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Kirk Creek Trail to Vicente Flat, CA

Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 193 feet
Elevation Gain 1,800 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,300 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 21.9
Interest Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
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16  2019-03-30 JimmyLyding
Author JimmyLyding
author avatar Guides 111
Routes 431
Photos 4,307
Trips 716 map ( 4,298 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location Walnut Creek, CA
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, May, Jun → 6 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:50am - 6:10pm
0 Alternative

The Big in Big Sur
by JimmyLyding

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The trailhead for this superb hike is across the highway from Kirk Creek Campground which is itself about 150' above the Pacific Ocean crashing into the edge of western civilization, and the destination is the back country Vicente Camp nestled deep in a high elevation redwood grove. If someone asked me, "I will be passing through the Big Sur area for the first, and probably only, time, and I'd like to do a hike. Do you have any recommendations?" I would tell them to do this hike. It's a really good workout on mostly good tread, and also stunningly scenic.

This area sees a high level of use, and is probably the busiest part of the Ventana Wilderness. All visitors must practice leave no trace ethics. Note that the Vicente Flat Trail runs from the Cone Peak Road which is above Vicente Camp, and not generally part of this description.

The gorgeous views on this hike become apparent almost from the start as the trail climbs steadily up and away from the coast. The serious, but not brutal, assault upon one's legs is more than offset by views of the multi-hued ocean blue to the west, the soft chamise chaparral underfoot and the mountains above. California condors live in the area so be on the lookout, and wildflowers are common. I saw multitudes of poppies, lupines, morning glories and even a few Western Columbines on the last weekend in March 2019.

The trail climbs relentlessly uphill for 2.7 miles and 1600' to Espinosa Camp before turning north-northeast high above Hare Creek to follow the canyon slightly uphill through intermittent redwood groves that are remarkable only because of their southerly location and high elevation. Enjoy the views of 5100' Cone Peak through small openings, and dream of the day you can crush it in a day.

This hike eventually gets to Vicente Camp deep in a redwood near the head of Hare Canyon. This appears to be an extremely popular place based on the number of tents I saw there on a Saturday afternoon. I am sure that I will be back here soon.

The first triplog for this hike shows mileage between Vicente Camp and Cone Peak Road. The Vicente Flat Trail heads up the little side canyon to the northeast instead of the northwest no matter what the facts on the ground indicate. The first mile up has 500' of elevation gain, and goes through a nice wild redwood forest.

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2019-03-31 JimmyLyding
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Take US Highway 1 south for 58 miles to the Kirk Creek Campground. There is lot of parking right off of the highway, and camping there looks like a good idea if one can get a reservation. The drive between this trail head and anywhere else is one of the most scenic things you'll ever see.
    page created by JimmyLyding on Mar 31 2019 9:23 pm
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