We backpacked the "lollipop" loop over memorial day weekend, in three days. This hike definitely was not easy, as the first two days were mostly uphill and it rained on us the second day. There was poison oak everywhere!!! If you are severely allergic, you may not want to do this hike. Usually it was sticking out onto the trail from one side, but there were a few times where it was sticking out onto the trail from both sides, making it inevitable to not touch!! We used Tecnu every night on our hands and arms.
Please check out my video of this trip on Youtube "Backpacking Hwy 1 to Cone Peak by Big Sur" by Kiki's Adventures if you would like to see what the trail is like!
Day 1: Parked across from Kirk Creek Campground and hiked through Vicinte Flat Campground and up to Goat Camp for the night (~12 miles). There was plenty of water at Vicinte Flat Campground when we were there and there was also a waterfall right before you get to Goat Camp.
Day 2: We hiked from Goat Camp up to Cone Peak and back down to Vicinte Flat Campground for the night (~10 miles).
Day 3: We hiked from Vivinte Flat Campground back down to Hwy 1 where we parked our car across from Kirk Creek Campground.
Started at Nacimiento-Fergusson Road as the gate was locked this time of year. We had spent the prior night at Prewitt Ridge Campground and actually saw a large mountain lion on the drive up from HW-1 the night before, was pretty amazing!
We weren't sure where we intended to backpack, but after making quick progress we decided to bring the heavy packs all the way up to the snow-covered peak and camped on the north side of the fire lookout. We climbed on top for a slightly better view and celebrated with a couple beers. Light wind throughout the night and temps only a little under freezing. Would absolutely recommend! Not sure how campsites would look without the snow, but it provided us ample flat space to set up.
The Stone Ridge fire break "trail" was in great condition, though steep at parts - these sections traversed over crumbly soil, making trekking poles useful for both uphill and downhill. Route finding wasn't an issue - this unofficial ridge line trail is well-trodden.
Above the marine layer the temperature climbed up to 95+ (mmm microclimates) with black flies abound, plus what looked to be mountain lion scat at regular intervals. O_o
No water once you get out of the forest (>30min), so bring plenty.
We parked in this large pullout across from the trail's start at N 36.013694, W -121.527319, near the one-way lights right by Paul's Slide, and walked down to Limekiln beach to dip our toes/fingers in the Pacific before trekking back up the road to start the climb.
Great trail, well-maintained, mostly in shade from Espinosa Camp all the way to Cone Road. But popular - don't expect to find solitude. Almost unlimited # of camping sites at Vicente Flat - the creek there dries up early but is perennial just a short ways upstream.
The views were outstanding in all directions, but especially of the Ventana. Would've liked more of the Pacific to have peeked through the fog. Amazing to see how quickly this area recovered from the 2009 wildfire.
Road up to TH was open but scary... not much room to move when coming up against another vehicle. On the other hand, there was nobody else on the mountain that day. Truly wonderful!
Started at the Twitchell Flat Road pullout, scrambled down the hill to the beach for a proper sea to summit, then up the crest of Stone Ridge to Twin Peak. Was worried the wet conditions would make the steep hiking difficult/slippery, but it ended up not being too bad.
Ridge traverse over to Cone, involved some brief sections of rock scrambling in between sliding around on the snow. Then back down Gamboa and Stone Ridge trails.
Fairly cold wet day, in the clouds from about half way up to the summit of Cone, which was just barely peaking in and out of the cloud top making for pretty cool views. While it never rained very hard during the day, the "trail" goes through some pretty thick vegetation and it was all soaked. 3-4" of snow up top from earlier storms, patchy snow started around 4k ft.
With my girlie girl friends
Loop over Cone/Twin and down to Vicente Flat
Pics and commentary are here.
Started at the TH, followed the trail up to Cone Peak then made the traverse over to Twin Peak. Some scrambling and several ups and downs to get to Twin Peak. Retraced route back to car, RT was just over 3 hours, 6 1/2 miles, 2100+ feet of gain. Amazing views from the top of Cone!
Road was open so I started at the trailhead which made the walk quite easy.
Beautiful area. Camped at the great campsite 4+ miles from the pavement, then started early from the Cone Peak trailhead. Made a 3-peak 10 mile loop out of the day. Highly recommended. Trip Report
I did a quick loop from the end of the road, up the North Ridge of Cone, over to twin, then down the main trail and back up the road to the car. Beautiful day.
Climbed from Naciemento-Road, then camped on the spur almost due South of the summit @ 4480' or so.
For the life of me couldn't find the damn trail over to Twin Peak, despite the GPS.
Climbed Twin Peak first and then traversed to Cone Peak. Descended the Gamboa trail which was in great condition. Warm and clear. Early December snow was gone.
Finally got this peak done. Done the easy way with a grumpy old man, views were sensational-did it in late afternoon, then watched sunset on the way back down on the(nacimiento) road. Very beautiful and calm fall afternoon/evening.
would like to do it from Kirk Creek campground next time! Big Sur is one of my favorite spots.
With Barbara and Ashley via Cone Peak Trail. Road is now open all the way to the trailhead. Saw a big rattler on the way down next to the trail.
I started from highway 1 on Vincente Flats trail and reached the summit around midnight after hiking all day. This timing spared me Memorial Day crowds, heat and annoying flies. Great views of the stars from my bivouac on the peak. The next day stunned me with breathtaking views of the ocean and Cone Pk felt like a 5000ft prominence peak. This was my first ascent of Cone Pk and I knew that I would return to this magic place time after time. Breaking in my new La Sportiva Nepal Evo mountaineering boots, however, was not such a bright idea - my feet were bleeding after a 22mi round trip and my boots succeeded in breaking me in instead. peakbagger.com
not a bad hike and great views of the ocean below
The road was gated as expected. A mountain bike would be in order here. Even if, like me, you don't have massive, hill-pumping quads. Anyway, the road looks to be passable to any vehicle. I saw earthmoving equipment and lots of recent road work. There were no major washouts or potholes, and only a few muddy spots, nothing that would bog down a 2WD. I'd wager that the road will be open this year on schedule.
Discovered the gate closed at Coast Ridge Rd, and decided to make a go for it since it was early in the morning and I had plenty of supplies. Turned the 4 mile hike into 16, which unfortunately had me hitting the steepest elevation gain at noon. This was the only day of my entire week in CA that it didn't rain, and I was rewarded with decent views of the coastline and Pacific. I was THE only person on the trail to the peak, which in hindsight may not have been the safest decision...but I'm happy I forged ahead and didn't end up as some mountain lion's lunch. :)