Solo Hikers and Backpackers: Be sure and let someone know where you are going and when you are expected back.
Poison Oak status. Poison Oak, dormant for the winter, has started to grow back. You may not see many leaves yet, but bare vines may still have oil, so be careful .
Wildlife and flowers. Wildlife and wildflowers seem to be returning to the Big Sur hills after 3 years of drought.
Trail Conditions as of 01/17/15. Poison oak has started to grow back and is being cut back . Washouts have been dug out between HW1 trailhead and Spruce Creek camps. The big washout between Spruce Creek and Estrella campgrounds is passable. Always use caution when crossing washouts. Easy river crossing at Spruce Creek. Condition of trail to Dutra Flats is unknown at this time.
Trail Conditions as of 01/19/15. Trail is clear of poison oak. Washouts have been dug out and the trail has been reconstructed in spots. Stair steps have been installed at two locations on the trail where there are steep slopes. Small debris has been cleared away. CalFire has widened the trail in a number of spots. Waterfall is still active near HW1, but NO drinking water further up on trail.
Trail Conditions as of 01/22/15. . Trail is clear of poison oak but it has started to grow back. Ticks may be present on the trail as the weather continues to warm. No major washouts or downed trees. Numerous small washouts have been fixed. Sloping sections of the trail have been shored up. Water at Lower Cruikshank, Upper Cruikshank and Villa Creek camps.
Trail Conditions as of 01/19/15. Trail to campsites is clear of poison oak . Major washouts just past jeep track turnaround is cleared but trail has not been totally reconstructed. Cross with care. Trail on the north side of Willow Creek past the second campsite area has been opened up the canyon as far as the narrow rocky gorge. The unmaintained trail up the slope on the north side of Willow Creek has been partially cleared and reconfigured. Water just below the turnaround at the end of the jeep trail and at Willow Creek.
Trail Conditions as of 12/22/14. Trail is mostly clear of poison oak, but it has started to grow back so watch where you walk . No washouts. Debris from a number of downed trees have been cleared. Steps are being installed on steep slope at trailhead. Steam crossings OK, but use caution. Water available all along Mill Creek but may not be drinkable due to turbitity.
Trail Conditions as of 01/09/15. Trail is mostly clear of poison oak from trailhead to redwood grove (approx. 2 mi.) but it has started to grow back so watch where you walk . No washouts. No ticks as of this date but they may appear as the weather warms, so check your clothes, as you hike. No water on this section of trail.
The biggest problem that you may have is with Poison Oak. Nine out of ten people get a rash from poison oak. This rash is caused by an oil found in the plants. This oil is called urushiol (you-ROO-shee-all). The itchy, blistering rash often does not start until 12 to 72 hours after you come into contact with the oil. Most people see the rash go away in a few weeks. To make the skin feel more comfortable during this time, you’ll find tips from dermatologists here . If you have a serious reaction, you need to see a doctor right away.
These trails are maintained by CalFire staff and volunteers from San Luis Obispo, Monterey and other nearby counties. You can help too. Contact Ventana Wilderness Alliance at www.ventanawild.org. You can download a trail map from them here.