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Ventana Camp Trail

Trail Conditions History 1999-2006

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 5:43 pm

Date Hiked: March 1, 2008
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Conditions reported by: Brian Remas
Survey date: 1-MARCH-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Pine Ridge Trail to Ventana Camp - Passable

It is about a mile or more of switch-backs to the canyon floor and the river, which usually wouldn't be a problem. However, there were huge trees in the way all the way down. My partner Sara and I were climbing over and under tree after tree. Also there was a lot of branches that were pushed into the path by fallen trees. I am sure that as the spring comes the rangers will cut back the trees and the bushes. But long story short, it was a real pain to get down to the camp sites. Although once you are down there it is really pretty and quiet.
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Conditions reported by: Mike
Survey date: 27-DECEMBER-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

There were a couple of sizeable trees downed recently that complicated the trail down to the camp.

A large redwood slid down the slope and took part of the trail with it about 1/3 of the way up from camp. The debris was passable but required a bit of extra attention.
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Conditions reported by: Christy
Survey date: 19-JULY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The trail to Ventana Camp is now marked with a lovely new sign at the junction! This was my first time to Ventana Camp, and there was no trouble finding the correct trail. The trail is passable, with several fallen small trees and branches that can be easily stepped over, and one steep section lasting a few yards of very loose dirt where the trail has been destroyed by a fallen tree and therefore people have just skidded downhill next to its trunk. Last bit of good news, there is still water in the river.
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Conditions reported by: Kasia Newman
Survey date: 3-JULY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

A wooden sign marking "Ventana Camp" from the Pine Ridge Trail is back - so thank you for that! Trailhead is now hard to miss. A few deadfalls, including one in a steep and dusty part of the trail. Some encroaching brush, but otherwise in good repair and easy to follow.

The camp sites are lovely and the swim hole downstream is gorgeous - especially on a hot summer day.
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Conditions reported by: Reed Thayer
Survey date: 5-MARCH-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

If you take the correct route, this trail is not very difficult. Once you are at the unsigned junction, head down the trail and whenever you are at a fork near the top, turn LEFT. We stacked up some branches to block off the use trail that tumbles halfway down the mountain. Once you are on the correct trail, there is brush on both sides and there are many deadfalls, but, for the most part, the tread is fine.
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 2-OCTOBER-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

What happened to the lovely little wooden sign on the Pine Ridge Trail pointing to the trailhead of this trail? The trailhead is easy to miss. Some kind person has put up a stack of about 7 flat rocks to mark the trailhead.

Once you find the trail it is easy to head north into an unofficial campsite where there is a fragment of a trail going north. One person that has used this has reported to me that they ended up nowhere and in a scramble. As Lindsay points out in his report, head west, i.e., in the direction down the canyon towards Big Sur. In the unofficial campsite with the trail fragment, some kind person took the trouble to paste a small sign on a downed log with an arrow showing the right direction to take to Ventana Camp.

The trail is brushy for about the first 1/3 of a mile but still easily passable in this interval. I would have rated this wilderness freeway but for the tree over the trail that required climbing over.

The big pleasant surprise is that Ventana Camp has been returned to it's pristine state. All the trash I bemoaned in my September 28, 2004 report is gone. Also vanished are the tent and substantial camping gear left near the river a little east of the official campground. From the debris on the brush near the river, the latter was at least seven feet high last winter. So I expect a lot of this campsite got washed away. But it is clear someone or some persons took a lot of effort to clean up the entire official site and pack out the substantial debris. I did not see one scrap of litter even the size of a dime anywhere. Much thanks to whoever did that. (But beware: The redwood pit toilet seat still needs cleaning... badly.)

This has got to be one of the most beautiful and spacious sites in the Ventana Wilderness and the hike in up the Pine Ridge Trail is a joy.
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Conditions reported by: Reed Thayer
Survey date: 6-AUGUST-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The trail starts out pretty clear but immediately encounters many deadfalls and lots of poison oak. There are some areas where the trail could be called difficult. Down at the bottom, the trail greatly improves through camp, but on the way down to the swimming hole, one must duck beneath a dead tree. BRING TECHNU AND A SPARE BOTTOLE TO PUT WATER TO RINSE OFF WITH AT THE TOP OF TRAIL AFTER COMING UP!
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers
Survey date: 4-AUGUST-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Although generally clear and easy to follow, there is a side trail leading away from an unapproved campsite just below the trail junction that, if followed, turns into a scramble. It should be avoided. Take the trail leading west toward the valley mouth when you get to that camp site. There is one significant tree across the trail about half way down; it requires a steep scramble up or down in dirt and a moderately difficult straddle across the offending bay tree (12" diameter.) The trail is becoming quite eroded at that point. Though well used, the Ventana Creek Camp is generally clean and the river is flowing clear and strong. The pool is a delight.
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Conditions reported by: Michael
Survey date: 9-MARCH-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Pine Ridge Trail junction to Ventana Camp

I encountered a least a dozen downfalls, almost all Tanoaks. Not a problem for my day-hike but would be a struggle with a backpack. I rate conditions as "passable" because the brush was not a problem and the tread was clear.

Camp was fairly clean of human debris as river has run through very high at times this winter and washed the banks clean. No campers during this mid week visit.

I have previously camped at Barlow and Sykes, over 25 years ago, but this was my first trip to Ventana Camp. I basically gave up on the Pine Ridge Trail because I cherish peace and quiet when I hike.

One side note: For anyone who has not hiked the Pine Ridge trail in many years, the views are greatly improved on the few miles of trail leading to the Ventana Camp cutoff. A result of Sudden Oak Death. Views of Ventana Double Cone and the ridgeline were clear most of the way in.
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Conditions reported by: Carl A. Mounteer
Survey date: 28-SEPT-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Pine Ridge Trail jct. to Ventana Camp

This trail has been recently cleared. When I hiked this trail on August 9, 2004, I reported 32 obstructions on this trail. By September 28th, all but five of these had been removed and all of these were easily negotiable. Three were trunks about 1 foot in diameter, one trunk about 4 inches in diameter, and some very recent maple deadfall that had some very thin branches encroaching on the trail but presenting no problems.

While the trail has been well-maintained to wilderness freeway condition, Ventana Camp, a real wilderness gem in August, has deteriorated into a filthy eyesore in less than two months. For example, you can find the redwood pit toilet by just following the 50 foot trail of dirty toilet paper that leads right to the toilet. That's right. My superb powers of deductive reasoning lead me to conclude that there are actually creatures who visit this place who finish using the toilet and then clean themselves in intervals while walking away from the toilet and depositing their dirty toilet paper on the ground along the way.

Parked next to this monument of human degradation is a pile of trash consisting of 4 rebar squares, (purpose unknown) some cooking items, an empty jar of salsa, and an entire two-burner Coleman stove.

While trying to clean up the area near my camp, I picked up a small discarded red rag only to find on the underside concealed dried excrement.

There were three other camping parties at Ventana Camp while I was there. Despite all the shouting by the Forest Service about no campfires, there were at least three, possibly four, campfires going the night I was there, at least two of these at one site alone. I noticed at the latter, these people had packed in a six pack and a half gallon of Jim Beam. And that was only the stuff that was in plain view. They were clearly enjoying all of it well into the early A.M.

This was a real pity. I can understand why, once people find a lovely spot to camp, they keep it to themselves.
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Conditions reported by:
Survey date: 09-AUG-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Pine Ridge Trail jct. to Ventana Camp

I counted 32 tree trunks or branches blocking this trail. Except for one pair of trunks, together, that required some effort to get around, all of these were easily negotiable. With this qualification, I would rate this rail as a wilderness freeway. But since the trail fits the Forum's definition of passable, I rated it as such. From a recent report on this trail, I was expecting a lot worse.

I am a 56-year old male in moderately good condition and of moderate strength for my age. I made the 1.1 mile descent in 0.6 hours. I did the steep (700 ft/mile) return trip to Pine Ridge Trail in the same time.

This camp is a small peninsula jutting into a bend in the Big Sur River. It has at least two pools and generously graced by oaks, redwoods and madrone trees. With a gentle breeze blowing through them over the flowing water it is truly a gem of the Ventana Wilderness.

I saw hemp rope strung up in two places? Does anyone know the purpose?

Unfortunately, but fortunately nearly concealed, on an eminence across a dry gully between the northeast side of the site and the river, some trolls have left:

1. An orange folding chair;
2. A large, stuffed orange plastic bag stuffed under a log with much adjacent trash;
3. Numerous towels;
4. Some raggedly clothing;
5. An old gas stove or stove top;
6. And, believe it or not, an entire tent.

But the crowning glory of this priceless contribution to the wilderness ambiance is a 1.5 gallon Coleman ice chest containing a cooking pot resting on mold encrusted water. Can you believe people actually hiked in an ice chest, probably with beer, 5 miles into the Ventana Wilderness?
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Conditions reported by: Jim P.
Survey date:05-JULY-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Pine Ridge Trail jct. to Ventana Camp

This trail has never really recovered from the 1977 Marble Cone fire and deadfall continues to be an inconvience. Sudden Oak Death has killed numerous Tan Oaks in the area and they are adding to the deadfall. Expect to do some acrobatics at a dozen points along the 1.1 mile trail. The tread is generally acceptable with some slippage requiring maintenance. Poison Oak can be avoided with some care and balance.

Ventana Camp is still a jewel and far less used than when I started camping there in the early 1960's. Unfortunately litter continues to be a problem and the low wooden wilderness toilets require advanced skills to find. Please use them!!

The Big Sur River is running clear and cool, not cold, as of the date of this report.

Ventana Camp is one of my favorite secluded spots on the planet. Please care for it by packing out your garbage and that of less careful campers. The mile hike back up to Pine Ridge Trail is not that bad so don't panic and leave garbage and gear at the camp. Only 50 minutes or so with a reasonable pace. Amazingly, most hikers survive it.
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Conditions reported by: Boon Hughey
Survey date: 14-AUGUST-99
General: CLEAR
Specific:

The upper quarter mile or so of this trail has a little bit of lightly encroaching brush as aftermath of the Sur Fire of 1997. But once past this part the trail is delightfully clear and well maintained, obviously by someone who cares. All of the problematic deadfall redwoods have had large chunks taken out of them with a handsaw of some sort, making what was once a struggle to climb over now an effortless passage without even breaking stride. Big Thanks to whoever it is that is looking after this trail!
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Ventana Camp Trail

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 5:40 pm

* USFS Trail #3E06.2
* Parking: Big Sur Station ($4/day)
* Watershed: Big Sur River
* Junctions: Pine Ridge Trail
* Connects: Pine Ridge Trail with Ventana Camp
* Camps: Ventana Camp
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