison oak abound!

The three fords were quite passable with little problem. Water temperature at Barlow Flats was 52 degrees.

Section: Redwood Camp to Big Sur Station - Clear

Also a breeze with only rare section where the tread needs improvement.
===========
Conditions reported by: Ery Arias-Castro
Survey date: 21-MAY-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Trail to Big Sur Station: Clear

A lot of work has been done on the portion from Sykes to BS station since last year!
===========
Conditions reported by: Stephen Eggleston
Survey date: 16-MAY-2005
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Pine Valley to China Camp - Wilderness Freeway

The trail was is great condition, the best I've seen it in about 3-4 years. Some of the steeper meadow sections had some erosion and gopher ankle traps.
===========
Conditions reported by: Don Brown
Survey date: 22-APRIL-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Sykes Camp to Pine Ridge Camp - Difficult to Impassable

Unbelievable brushy almost to the point of being impassable. In particular, from Redwood Camp to Pine Ridge Camp was the worst of it, slowing my pace down to a crawl as I carved my way through the brush. The tread was fine, when I could see it, however, there was a particular dangerous section from Redwood Camp to about half way to Pine Ridge camp where the trail was quite narrow along a steep slope, and the brush pushes you to the outside of the trail. I took many a long step as my left foot missed the trail completely. Overall, there were surprisingly few downed trees or branches, just a lot of brush.

Section: Terrance Creek Camp to Sykes Camp - Wilderness Freeway

Of course beautiful and a wilderness freeway. Section: Black Cone Trail junction to Divide Camp - Passable

A bit brushy in places, probably classified as Passable. A freeway after hiking from Redwood Camp. Section: Divide Camp to China Camp - Wilderness Freeway

A two-lane freeway thanks to the hard work of trail crews. Nice job!
===========
Conditions reported by: Jacob Koff
Survey date: 8-APRIL-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Thanks to all the VWA volunteers, the Pine Ridge Trail was in pretty good shape. There are several downed trees, especially near Divide Camp. Other than that, the trail is fine.
===========
Conditions reported by: Andy Miller
Survey date: 15-MARCH-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Pine Valley Camp

I left China Camp headed for Pine Valley Camp. Conditions on the trail were good but there is some brush covering the trail on the ridge above Church Creek Divide. Ticks were here and there but not too bad. The tread is in great shape and the trail is easy to follow. I had Pine Valley all to myself and it was awesome. I spent some time climbing the huge boulders that surround the camp. It was COLD overnight. I awoke to a frost covered tent and frozen water bottle! The hike back to China Camp was almost all uphill but the views were just as nice.
===========
Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Program
Survey date: 10-MARCH-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Big Sur NFS to Ventana Camp Trail (Wilderness Freeway)

Section: Ventana Camp Trail to Sykes Camp (Clear)

There are a few new tree trunks to negotiate but only one requires off-trail clambering and care not to slip. There are a few slumps but most of the footbed has been recently re-worked. Section: Sykes Camp to Redwood Camp (Clear)

Generally a Freeway by Ventana standards, but there are some footbed slumps and one trunk that is best handled by lifting a pack over it. Section: Redwood Camp to Big Sur Trail (Clear)

Clear except for one redwood trunk lying along the trail. One climbs onto it and walks 20 feet on its charred bark to pass. Section: Big Sur Trail to Pine Ridge Camp Junction (Clear)

Clear with some downed trees near that junction. Section: Pine Ridge Camp Junction to Church Creek Divide (Clear)

Clear with only a few fallen trees to negotiate. Section: Church Creek Divide to China Camp (Clear)

Clear, again with a few tree trunks to clamber over, one very brief detour around brush, and some slumping of the footbed on steep hillsides.

Generally, the entire trail seems in pretty good condition, much better than last year at this time.
===========
Conditions reported by: Anikka Jamison
Survey date: 20-FEBRUARY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp : PASSABLE

4-5 medium sized trees blocking the trail, passable with a little effort. Minimal brush, well marked trail. 1 stream to ford, about 2 feet deep. If you haven't been to Sykes Hot Springs before, it's hard to find the camp, because the trail is under water at the last segment and you have to do either a tricky unmarked rock scramble, or wade in about 3 feet of water next to the rocks for a short distance. I did the trip with 3 people, and two of us got a mess of very itchy poison oak all over us, despite trying to be very careful.
===========
Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 14-FEB-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide : Wilderness Freeway

Wilderness Highway to the top of the first ridge and beyond, except for several large tree trunks that require climbing over or around and a number of short brushy sections on the drop to the Divide. Only a few spots require briefly leaving the generally good foot bed.

Section: Church Creek Divide to Bear Basin Trail : Clear

Clear for backpackers, barring several blow downs we could not cut or remove. These can be climbed over or under with minor efforts. Brush is not a big problem this early in the year.

Section: Bear Basin Trail to Black Cone Trail/Bear Basin Connector : Passable

Stevenson Wilderness Staff continued cutting and brushing to the junction with the Black Cone Trail and Bear Basin Connector. The trail is passable: good by Ventana standards.

We did not continue to Pine Ridge Camp, but the condition of the top of the ridge suggests there will be numerous blowdowns there, too
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Trail Conditions History 2000-2004

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 11:39 am

===========
Conditions reported by: Jim K.
Survey date: 4-DEC-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Terrace Creek Tr. jct.

Many logs across the path, a few of them hard to pass. The trail was eroded in places, although this was better on Dec 5th than Dec 4th (presumably due to the efforts of a pair of tool-carrying rangers that we passed). There were low-hanging branches from downed trees, which required some effort to get under in places.

On the plus side there was no difficulty in finding the trail.
===========
Conditions reported by: John Fedak
Survey date: 25-NOV-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide

Vast improvement since the trailwork was done over the past year. All of the deadfalls (especially on the inital ascent out of China Camp) have been cleared and the trail has been noticably widened in places.
===========
Conditions reported by: Tom T.
Survey date: NOV-21-2004
General: DIFFICULT DUE TO BLOWDOWNS
Specific:

Section: Barlow Flats to Big Sur Station

"Wilderness Freeway" on Saturday 11/20, "Difficult" on Sunday 11/21...

There was a severe windstorm Saturday night (11/20) which took down lots of trees. Hiking out Sunday from Barlow, most slopes with exposure to the northeast had blowdowns. The most severe was about 1000 ft. east of the Ventana camp junction, where the trail was impassable for over 200 ft.

Generally, there were scattered blowdowns from Barlow to Terrace Creek, and a lot of blowdowns from the ridge west of Terrace to a mile west of the Ventana Camp trail.
===========
Conditions reported by: Todd Meister
Survey date: 10-OCT-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to China Camp

Almost no washouts. The trail was widened via clippings by a couple feet in some places. No tree-scrambling (most likely due to the prevalence of horses and their riders). Beautiful views.
===========
Conditions reported by: Katie
Survey date: 08-OCT-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp

Aside from a handful of small deadfalls across this trail, it was definitely a wilderness freeway. Along the trail from Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp we only had slight trouble with one deadfall and then only because we had heavy packs. The area around the rock slide was not difficult but a bit scary due to the erosion of the trail and slip sliding dirt. It's the one between the Ventana Camp Trail start and the Terrace Creek Camp. It's about a 20 feet wide swath of sliding dirt where there's no tread.

Overall the trail was very clean, well maintained, and I want to heartily thank the volunteers that work so hard in maintaining this trail. THANK YOU!!

One thing that did concern me - at the crest of a ridge near the Ventana Camp Trail someone had abandoned their gear. I'm not sure why/how this happened, but it must have been recent as there were two boxes of rice that had not yet been feasted upon by wildlife. The gear was there on our way in on the 8th and on our way out on the 10th, and I must admit that we were too unsure of ourselves to go ahead and pack out the gear. It included a sleeping bag, food, body heat packs, a sleeping pad, and some other things. Very strange.
===========
Conditions reported by: Wendy
Survey date: 27-JUL-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Big Sur Station

We put in at China Camp at about 3pm. Hiked about 4 miles to Divide Camp where we stayed the night (arrived about 7pm). The little stream still had water - the first water we found on trail. The weather was nice and warm, no need for a tent or even jackets. The next morning we started on the trail about 10am. We crossed a few very small streams on our way to Pine Ridge Camp where we stopped for lunch. The spring there had water too. We saw two other hikers headed up the trail. The brush around Pine Ridge Camp was fairly thick and made us glad we had long pants on. We continued DOWN the trail, very steep and sun exposed, to Redwood Camp. Water was not to be found between Pine Ridge Camp and Redwood camp. What a beautiful place Redwood camp is - I wish we could have stayed a night there. The hike from Redwood to Sykes was very pretty and gentle. We stayed at Sykes our second night (arrived about 6pm). We were amazed at the beauty of the roots of a certain redwood tree that almost looked like a rock along the river. We saw one hiker briefly at Sykes. We didn't look too hard, but were unable to locate the hot springs. We didn't encounter any trash along the trail or at camp. On our final day we hiked out to Big Sur Station. We passed about a dozen hikers on their way up the trail. There was no water between Terrace Creek and Big Sur Station.

We were a group of 6 - all young and generally healthy. We made the trip in 3 days 2 nights. We took our time and averaged between 1-2 miles an hour.

I've read other reports that this trail is a Wilderness Freeway, but I'm not sure I would define it as that obstacle free and well traveled - especially the portion from China Camp to Redwood Camp. When I think of a Wilderness Freeway I think of the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Pine Ridge Trail was nowhere near as clear and obstacle free as the PCT. In fact, there were sections of the Pine Ridge Trail that we encountered that were "passable".

We had a wonderful trip and look forward to returning and actually finding the springs at Sykes.
===========
Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 09-AUG-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station Trailhead to Ventana Camp spur jct.

Except for, by my count, seven easily negotiable tree trunks or branches in the trail, this passage is wilderness freeway. The nice thing about this trail is that, on a Monday, I encountered hikers about every half hour. I hike alone so this makes me much more comfortable because if I get in trouble, I can count on another hiker or hikers appearing within a short period of time.

Compare this to the Gamboa or Coast Ridge Trails where you are not likely to encounter anyone for days.

After the first 3/4 a mile, when you reach Post Creek, there is a very steep elevation gain (712 ft./mile)for about 0.8 of a mile much of it in sun-exposed areas. After that, it is pretty level or only short intervals of elevation gain. Most of this latter portion of the trail is in the shade, even in midday. Compare this to the Mt. Manuel Trail that you see on the other side of the canyon which is nearly desert- barren from the solar pounding it gets. But bring lots of water. I went through about a liter and a half on the round trip day hike.

The beauty of this trail is really remarkable with majestic redwoods soaring up from a nearly invisible canyon floor far below to a hundred feet over your head. Truly exhilarating.

Also rather thrilling, but very dangerous, are the many sheer, and surely fatal, 50-75 foot drops right at the edge of the trail with nothing but thin air between your outside shoe and the canyon bottom. And sometimes there is gravel and a downhill slope. So pay attention. Much less exhilarating, if you can believe this, are the two separate piles of used toilet paper I unfortunately saw right at the outside edge of the trail. They were about a mile apart.

I am a 56 year old male, in moderately good condition, of average strength for my age, and I covered the 3.9 miles in 2.1 hours between about 10 A.M. and noon with no resting period (1.85 m.p.h.). Everyone else on the trail looked about 20-30 years younger than me.

The return trip took 2.9 hours, largely because the 0.8 miles before Post Creek took a lot of jamming my feet in the ground, even with trekking poles, to stop myself from skidding to a fall down the trail.

The bugs were not bad, surprisingly, but I wore mosquito netting over my face and I would recommend you do the same.

This is a well-traveled trail because it is so beautiful and accessible. I highly recommend it.
===========
Conditions reported by: Paul Greyson
Survey date: 25-JUNE-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Chine Camp trailhead to Pine Ridge Camp

The trail was easily passable the entire way though there's a fair amount of pushing through encroaching brush both near the trail head at China Camp (for about 1/2 mile) and then again for the last 1/2 mile to Pine Ridge Camp. Water was plentiful both at the creeklet 1/2 mile beyond Divide Camp and also at the Pine Ridge Camp spring.

I've posted some pictures of the area for those of you who have never hiked Ventana before (or even for those who have.)

http://photos.yahoo.com/

===========
Conditions reported by: Jim C.
Survey date: 30-MAY-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station trailhead to Ventana Camp Trail jct.

The trail condition is generally good, with well-defined tread and no encroaching brush most of the way. I'd rate it Clear except that there were 3 or 4 large deadfall trees and a fair number of washout/slide spots. All of these can be negotiated with a little care but it's disappointing to see this much deferred maintenance on the wilderness' most heavily used trail.
===========
Conditions reported by: Bill Graham
Survey date: 09-JUNE-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Redwood Creek to Pine Ridge/Black Cone/Bear Basin jct.

The switchbacks heading up from Redwood Creek have a few small sections that are eroded out. In some stretches the shrubs are encroaching. The real problems are on Pine Ridge. Despite some evidence of pruning the ceanothus is growing over the trail to the extent that one more Spring's growth will make the trail very difficult to find/follow.

A tree trunk labeled with permanent marker signs the crossroads of the Pine Ridge trail, the Bear Basin cutoff, and (presumably) the Black Cone Trail. The label for the latter, however, has been gouged off the tree trunk. If this is not the Black Cone Trail, no other trailhead is evident on the ridge.

Section: Pine Ridge/Black Cone/Bear Basin jct. to Pine Valley jct.

This trail section shows excellent recent maintenance. Much trimming, sawing, and, most impresively, drystone wall repair has occurred here.
===========
Conditions reported by: Valerie Nordquist
Survey date: 15-MAY-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Trail jct. to BS Station

BIG SUR TRAIL JUNCTION to SYKES:
Clear with several areas of loose dirt and trail that looked like it was in the process of crumbling/washing away. Made for some mildly nerve wracking traverses for the cliff-conscious in the group, but most of it was likely more perceived risk than actual. (though a fall in those sections would still likely be painful and injurious) Very hot in the midday sun with periods of respite in the intermittent redwood gulches.

SYKES to BIG SUR STN:
Wilderness Freeway (due to heavy use) with the exception of multiple deadfalls (8-10?) requiring relatively easy climb overs.

Sykes hot springs were pretty full at noontime on the Thursday we arrived. Some debris and trash but relatively minimal for a well-used place.

Big Sur River was a knee-high ford.

Camped at Barlow which was in good condition--no visible trash. But very mosquito and fly-filled. Crossed to sites across river, again a knee high ford.
===========
Conditions reported by: David Roberts
Survey date: 06-MAY-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Redwood Camp

Church Creek Divide to Redwood Camp

Trail tread from the Divide up to Pine Ridge Camp in good shape. A lot of brush cutting has been done lower down below the intersection with the Bear Basin trail, but in spots some additional judicious trimming was required. Very heavy brush at top of Pine Ridge -- acres of thick, brilliant, fragrant, blooming ceanothus made the trail nearly impassable. Much thicker than the last time I passed through two years ago.

Below Pine Ridge camp the brush was less thick but still required the occasional clipping session. The tread was sporadically poor much of the way down the "golden staircase" to Redwood Camp. Extreme caution must be exercised in places, a misstep could result in a hiker going into freefall down the steep hillside.
===========
Conditions reported by: John Yeo
Survey date: 21-FEB-2004
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp

We hiked from the Big Sur ranger station to Sykes on Feb 20, and back on Feb 22. The hike in took about 5 hours. The trail was very easy to follow and in good shape. Several trees had fallen over the trail, but getting past them was not a problem.

The hike down river to Sykes was a bit tricky. It was necessary to climb along the rock cliff by the side of the river to get to the camp. Once at the camp, the trail to the springs was easy to find and follow.

The hike out took about four hours, and was a bit hard on the legs because there was so much downhill.
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Conditions reported by: Sinchi Tonooka
Survey date: 22-JAN-2004
General: PASSABLE but difficult and slow in places due to blowdowns.
Specific:

Section: China Camp to 1 mile past/west of Divide Camp.

Goal: In and out solo day hike to South Ventana Cone. Unable to achieve because started 2 hours too late and trail conditions slowed me down requiring extra energy.

This being my first for Ventana, I was impressed with the overall cleanliness and the pristine conditions of the trails.

Considerable encroaching frost covered or wet melting frost brush in the morning. Did not really slow me down or prevent trail finding. Just barreled through holding my trekking poles in front of me. Caused my nylon pants to get pretty wet but they quickly dried. One tree fall not far from the trail head but was easy to walk around.

Once over the first ridge, the trail on the south facing ridge provided excellent views of the Church Creek drainage and the south to southwestern peaks on this first clear almost cloudless day after 2 weeks of wet weather. Although the soil adjacent to the trail was wet and soft, the trail was, in general, dry and firm and in great hiking condition. Lost the trail in a level clearing about 1/4 mile from Church Creek Divide. Took one of the use trails to the left (south) which descended to an area where there was stark photogenic evidence of the past fire in the area which I photographed but the trail dead ended. I back tracked and found a use trail leading back to the main trail. I looked back up the main trail and saw the fist size rocky wash leading up towards the clearing. Shortly further down the trail is a blow down which is easily detoured. I memorized the view of this section for the return. On the return, I hiked up the rocky wash and again the trail gets hazy. However, there is a faded pink plastic ribbon tied high to a bush blazing the way to the aforementioned clearing. Hint: Hiking east to west on reaching the level clearing, stay to the right side or to the north side of the clearing and take what appears to be a gravely wash trail.

Relieved to reach Church Creek Divide. Having never been here before, expected to find a significant creek such as Church Creek to ford but there was no significant water at the divide clearing area. When I called the ranger station for trail conditions and whether there were any streams to ford, the person answering the phone appeared to be clueless about this trail, so I carried Tevas just in case.

Continued on Pine Ridge Trail westward and crossed several small streamlets across the trail. It would be easier to use a filter pump rather than trying to fill a bottle from the shallow streamlet to be treated with chemicals, which I carry. Fortunately, I was carrying an adequate supply of water and the cool 40 to 50 in the shade and 60 in the sun temperatures kept my water requirements low. Hiking to about 1 mile past the Divide Campsite, I had to overcome at least 3 nasty blowdowns. Two of them, I had to climb over, because the bank on both sides were too steep to attempt to bushwhack around. The third I was able to bushwhack around. Since the trail continues on the north shaded side of the ridge for another mile where more blow downs were likely to occur, I stopped to reconsider the feasibility of continuing further and having to return with more fatigue over these obstacles in the dark, even with a headlamp which I was carrying. The blowdowns were relatively fresh and there was no evidence of anyone else crossing them.

I decided to call off the goal of tagging South Ventana Cone this time and try to return to China Camp before dark which I succeeded in doing. For being so early in the season there was only one other vehicle at the trailhead when I arrived about 7:30 am and it was gone when I returned about 5:00 pm. I saw no one on the trail, although I heard several shotgun reports, scaringly close, so it was deserted which was fine with me. It takes 3 hours to reach China Camp from San Jose. I thought it would take 2 hours. Tassajara Road and the last 7 mile dirt section to China Camp really slows one down. Had to be careful to avoid large boulders on the dirt section and really slow down for the drainage cuts across the road bed. I would hope the road condition is improved later in the season. The signs indicating mileage in the wilderness appear to be topo miles. Actual mileage is considerably longer as probably more reliably reported in Schaffer's book and can be better estimated from topo elevation profiles.

This being my first for Ventana, I was impressed with the overall cleanliness and the pristine conditions of the trail, China Camp, and Church Creek Divide. Saw no trash, paper etc. along the trail. One disturbing sight was numerous spent shotgun cartridges and unnatural accumulation of feathers on the trail just beyond the trail head near China Camp. The other was an ugly fire circle at Church Creek Divide with exposed remnant ashes.
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Conditions reported by: John Fedak
Survey date: 17-JAN-2004
General: PASSABLE TO DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Pine Ridge ridge top

Considerable amount of newly down trees in the past month, mostly in the first mile or two from China camp. 1st mile could really use some trail maintenance.

No change in Church Camp to Pine Ridge ridge top. Water shortly after divide camp, trail overgrown in places
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Conditions reported by: John Fedak
Survey date: 22-NOV-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Pine Ridge/Black Cone junction

China Camp to top of ridge: 1 new down tree in the last week and numerous short sections where you're tunneling through vegetation. No real route finding problems.

Ridge top to Church Creek: Mostly Clear. No water at Church Creek Divide.

Church Creek to Divide Camp: Damp. Trail muddy in places. Small bit of water about a half mile past Divide Camp.

Divide Camp to top of Pine Ridge. Trail overgrown in numerous short stretches. Minor route finding difficulties shortly before trail junction.
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Conditions reported by: Nathan York
Survey date: 06-SEPT-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Entire - China Camp to Big Sur Station

China Camp to Church Creek Divide: Mostly Clear, but difficult in sections where deadfalls are blocking the trail. The trail is still very hard to find in one area about .25 miles from Church Creek Divide -- lots of deadfall and some use trails that dead-end.

Church Creek Divide to Bear Basin Connector junction: Difficult. Trail very overgrown and/or faint in places. There are some small trickles of water flowing across the trail near Divide Camp -- last water on trail till Redwood Creek Camp (although I've heard that Pine Ridge Camp has a spring???).

Bear Basin Connector junction to Pine Ridge Camp: Passable. Some Poison Oak.

Pine Ridge Camp to Redwood Creek Camp: Difficult. Faint tread in places near top of Pine Ridge. Otherwise, trail mostly overgrown but clear. Just before the Big Sur Trail junction there is a rock slide covering a section of the trail that traverses near vertical terrain -- in other words, its very dangerous. Besides the fact that I don't like scrambling over rocks near a cliff (w/o a rope that is!), the rocks themselves don't look very stable. After the Big Sur Trail junction the trail is soft and crumbling/sliding/damaged in many places. Also, we had the good fortune of seeing lots of Poison Oak and a Rattlesnake ... a very exciting bit of trail indeed!

Redwood Creek Camp to Sykes Camp: Clear. Some minor overgrowth and some Poison Oak in places. Sykes Camp proper had 3 sites occupied. Heavy use is apparent (wear and tear along river), but it appeared to be mostly clean. I assume the pit toilets have helped. However, we took a trek to the hot springs and found lots of campers along the way and lots of improper toilets ... ie human waste not buried and toilet paper scattered about. I guess some people cannot be bothered to dig a hole (or camp a few hundred yards from the springs). It would be nice if camping where restricted (and enforced) to areas near the pit toilets!

Sykes to Big Sur: Wilderness Freeway.
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Conditions reported by: David C. Laredo
Survey date: 24-MAY-2003
General: CLEAR
Specific:

This trail is in excellent shape with a few exceptions. Between Pine Ridge Camp and Redwood Camp there are long sections where encroaching brush almost obliterates the trail trace. Care must be take to remain on the trail. A slide has made travel a bit treacherous midway between these two camps, but it can be crossed with care, although loose scree and a full pack make for a bad combination.

Water at Pine Ridge Camp is plentiful. Wild flowers are still in magnificent bloom as of this weekend.
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Conditions reported by: joneelee
Survey date: 17-MAY-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China to Redwood Camp and return

Started from China Camp. Hiked as far as Redwood Camp. Heavy use and new tread around deadfall exists from China to Church Creek Divide. Trail from Divide to PRT x Black Cone is easy to follow, however, you have to push through lots of overgrowth. I carried a clipper to clear some of the path as we went -- but hardly made a dent. PRTxBCT down to Redwood: LOTs of overgrown grass and brush. Also a good deal of Poison Oak, though I either clipped or stomped down growths that would directly get in the way. Be careful at 1 small rock slide when you have to traverse a small very-unstable area ... a fall would be bad.

Camps:

Camped at Church Creek Divide because Pine Valley on a weekend was a carnival. Redwood Camp was very nice. River was fine and crossable. At Redwood camp, lot's of avoidable poison Oak, lots of bees (there might even be a nest in the ferns). Be nice to them and they'll be nice to you and store your nice smelly food away from where you're staying. I'd recommend you hang your food, not for bears, but for the little critters and varmints out there.

On the way back stayed at Pine Ridge Camp: plenty of water, flys and other bugs though. I'd recommend you buy one of those $3 bug nets for when you're hanging around at camp -- when walking, flies and other assorted winged creatures were not a problem.
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Conditions reported by: Thomas Meissner
Survey date: 5/6-APR-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

China Camp - Church Divide:
large area with recent dead falls just above Church Divide. Use treads have developed around the obstacles.

Church Divide - Pine Ridge Camp:
several fallen trees, brush starts to encroach. trail easy to miss at the junction with the new Black Cone Trail on the top of Pine Ridge, especially when going E->W. Follow the trail going straight and descending towards the camp, don't follow the trail to the left (South, which is the new Black Cone trial), but also not the one to the right (North, which eventually will lead back towards Bear Basin). The situation is very confusing. A trail sign would be valuable.

Pine Ridge Camp - Redwood Camp:
Lots of brush starts to encroach now after the fire. Tread gets obscure at some spots. About 1/2 mile above the Jct with the Cineaga Trial, the trail crosses a gully, where a slide went across again. It is a chancy scramble. This problem has obviously been mentioned in earlier reports (Mark Maslow), was preliminary fixed a couple of years ago, but now has occurred again. Lots of ticks this time of the year due to the brush. Lots of poison oak above Redwood Camp.

Redwood Camp - Sykes:
Again, brush starts to encroach badly and therefore lots of ticks. Also lots of poison oak, especially above Sykes. Crossing the Big Sur River is a wet ford this time of the year.

Sykes - Big Sur:
mostly clear, little brush and easy walking. The only exception are a couple of large fallen trees, which one needs to crawl across or scramble around.
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Conditions reported by: Rob Ehlers
Survey date: 8-MAR-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

China Camp to Pine Ridge Camp

The trail was mostly clear from China Camp to the Church Creek Divide. However, there is not really any shade to mention.

From the divide to Pine Ridge camp had a good amount of encroaching brush and downed trees across the trail. A couple of places required going around an alternate path.

None of the deadfall trees or brush really slowed me down much, the trail was generally in good condition.

I'd like to say that Pine Ridge camp is a WONDERFUL place to camp. You have a commanding view of the ocean, mountains, and just about the whole sky (star gazing).

I passed only a handful of people during my trip, and only on the section from China Camp to Church Creek Divide.
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Conditions reported by: Jerry Lee
Survey date: 22-23-JUNE-2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp: Wilderness Freeway. No significant trail problems. No water flowing between Big Sur and Terrace Creek. Lots of creeks and springs from Terrace Creek to Sykes Camp. Big Sur River easily crossed by rockhopping at Sykes. The hot springs pools are in good shape at Sykes. Only one illegal campfire at Sykes out of 6 occupied campsites observed.

Sykes Camp to Redwood Camp: Wilderness Freeway. No significant trail problems.

Redwood Camp to Pine Ridge Camp: Passable. Trail footpath is generally in good shape, but new brush growth is rapidly encroaching. Shorts not recommended - I came through with many many scratches from the brush. In places it was necessary to push through the brush with considerable effort to get through. There are two possible pitfalls for persons who don't know the trail: 1) at the cutoff to Pine Ridge Camp, the temporary sign is gone. There is no indication of the correct trail to the campground and water, and which way is the continuation of the main trail. Also, 2) at the downed tree near the top of Pine Ridge, there is a new (or newly exposed) trail leading off downhill in the wrong direction, while the real trail on the other side of the downed tree is obscured by new plant growth. (Ed. note: SE is the BCT, NW is Bear Basin Trail, and NE/SW is the Pine Ridge Trail) I was traveling ultra light and had no way to leave any trail markers at these trouble spots. There were plenty of biting flies and ticks on this section of trail, but a thick dousing with insect repellent seemed to deter them.

Pine Ridge Camp to Church Creek Divide: Wilderness Freeway. No significant problems.

Church Creek Divide to China Camp: Wilderness Freeway. Brush is starting to grow over some parts of the trail, but is not a significant problem yet.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: FEB-2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Church Creek Divide to China Camp road head:
This is a wilderness highway. There are a couple of small step-over trees down across the trail near the top of the ridge above China Camp trailhead.

Big Sur Station to Pine Ridge Camp:
The trail is generally in good condition. We did some clipping along the section above Redwood Camp and on to the top. Generally, this should be a good hike for anyone who understands the elevation changes involved.
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Conditions reported by: David Knapp
Survey date: 22-FEB-2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp

This was my first trip in this area, and my first solo hike. Left at 10:30am - arrived at 4:50pm.

I took the Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur to Sykes Camp on FEB 22nd and back on the 23rd. I'm not sure what a wilderness freeway is - but I think that sounds like most of this trail - there were about 7 different places where I had to go under or over some parts of fallen trees - but other than that it was pretty good. In two places I noticed that others had stepped too close to the edge of the trail and it looked as if they came precariously close to tumbling down the hill - so be careful where you step - especially if the trail is narrow, muddy, and high.

Temperature was about 75 during the day, and about 40 at night. One other nice thing about this trail is that 90% is in the shade.

Also, the first four miles in took the longest for me and were the most difficult miles. It got easier for me past the Ventana Camp intersection.

The stream crossings I was able to make by rockhopping - but at the Big Sur river next to Sykes Camp I had to take the plunge and crossed in bare feet - that was incredibly cold water - it was also about 2-3 feet deep - dunno if that is normal or not. My feet were numb by the time I reached the other side.

There were no flies, and the mosquitos weren't worth mentioning - a couple got in my tent, but were easily killed.

I didn't use any deet, bug hat, or sunblock that trip.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers
Survey date: 14-January-2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Robert Louis Stevenson School's Wilderness Expedition leaders and co-leaders were out the weekend of Jan 13 to do some trail clearing and flagging into and out of Bear Basin Camp. I'm sending along my impressions of the trails and the results of our flagging.

China Camp to Church Creek Divide is a fine highway, barring a couple of freshly fallen trees at the top of the ridge above the trail head. These are easy step-overs and do not require detours off-trail. No problem for stock.

Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley is in excellent shape.

Church Creek Divide to Bear Basin Connector. The trail tread is mostly excellent. There are freshly fallen trees across the trail at several of the draws between the Divide and Divide Camp trail. These make for somewhat hazardous travel. All the trees are less than a foot in diameter that far. Past Divide Camp there are occasional fallen trees that require straddling or swinging under. Scrub oak and ceanothus are beginning to grow back across the trail in places.

Bear Basin Connector to Pine Ridge Camp. The trail is excellent, although scrub oak, ceanothus, and madrone are infringing on the trail. The only new fallen timber appears at the top of Pine Ridge where a tree has fallen, requiring a walk off trail. We flagged the route around the obstacle and cleared out the path. Those trunks are similar to the step-overs just before the trail junction down to Pine Ridge Camp. The trunks are about ten inches in diameter, larger than our saws could handle. Pine Ridge Camp is clean. The water source is not flowing through the pipe, though, but over the masonry wall. There is a good flow, but it makes one wonder whether the water is clean enough to drink without treating.
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Conditions reported by: Thomas Meissner
Survey date: 30-APRIL-2000
General: CLEAR
Specific:

The whole trail is in good condition.
Basically no fallen trees or other major obstacles.
Small rockslide about 2 miles E of Big Sur with loose tread.
Wet ford of Big Sur river at Sykes camp.
All other stream crossings can be rockhopped.
No signs of fire between Big Sur and about 0.5 miles W of Redwood creek, but there is some brush and poison oak at this stretch of the trail.
Beyond Redwood creek you walk through recent fire area, which has the advantage that almost all of the brush and poison oak is gone and there is a beautiful display of wild flowers (especially lupines).
I would not recommend to hike the section E of Redwood creek on hot day. There are some nasty flies out, but fortunately they don't bite.
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Specific Conditions

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Big Sur Station to Terrace Creek
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Conditions reported by: Andrew Ricciardi and Jennie Rees
Survey date: 9-June-99
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Wilderness Freeway, Very passable. One overgrown spot of French Broom about a mile from the trailhead.
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Conditions reported by: Meade Fischer
Survey date: March 1999
General: CLEAR
Specific:

In the woods above the gorge -- trail narrow and crumbling in spots, not "flat" due to slippage from rains. Places where one should be careful of footing.
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Terrace Creek to Sykes Camp
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Conditions reported by: Chuck Freedlun
Survey date: June-00
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Last June I and 4 young people hiked into Barlow. I had not been to Barlow since 1958, that's right, 42 years ago. I am 64 but I was determined to 'swim' the gorge one more time. We estimated that it was about 8 miles to Barlow and an additional 1/2 mile up stream to 'the gorge' that not too many people know about. So it was about a 17 mile hike, and it took us about 9 hours including the swim. I recommend it to everyone, I may even go again next year.
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Conditions reported by: Andrew Ricciardi and Jennie Rees
Survey date: 9-June-99
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Very passable. No slides, washouts, downed trees or overgrown brush.
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Sykes Camp to Pine Ridge
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition 2000
Survey date: APRIL-2000
General: CLEAR to WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Redwood Camp to Big Sur Trail = CLEAR TO WILDERNESS FREEWAY

Redwood Camp is clean and pleasant. Fire crews, besides cleaning it, stacked cords of fresh cut wood there. The trail up to the Big Sur Trail Junction is in the best condition it has been for years. The large tree across the trail a half-mile above Redwood Camp has been removed. A WILDERNESS FREEWAY up into the burned area.

Big Sur Trail Junction to Pine Ridge Camp =CLEAR TO WILDERNESS FREEWAY

This trail is in generally very good. After leaving the junction heading up, the first major runoff channel has experienced a gravel flow that threatens the trail, but it can be stepped over now. The rest of the trail to the top is a WILDERNESS FREEWAY. The first third passes through mostly burned area with good views, then the chaparral returns where the trail tends to the northeast, then re-enters burn on the last push up Pine Ridge to the Black Cone and Bear Basin Junctions.

The junction to Pine Ridge Camp is no longer as clear as it was, for the sign is gone and the clearings in the bushes are burned over. However, the trail down to the camp is excellent. Each of the gullies the trail crosses has been scoured down to the granite and is more dramatic than when covered by green plants.

Pine Ridge camp is more open than in the past; all the brush and manzanita around it has burned. The trail to the spring has been nicely cleared. The secondary spring just before the main channel still flows across the trail. Most of the remaining pines around the camp have been completely burned, but there are signs the big madrone in the center of the camp may survive.
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Conditions reported by: Andrew Ricciardi and Jennie Rees
Survey date: 9-June-99
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Trail in great condition, very passable. You know you're approaching Sykes Camp by the litter of toilet paper alongside the trail. Campers at Sykes Camp need to be informed on the LNT philosophy or how to correctly shit in the woods. Trail uphill from Redwood Camp is in good shape with no slides or washouts.
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Conditions reported by: Mark Maslow
Survey date: April, 1999
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Pine Ridge Trail cleared of downfall, brushed and tread work completed from junction with Big Sur Trail to crossing of the Big Sur River at Sykes.

The one known obstacle along the trail is a slide about 1/4 mile above the Big Sur Trail junction. This has been somewhat stablized by careful placement of rocks, and is now passable, but this small section will ultimately need to be rebuilt.
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Pine Ridge to Church Creek Divide
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 03-MAR-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Ridge Camp

Significant stretches of this trail are obscured by brush, mostly ceanothus, that is six feet high and must be pushed through. These sections are not long, and we cleared several in an hour or so of dedicated work. There are only a few deadfalls or other places where one must leave the established trail, so it remains passable to the top of Pine Ridge and beyond, but requires more work and pain from hikers than it should for such an important and popular trail. Immediately before the Pine Ridge Camp junction some additional trees have fallen across the trail, making it even more difficult to keep on the correct trail. Pine Ridge Camp has plenty of water, but more branches have fallen into the camping area.
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Conditions reported by: Ted Merrill
Survey date: 9-OCT-2002
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

I took this only from the Bear Basin Connector trail westward to Pine Ridge Camp. The trail is getting overgrown, especially due to regrowth after the fire of several years go, but twenty minutes of clipping on my part alleviated a few particularly bad spots. The tread is poor in places, but acceptable. Pine Ridge Camp and it's immediate trees mostly escaped the fire (were protected by fire fighters?) but it is a little bleak around there. The creeklet had a steady flow of water. The trail to the camp is now marked with a sign; thanks, volunteers.
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Conditions reported by: Ojai Valley School - "Las Papas Gigantescas"
Survey date: APRIL-MAY, 2002
General: CLEAR to PASSABLE
Specific:

Pine Ridge Trail: Pine Valley to Black Cone Trail:
It rained during the night and we woke to find our semi-dry gear all wet again! After we passed the gate and crossed the stream to another large camp we took the trail just left of the spring. Steep climb would be better with switchbacks! We traversed around Bear Basin on a well-marked trail; however, the trail to the basin looked to be in good condition and was recently taped (Snow flurries). Trail around Bear Basin had lots of soft brush (carwash). This was a good trail that had some snow on the north-facing slope, but the trail was not really affected.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers
Survey date: AUGUST-01
General: CLEAR to PASSABLE
Specific:

Church Creek Divide to Pine Ridge Camp

The trail is easy to follow but there are four or five trees across it that require stepping over carefully. Divide Camp is unattractive at this time of year. Although there are several significant flows across the Pine Ridge Trail itself, even this late in August, there is only a trickle of water in the camp area. Go upstream from the flat camping area, avoiding the stinging nettles if possible, and use a shallow pan to gather water from the flow. Nearer the camp, water flows along the surface. As a result, a jungle of greenery has sprouted in what used to be the center of camp. Besides the lack of water, and lots of stinging nettles, there is a lot of nighttime noise from nocturnal animals on the slopes above the camp. I guessed them to be wood rats. In any case, they did not bother my food but were active and noisy throughout the night.

From Divide Camp to Pine Ridge Camp the trail is generally in good shape. There are a couple of trees to cross, but only one requires briefly leaving the normal trail. Brush is beginning to creep back over the trail, mostly scrub oak, manzanita, bay, and ceanothus. There is very little poison oak.
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Conditions reported by: Greg Meyer
Survey date: 18-MARCH-01
General: CLEAR - SECTIONS PASSABLE TO DIFFICULT
Specific:

The Pine Ridge Trail from China Camp to Divide Camp is in good shape with minor blow-down from the fire and a snowy winter. The section from Divide Camp to Pine Ridge Camp however is passable but sections could be rated difficult. In mid-March many of the north-facing sections above 4000' still had 6" - 12" of snow. The heavy snow of winter, left many downed tan oaks and madrones across the trail on this section. Many fire damaged trees were also downed. Sections of the trail were very soggy because of the snow melt and I would guess that will continue through spring.

While on our 3 night trip, we climbed the South Ventana Cone from the saddle before Pine Ridge Camp. Nothing is left of the trail that had been cleared to the top but hiking cross-country was easy because most of the chaparral has been cleared by the fire. If anyone is interested making this hike, I would do it soon as the ceanothus and manzanita was vigorously stump-sprouting after the fire. The slopes will probably soon be covered again in heavy shrubs.

I also hiked the Pine Valley-Pine Ridge trail and found it to be in excellent condition. Very little fire damage and great views of Pine Valley, Bear Valley and the Double Cones. Many Santa Lucia Firs along the way too.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition 2000
Survey date: APRIL-2000
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Church Creek Divide to Divide Camp=CLEAR

The trail from Divide to Divide camp is also great. One of the springs crossing the trail has turned it into a mud pit, which people are trying to avoid, hence spreading the trail. There has been a lot of clearing on this section, and all the way up to Pine Ridge. In Divide Camp, a second flat has been developed below the first: the second is smaller, and not entirely level, but has better water. The way to it has been flagged by someone recently: from the flattest ground in the upper camp, pass by the firepit on the right hand side, and continue down the hill in that direction.

Divide Camp Junction to Pine Ridge=CLEAR, SOME SHORT PASSABLE SPOTS

Continuing past Divide Camp up to Pine Ridge there were two spots where people have detoured around brush growing over the trail, but we clipped this and the original tread is now quite inviting. The junction with the "shortcut" to Pine Valley has been well brushed out, and is now impossible to miss, but it needs a sign. Farther up, a bit below the point where the trail crosses a gravel slide (with a wall well built into it) a spring has been revealed by the fires: it sits on an obvious shoulder about 20 feet below the trail at a point where the trail rounds an outside corner. The water seeps and drips from a small cave, but can't be said to flow. There is a ton of new growth right around the spring, so it probably won't be visible for long, and may not run in the summer. The trail to the top is in good condition, and the effects of the fires (1999 and Marble-Cone) are striking. Many trees felled by the first fire were burned off by the second, and other newly fallen trees have forced slight detours in the trail, which remains easy to follow (although perhaps not if there were snow on the ground). The intersection with the Black Cone trail and the Bear Basin Trail needs a sign badly, and the junction with the Pine Ridge Camp Trail could probably use one as well. Pine Ridge itself and Pine Ridge Camp both look drastically different, and the camp, without even the protection the chaparral provided against the wind, will prove an undesirable one in a storm. The springs near the camp are running quite well.
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Conditions reported by: Boon Hughey
Survey date: 2-APRIL-00
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Following Thom's description below, Steve Wilson and I went through with bow saws and cut out the few trees that lay across the trail. But as with all the other trails in the burn area, trees are going to be coming down on a regular basis for years. If everyone would go out and invest $8 in a bow saw and carry it with them on their backcountry trips we may just be able to stay on top of this inevitable problem.
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Conditions reported by: Thom Carson
Survey date: 27-MARCH-00
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Overall condition of trail: Good with some snags between Church Creek Divide and Bear Gulch Trail junction.

There in NO reason I saw why this trail should have been closed. The fallen trees I encountered were no worse than those I encounter every spring after a normal winter. Were the tread any wider, I could have driven my SUV the entire length to South Ventana Cone. There were a few south facing slopes that were scorched pretty much to the ground. The worst being just before the decent into the divide and at SVC. The canopy from the divide to SVC in nearly intact. I was in the shade most of that portion. The headwaters of the Carmel River were cool and sweet. For the most part, the biggest effect the fire had on this portion of the PRT is to remove any sign of poison oak and most of the brush that had encroached on the trail. Anyone traveling this portion of the PRT could help if they carried a small bow saw to help clear the few remaining problems.
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Church Creek Divide to China Camp
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Conditions reported by: greg meyer
Survey date: 27-MAR-2004
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Pine Ridge Camp via Pine Valley

Our group hiked from the China Camp trailhead to the Church Creek divide. The trail was passable but is getting very brushy in places and there are a number of deadfalls across the trail from trees that died in the 1999 fire. >From Church Creek we hiked into Pine Valley and up the Bear Basin trail. Back on the Pine Ridge Trail, we continued towards the So. Ventana Cone. Both the western reaches of the Pine Ridge and the Bear Basin trail are really overgrown with deerweed, ceanothus and other shrubby plants. The trail is much less passable than it was just two years ago and travel is slow through the overgrown areas...
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 29-FEB-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Church Creek Divide

The trail is passable with the exception of 6 significant blowdowns across the trail, some from the storm this week. Immediately out of the trailhead several slender pine trunks are down in the trail. Three more trunks across the trail require minor detours before reaching a double-trunked oak that requires climbing over. Two more spots require detours, one very brief to avoid a brushy tree top and one more severe that has occasioned a major trail re-route shortly before the Divide. Nevertheless, with the brush clearing we accomplished,this section of the Pine Ridge Trail is easily passable.
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Conditions reported by: EW
Survey date: 21-MAR-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to China Camp

Church Creek Divide> China Camp: CLEAR to WILDERNESS FREEWAY Easily followed as per usual, a downed tree has necessitated a flagged re-routing around a prominent Black Oak just above the divide. There are no serious impediments to travel, but Ceanothus has choked parts of the trail more severely than I've ever seen - a brush crew is needed in short order.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers
Survey date: 15/16-FEB-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

China Camp to Bear Basin Connector

Pine Ridge Trail, China Camp to Church Creek Divide, is in poor condition due to blow downs and encroaching ceanothus. There are two low overhanging trees on the way up the first ridge, several step-over trees on the slope going west, and a slip-out of the tread past the new switch backs. On the final sweep down to Divide, there are four major trees across the trail. Use trails are developing around the obstacles, but pack animals would most likely be blocked. We clipped and sawed lots of ceanothus, but much remains to do.

Pine Ridge Trail, from Church Creek Divide to the Bear Basin Connector (the cut off to Pine Valley Camp) is in poor condition due to blow downs and encroaching ceanothus. There are two large trees across the trail on the way to the Divide Camp Trail, and more from there to the Cutoff. The foot bed is good, but the blow downs would probably prevent pack animals from using the trail until it is cleared by people with full-sized hand saws.
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Conditions reported by: Jerry Lee
Survey date: 5-DEC-2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY to PASSABLE
Specific:

The November storm knocked down a considerable number of fire-deadened trees on the ridge. Most of the trail is still in very good shape, but a number of trees fell onto the trail. An afternoon with a brush saw has cleared the deadfalls so that hikers can easily pass over/through them, but horses will still have to go around. A crew with a larger saw will be needed to cut through the tree trunks and completely clear the trail. Expect the mid-December storm to knock down a lot more trees everywhere.
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Conditions reported by: Jacob Koff
Survey date: 2-Nov-2002
General: CLEAR W/ FEW BRUSHY SECTIONS
Specific:

The trail is generally in excellent shape, except for a few areas that are overgrown. There is a tiny trickle of water at Divide Camp. A nice stream, with a small but steady flow, crosses the trail about 1 mile west of Divide Camp. The next water is at Pine Ridge Camp. This steam was flowing nicely, even in early November of a dry year.

The junction of the Pine Ridge and Black Cone Trails is well marked, not only with a metal sign affixed to a tree, but with bright plastic streamers.

There is also a volunteer-placed sign on the Pine Ridge Trail, just west of its intersection with the Black Cone Trail, pointing the way to Pine Ridge Camp and water. The weekend I was there, there were several hunters near the area where the Pine Ridge Trail intersects the Pine Valley Trail. Gunshots were frequent.
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Conditions reported by: John Ueng-McHale
Survey date: 5-AUGUST-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

China Camp to Church Creek Divide:
Parts of the trail were quite overgrown, but the tread was always obvious. I recommend pants and a long-sleeve shirt to avoid cuts. Bugs weren't bad hiking in or out of the valley, but during the day in the valley itself there were plenty of flies and mosquitoes. Still, the views on this section of the trail are well worth the brush and bugs. Also, we found no water from China Camp in to Divide Camp (~4 miles), so bring enough water to get you at least to there.

Church Creek Divide to Divide Camp:
There was plenty of brush in this section (long pants and shirt sleeves recommended, even in August), but the trail was always obvious. A meter-wide section of the trail was muddy from a small stream runoff (I can only imagine what this section is like in the rainy season), but easily passable. There were perhaps two downed trees, but these were easily stepped over as well.
The stream at Divide Camp was only a trickle, but we were able to filter all the water we needed from it. During the day, there were many flies and mosquitoes -- we spent part of the day in our tent as a result!
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers
Survey date: AUGUST-01
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

This is a wilderness highway with few issues except several soft spots where the foot bed is slipping downhill on some of the steep meadow stretches.
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Conditions reported by: W.H.
Survey date:MARCH-01
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

China Camp to Pine Valley

At the top of the first climb from China camp brush is blocking the trail but is passable by crawling on all fours. The snow on that first climb makes for a tedious ascent stepping in other's footsteps. The second descent has several fallen trees that will not deter most hikers but may block livestock. The trail through the meadow (at Pine Valley) is almost completely under water as the meadow is in its swamp phase.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition 2000
Survey date: APRIL-2000
General: CLEAR
Specific:

China Camp to Church Creek Divide =CLEAR

From China Camp up to the ridge top, the burn (and someone with a saw) has really cleared the trail. The few fallen trees in that section burned away, as did the brush, leaving great views of Miller Canyon.
From the ridge down to Divide the burn was intense in places, but again served primarily to improve the trail and its views. The Live Oak is making a comeback, however, with new growth from stumps in all but the hottest burn areas. The trail seems also to have received a ton of maintenance, especially on the final drop into Divide, where new tread has been put in where the old one slumped. There is one place visible at the beginning of the drop into Divide that looks like it is a small (30ft diameter) bomb crater. It is heavily burned out, and has a bowl shape. Did they ignite backfire here? Or drop a whole helicopter full of water in one spot? Or could it be a natural feature?
Church Creek Divide is well signed, with a new sign, but the trail
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Pine Ridge Trail

Postby dknapp1 on Tue May 26, 2009 11:34 am

* USFS Trail # 3E06
* Parking: Big Sur Station ($4/day), China Camp
* Watershed: Big Sur River, Carmel Rivers
* Junctions: Ventana Camp Trail, Terrace Creek Trail, Big Sur Trail, Black Cone Trail,
Bear Basin Trail, Carmel River Trail, Church Creek Trail
* Connects: Big Sur Station with Tassajara Road at China Camp
* Camps: Terrace Creek, Barlow Flat, Sykes, Redwood, Pine Ridge, Divide Camps.
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