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THANK YOU FOR READING THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION - KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (updated June 14, 2020) 

Effective June 14, 2020 virtually all trails in the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest are OPEN. 

The following trails remain CLOSED:

- The Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station to Terrace Creek, Barlow Flat, Sykes and Redwood Camps remains CLOSED. 

- The Terrace Creek Trail from Coast Ridge Road to the Pine Ridge Trail remains CLOSED. 

Most Developed Recreation Sites are now OPEN as are most US Forest Service roads in the Monterey Ranger District. 

The following roads remain CLOSED:

- Palo Colorado Road from "the Hoist" to Bottchers Gap remains CLOSED

FIRE RESTRICTIONS: USDA Forest Service has instituted the following fire restrictions for the Los Padres National Forest (which includes the Monterey Ranger District) effective 05/12/2020. This means:

- No open fires, campfires or charcoal fires

- No smoking except in a vehicle

- Stoves are allowed with a valid California Campfire Permit

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Big Sur Trail

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Topic review
   

Expand view Topic review: Big Sur Trail

Re: Big Sur Trail

Post by taylor on Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:57 pm

Date Hiked: June 14, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked the five miles from Cold Spring to Rainbow. Tread was evident throughout, with the exception of the descent into Mocho Camp, where a deadfall and encroaching brush in two separate areas obscure the trail, but only briefly. There was also some trail erosion in this section.

There is no water flowing at Cold Spring, and tank is empty; however, if you hike about a quarter of a mile down the Big Sur Trail, there is a small stream with a very light flow, though it may not last long. Plenty of moving water at Mocho and Rainbow.

Biting flies were constant companions on the trail, but ticks were minimal. I made the rookie mistake of wearing trail runners, I'll don the dreaded hiking boots next time to keep the sharp hitchhikers from the grass out of shoes and socks.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Post by georged on Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:50 pm

Date Hiked: February 7, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Reporting on the southern section of Big Sur Trail to Rainbow Camp only, I continued onto South Fork trail and onwards. No real issues getting from Cold Spring Camp to Rainbow Camp, perhaps a couple deadfalls, some ticks, bugs, and some encroaching brush. Definitely not a fast trail, just a good amount of brush to push through. I am tall and I did not have to take my pack off or do any serious bushwhacking, tread was pretty much always evident if not there were helpful pieces of tape. Lovely piece of trail. Also, no update on the water situation at Cold Spring Camp, I waited for Rainbow Camp.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Post by pantilat on Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:40 pm

Date Hiked: October 20, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

From Cold Spring to Rainbow Camp Only: Clear

As noted in the prior report, there is one relatively new (and large) sycamore over the trail just before Mocho Creek. There are a few other easy step overs.

In the Devils Staircase section the trail is pretty narrow switchbacking on a steep slope so there is plenty of sloping and eroding tread. There is also a little bit of brush encroachment on the ridge traverse.

Rainbow and Mocho Camps both look good with ample water by the camps. Cisco Creek is also flowing.

Relative to what the Big Sur Trail used to be, and subject to the notes above, I'm willing to give this section of the Big Sur trail a clear rating, but don't expect a freeway by any measure!

Re: Big Sur Trail (cold spring to rainbow)

Post by mkellman on Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:10 am

Date Hiked: October 5, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Clear except for a single dead fall right before Mocho river crossing coming from cold spring camp side.

Logwood creek is dry. Mocho and creek feeding into south fork Big Sur river are running.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Post by Firefly on Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:49 pm

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

I hiked Big Sur trail from Cold Spring to Rainbow camp as part of a longer trek, following it easily as it winds around and down into the river valley. There is a large downed tree right before Mocho camp next to the stream, obscuring the trail and forcing a walk around in the brush, but overall, the trail is in good condition. Rainbow is a beautiful camp, stay more than just 1 night if you can.

Out of curiosity, I decided to day hike the Big Sur Trail as far as I could toward Cienega Camp, knowing it was defined on this forum as "impassable" and wanted a sense of what that feels like. That section of Big Sur Trail is passable for about the first 3/4 mile, to about halfway between Rainbow camp and the north fork of Big Sur River. Then it quickly devolves into impenetrable thickets and poison oak. Impassable it truly is. Unless you have a chainsaw and full body armor.

There is a pretty overlook stoop a short walk up the hill (5 mins) toward Cienega camp from Rainbow Camp, which is a good place to sit and watch the afternoon light.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Post by Betsy M on Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:26 am

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

Big Sur Trail, between Cold Springs and Rainbow Camp
VWA Trail Crew volunteers cleared fallen trees between the trailhead at Cold Spring and Rainbow Camp. We also cleared a number of annoying pieces of ceanothus and poison oak that were hitting people in the face, and removed some of the pea vine on the uphill side of the trail. We left one tree on the Devil's Staircase because it is too dangerous to clear. Hikers can get by just fine. But stock would have trouble. All other trees have now been cleared.

The trail is getting brushy in places, and where the brush is growing on the uphill side, this results in the trail tread crumbling. However, overall this section of the trail is clear and very hikeable. Beyond Rainbow Camp the Big Sur Trail remains impassable.

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Re: Big Sur Trail

Post by rgregory120 on Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:47 pm

Date Hiked: June 13, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Big Sur Trail, between Cold Springs Camp and Rainbow Camp
Cold Springs Camp has water as of June 13th although the tank has a severe leak which was originally reported a month ago according to the ranger. I think the tank is being refilled by a natural spring which is why there is still water. The trail is a wilderness freeway with lots of poison oak and brush hanging over the trail on either side. Between Mocho Camp and Rainbow Camp there are currenlty three fallen trees over the trail which you will need to take off your pack for. The trail is a very steep difficult climb down from Cold Springs Camp to Rainbow Camp, but well worth it!

Re: Big Sur Trail

Post by seagoat on Sun May 26, 2019 4:05 pm

Date Hiked: May 9, 2019
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Big Sur Trail, between Cold Springs Camp and Rainbow Camp
Trail: Wilderness Freeway – A little bit of brush and a few very recent blowdowns. They were recently cleared but the trees are actively falling down fast in both Mocho camps and on trail due to unstable ground from burn.

Big Sur Trail, between Rainbow Camp and Cienega Camp
Trail: Difficult. Tread was relatively easy to follow, but really this trail might be borderline impassable due to difficulty. There are two ridges between Rainbow and Cienega Camp. Coming from Rainbow up to the first ridge the tread is not so obvious without the flagging. Brush in this section is lower, around knee height, and I would rate only difficult. After first ridge is crested, the trail goes into a tall Ceonothus brush tunnel pretty much all the way and the whole time. The Ceonothus (and at times poison oak) are 15-30 feet tall and thick over trail. Crawling or hiking hunched over is frequently necessary. Heavy and unavoidable poison oak growing through brush across trail in many places, sometimes continuous for stretches of a quarter mile. Tread is easy to follow despite the brush. Near the stream crossing between the two ridges the redwoods which got scorched are falling and dropping limbs. This section of trail is not so obvious and there are a number of fallen and split enormous redwood trunks and limbs to navigate around.

Big Sur Trail, between Cienega camp and Pine Ridge Trail
Trail: Difficult. Out of Cienega up to ridge, tread is scarce and hard to find but frequent flagging helps. Sometimes the flagging is misleading though and in heavily overgrown areas. In particular there is a long section where it is better to travel in the meadow above the flagging to the left, rather than swimming through brush. At the ridge the trail reenters the brush tunnel of heavy Ceanothus to Pine Ridge Trail. There were crawling sections, with the trail falling away near Cienega in a couple spots. Trail improves with elevation and shorter brush.

Re: Big Sur Trail

Post by c9h13no3 on Mon May 13, 2019 3:52 pm

Date Hiked: May 12, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked the Devil's staircase down to Mocho camp on 12-May-19. In the grassy areas, the tread is starting to get faint, and there were probably 2 deadfalls to jump over. Had to leave the trail in one spot to avoid a clump of poison oak encroaching onto the trail. But for Ventana trail standards, this one was in good shape.

De Angulo Trail

Post by Blue Wolf on Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:18 am

Date Hiked: January 26, 2019
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I hiked this trail from Hwy 1 to Rainbow Camp and used this location as a basecamp.
I commend the Alliance for doing a great job of clearing the sections of trail that cut through towering Scrub Oak and Ceanotheus to regulation 8 foot width and all root balls removed.

There were a fair amount of deadfalls across the trail but only one that might require a backpack removal.

ED(jwg): below report is for Big Sur Trail !

Over the ridge, the wilderness was verdant, if somewhat damp. I passed on Mocho Camp, which looked quite drab but does have the advantage of getting a little filtered daylight in the afternoon during the winter, unlike Rainbow Camp which is in full shade in the winter months. This camp, although nicely situated on prime bench land above the creek, probably stays damp and wet after the first major rains.

As there was planting of rainfall the previous week, the creek was flowing rapidly, so I appreciated the snag that had fallen across the creek, avoiding a cold ford to the trailhead of the Big Sur trail, across the creek. Practice caution in crossing the slippery trunk of the deadfall! The de-barked sections offer ZERO traction. The southern end of the Big Sur Trail starts just east of the deadfall and climbs into the sun on its way up the South-facing slope of the canyon. About halfway to the ridge there is a flat, just west of the trail, that I explored for a possible camp. It is a sunny oak-studded meadow that had plenty of bird life with a band of jays livening up the place. There was water in the adjacent gully but I would not rely on this seasonal source outside of the rainy months. The Big Sur Trail beyond the ridge is just a trace so I wouldn't rely on this compactor to the Pine Ridge trail (which in any case is currently closed to hikers).

Ultimately, I decided to camp at Rainbow Camp, not wanting to return to the trailhead and lug my backpack across the snag and ascend to the meadow. In late afternoon, I took a hike to Rainbow falls, a seventy-foot waterfall/cascade that is barely visible from the trail, two ravines east of Rainbow camp. One can bushwhack the ridge separating the two gullies to get a better view. Remember your way up however because it is easy to get cliffed-out, especially returning after dark!

Hikers have been diligent in flagging the trail which I appreciated.

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