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Big Cone Spruce Trail

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Diane
Guru at the summit


Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 836
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Big Cone Spruce Trail
Post Posted: March Sat 26, 2005 5:17 pm
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Post your update here or from Bryan's Interactive Backcountry Map.
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Bryan
I live on the trails


Joined: 27 Mar 2006
Posts: 233
Location: Goleta


Post Posted: September Mon 19, 2005 10:11 pm
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I spent a large part of Sunday clearing the trail to Big Cone Spruce from the Narrows. The trail was already in better shape thanks to the CCC crews that worked it this past Spring. Basically I cut away this summers new growth and cleared up a few problem areas that had been missed. Besides the abundance of bright red poison oak the trail is easy to follow up to BCS camp.
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BSA Troop 42
Backpacker


Joined: 11 Apr 2005
Posts: 38
Location: Buellton, California


Post Posted: November Tue 15, 2005 12:12 pm
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McKinley Mountain Road to Manzana Trail on 12 / 13 November. This trail is well marked and cleared for hikers and it would probably now be marked as yellow on Bryan Conantís great map. Thank you to those who made it so. The creek is flowing well through spooky Big Cone Spruce Camp, which has a nice new upper camp site to replace the seemingly missing lower camp.
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Bryan
I live on the trails


Joined: 27 Mar 2006
Posts: 233
Location: Goleta


Post Posted: November Sun 05, 2006 9:35 pm
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I hiked to White Ledge this weekend. I heard that the trail from Big Cone Spruce up to McKinley Rd is very overgrown. This is second hand information. Cheers!
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Bryan
I live on the trails


Joined: 27 Mar 2006
Posts: 233
Location: Goleta


Post Posted: March Sat 31, 2007 8:55 pm
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Packed from Nira to Big Cone Spruce and up to McKinley Road on March 23rd/24th. The trail from Manzana/Whiteledge Junction to BCS is slightly overgrown but very followable. From BCS to the road the trail is pretty brushy. The trails goes straight up through the chaparral (IMO one of the two hardest climbs in the backcountry) so there is no way to get off the trail but expect to bushwhack. I lopped portions of the entire trail but the upper portion could use work in the next few years before it gets real bad.
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goletasteve
Day Hiker


Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 8
Location: Goleta/Orcutt

Big Cone Spruce survived fire and high water event
Post Posted: January Sun 20, 2008 11:31 am
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Hiked down to BCS from McKinley/CachumaSaddle. Trail in overall good shape -- a little scratchy at times, but definitely evidence of recent work. I was running out of daylight so did not continue to the Narrows. I am happy to report that BCS survived. The fire reached to within a stones throw, but the two campsites are fine.

There is clear evidence of a high water event from the early January rains. If San Marcos Pass received 8" from the big storm, McKinley must have had at least that. (Still snow up there too.) I estimate at least 8-10 feet of water flowing through at BCS, but did not breach the camp site. I'm now very curious about the flow at the Narrows and how it faired...
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rob.guzzon
Day Hiker


Joined: 25 Jun 2008
Posts: 3
Location: Goleta, CA

Manzana to McKinley Road
Post Posted: June Wed 25, 2008 11:00 pm
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Backpacked from Nira to Manzana and then on to San Rafael Mountain on the weekend of June 20th. BCS trail from the Narrows to BCS campsite is nonexistent, though forging your own trail up the valley is certainly possible. The fires / harsh winter have taken their toll, and we found it would take longer to try and find the trail than just head up-valley. Much of the valley is burned out away from the creek, which is running all the way up:

Couldn't find the trail after the BCS campsite, so we hiked up through the burn to the road:

On the way down, we found the BCS trailhead, and suffered the closed-in trail all the way down. I wouldn't recommend it:

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Bryan
I live on the trails


Joined: 27 Mar 2006
Posts: 233
Location: Goleta


Post Posted: July Fri 03, 2009 8:05 am
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Trail from McKinley Saddle down to BCS was worked in June 2009 and is 8ft wide the entire stretch - wide open. The trail was not worked from BCS to Manzana.
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TheBeeman
Litehiker


Joined: 16 Aug 2009
Posts: 35
Location: Santa Barbara

Lower BCS Trail passable
Post Posted: December Wed 30, 2009 9:46 pm
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We hiked the lower BCS section between Manzana Trail junction and BCS campsite Dec 28-30 2009. We used cross cut saws to clear several downed trees and reopen the trail. We flagged the original route with the help of a GPS. It is now passable to hikers but not stock. Hoping a CCC crew will return to complete the work and bring it to the standard of the upper section and Manzana Trails. Highly recommend taking this route to McKinley and San Rafael Peaks, Mission Pine Springs and Basin Camps, and the Santa Barbara "High Route" to Big Pine. Great Wilderness experience.hills
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Boulder, CO Leave No Trace Frountcountry program
TheBeeman
Litehiker


Joined: 16 Aug 2009
Posts: 35
Location: Santa Barbara

2010 Memorial Weekend
Post Posted: June Mon 07, 2010 6:16 am
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Returned to this trail to check out the work of a group of CCCs based out of the Narrows for the month of April. I am truly amazed and appreciate all the work they did restoring this trail to the campsite. Easy to follow with some nice erosion control rock work.

They relocated the table away from the bank that is eroding into the creek and cleared a few more camping spots.

If you want to find the upper campsite follow the branch-lined path above the camp and look for the flag and trail to your left before you cross back over the creek.

The 1.2 mile climb to the McKinley road is steep, and belongs in the category of a "heartbreak hill". The brush was cleared last October by another CCC crew.

This trail maintenance now opens up a nice weekend hike to Mckinley Springs and beyond to Mission Pine Springs and Mission Pine Basin Camps.

For pics, click on Nira to Nira loop at http://picasaweb.google.com/beemancron

Happy Trails.
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TheBeeman
Litehiker


Joined: 16 Aug 2009
Posts: 35
Location: Santa Barbara

Big Cone Spruce Camp is a nice camp in hot weather
Post Posted: August Sun 21, 2011 9:32 pm
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Took a 3 day trip (8/17-19) from Nira to Big Cone Spruce Camp and back. Met only one hiker who stayed at the Narrows.

With temperatures hovering in the triple digits, we found that Big Cone Spruce Camp is an ideal camp to stay in the summer. The transpiration from the excessive tree canopy creates a nice cool microclimate.

We cleared a number of downed trees blocking the trail. The trail is passable and in great shape thanks to the CCC's work last year.

Lots of water in the creek from the Manzana Trail junction to the camp. There is a nice spring located south of the lower camp up the side hill south. Its flow is similar to the one at Mission Pine Springs. The spring is marked on Bryan Conant's San Rafael Wilderness map.

It appears the upper camp has not been used in some time.

The trail is passable from the lower camp to the start of the "heart attack" hill that goes up to McKinley Road.

I have posted some pics at:

https://picasaweb.google.com/112425444439835043013/2011NiraToBigConeSp ruce?

Happy Trails.

[/img]
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kfox527
Day Hiker


Joined: 12 Jun 2011
Posts: 9

3 days on the edge of the San Rafael
Post Posted: October Wed 19, 2011 8:18 pm
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See the following link for a quick trip post:
http://www.santabarbarahikes.com/community/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=4021# 4021
-Kfox
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Duane
I live on the trails


Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 223
Location: Los Angeles, CA


Post Posted: June Fri 01, 2012 3:22 pm
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The first mile and a half leading to Big Cone Spruce trail camp from the Manzana Trail are overgrown, but relatively easy to follow; just walk it slow and pay attention. If you find yourself off the trail, walk back to where you were last on it, then walk back another several yards. Walk forward again and look for the faint signs of the trail. This advice helped keep me sane after losing my way multiple times.

The last half mile before the camp is plagued with blowdowns, and it's easy to get off route. Just get through the best you can.

The climb up to McKinley fire road is wide open wilderness freeway, but it can be difficult to locate where the uphill portion begins once you enter the camp. Look to your right and spot the brown ribbon TRAIL sign (just AIL remaining thanks to someone shooting it up). Stay to the RIGHT of the sign; do not take the left fork, which leads you to an upper campsite. Stay right, cross the creek at a very brushy crossing, hang a left, cross a ravine, and follow trail ducks past another TRAIL sign ribbon. You'll then see the uphill portion. Then, THEN the fun begins! That climb takes one hour, minimum.
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TheBeeman
Litehiker


Joined: 16 Aug 2009
Posts: 35
Location: Santa Barbara


Post Posted: December Sat 29, 2012 5:01 pm
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Hiked this section of trail in November as part of a five trail loop. Recent work by The Masticator and his team has removed most of the downed trees. Nice work! Lots of water in the upper section of the creek.

Bring a saw and loppers to continue the light brushing and help keep this trail open.

Trail up to McKinley Fire Road is steep and still a "wilderness freeway". The best cardio workout on the trip.

Photos posted here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/112425444439835043013/2012FiveTrailLoop?n oredirect=1

Happy Trails!
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Duane
I live on the trails


Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 223
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Conditions as of Memorial Day 2013
Post Posted: May Tue 28, 2013 10:02 pm
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The Big Cone Spruce trail is about as good as I've ever seen it. A few blowdowns near the camp, and you need to keep your wits about you when encountering creek crossings, as brush can obscure the continuation on the other side.

There are a few patches of brush you have to push through near where the trail bends around the promontory, and what would the BCS be without a wall of poison oak or two? But all in all, much easier to follow than it has been for a while.

And as of Memorial Day, there's shin deep water at the camp all the way downstream to the intersection with the Manzana.
hills
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