Welcome to SP!  -
Mount Manuel
Mountain/Rock

Mount Manuel

 
Mount Manuel

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 36.27400°N / 121.77°W

Object Title: Mount Manuel

Elevation: 3520 ft / 1073 m

 

Page By: John

Created/Edited: Jan 1, 2002 / Oct 21, 2005

Object ID: 150770

Hits: 20047 

Page Score: 83.69%  - 17 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote

 

Overview


Mount Manuel (aka Manuel Peak), located on California's Big Sur coast just east of CA SR-1 (aka California Highway 1) near Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, offers what some consider the most spectacular views of the Big Sur area when the coast is not fog bound. While the trailhead is easy to access and the trail is generally in good condition, Mount Manuel is not often climbed since the state park has many other attractions and those wishing to see a scenic view point often choose to climb Cone Peak's 1.5 mile class 1 trail with a 1355' elevation gain vs. Mount Manuel's 4.5+ mile class 1 trail with a 3150' elevation gain. Cone Peak is also much taller at 5155'.

Mount Manuel is located in the Ventana Wilderness and the 4.0 mile class 1 Mount Manuel Trail is maintained by the USFS. This trail is accessed by the Oak Grove Trail which you can access one of four ways (all of which are shown and easily explained on the $1.00 Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Trail Map available at the State Park and Big Sur Station):
  1. 1 mile from State Park Nature Center: Take the Pfeiffer falls Trail for 0.1 miles before turning south on to the Oak Grove Trail, reaching the Mount Manuel Trail junction in 0.9 miles.
  2. 0.7 miles from State Park Parking Lot #3: Take the State Park road labelled "Picnics" until you reach a small turnout on the righthand side with a stone building and a wooden sign labelled "Oak Grove Trail" on the left. Take the 0.2 mile access trail turning to climber's left at the trail fork on to the Oak Grove Trail (not labelled well). Follow some switchbacks and reach the Mount Manuel Trail junction in 0.5 miles.
  3. 0.9 miles from State Park Trailhead / Softball Field Parking Lot: Take the State Park road labelled "Picnics" and pass Parking Lot #3 to the obvious parking lot overlooking the softball field. Follow the trail signs up the Gorge Trail 0.2 miles to the Homestead Cabin. Pass the cabin following the Oak Grove Trail 0.2 miles to a junction with a sign labelled "Parking Lot #3" at which time you will turn right and not descent to the parking lot. In 0.5 miles you will reach the Mount Manuel Trail junction.
  4. Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station: This is the only approach/trailhead if you are backpacking and need overnight parking. Park at the Big Sur Station 0.25 miles south of the State Park entrance and hike south along the Pine Ridge Trail. When the trail forks, go left where you will cross a bridge over the Big Sur River and come to the softball field. From here follow directions for option 3 above.
Once you get to the 4.0 mile class 1 Mount Manuel Trail, you will make many switchbacks across many gullies working your way around to Mount Manuel's southeast ridge. Continue climbing until you reach the summit ridge where you will see a lone tree on a rocky outcropping. Continue north to the true summit. There are four more bumplets on the ridge with the highest being the second to last which has a flat area on top. After the fifth bumplet, the trail descends dramatically before continuing on 1.6 miles to Vado Camp. Most day hikers will turn around on the summit and head down the same way.

Some of the lower parts of the trail brushy so watch out for ticks which tend to be "in season" during the spring. Poison oak is rare on the climb up to Mount Manuel, however, can be plentiful on the hike down to Vado Camp.

Getting There


Take CA SR-1 to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park if you are day hiking or to the Big Sur Station just 0.25 miles south of the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park if you are backpacking. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is 26 miles south of the Carmel Valley Road junction in the town of Carmel and 28 miles north of the junction with Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. Once you get to your parking area, follow the directions above to reach the Oak Grove Trail depending on where you are starting.

Red Tape


STATE PARK DAY USE FEE: There is a US $7.00 fee for entering the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park but sometimes this isn't charged.

When To Climb


November to April offer the coolest and most comfortable hiking opportunities with Spring and Fall often offering the best views since fog and rain are often common in the winter. Most people would be well advised to avoid this peak and many others in the Ventana from May to October because: (1) temperatures can get hot, (2) there is little shade, (3) or water on many trails, and (4) flies, there are just tons of flies during the summer to make for a miserable experience. "Ventana in summer is mostly a lot of bad news... :)" says snwburd!

Camping


Generally, there is no need to camp on this peak since most people do this as a day hike, however backpackers can use Vado Camp 1.6 miles after the summit. There are numerous places on the summit ridge for camping as well. If you want to car camp, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has many sites near the trailhead.

Mountain Conditions


Use the following resources to check route and weather conditions on Mount Manuel:

BIG SUR LODGE (at State Park)
P.O. Box 190
Big Sur, CA 93920
Tel: (831) 667-2171
Tel: (800) 424-4787
Note: Many people at the State Park climb Mount Manuel.

MONTEREY RANGER DISTRICT
Los Padres National Forest
406 S. Mildred
King City, CA 93930
Tel: (831) 385-5434

LOS PADRES NF HEADQUARTERS
Los Padres National Forest
6755 Hollister Ave., Suite 150
Goleta, CA 93117
Tel: (805) 968-6640
Fax: (805) 961-5729
TTY:(805) 968-6790
Directions

Ventana Wilderness Alliance - On-Line Trail Conditions Report for the Mount Manuel / Manuel Peak Trail

External Links

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-12 of 12    
Matthew HollimanUntitled Comment

Matthew Holliman

Hasn't voted

Mt. Manual in July? Are you nuts?!
Posted Jul 29, 2003 8:57 pm
tjiangUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

I should add that you'll get scratch up a bit if you wear shorts and short sleeves. But the trail is hot in October, so it's a compromise.
Posted Oct 12, 2004 1:12 am
mpbroUntitled Comment

mpbro

Voted 10/10

As of November 11, 2002, certain parts of the Mount Manuel trail were in bad shape.





The trouble starts around the 2000-foot level, as the trail traverses a thickly forested northeast-facing slope. Over less than a half mile, at least 20 downed trees obstructed the trail. None were huge, but they slow progress considerably.





After leaving the forested area, the trail was washed out in many spots and heavily overgrown until reaching the second forested area at 3000'.





There were more downed trees and some heavily overgrown areas in the second forested area.





Other than those spots, the trail was generally in stellar shape.
Posted Nov 13, 2002 11:27 am
mpbroUntitled Comment

mpbro

Voted 10/10

The true summit of Manuel Peak was an anticlimax for me. As I walked along the ridge, I wondered, "what exactly is a 'bumplet'?" I actually walked over the true summit, and thought that the true summit was actually the prominent 3554-foot peak along Cabezo Prieto. Judging from the topographic map, Cabezo Prieto should have nice views to the north. Nowhere on Manuel Peak was I happy with the views to the north.





By far, the best views from the south are obtained on the "rocky outcropping" with a "lone tree" on its summit.





Our guidebook, "Day Hikes Around Monterey & Carmel", by Robert Stone, recommends stopping short of the summit and turning around at the highpoint just past the obvious reflector.





Posted Nov 13, 2002 11:41 am
mpbroUntitled Comment

mpbro

Voted 10/10

The prominent southern summit of Manuel Peak, with the lone tree, shows a nice outcropping of good quality marble (metamorphosed limestone). Much of the higher slopes of the peak are also composed of marble, but the lower sections appear to be other jumbled meta-sedimentary rocks. Nowhere will you find the conspicuous exposures of granite, found on the mightier peaks to the north and east.
Posted Nov 13, 2002 11:45 am
Matthew HollimanUntitled Comment

Matthew Holliman

Hasn't voted

As of April, 2003, poison oak was abundant along the Mt. Manuel trail. I wore a long-sleeve T-shirt, long pants, changed immediately after hiking, showered immediately after getting home... and am still itching all over today.





A much more pleasant approach to the peak is from Andrew Molera State Park, a few miles to the north of Pfeiffer Big Sur SP. Follow the East Molera trail up from Hwy 1 and along the ridge to Post Summit; this trail is marked on the USGS 7.5' as an old 4WD track, but it's not shown on the USFS Ventana Wilderness map. The final portion leading up to Post Summit is a steep and somewhat loose fire break.





From Post Summit to Peak 3554, the route follows hints of an old trail/fire break, and is an easy walk with abundant wildflowers in spring and excellent views. From the saddle between Post Summit and Peak 3554, the regular Mt. Manuel trail leads to the indistinct summit of Manuel Peak.
Posted Apr 21, 2003 3:05 pm
Bob BurdUntitled Comment

Bob Burd

Hasn't voted

Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station: This is the only approach/trailhead if you are backpacking and need overnight parking. Park at the Big Sur Station 0.25 miles south of the State Park entrance and hike south along the Pine Ridge Trail. When the trail forks, go left where you will cross a bridge over the Big Sur River and come to the softball field. From here follow directions for option 3 above.





We tried this but found there was no fork from the Pine Ridge Trail. Several use trail forked off to the left, but there were signs that that said "Please stay on trail". When the trail started the serious uphill, we backtracked a short distances, climbed down to the campground, wandered through it, and found a bridge over the Carmel River and the start of the trail.
Posted Apr 21, 2003 4:23 pm
ljonesUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

There are few major trees across the trail compared to 2002's description, but the upper part of the trail is, pardon the pun, going downhill. Several place required holding on to bushes on the uphill side to safely cross where the trail is going down. Some of these spots are the result of hikers moving to the downhill side because of the overgrown brush.





Shorts are definitely NOT advised. There is much thrashing through Ceanothus, Poison Oak, Oak, etc.





Compared to the early 70's when I went over Manuel a couple times to camp at Tin Shack (now closed I understand), the trail is not in good shape, but it's a great hike, a great view and a good place to get away from the madding crowds.
Posted Jul 29, 2003 6:23 pm
Matthew HollimanUntitled Comment

Matthew Holliman

Hasn't voted

Mt. Manual in July? Are you nuts?!
Posted Jul 29, 2003 8:57 pm
tjiangUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

I started out this trail thinking I could run all the way to the top. Well, I managed to run all the way to just past the first forested section, in spite of a few downed trees...but soon after the forested section, the trail gets pretty sketchy.....no real danger of falling unless you are running and trip. But there were a few spots where you felt like a mountain goat with pretty spectacular drops of unpleasant heights. So I had to just do speed hike from there to the second forested section. After that it was clear sailing to the top except for a few downed trees.
Posted Oct 12, 2004 1:09 am
tjiangUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

I should add that you'll get scratch up a bit if you wear shorts and short sleeves. But the trail is hot in October, so it's a compromise.
Posted Oct 12, 2004 1:12 am
redtrollVado Camp

Voted 10/10

Manuel Peak is really a dead end. The trail to Vado is wahed out and overgrown, and Vado was wrecked by a storm. The Tin House trail is basically gone.
Posted Oct 8, 2006 4:27 am

Viewing: 1-12 of 12    

Images