Dec 23, 2013 at 6:48 am #1311336
I will have two days (12/26 and 12/27) to hike in Big Sur later this week. I'm travelling from the east coast and am not looking to schlep gear for sleeping out. I was thinking of doing a big day from Highway 1 up to Cone Peak and back (or maybe driving up to a closer trailhead). Does anyone have suggestions for dayhikes or resources on the area. I checked http://www.ventanawild.org but all the trail reports are old. I know there have been some fires in the area. Any advice or info would be greatly appreciated.
BradDec 23, 2013 at 7:39 am #2057050
…Dec 23, 2013 at 8:44 am #2057066
It's been an incredibly dry year. I recommend carrying extra water because many of the reliable water sources are all dried up.Dec 23, 2013 at 10:41 am #2057091
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Whatever you do, keep in mind many of the trails are in horrid condition. I would strongly recommend at least packing pants and long sleeves.
there is A LOT of poison oak.Dec 23, 2013 at 10:43 am #2057092
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Personally I would recommend parking at Botchers Gap, walking down the closed road past the picco blanco boy scout camp, and then exploring up the little sur river or hiking up to picco blanco mountain.Dec 23, 2013 at 11:42 am #2057107
For one of your day hikes, take the Boronda Trail from Highway 1 to Timber Top. No poison oak, fabulous views, no people. If you decide to carry overnight gear, you would not regret camping at Timber Top. This is an up and back hike, but don't worry about not doing a loop – it's well worth repeating, and it will look different on your way back downhill.
Here's the info on the trail at Ventana Wild. You might want to read through the trail reports for some detailed suggestions. This is an old ranch road, and in places some of the junctions might be a bit confusing, as there are multiple ranch roads and/or deer paths. USFS doesn't have signs, so you'll need to find your way. Not hard if you have basic map and navigation skills, especially if you grab the gpx file and have a gps device.
Here's a link to the map, where you can download a gpx or kml file.
Finding the trailhead will be difficult if you're not familiar with the area, as it's just a pullout on Highway 1 that does not have a sign. Parking is on the east or west side of the highway, the trailhead is a green metal gate next to an old cattle loading chute. Use the gpx track from the above link to find the trailhead. If you don't have a gps device, you're looking for a place about 1/2 mile NW of the Torre Canyon Bridge – on the NE side of highway 1 there is an old cattle chute and green metal gate; there's space on either side of the highway for a couple cars to park.
Here's a google map link to the trailhead, where you can go into street view to see what it looks like. And here's detail of that shows the trailhead. I'm including lots of info because there are several different old ranch roads, and you want to start out on the right one.
And photos of the trail are in our gallery, the first and last legs of a three day trip. The Boronda Trail is shown in images 1 to 8, and 37 to 43.
When you get to Timber Top (an old burnt out USFS campsite), continue a few minutes further to reach the Old Coast Road, and walk a few minutes north or south on that road until you get views NE into the Big Sur mountain range.
There's very nice camping at Timber Top, or on the ridge directly downhill, where the views up and down the coast are even better.
There's no water at Timber Top. You can get water at Cold Spring Camp, on a spur off the Coast Ridge Road about two miles east of Timber Top. The camping at Cold Spring is not attractive.Dec 23, 2013 at 10:06 pm #2057253
I attempted cone peak a few years back (2005 maybe?) and had a bad experience.
Tons of ticks, poison oak, and we lost the trail about half way up despite gps.
It was hard to find flat spots to camp as well.
The trail to Sykes is definitely more defined if you're interested in doing big sur.
Haven't done any other trails there, so I can't comment beyond that. Hope that helps.Dec 23, 2013 at 10:58 pm #2057262
The trail to Sykes is a wilderness highway. Well maintained and you will not get lost.
But it is not a good hike for winter, IMO. It is primarily on the north facing slope of a deeply wooded, steep-sided east-west valley/canyon. It will be nearly 100% shade. It's a beautiful place, but I think you will have a more satisfying hike if you are facing the ocean. Boranda trail, or the Old Coast road (access from behind the Ventana Inn) will have no poison oak, no thrashing, and fabulous views.
I haven't hiked in from Botchers Gap in quite a few years, so have no comments on that suggestion.Dec 23, 2013 at 11:19 pm #2057264
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
if you want a long day hike, Junipero Serra is a pretty awesome hike: about 6 miles to the top.
There is probably a bit of snow on the summit now. You are hiking in mostly Oak woodland. It feels sort of like being in a time machine and experiencing California as it must have looked 100 years ago. I agree with the other posts. The trails in the Ventana Wildernessa are poorly maintained. Wear long pants and long sleeved shirt. We did this hike back in November.
There is a Forest Service campground about 1/4 mile from the TH.Dec 24, 2013 at 6:42 am #2057287
+1 on the Junipero Serra idea.
There are several reports at EveryTrail.com where you can grab the gps track:
It's quite possible that there is no snow up there now, given the anemic rainfall we've had this winter.
If you want a different hike on the east side of the range, with NO brush at all, you could walk the old Arroyo Seco – Indians Road. It has been closed to vehicles for many years, and it's a beautiful brush-free walk on an old dirt road. Unless you did a very long car shuttle it would be an out and back hike.Dec 24, 2013 at 9:33 am #2057321
Thank you everyone for all the thoughtful advice. I really do appreciate everyone taking the time. All the best in the New Year. Happy Trails!
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