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South Fork Trail

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby seagoat on Sun May 26, 2019 6:29 pm

Date Hiked: May 12, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

South Fork Trail and Marble Peak Trail, between Strawberry Camp and Tanoak Camp
Trail: Clear. Easy to follow but flagged anyways. Some encroaching Wild Rose.

South Fork Trail, between Strawberry Camp and Rainbow Camp
Trail: Passable. Some blow-downs and lush brush. Easy to follow. Many parts wilderness freeway. Numerous river crossings. Blue raspberry between last crossing and Rainbow Camp. Two rattlesnakes encountered in tall lush ferns where gopher mounds present. Also wild boar rutting was profuse along trail and on every bank until creek crossing where the giant landslide causes trail to cross creek a final time.

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby Jim Ringland on Wed May 08, 2019 11:11 am

Date Hiked: May 4, 2019
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I came in from the Marble Peak Trail on the 3rd, spent two nights at Strawberry Valley, dayhiked from Strawberry to Rainbow on the 4th, and exited to the Marble Peak Trail on the 5th.

Marble Peak Trail junction to Strawberry Valley Camp: Clear.
Thank your Betsy. The path though the wild roses is holding up well. There is some willow growth filling in at the creek crossings, the I don’t think it's enough to the change the general sense that this is a clear path. The campsite at Strawberry remains nice, but it’s still a shock to look out at the fire’s devastation in this once more verdant valley.

Strawberry Valley Camp to Rainbow Camp: Difficult. As Wilderwill2 reported, the big issue here is the collection of deadfalls. Many are simple step-overs or have easy enough routes around, but some require more. One, at about 2600 feet on the first descent from Strawberry is on a steep slope and is a mess to go around (tried that westbound) or through (tried that on the eastbound return). Another, a bit lower down but not all the way to where the side stream meets the South Fork, has some pointy broken-off branches, one of which managed to give me rather nice scrape that required some minor first aid. While I remember the downed tree at the river crossing Wilderwill2 mentions, I recall finding the way out pretty fast. Then after a less-difficult stretch, there is a cluster of several, sometimes messy, deadfalls in the last 1/3 mile before Rainbow. With my little daypack, all this seemed on the line between Passable and Difficult. With a full backpack, Difficult would be the call. It’s not some much any one deadfall is awful as that they just keep coming.

Other than that, this section is in good shape. Very clear at the top: much more so than when I was here last year. Only a little sketchy below that until reaching the South Fork, and less than fully obvious places are well flagged. Quite good along the South Fork corridor, although I was amused at one point that I was on a recently-bashed path through 9’ high elk clover, followed in short session through 6’ bracken fern. I was waiting to see a dinosaur when I emerged.

South Fork Camp is in good shape: under trees by the river with a fire pit with grate and seats around, a good bedding area, and a table with no seats. The ancient signs remain. There's been a little bit of pig activity in the vicinity though. Rainbow is it’s usual nice self too under bays, oaks, and madrones.
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby Wilderwill2 on Mon Apr 29, 2019 1:04 pm

Date Hiked: April 21, 2019
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Bill Vogt and I worked Saturday with the trail crew on Marble Peak Trail and the hiked out via South Fork and Big Sur Trails.

Starting at Strawberry Camp, traveling west, the trail was excellent for a mile or so, thanks to Ace crew work 2 years ago. When we got down to the river, things got a lot wilder. We counted 30 or so trees down until we got to Rainbow Camp. Much of the trail is visible, and our thanks to trail crews for the flagging the overgrown sections, it made it a lot easier to find the trail.

We made an inventory for future trail work with narrative and photos. The worst was a 36" diam. tree down at the crossing of the river, we scrambled across on boulders only to lose the trail. We found it right at the waters edge, a few more flags would help.

Strawberry, South Fork, Rainbow and Mocho camps are in good shape, the difficult rating is due to all the trees down. Plenty of water in April and the weather was pleasant.

Re: SF Trail - Strawberry Valley to Second Creek Crossing

Postby Betsy M on Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:53 pm

Date Hiked: December 29, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

There is water everywhere. Both in Strawberry Valley, at Strawberry Camp, and in the creek heading down the South Fork Drainage.

Section: Strawberry Valley junction with the Marble Peak Trail to Strawberry Camp
PASSABLE. There are lots of wild roses growing towards the trail and they can snag you pretty good. But the confusing section just before you reach Strawberry Camp has been cleaned up.

Section: Strawberry Camp to the second creek crossing on the way to South Fork Camp
While there are a couple of trees down, they are easy to negotiate. The major obstacles have been cleared and the deep gully filled in. We left flagging at a few locations just for reassurance. It is a pleasure to hike this section of the trail that stays up on the side hill and offers great views of the South Fork and Pick Creek drainages. We didn't go past the second crossing and assume there are probably more blowdowns downstream, after several wind events. Always a good idea to load Dr. Jack's map on your phone or GPS
Several Trees Cleared
Deep Gully Filled In
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Re: SF Trail Strawberry Valley to Second Creek Crossing

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

Date Hiked: August 25, 2018
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: Strawberry Valley junction with the Marble Peak Trail to Strawberry Camp
PASSABLE. There are lots of wild roses growing towards the trail and they can snag you pretty good.
WATER: there is no water anywhere in Strawberry Valley EXCEPT at Tan Oak Camp. No water at Strawberry Camp; none at Tan Oak use camp.

Section: Strawberry Camp to the second creek crossing on the way to South Fork Camp
DIFFICULT. Much of this section is clear and the tread is still in good shape thanks to the ACE crew which cleared a two-mile section in 2016. But with a couple of obscure sections so that the 2-mile section should be considered just a bit less than clear. There is one major gully that the rains scoured out, making it about 10 feet deep. It was hard getting across with a day pack. With a backpack, you need someone to give you a hand up or carry cord to lower/lift backpack separately. In a few spots riparian vegetation (this is just your standard Ventana vegetation - but growing about ten times as fast in the creek bottom as it normally would) has almost obscured the trail.
We worked to clear some of these jungle-like sections. And left plenty of flagging everywhere we thought a hiker might need some help. Because if anyone tries to hike this section they will need to look for the flagging or have a GPS or both. And that is a GPS/map with Dr. Jack's map, not the other maps.
WATER: There were murky pools below the first creek crossing. There was abundant water flowing well at the second creek crossing and there is water everywhere downstream of there.

Section: The second creek crossing to South Fork Camp and Rainbow Camp
CLEAR. VWA volunteer trail crews devoted several trips to locating and clearing the section above South Fork Camp. VWA volunteer trail crews had previously cleared from Rainbow to South Fork Camp.

Note: the two ends of the South Fork Trail are now connected. A careful backpacker should be able to get from one end to the other relatively easily. Just use extreme caution when negotiating the gully and check for flagging in several overgrown sections as you head up the hill to Strawberry Camp.
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby jboning on Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:10 pm

Date Hiked: June 16, 2018
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

This is for the section of trail west of Strawberry toward South Fork Camp.

The trail leaving Strawberry up to the saddle was in good condition. Continuing down the other side, the trail became fainter, but still possible to pick out, before disappearing completely (a total of about half a mile from Strawberry Camp).

A light-to-moderate effort to forge ahead through the brush didn't lead me to find the trail again, so I gave up and turned around.

My GPS track, alongside reference tracks from hikelospadres and bigsurtrailmap, can be seen at (You'll notice that I had a similarly abortive attempt to take the Black Cone Trail north; maybe the problem is me, not the trail, so take this report with a grain of salt!)

ED(jg): that end of the South Fork Trail is definitely impassable, as attested by several recent attempts. But the Black Cone Trail exists and has been taken by several people in past months, from both directions - there is much of plant growth on the south end, as you no doubt discovered, and several sharp turns can be hard to follow (see: Jim Ringland's recent Black Cone Trail report).
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby js_radford on Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:44 pm

Date Hiked: June 12, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I stayed behind after Betsy's trail crew left Sunday and surveyed and did work on the South Fork Trail onward from SF Camp towards Strawberry. I got about 3/4 of the way to the ridge above Strawberry (perhaps 1.5 miles out of maybe 2.5 total) and did some clearing so one could step over logs or step through patches of deadfall. Brush was not much problem at all; but keeping to the route was a problem at times. I think I was on track up until the route twice crossed the side stream flowing into South Fork of the Big Sur. There are supposed to be maybe 9 more crossings but I did not proceed.

As far as I got, the forest was very healthy and beautiful with little burn damage, all on the north side. It is a nice section. Once the trail climbs away from the creek (saw one 12" trout in what is supposed to be an "intermittent" stream), I expect it gets exposed to burned and scrubby areas.

The part I worked (minimally) for about 8 hours Sunday-Monday is quite passable just requiring about 23 step-overs, a crawl-under (large log 4 feet off ground), no appreciable brush in one's face, lots (normal abundance) of Poison Oak but almost all avoidable. I was able to make the route MUCH easier just with hands (lots of rotten Oak and tossable and/or breakable branches), my large loppers and a little pruning saw work.

The tread is hard to follow at times (I had only 6 flags) but I made it much more obvious and deduced it's location by several indicators including old saw cuts, some few slash piles, beaten down linear areas. Maybe 2/3 the route is obvious, some I trod under foot to make obvious (for rest of this season perhaps), some I cut nearby brush to indicate a "worked" route. If I found it, so can you even more easily!

So ambitious persons could easily follow my lead as far as I went and perhaps scout out beyond on to Strawberry. I stopped at crossing #2 which had an old wooden sign board dangling above the stream from metal strapping attached to a half broken vertical pole-like dead trunk. By chance, that crossing is maybe 50 yards upstream of a very obvious cut log. I did not immediately see where the tread continued from there. So the climb up to the saddle above Strawberry could be hard to follow.

I greatly regret not having Jack Glendening's map sources [ ] to use when trying to figure out where I was. The USGS/USFS topo has seriously erroneous route finding - zero correspondence to reality! Jack's maps are actually close to reality.
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby Betsy M on Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:39 pm

Date Hiked: June 10, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This report is for the section from Rainbow Camp to South Fork Camp ONLY. Thanks to the work of VWA volunteer trail crews and other volunteers, this 1.9-mile section is clear of brush and fallen trees. Except for a few step-over trees near South Fork Camp. There are still tread issues in several places, and additional work trips will be required to repair the tread.

The biting flies were out, and a few mosquitoes in the evenings. But temperatures down in the canyon were pleasant and we had a great weekend sawing logs.
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South Fork Trail Marble Peak Junction to Black Cone Junction

Postby Megan Sebay on Wed May 30, 2018 7:35 am

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

We hiked ONLY the section between Marble Peak Trail and Strawberry Camp. The trail was quite brushy near the (many) creek crossings, but passable and has been flagged with pink tape. I walked a few hundred yards up past the Black Cone junction to the top of the hill and it looked a lot better up there, although it was a bit slide-y on the way up.
Megan Sebay

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby wilderwill2 on Mon May 28, 2018 3:19 pm

Date Hiked: May 23, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked to South Fork Camp via CRR, Big Sur Trail through Rainbow Camp with Alan R. I have been wanting to do this trail for a long time. The trail as described by others is passable and the old trail is evident in many places. Once we got to camp we back-tracked and cut /cleared the small blow-down obstacles (4-5" diam.) and cleared brush for two hundred yards or so. We left some larger obstacles for the saw crew.

On the other side of camp about 1/4 mile away, heading to Strawberry camp we hacked our way through a dense maze of small blow-down trees and brush about 200 ft. long, so that area is now passable. The trail beyond looked pretty rough so we didn't attempt to go further.

South Fork Camp is spacious and shady with a rock stepped path down to the river access. (Big Sur River and North and South Forks are "Wild and Scenic River" designations down to Pfeiffer State Park boundary, very beautiful).

Alan repaired the table with 4" diam. branches for legs. There were some old wood and metal National Forest still signs intact.

Hiking back on the road to Post's Ventana Inn we passed the VWA trail crew coming the opposite way for the weekend trail work. I agree with Pantilat, a very pleasant hike. We also saw a mother Grouse with her chicks!



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