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South Fork Trail

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby JohnathanA on Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:21 pm

Date Hiked: January 1, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

So two friends and I put in at arroyo seco by way of the willow springs trail and connected the marble peak trail to the big sur trail to pine ridge trail and out through bug sur station. There are moments when the tread disappears. There are lots of hog tracks that can be confusing. There are lots of deadfall. Lots of brambles. Lots of ticks. Lots of near waist high river crossings. Lots of game trails. And lots of fun!! The tread was difficult to notice coming out of strawberry but only because of the amount of snow on the ground. There are ribbons marking where the trail has been diverted around some truly impassable deadfall. We lost the trail often and there were times when we were not sure if we were on game trails or on the trail. Either way we were following the river the entire way and we weren't hacking our way through chaparral so it was very enjoyable. It got hairy for us about 1/2 mile south of rainbow because of two massive landslides. Not sure how recent they are but they seem pretty fresh. Right in between them there is what appears to be the bathroom of a very large group of wild pigs. I draw this assumption by the excessive amount of feces and urine in this area. This served as a distraction and we opted to scramble across the remnants of the two slides as opposed to crossing the river and following the ribbons. We ended up having to cross anyway and lost light. After bivying that night we were able to pick up the trail again at first light which was deceptively hidden under som fresh fallen maple leaves and eagerly growing brambles. This part goes high up the valley side and crosses the waterfall. Next it drops into rain ow camp the later part of the trail is well established with minimal deadfall, although there was a part that required packs off and a crawl. Super fun!! We then joined the big sur trail and despite a hefty climb, some strategic deadfall, and slightly overgrown brush leads you to the north fork and all its madrone and redwood filled splendor. There is an abandoned rolling duffle with scattered and torn garments and what I will call a sad excuse for gear. I packed out a piece and if you go please do the same. As for to schmuck that left it I hope he made It out alive.

Overall I though this trail was great and with a little breaking of a stick here and removal of a big branch there it is navagable and quite the beautiful south fork of the mighty big sur river!!

Ps if you can't triangulate or accurately read a topo don't even think about it. Btw the printed trail maps and the nag geo tools are wrong! The topo is relative but the camps are destroyed and/or moved to different locations. If you aren't sure if your at the right place your probably not. Good luck and I love this trail. Just the way it is. They are far more interesting when they aren't superhighways and when they aren't littered with people and trash. I'll take a difficult trail like this any day!!
JohnathanA
 

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby RobGularte on Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:15 am

Date Hiked: June 30, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)


I think it is time to call the trail impassable. We hiked from the Arroyo Seco side and lost the trail 4 times, the three of us having to split up and search for the trail. At one point there we passed 2 blue markers, passed a pink marker, then ran into a complete dead-end, and hikers have gone several ways, all dead ends, so we ended up trail blazing from the West side to the East side of the creek, just because the East side was easier to trail-blaze. We eventually found the trail there. It took us about 3 hours to do the first 1.5 miles from strawberry.

The "tread" takes you through some areas that are being quickly eroded because of the steepness, that area is a real mess. I don't even know what to recommend about passage, just avoid it completely. Re-route your trip.

We went from Arroyo Seco to the coast via Marble Cone tr (Ed. note- Marble Peak Trail), South Fork, Big sur, and De Angulo. Big Sur tr. was pretty bad too, lots of trees down, lots of green brush hiding the trail, but we never lost the trail.

Thank you, VWA, for what appears to be an enormous task. It looks like for every tree fallen there are 5-10 that could fall any time. There were several times I wished I had packed a chain saw (Ed. note- chainsaws are prohibited in Wilderness & of dubious value in distant backcountry locales without stock support).
RobGularte
 

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby Guest on Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:28 pm

Date Hiked: January 5, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The trail is in terrible condition from Strawberry to Rainbow Camp. I highly recommend avoiding this section unless you are down for a fight. Absolutely miserable.
Guest
 

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby Paul on Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:08 pm

lostsheep wrote:Date Hiked: June 22, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I was asked by a ranger to report back on our experience for this route so here we go:

We hiked through this section of trail on June 21st and 22nd going from Rainbow to Strawberry. This section of trail took everything my partner and I had to follow the trail. Whoever flagged the trail, thank you, thank you, thank you. The trail is doable but it is not for the faint of heart. I have two very large poison oak patches on each ankle and I removed several ticks (none had bitten me).

I do not recommend this section of trail unless it's between you and your destination.


I hiked this same trail July 22nd. It was really bad. Spent most time crawlining over limbs. We left a rope at one place were trail was avalanched. Poison ivy is bad. Three of the 6 of us that went got a bad poison ivy rash. Two of us saw a rattle snake on trail. Lost site of ribbons half way and got a little lost. Luckly we found them the next day and hiked out of there. Followed trail back to man van. Will not be back. They should close that part of trail down.
Paul
 

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby lostsheep on Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:12 am

Date Hiked: June 22, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I was asked by a ranger to report back on our experience for this route so here we go:

We hiked through this section of trail on June 21st and 22nd going from Rainbow to Strawberry. This section of trail took everything my partner and I had to follow the trail. Whoever flagged the trail, thank you, thank you, thank you. The trail is doable but it is not for the faint of heart. I have two very large poison oak patches on each ankle and I removed several ticks (none had bitten me).

I do not recommend this section of trail unless it's between you and your destination.
lostsheep
 

Re: South Fork Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:16 am

Hiked out to see the waterfall south of Rainbow camp reported by "fulmar2", of which he saw only the top. It took a careful approach to reach a vantage point, about 35 ft off-trail, from which the entire falls could be viewed, but it was a nice spot to eat lunch while viewing the falls, as the attached photo attests. The drop from top to pool is 53 ft, not as tall as had been guessed, but it is a pretty falls with a green mossy background near the bottom. Hopefully others will enjoy viewing this waterfall as they hike the South Fork Trail. It's exact location can be obtained from my Ventana on-line trailmap:

http://www.drjack.info/HIKES/TRAILMAP/v ... ilmap.html

Jack Glendening
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RainbowFalls-glendening.eighthsize.jpg
Rainbow Falls
Big Sur Trailmap: https://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:01 am

Thanks much for providing your GPX file containing your South Fork Trail route. I have now extracted a smoothed-version of it and am displaying it in my on-line Ventana Trail Map

http://www.ventanahiking.net/TRAILMAP/v ... ilmap.html

where it can be compared to the trail locations as provided by the USFS and as mapped by Jeff Schaffer for his Big Sur hiking book.

I've also added the waterfall you report along the South Fork Trail, so others will be aware of it. I have a personal interest in waterfalls yet it was unknown to me, since it is not mentioned in any of the guidebooks (Schaffer, Elliot, Sierra Club), so thanks for reporting it, I will have to visit it sometime. .

Glad you had an enjoyable trip and thanks for the excellent trail report. Thanks also to Greg for the extensive trailwork he did. We need more hikers like him!

Jack
Big Sur Trailmap: https://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:54 am

Date Hiked: May 28, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

The below was moved from a post originally placed in the Marble Peak trail reports

fulmar2 wrote: From Strawberry, you ascend briefly on nice trail, but very shortly after the descent towards Rainbow begins, the trail disappears. Fortunately, some people had flagged the route (quite well, I might add - see previous posts).

The previous posters claim that this section took them 4 hours to negotiate - probably because they were flagging so well. It took two guys with hiking poles in their 30s a little under 2 hours to cover. Indeed, there is almost no trail for 1.5 miles, and you are constantly climbing over deadfall washed out gullies, and penetrating thick brush - but following the flags appears to be the best route.

Shortly after start descending from the little pass out of Strawberry, you are on decent, steep switch backs. There is a landslide shortly after the switchbacks end (you will have to climb over some fallen trees before the switchbacks truly end). Once you hit the landslide, keep an eye out for the other side (South side) of the creek. You will hopefully get a glimpse of a short piece of trail across the creek shortly after you pass the landslide. We just blazed down the hill (and up the other side), and got on some decent tread that helped us move down river another few hundred feet

. After that, though, you're strictly following flags through non trail. We did a little machete work - but only the minimum amount to prevent ourselves from getting poison oak / nettle stings. As the previous poster said, at the junction of the two creeks, the trail starts to become evident again. It isn't exactly smooth sailing, but it very gradually improves as you get closer and closer to the camp.

Before you get to camp, the flags take you up (on a trail) above a stunning waterfall that is ~150 feet high. Unfortunately, we could not find a good vantage point to safely observe the fall. I will see if I can post a GPS track of our route; it seemed pretty straight forward. If you are OK with off trail hiking, this section is OK - great thanks to the flaggers! We could have made it through without the flags, but they probably saved us some time - and were good for morale!

I have posted a GPS track at this location:

http://gotoes.org/biketours/20110527_Ve ... rnesstrip/

The GPS track includes the relevant section between Strawberry and Rainbow camps (and our small error near the base of the 150 foot waterfall). For the most part, we successfully followed the flagged route. The track also includes the path we followed from Rainbow to the Pine Ridge Campground (where we experienced some surprise snow)! For the moment, the above link is to an empty directory with just the GPS track, but I plan to add the remaining GPS tracks for the rest of our journey (through other possibly lost sections of trail) as well as a writeup with pictures.
Big Sur Trailmap: https://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby Guest on Mon May 30, 2011 6:47 pm

Date Hiked: May 30, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

omg, just got back and i must say this trail is not too much fun. i have a high tolerance for hard/difficult terrain and this was a hard one. this was one of the few trails i have left in completing all of the ventana wilderness, and it might be one of the worst ones i have ever been on. whoever marked the trail with ribbon, God bless you, but still, even with tape, this trail happen to thred through some serious deadfalls almost the entire way.
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Re: South Fork Trail

Postby reedkrase on Wed May 18, 2011 6:32 pm

Date Hiked: May 14, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I marked this trail as difficult, not impassable, because if you're experienced and persistent you will make it. Take this trail only if you are looking for a challenge. It is about 4.5 to 5 miles from Rainbow Camp to Strawberry Camp and it took us 5 hours, including rests and the creek crossings. The vast majority of the time was spent on about 2 miles between South Fork Camp and the top of the divide before you get to Strawberry Camp. Contrast this to the day before, it took us 7 hours to hike from China Camp down to Skyes (about 13-14 miles), including rests and lunch, and that was not a demanding day. The journey from South Fork to Strawberry requires one to walk through numerous poison oak patches. You will get poison oak if you walk this trail, even if you wear pants, unless you are immune. You will also come out with at least a couple ticks due to the heavy brush.

We started the day at Sykes Hot Springs and walked up the South Fork of the Big Sur River. This section was beautiful, very challenging, but is a subject for another post, so suffice it to say we left Rainbow Camp at 1:30pm, tired from the morning's hike.

The trail from Rainbow Camp to South Fork Camp is not bad. There are a few deadfalls, but the trail is flagged. The flagging is a little inconsistent at the creek crossings, but as long as you know that you're going to cross the creek about 5 times, you should be fine. The walk took us an hour and a half, and then we spent about 30 minutes at South Fork Camp pumping water and getting ready for what we knew would be an undertaking.

It took us three hours to get the 2.5 miles from South Fork Camp to Strawberry Camp. The trail out of South Fork Camp is well flagged by Pink flags for about .75 miles and is faint, but easy enough to follow. Then all of a sudden the flagging stops at the confluence of the South Fork headwaters and the stream the trail to Strawberry camp follows. We spent about 15 minutes thrashing around in the brush before we realized there were no flags and that we'd have to go off trail. We followed the northeast bank of the stream since it was mainly south to south-west facing - more grass and less brush. We stayed close to the stream, crossing a few times. After about .5 miles we miraculously stumbled upon another pink flag. We spent 5 minutes looking to see if we had missed the trail. There were no flags to be found. I’m still irked by this section missing. Shortly after we came across old orange flags, that had been replaced in spots by the pink flags. The flags were sometimes difficult to find, but they continued through the hardest part of the trail. There were numerous dead falls, poison oak, brush and other obstacles that clearly were not present when the trail was flagged. About .5 miles from the top the flags switch to blue and shortly after we came upon the remains of the old trail. While it didn’t last long, the three or four switchbacks were certainly a welcome sight. The blue flags led us to the top of the divide. Once on top of the drainage the trail is clearly present, though overgrown, and the walk down to strawberry camp was quick and easy.
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