Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Puerto Suello Trail

Puerto Suello 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

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby Rob on Sun May 06, 2012 9:54 pm

Date Hiked: May 6, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked this trail both up and down between the Ventana Double Cone trail and Hiding Camp. The middle section had a fair number of downed trees and a few sections of thick brush which obscured the tread and made routefinding difficult. There was a fair amount of poison oak. Tread was in poor shape in several places. All in all, a pretty decent adventure, but plan on extra time for this one. The frequent creek crossings were welcome on a warm day.
Posts: 100
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: SJC

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby sugg on Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:01 pm

Date Hiked: February 18, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I was fairly excited about possibly moving efficiently forward along this trail from the Ventana Trail down to the Carmel River Trail. An epic effort at clearing/ "recovering" this trail was made last year (2011) and it has been holding up relatively well. I encountered quite a bit of dead fall, and quite a bit of dead fall has crashed down and pushed more brush onto the trail. The brush/stickers start becoming a real pain about midway down into the canyon. The brush/stickers aren't too bad during the top third or the bottom third of the trail. In fact, once the trail moves up and over into Hiding Canyon, it becomes nearly county park perfect. Except for the Hiding Canyon section, I couldn't really run while moving along this trail. There simply is too many momentum breakers. For hiking it's fine. Here's some ref. photos I shot during a 2/18/12 outing which focus on this trail. The photos are on Flickr. There's about six more photos after this one of the trail. Most of the deadfall is small diameter stuff which can be hopped over. The sticker bushes down by the creek section grow back quickly.
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:11 am

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:30 pm

Date Hiked: October 26, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Difficult to impassable after the 2008 fire, the Puerto Suelo Trail is now clear from top to bottom, thanks to cleanup efforts led by Robert Barringer. The tread is well defined and brush has been cut back. A few places do require some a bit of scrambing up/down steep embankments which could be difficult with a heavy pack.
Big Sur Trailmap:
User avatar
Posts: 686
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby robert_barringer on Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:46 am

Date Hiked: June 25, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

The middle section of the Puerto Suello Trail is in dire need of repair. Due to a vicious combination of wildland fire, winter erosion, blowdowns, and a general lack of use due to the remoteness of the area, this trail has sadly deteriorated to the point of being nearly impassable except for the hearty, voracious backpacker who is looking to avoid the added distance of alternative routes.

The good news is that trail work is being coordinated for the Puerto Suello Trail. The first formal V.W.A. work trip to this area is scheduled for this upcoming weekend (July 16-18)...see the following link for more details: ... output=xml

If anyone has questions or who may be interested in joining us for trail work, please contact me at . Thanks.

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby acrews on Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:23 am

Date Hiked: July 9, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

The top of Puerto Suello was very nicely groomed--for maybe 100 yards, then clear and obvious for 1/2 mile. There was water from the stream there at various points the whole way including 150 yards from the top at the VDC trailhead.
The trail gradually got worse and worse. There was flagging of what had once been a trail in the middle which was very reassuring when we found it, but often we were just pushing through head-high shrubs, often doubling back. The valley if fairly narrow, so the trail was often restricted to somewhere in a 50 yard width of the valley, so we knew we weren't far off.
Near the middle, even the flagging gave up, although someone had started putting cairns to indicate...not so much a trail, but rather a route they had used which was probably better than any other route. In this middle 1 mile of Puerto Suello, we probably averaged 1/2 mile per hour, and we were going downhill. Uphill would be even more difficult.
Great thanks to whoever flagged and dropped some cairns. 3/4 mile from Hiding camp at the bottom, the trail was visible again, and it veered up and away from the creek down into Hiding camp.
Going up this trail might be impassable. The trail was certainly obliterated for at least 1 mile, and going down we did manage to traverse it--mostly because the alternatives were 15 miles of hiking back the way we'd come.

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:59 pm

Would greatly appreciate getting a GPX track from someone who has done this trail, so that I can put the current track in my on-line Ventana Trail map to help guide others. (I'm also interested to see how closely Jeff Schaffer's route compares to the currently flagged route.)

Jack Glendening
Big Sur Trailmap:
User avatar
Posts: 686
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby eviltwinmoe on Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:41 pm

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

We took the trail from Hiding Camp to Junction at the Ventana Double Cone Trail. It took about three hours and some change to complete. The first mile in is fairly clear and good going. The middle section in rough going, consisting of lots of downed trees, stream crossing, brush breaking and no tread. We were traveling on top of brush for a good portion of the middle section. The top third is passable, but the unstable soil on the switchbacks added to the difficulty. Overall, this trail is borderline impassable, definately not for the faint of heart.

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby Natureboy on Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:08 pm

Date Hiked: May 26, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Kudos to Greg and Co. for the work they did on the PS trail. I ran into them at the VDC junction and they were about to start clearing towards Carmel R. I could not even tell where the PS trail began. When I hiked out the next day it was clear as can be for the first mile! Much work was put in by all obviously. The rain hit as I made the summit, so I'm hoping they didn't get too drenched before they made hiding camp! Thanks guys and gals!!!

Re: Puerto Suello Trail

Postby greg meyer on Mon May 30, 2011 2:10 pm

Date Hiked: May 25, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The Youth in Wilderness Program with a group of high school seniors from Pacific Ridge School worked this trail last week. We started at the Puerto Suello junction on the Ventana Double Cone trail and cleared the first .75 of a mile. For the next .5 miles we did light brushing to open the passageway and then we were hit by foul weather and pushed on towards Hiding Camp. We posted additional flags on the middle section of the trail but it is a disaster down there with lots of downed trees, a sea of ceanothus and a jungle of poison oak. The middle section is very slow going because the tread is completely covered, but with our flags hopefully people can get through. The final mile of the trail before hitting the Carmel River is in good shape with obvious tread and no real obstacles. It took our group 3 hours to walk from the VDC trail to Hiding Camp and we were really trying to make good time! Steve Benoit did a great job flagging this and we were able to get a lot of work done because of his efforts.
User avatar
greg meyer
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:50 pm


Return to Ventana Wilderness Trails

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests