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THANK YOU FOR READING THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION - updated February 25, 2021 

ALERT: Due to a January 26-28 storm, Highway 1 is closed from Big Creek Vista Point in the south to just north of Lime Creek Bridge in the north. Long-term, there is a significant washout of the Highway 1 at Rat Creek (just north of Big Creek Reserve and just south of Esalen Institute). Expect this closure to be in place until summer 2021. Nacimiento-Fergusson Road (which connects Highway 1 at Kirk Creek with Fort Hunter Liggett on the eastern side of the Coast Ridge) is also significantly damaged and may not be open for quite some time.  

Effective January 22, 2021 U.S. Forest Service - Los Padres National Forest has re-opened most unburned areas of the Monterey Ranger District. In and around the northern Ventana Wilderness, most lands north of and including the Marble Peak Trail are open. Wilderness camps in the backcountry can be accessed from the Arroyo Seco Recreation Area near Greenfield (off 101) or via Tassajara Road deep in the Carmel Valley. 

The Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station to Redwood Camp remains closed. 

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

Most secondary roads (including Del Venturi/Milpitas, Nacimiento-Fergusson, Plaskett Ridge, Willow Creek/Los Burros, & South Coast Ridge roads) remain gated and closed. 

This map depicts the closure boundary. 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. When in place, abide by NO CAMPFIRE restrictions. 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 with visitors concentrated in fewer places to go.  

State Parks 

The following are open for day use:  Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park - Soberanes Canyon Trail, Andrew Molera State Park, Point Sur State Historic Park (tours only), and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (go online or call to find out if the park's campgrounds are open)  

The following remain closed: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, John Little State Natural Reserve, Limekiln State Park  

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (additional US Forest Service information for the Monterey Ranger District): Please note that the information above is oftentimes more up-to-date than the US Forest Service site. Call 831-385-5434 with questions. 

 

Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Stone Ridge Trail

Stone Ridge Trail

Winter Solstice on Stone Ridge Trail+Twitchell Road/Elevator

Postby jbl on Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:41 am

Date Hiked: December 21, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This Report Covers (1) Twitchell Road/Elevator to Stone Ridge Trail at “Apex” (where it crosses the Stone Ridge) and (2) Stone Ridge Trail from that point to Vicente Flat Camp.

Section: Twitchell Road from Highway 1 to saddle between ocean and West Fork Limekiln drainage: Passable/Clear. The brush encroachment on this abandoned road continues to block the trail in places (which prevents me from giving it a “Clear” rating), but since it is an old road and the roadcut is wide (albeit mostly covered with brush other than the narrow tread) it is easy to follow, you just need to push through the brush in places. Just at the saddle, about 25’ from the rusty bench that sits up there, the apparently rerouted and widened Alvin Trail appears coming up out of Limekiln State Park. At this point it is 15’ wide and clear, and it looked to be that way for the first 50’ or so down, but we asked the LSP rangers after our hike and they said that it wasn’t completed yet but should be by the spring.

Section: Twitchell Road from saddle to Twitchell Flat: Clear. The West Fork Limekiln is flowing nicely but easy to cross, the trees that had fallen across the trail in the forested section above the creek have been cut except for a few easy stepovers, and the brush is encroaching a bit in places.

Section: Twitchell “Elevator” from Twitchell Flat to Apex/Stone Ridge Trail junction: Clear. The tread is visible although there are some confusing alternative routes through this mostly grassy section and it is easy to miss the branch to the right that avoids the direct ridge route (there is a rock sitting there, and it should be noticeable because of how out of place it is in this grassland). But as long as you head uphill you should eventually find yourself on the proper track.

Looking Down Twitchell Elevator.JPG
View Down to Twitchell Flat From Midway Up Twitchell Elevator

Note—water was not flowing at the Twitchell Spring that is on the side trail to the right (it is possible it is flowing slightly above there as we saw a use trail heading up above the spring, but we didn’t check it out). On arrival at the Apex, the Twin Peak/Cone Peak Usetrail (which continues up the Stone Ridge) looked relatively clear as far as the eye could see:

At Apex Looking Up Twin Peak Usetrail.JPG
Twin Peak Usetrail Heading Up Stone Ridge; Stone Ridge Trail into West Fork on Left

Before continuing along the Stone Ridge Trail into the Middle Fork drainage, we walked about ¼ mile in the other direction just to get some views of the West Fork drainage, and saw this giant oak next to the trail:

Huge Oak on Stone Ridge Trail near Apex.JPG

Section: Stone Ridge Trail to Middle Fork Limekiln Crossing: Clear/Wilderness Freeway. Anyone who hiked on this trail before its restoration will be especially amazed at how spectacularly it has been restored. This section covers a lot of steep sidehill and it is apparent that much time was spent to make sure that there was a sufficiently wide tread, in particular in the slide-prone section above Cow Shit Creek and the Middle Fork itself. The Middle Fork was flowing well but easy to cross. The Middle Fork Usecamp (50’ upstream from the creek crossing) was in pristine condition, with space for 2-3 tents, a fire ring, two nice stone seats with backrests as well as a 5’ long board-bench, and the creek flowing within arm’s reach:

Small Waterfall in Middle Fork Usecamp.JPG
At Middle Fork Use Camp

Section: Stone Ridge Trail from Middle Fork Crossing to Hare Ridge (dividing Middle Fork and Hare Creek drainages): Clear/Wilderness Freeway. This is another section that has been transformed from barely passable (due to slides in various of the gullies, trees large and small down (including a 4’+ redwood that had caused a major diversion for years), and horribly misaligned tread requiring constant up- and downhill moves) to a very pleasant passage due to Mike Heard’s heroic efforts with the Cone Peak Trails Network Project. Because there are some steep and deep gullies in the upper reaches of this section, there is some erosion and minor sliding in those spots so watch out for that. At the Hare Ridge crossing, it is worthwhile to walk a few hundred feet along the ridge towards the ocean to get some great views in all directions, including a nice profile of Twin and Cone Peaks:

Twin and Cone Peaks from Hare Ridge.JPG

Section: Stone Ridge Trail from Hare Ridge to Vicente Flat Camp: Clear/Wilderness Freeway. This is another trail that spends a lot of time on a steep sidehill with little vegetation and with much potential for erosion/sliding/slumping, but it is in excellent shape with relatively wide tread and a pleasant grade. We crossed one spot where a small section of trail had slid away such that extra care was needed, but overall this is an easy walk which continues to offer great views of Cone and Twin Peaks, the ocean, and across Hare Canyon to the Vicente Flat Trail over on the other side.

We found Vicente Flat to be empty when we arrived, which was surprising for a Saturday afternoon in such great weather, but on our way down the Vicente Flat Trail we passed a number of backpackers who were on their way in for the night. Hare Creek isn’t flowing in Vicente Flat Camp and we didn’t investigate the water situation up-canyon although I assume that there is water in the left branch of the creek just above camp. Next to the picnic table in the lower campsite there was a giant corkscrew-shaped branch sitting on the ground:

Corkscrew Log at Vicente Flat.JPG

We completed our hike by heading down the Vicente Flat Trail to Kirk Creek Campground (this trail is in great shape), and were able
to watch the sun set on the shortest day of the year from Highway 1:

The End of Shortest Day of the Year.JPG
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Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Postby wilderwil on Sat May 25, 2013 3:37 pm

Date Hiked: April 10, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I am getting this report written a bit late, I have been out of town. Three of us Alan Robertson, Joe Sortais and myself, William Salmon (Wilderwill) hiked from Memorial Park on Ft. H-L. The Stoneridge trail is in great shape, thanks to the "Merry Trailsters", many thanks. We started on the Arroyo Seco Trail, and Gamboa Trail Spending our second night at Goat Camp. Water is very plentiful and about 200 feet away. Goat Camp is a level, spacious camp with fire ring between two streams on a rock outcrop extending from the mountains. There are great views of the Pacific Ocean from the camp. We didn't complete the trail but stopped at the grassy outcrop overlooking the ocean (Stone Ridge Apex?). We started down the Twitchell Flat use trail to get our car parked at Limnkiln State Park.

The Twitchell Flat Trail is steep, and we stayed to the right of the remaining wire fence to avoid a rocky drop off. The fence was once used to control cattle I presume. went down very steep switchbacks in grass and ended up in fields of Lupin, before the "Flats". ( I wouldn't want to climb up this trail !) We tasted some strawberrys once planted by the Twitchells, I guess. The trail then winds down on the old road to a beautiful redwood and clover lined creek. (The property is now on Limnkiln Creek Park property. Hopefully with the CCC trail crews currently working they will connect it with the main park).

We then followed the road out to a saddle above Hwy 1 and finished up at a gate on the new bridge rock-tunnel construction on Hwy 1. We got permission to walk along side the construction traffic over the bridge and through the tunnel and were in Limnkiln and to our car.
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Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Postby C M Heard on Tue May 14, 2013 8:39 pm

Date Hiked: May 13, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

On a day trip in from Twitchel Flat, Robin Roby and I were able to cut up the downed bay tree about 1.5 mi south of Goat Camp without much trouble, but we were not able to finish removing the stump before we ran out of time:

IMG_0008.JPG

We built out the trail with fill retained by one of the bay rounds, so it's easy to step around the encroaching stump. This temporary fix should be good enough for the visitors anticipated during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. I have to do some sign installation some work to do at Goat Camp this summer, and I'll attempt to finish the stump removal job at that time.

//cmh

P.S. One thing that really surprised me is how little bare soil is visible from the tread reconstruction work that was done last fall and winter. In a few places there are a lot of thistles growing, but I expect that these will dry up and blow away in the next few months.
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Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Postby C M Heard on Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:08 pm

Jim Ringland wrote:Only very minor problems: the occasional intruding soft growth to brush against and a downed bay tree about a mile and a half south of Goat Camp. The latter requires a trivial four step detour below the trail, with a handy branch to grab for support.

Here's photo of the downed bay tree, now limbed:

IMG_0059.JPG

It will be gone as soon as I can marshall the resources and schedule the work. In the meantime, please stay on the trail and duck under the tree if you can; stepping below the trail damages the edge, and that's very hard to fix.

I'll be working on the encroaching brush this summer.

//cmh
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Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Postby Jim Ringland on Sat Apr 20, 2013 3:48 pm

Date Hiked: April 16, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Let me add to the chorus of thank you's for the excellent and extensive trail work that has recovered this route. It's in fine shape. Only very minor problems: the occasional intruding soft growth to brush against and a downed bay tree about a mile and a half south of Goat Camp. The latter requires a trivial four step detour below the trail, with a handy branch to grab for support.

The Vicente Flat end of the trail is signed, although one may need to cast about a bit to find it. There are a variety of use trails to the various campsites. There's no sign at the Ojito Saddle where this trail meets the Gamboa Trail, but there isn't much opportunity for confusion. The Ojito Trail turns brushy pretty quickly; the Stone Ridge Trail is clear and heads down to south; and the Gamboa Trail is a clearly defined once past a few tens of feet of grass. If there is any doubt about how to find the Gamboa Trail, aim for the big burned out stump surrounded by grass (and some chaparral nearby). The Gamboa Trail is easily picked up from there.

Water: Limekiln Creek has lots. Cowshit Creek has water at the top but is dry farther down. It will probably all be dry soon. The creek just south of Goat Camp has water. That's it.

Camps: Dr. Jack's map (http://www.ventanahiking.net/ventana_trailmap.html) shows a usecamp at Limekiln Creek. If that little sort-of-flat by the trail is the camp -- as opposed to something tucked away that I missed -- it's not much of anything. It's tiny and seems a poor bedsite. Goat Camp, on the other hand, looks like a wonderful place. It's on a partly open, partly shady flat with great views. Not large. A yucca is poking up a new stalk right next to camp. Campers in May will likely enjoy a tower of white bells.
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Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Postby StevieRay on Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:42 pm

Date Hiked: April 18, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Kudos to Mike Heard and the VWA Trail Crew for restoring the stunning "Cone Peak Loop" to such a clear condition. I almost cried with delight as I traversed superb treadwork, massive log sawing, and epic brush clearing, enabling a spectacular and worry free adventure in such spectacular scenery and diverse plant communities. I'm ready to go back and hike it again. Bravo!!!

One minor note: The two little campsites noted on the Schaffer maps alongside the main fork of Limekiln Creek are buried under logs, branches and other debris near as I could tell anyway. I didn't really see a whole lot that was campable in this vicinity.
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Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Postby Rob on Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:22 pm

Date Hiked: April 14, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Fantastic ! Hiked this trail from Vicente Flat to the Ojito junction with Gamboa, and it was in great shape. Thanks to all who have worked on this project.

The wildflowers seemed to be at their peak, a great time to hike this trail.

There was water in Cow Shit Creek, upstream of the trail; it seemed to run underground at about the point where the trail turns left and uphill.

I did encounter one large downed tree, but it was easy to get around. Approximately 20-30 minutes before (south of) West Fork Limekiln / Goat Camp.
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Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:31 pm

Date Hiked: February 11, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section: Ojito Saddle to Goat Camp

Trail is clear and in great condition. This whole area has been receiving a lot of attention. Goat is a nice camp with two water sources on either side of the protruding finger it sits upon.

Section: Goat Camp to Stone Ridge apex

This part is also in nice condition and a stunning view looking out to the great big blue.
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Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Postby sugg on Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:54 pm

Date Hiked: January 5, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Moved along this trail from Vicente Flat Camp north to Gamboa Trail.

From Vicente Flat Camp to Limekiln Creek: Pretty much clear. There was some small brushy trees which had fallen onto the trail when I was getting close to the ridge, climbing out of Vicente Flats. The trail is easy to follow, but the deadfall happens on a slightly narrow section. Lots of oak trees, some open grass areas, and tall redwoods as I moved down into Limekiln Creek.

Limekiln Creek north to 4E13 trail intersection (about a mile or so before Goat Camphttp://www.flickr.com/photos/38029403@N03/8355851545/in/set-72157632460209298): Still very clear. When climbing out of Limekiln creek, pay attention, I think it's the first switchback - there's washout just beyond the trail - if you're carrying a heavy pack and don't turn to make the switchback, you're going to tumble a few hundred feet. Drop is just beyond the water bottles in the picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38029403@N03/8355841761/in/set-72157632460209298 More shady oaks and a steady, but mild uphill grade. The trail is in very good shape - I can't remember any gnarly obstacles.

4E13 intersection to Gamboa Trail: moving north along the intersection, the trail turns into a super game-pathhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/38029403@N03/8355852967/in/set-72157632460209298 - still very visible and easy to follow. A bit off chamber for prolonged sections right after the intersection for about 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile. During this 1/4 to 1/2 mile section, the trail gets a bit skinny as it moves through some cut bushes - but a traveler can keep as quick of a pace as one wants. Past this mildly gnarly section, the epic trail work (perhaps the most recent) begins. http://www.flickr.com/photos/38029403@N03/8355861037/in/set-72157632460209298 From this most recent trail work to Gamboa, the trail is excellent. At the base of the switchbacks (the ones past Goat), the small bush gets a little brushy, bit it's only about a foot or two high. The switchbacks are in great shape http://www.flickr.com/photos/38029403@N03/8355861583/in/set-72157632460209298. The tunnels through the brush at the top of the switchbacks are clear and in good shape .
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Re: Stone Ridge Trail

Postby narced133 on Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:45 pm

Date Hiked: November 3, 2012

Segment: Ojito Saddle to Goat Camp
General Conditions: Clear

The switchbacks down from Ojito saddle to Goat Camp were in great shape with just a bit of light brush encroachment towards the bottom. Plenty of water available at Goat Camp.

Segment: Goat Camp to Stone Ridge Apex
General Conditions: Difficult

I'm hesitant to rate this segment as difficult since a lot of work has clearly gone into leveling out some of the slid sections. There is still quite a bit of encroachment in places, some deadfalls and a couple spots where the trail has slid out. Still passable, just a bit difficult.

Segment: Stone Ridge Apex to Vicente Camp
General Conditions: Clear

This segment was completely clear and there's plenty of water flowing down at Limekiln Creek.
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