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Ventana Double Cone Trail

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby BP22 on Sun May 30, 2021 11:40 am

Date Hiked: May 29, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Day hike from Long Ridge to VDC summit:

Turner creek trailhead (Long Ridge) to Skinner ridge saddle: Passable
trail is easy to follow and hike through, but is quickly becoming choked out with poison oak, blackberry, ceanothus, nettle etc. Ever since the fire, its amazing how quickly all of this grows back, even with occasional brushings.
Saddle to Devil's Peak to Pat Springs: Clear
trail looks good, smooth sailing
Pat Springs to Little pine: passable
Flow at pat spring is as low as iv'e seen in awhile, but still good. trail is brushy right after pat spring and more brushy about a 1/2 mile before Little Pine. I actually lost the trail briefly cause I wasn't paying attention.
Little Pine to Puerto Suello: Passable
The trail is once again Brushy from little pine, then brushy again about a 1/2 mile before Puerto Suello. The second half of this section has a downward sloping tread and loose tread at several points.
Puerto Suello to VDC Summit: Passable
The trail to the summit has been cleared recently by locals. The whole way was quite pleasant. I considered calling this "Clear" but there is still some tight corridors and lots of debris on trail from clearing, and occasional brush, but this was a very pleasant surprise. Trail to lone pine camp is clear, and i found a trickle of water below lone pine and was able to fill my water bottle.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Sammich on Thu Apr 01, 2021 3:08 pm

Date Hiked: March 30, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I just got back from 4 days starting at Long Ridge to Ventana Double Cone (March 27-March 30). Turner Creek trail has a bit of encroaching brush but otherwise totally fine. There's one huge fallen tree near the beginning which is quite difficult to maneuver, but of course right after traversing it I noticed a faint social trail that goes around. Everything up to Devil's Peak is totally fine, though the trail ended up going a slightly different way than maps indicated leading up to Devil's Peak. In some places it was as wide as a road - a fire break maybe? Devil's Peak to Pat Springs has several easy deadfalls, and there were a few streams leading up to Pat Springs. Pat Springs was full and flowing to the brim.

Toward Little Pines camp it starts to get brushier with pink ribbons guiding the way, but still easy to follow even if the ribbons weren't there. I camped at Little Pines Camp which was basically just a very small flat area that wasn't totally choked with brambles and deadfall. The trail down to the spring from Little Pines Camp as indicated on was totally nonexistent as far as I could tell. I gave up looking for the water there though and hoped that there would be water at Puerto Suello. On my way out I was on the lookout for the trail down to the spring from just North of the top of Little Pines Peak and it looked like there may be some kind of trail there.

Luckily there was water at Puerto Suello, though it was just a trickle, so I was basically refilling my water by the spoonful. There may be more water if you continue downhill, but the trail was VERY steep and overgrown. I also stopped at Lone Pine camp for water there, which was also a trickle, but it at least collected in pools, which made things much easier. Lone Pine is beautiful, as an aside.

The trail between Little Pines to Lone Pines is fine. After Lone Pine, getting closer to Ventana Spring Camp, the trail starts to get more and more overgrown and there were a few sections that required crawling on hands and knees, but I was able to do it with a ~40lb pack, (with difficulty).

I camped at Ventana Spring Camp, but I mistakenly thought that there wasn't water there because I'm stupid so I didn't look. There were however several snow patches that I melted for more water. The trail after Ventana Spring Camp is very tough. The previous day I met two wonderful women who lent me their clippers and pink ribbon roll. They attempted to summit VDC but ran out of time in the day and had to turn back. They had snipped and ribboned the way up to about a fourth of the way from Ventana Spring Camp to the summit. I vowed to avenge their disappointment so I took up the mantle and did my best to clear brush from the "trail" leading up to the summit.

The route up to the summit from Ventana Spring Camp is truly horrific. Very dense brambles that require extensive crawling on all fours, and at times even army crawls. Long pants, long sleeves, gloves, are a must. I would recommend safety goggles in fact, as my eyes got poked several times. The clippers helped and I would recommend bringing some if attempting VDC but sometimes they were like bringing a knife to a bazooka-fight. I did my best to clear brush with those and put ribbon on the rest of the route. There is an area about a half mile past Ventana Spring Camp that both on the way up and the way down I just couldn't figure out where I was supposed to go and was just bulldozing my way through the hellish vines through sheer force of will. There is a chance that I put up an incorrect ribbon around this area, but I don't think so. As I said, I did my best.

Then the last ~quarter mile of the trail is totally clear and great and easy (with just a few exceptions). It was is if you were on a trail that was actual maintained by a federal agency that did its job - what a concept!

On my way back I camped at Comings Camp, which was lovely. There was a warren of social trails through the blackberry vines that lead to the spring that was difficult to get to, and the water seemed just a trickle. Again, there may have been another social trail that got to a better part of the stream but I figured I'd had enough water to make it to Turner creek and didn't bother as I was mentally exhausted from botanical assault by this point.

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby BP22 on Fri Feb 26, 2021 9:54 am

Date Hiked: February 25, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Day hike from Long Ridge trailhead to Little Pines camp. Turner Creek to the saddle is clear. the trail up Devil's Peak is clear except for the final 1/4 mile, which is passable but with encroaching brush. Devil's Peak to Little Pines was relatively clear, with a few easy deadfalls along the way. There is recent brushing along the whole trail, I was pretty impressed by the condition of the trail all the way to Pat Springs. From there to Little Pines, it's a bit more brushy but still easy to follow and walk through. That section is also flagged. Little Pines camp is basically gone; the whole area is strewn with fallen trees and growth. Overall, the trail is in, by Ventana standards, good condition.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Alan Harder on Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:02 pm

Date Hiked: February 7, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from junction with Skinner Ridge Trail to unmarked junction with Puerto Suello Trail.
I did not go past this point, so passable rating may not apply further on.

I trimmed back brush for 2 miles starting at Little Pines and improved the situation at two big deadfalls by clearing the branches on top, making it possible to get over the larger logs underneath.
Alan Harder

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby AaronP on Sun Apr 05, 2020 4:39 pm

Date Hiked: April 3, 2020
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked the VDC trail ->Big Pines ->Double Ventana Cone from The Hoist. The VDC trail is passable and relatively easy to follow until you make it to Lone Pine, after then it becomes very vague and bushwhacking is guaranteed with some portions requiring crawling on hands and knees. Some portions about 1 mile before the summit are flagged which is helpful for the return route. The VDC into Big Pines trail leading down from the top was flagged but once you get to the creek it's difficult to follow. The Big Pines trail from the bottom of the VDC was decent. We couldn't find a camp so we hiked up to the benchmark overlooking Big Pines. There's a lovely flat point there with grass if your looking for a place to camp. We also hiked down to Comings Camp and the trail there was easy to follow.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Jaedicke on Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:31 pm

Date Hiked: June 8, 2019
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked in from HW1. Double cone trail from Puerto Suelo was fine at the start but was heavily overgrown after Lone Pine Camp. There was water at Lone Pine Camp. After the camp there was lots of brush, path was difficult to follow. Someone had gone gone through and cut bigger branches a while ago, so no deadfalls totally blocking the path.

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Andrew Carter on Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:59 pm

Date Hiked: April 19, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail is in good shape from intersection with Big Pines Trail to supposed intersection with Puerto Suello Trail (which no longer exists). Trail easy to follow, established tread, at least 95% of blowdowns cleared.

I took the trail a little beyond the intersection (200-300 yards). It looks like the blowdown maintenance stops, so no guarantee about the ease (or lack thereof) of actually making it to the Double Cone.

As FYI, Pats Spring is flowing. Spring box is completely full.
Andrew Carter
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Jim Ringland on Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:21 am

Date Hiked: April 16, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

(I originally posted a trail report for the segment from the Turner Creek Saddle to Pat Springs in this forum thread. Various reports assign different places for where the Skinner Ridge Trail ends and the Ventana Double Cone Trail begins. The definition in very first entry in this thread, for instance, indicates everything east of the Turner Creek Trail junction belongs here. I've moved the report to the Skinner Ridge Trail thread based on
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby pantilat on Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:01 pm

Date Hiked: December 17, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This report covers the entire length of the Ventana Double Cone Trail from the Big Pines JCT to the Ventana Double Cone summit.

From Big Pines JCT to Pat Springs: Clear. Somebody came through with a saw and cleared dozens blowdowns obstructing the trail. This was much appreciated for a long day trip to VDC with unknown conditions. There was one large oak over the trail where it cross the small stream immediately before the junction with the Big Pines Connector Trail. Fortunately most of the ponderosas along the trail before Pat Springs survived. Pat Springs is flowing well from both pipes.

From Pat Springs to Little Pines: Difficult. A faint trail departs from Pat Springs and one soon encounters several blowdowns in a section of pine forest that was mostly decimated in the fire (sad to see but we already noticed a lot of young pine saplings emerging from the ash). Some of these blowdowns are large diameter pines. Most of them are easy to get around but there are a few awkward ones. The tread through the meadows is mostly nonexistent as we weren't sure if we were on the former trail or deer paths. At Little Pines the majority of Ponderosas appear to have survived (thankfully) but there are still many blowdowns to navigate.

From Little Pines to Puerto Suello: Difficult. In the vicinity of Little Pines Camp the tread disappears in a section of nondescript ash and regrowth but it's important to use GPS or mico navigation to stay in the vicinity of the former trail as best as possible since it soon enters a section of thick brush and blowdowns that did not burn. Without this tunnel the section would be very difficult to impassable. There are a few blowdowns on this section, some of which are awkward or require crawling underneath. The trail emerges from the brush onto the west slopes of Uncle Sam Mountain that were severely burned. While portions of this traverse beneath Uncle Sam Mountain somewhat resemble what it looked like before the fire and winter storms, the majority of it is in very poor shape with sloping or totally eroded tread and lots of blowdowns. NOTE: The "Savior" spring mentioned in the prior post is totally dry so this is probably only a reliable "spring" into the summer during wet years.

From Puerto Suello to Ventana Double Cone Summit: Difficult. This section of trail is the most remote stretch and apparently hasn't seen many visitors (if any) in 18 months. Here you get the "best" of both worlds (or worst depending on your perspective) with impediments relating to sections that burned (blowdowns, lack of tread) and sections that didn't burn (very overgrown brush). The first part of the trail up from Puerto Suello Gap severely burned and did an effective job clearing out the thick brush that used to exist here but it also created new blowdowns and a lack of tread similar to what is encountered on the preceding section traversing beneath Uncle Sam Mountain. The fire did not burn as hot on the west side of the ridge and therefore there is more standing brush and blowdowns whenever the trail switchbacks to that side. There is a section that did not burn around point 4366 with some brush tunneling but the trail enters another burned section with skeleton blowdowns heading down to Lone Pine Camp. From Lone Pine Camp the remainder of the trail and surrounding terrain is unburned with some sections that have become very overgrown, particularly with sticky ceanothus that reaches 10+ ft tall. It used to be that the brush would gradually improve as one progressed closer to VDC, but some of the worst brush swims (or crawls) are now within a mile of the summit after Ventana Spring Camp. You clothing will feel like sticky ceanothus after passage! The trail finally emerges from the brush within a half mile to the summit where it passes through some beautiful Santa Lucia Firs. The summit register showed a lot of helicopter activity on the summit to install and then remove a radio repeater during the fire and then maintain the weather gauge that remotely measures precipitation for the flood alert system. Per the register, it had been 18 months since anybody stood on VDC arriving on foot and we were the first party of 2017 whether by air or foot. It's been a quiet time on VDC, but the summit view is as good as ever especially looking across the rugged cirque to the Window, Kandlbinder and Pico Blanco, one of the most inspiring and dramatic views in the Ventana.

Photo album:
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:06 pm

Date Hiked: September 23, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: From Little Pines to the Puerto Suelo trail junction

We reached the Ventana Double Cone (VDC) trail hiking up from Rattlesnake camp, having attempted to survey the historic Rattlesnake trail. We were hiking a B.A.E.R Trail Survey assignment for the USFS in the Soberanes Burn area. We reached the VDC walking the ridge due north of the creek, at the area known as Little Pines (not to be confused with the camp of Little Pines). The fire created quite a bit of damage in this area and downed trees reigned. It was difficult discerning the tread as we navigated downed complexes of trees. Some of the pines survived, others burned outright. It will take a lot of work to clean up the trail in this area. (I hiked the section after the Big Pines Junction to Pat Spring in January, and this section is in bad shape as well- just piles on piles of downed trees and brush). As we continued it became much easier to follow the tread, as the trail leaves the ridge and begins to traverse Uncle Sam Mountain, there was less dry ravel in the trail and the tread was very easy to follow. I counted 16 downed trees in this section, the largest being a 28" Pine near Little Pines. A peculiar feature we found in this area, and later elsewhere- is grass and other herbacious plants growing directly out of the tread. I don't recall seeing this in past years. Perhaps its due to the fire? Or maybe the lack of foot traffic I began to think- but yet we know animals have been using these trails as evidenced by the abundant scat we came across and other markings. Speaking of scat, we saw what we are sure was bear scat, (large diameter, enormous volume-dinner plate size- berry and grass laden.) We saw at least a dozen of these between Little Pines, down Puetro Suelo and down the Carmel River. There was a slide along this trail as well that we gingerly crossed in one of the steeper sections as well, about 30 feet long.

Water was an issue for us -- having started at a dry makeshift camp out of necessity the night before (having attempted and failed at following Rattlesnake trail to Little Pines and opting not to go searching for the Little Pines Spring since the area had been devastated by the fire and travel was difficult) -- we were elated to come across an unexpected spring alongside Uncle Sam Mountain (that feeds Puerto Suelo Creek, which runs westerly, joining the Little Sur River below.) I dubbed it "savior spring" having finished my water early that morning and recalling the dubious nature of the spring along Puerto Suelo trail, had been hiking rather anxiously as my mind wandered toward a thirst quenching sip of H2O. I recall too that the morning began with heat almost immediately. But even in August in this year of the great rains, water was abundant. We were glad and grateful.

Editor [JG] note: The "Savior Spring" report is very interesting, particularly since found during the dry season. Obtaining water has always been a problem on the VDC Trail so has generated much interest, yet I don't recall anyone previously reporting water along that section - and I have never seen such on my 5 traverses. So one has to think it results from the massive rainfall and wonder whether it will repeat in succeeding years.
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