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Puerto Suello Trail

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby AudsnEnds on Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:48 am

Date Hiked: April 22, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked out of Hiding Camp to the Ventana Double Cone Trail via Puerto Suelo Trail. My husband and I are in our mid-30s and consider ourselves strong hikers, but the PS trail in the condition we found it was not an experience we wish to repeat! This trail is a disaster waiting to happen and, although it is passable, the hazards are so numerous that I would feel reckless encouraging anyone to attempt it. Be warned... And if you decide to brave it anyway, please be careful!!
The trail is very overgrown and frighteningly difficult to follow in many sections. Thank you to whoever left the occasional pink- or orange ribbons and small rock piles to mark the way; they provided much needed reassurance! There were fallen trees across the path too numerous to count (our best guess is 50), many of which had to be belly-crawled under. Some were so awkwardly positioned that we had to remove our backpacks to get past them. Others were laying the length of the trail. A few minor water crossings, tons of poison oak and no shortage of ticks. The trail is also washed out in areas, one in particular that is dangerously close to being totally impassable. In that spot, a downed tree is actually the only thing to hang on to to prevent sliding right down the hillside, as the ground just falls away under your feet.
There are no open, pleasant, easy-to-follow sections of this trail; be prepared to fight for every step. Although there are numerous portions in the lower section that are entirely overgrown, the upper section is a maze of total overgrowth. The only way to follow it is to put your head down and charge through the over head-high brush. There was some water flowing from a box-covered spring toward the top.
When we emerged, we were filthy, bruised, scraped, exhausted and grateful not to have gotten lost. It took us four hours to go 3 miles, but we hustled, since it was starting to get dark.

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby N Brockman on Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:12 pm

Date Hiked: January 9, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked Puerto Suello from the VDC junction to Hiding Camp on 9 January 2014. The upper portion of the trail is completely washed out in some places, leaving hikers to basically slide around on the side of the hill while following the drainage and neon flagging. Lots of deadfall throughout: many very large and not just across the trail but in some cases laying lengthwise on the trail. Some water but not much: none on the upper portion, and what there is on the lower portion would require picking through brush and deadfall. Abundance of the usual overgrowth. Took us about 2 hours hiking.

A big thank you to the folks that perform trail maintenance and marking! Would have taken us much longer without it.
N Brockman

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:26 am

Date Hiked: November 10, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Water report: Puerto Suelo seep very soggy - water can be obtained here but not quickly
Big Sur Trailmap:
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Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby stevenson school on Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:37 pm

Date Hiked: February 26, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Stevenson's first glimpse of Puerto Suello "camp" since the fires was startling! We remembered a wide saddle that could easily hold a large camping party, but this was not the case! The trail down to Hiding looked equally foreboding as it was heavily overgrown and almost rendered impassable due to deadfalls. We spent quite a bit of time clearing brush and removing some of the smaller log jams. When cleared many deadfalls from Purto Suello to Hiding Camp except for several logs too large to clear. The trail is still overgrown and tricky to follow, but we would now call it difficult, but passable. There are also many more trail markers than before. Lastly, we worked hard to enlarge the Puerto Suello saddle camp so that it can be used as a campground if hikers are willing to make the 15 minute walk for water run downhill towards Hiding Camp.
stevenson school
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Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby benthehiker on Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:54 pm

Date Hiked: March 27, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This was the gnarliest and slowest 3 miles I've ever hiked. It was practically a bushwhack, with trees fallen every 50-100ft and most parts almost entirely overgrown. It's doable, but come ready to get scratched, poked, and frustrated. The trails get better as you get closer to Ventana Doublecone and Botcher's Gap (once you leave the Puerto Suello). I was planning to do 12-15 miles this day, instead I did 8.
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Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby Houston Hiker on Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:55 pm

Date Hiked: March 12, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked down Puerto Suelo during trip from Bottcher's Gap to Double Cone to Pine Valley, then Pine Ridge trail. The Puerto Suelo trail is highly overgrown with Chapparal, and Poison Oak. Very many deadfalls across the path required crawling over and under, many times on hands and knees or belly. I'm sure many would rekon this trail impassable. Someone has done a nice job of marking the trail with small rock cairns along the way, and there are a few pink plastic blazes hanging. Even with those it's easy to lose the trail. It took me and my son (both strong hikers) about 5 hours to descend the trail the 3 miles to Hiding Camp from the Ventana trail. If we had been going up, it would have taken us all day, or we may just have thrown in the towel. Chapparal mostly at the top half of the trail, with the deadfalls mainly in the middle half. About two thirds the way up the trail is the last that you will find water until Pat Springs. If you're hiking up Puerto Suelo, fill up your water bottles along the way and keep filling them as long as you can. One of the most primitive and worst trails (on a map) I have ever been on. I very much enjoyed this trail, but it was lots of work, and I was extremely tired and worn out when done.
Houston Hiker

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby Guest 2 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:23 pm

Date Hiked: October 14, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Three of us in our early 30's with 15-20 pound packs hiked this trail east to west. The main problems were encroaching brush and downed trees. In many places we were constantly pushing through brush; the trail was identifiable as a gap about 5 inches wide in a wall of brush. In some parts we were distracted by side "trails" that turned out to be dead ends. The going was very slow because we lost the trail numerous times and had to search the area to find where it began again. In the end we made it through to the Double-Cone junction after hiking from about 9:30 am to 12:30pm. So, technically it is not impassible. As suggested by our map, there was water in the eastern part of the trail, but the western/top part of the creek was dry during this season. The hike makes for a good story, but we probably wouldn't have tried it if we had looked at the previous trip reports.
Guest 2

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby DeborahR on Mon May 14, 2012 1:14 pm

Date Hiked: May 1, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The 5/12 report is accurate. I happened to love the adventure (I'm 58). Not a problem, just slow going. My partner likes wide open trails so this was not a fit for him. Be prepared to travel at 1 mile/hr. We found the flagging to be very useful - you just have to stay focused. Getting to Hiding Camp was a welcome reward after 11 hours of hiking from Pat Springs and summiting VDC. Some ticks, but not bad.

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby Guest on Sun May 13, 2012 9:27 pm

Date Hiked: May 12, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

My wife, Alex, friend, Tom and I hiked (bushwhacked) the Puerto Suello Trail on Saturday, May 12, 2012. We left from Hiding Canyon Camp at 8:30am and headed up. We arrived at the Double Cone junction at around 12:00pm. It was one of the hardest hikes I've ever done. In places we were on hands and knees crawling through brush and under fallen trees. It took some time to spot flags and the tread to make sure we were on the trail. There was water available in several places. This is a trail where you can say, yeah I've done that, but unless the brush is cleared I am not going back. For the record my wife is 52, Tom is 59, and I'm 58. We are all pretty experienced hikers and were carrying 30 pound packs. If you are young, strong and full of adventure try this out, but if you like wide open hiking forget this trail.

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby Carl Mounteer on Sun May 13, 2012 8:57 pm

Date Hiked: May 8, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

This trail is a complete mess. From Puerto Suelo I got about a mile to a mile and a half down the trail before it was totally blocked. In this interval, I found water about 300 yards from the trail head although this was just a trickle. It was running so feebly that I had to dig a small hole in the creek bed to put my prefilter in to extract the water. (Then the filter broke!) But water is not an issue on this trail. There were two generously flowing creeks within the first half mile.

Be forewarned, this is one of the steepest trails I have hiked in the VW. It reminds me of the Ojito Camp Trail. The Puerto Suelo Trail drops you what seems like a 1000 feet in elevation within the first half mile.

In the first mile to mile and a half I was on this trail I counted 67 downed trees or saplings across the trail. Of these, at least 10 required a major effort to crawl over or under. One of these, about a half mile from the trail head, was a bay laurel projecting into a ravine below the trail. As I climbed over it, I started to slip down on the tree's slick bark into the ravine. I stopped myself by managing to put my foot on the ground. If I had not done that and gone all the way to the bottom of the ravine I would have only faced a 60 foot scramble up a very steep incline. But this gives you an idea of the difficulties these downed trees present.

Here are pictures some of the worst offenders: ... SueloTrial

About the 3/4 to 1 mile you run into about 100 yards of eight foot high brush that completely covers and obscures the trail. It requires a lot of pushing through and it would be easy to wander off the trail and lose it entirely.

After I got through this I encountered a trail flag indicating the trail turned very abruptly to the left. The trail turned left for about 15 feet, then turned right and descended a few feet. Confronting me were more brush and downed saplings that were impenetrable. I could not find any way through them nor anywhere that would remotely indicate the continuation of the trail except to the left. But that just led to the edge of a sheer cliff that dropped about 20 feet to a creek. There was a gigantic downed tree on the right, very ancient, with huge, bare branches projecting like spears from the trunk. I gave up, rested, had a snack, accidentally left my High Gear Traildrop watch on the rock I was sitting on, and headed back.

I am absolutely amazed that Rob got through this trail just two days before me. Maybe he was hiking from Hiding Camp and the continuation of the trail was more obvious from that direction.

No, I would not recommend this trail to a friend.
Carl Mounteer
Posts: 105
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:51 am


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