Junipero Serra Peak Climber's Log

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Matt Worster

Matt Worster - Mar 29, 2006 3:26 pm

From Santa Lucia  Sucess!

Part of an attempted double with San Benito, but a late start foiled the latter.


simplify - Feb 22, 2006 4:17 am Date Climbed: Feb 20, 2006

Santa Lucia Trail  Sucess!

Started on from Memorial Park at 10:30am, reached summit at 2pm via Santa Lucia Trail which was covered in snow for the last 1 mile or so. It took me a total of 6 hours 20 minutes for the 11 mile round trip. The summit is forested and does not offer much views unless you climb the extremely unsafe look out tower. Overall a good demanding hike.


CPSLOKorny - Feb 20, 2006 10:00 am

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: February 2004  Sucess!

Hiked with 2 friends. Beautiful, had some snow on the summit.

packitmatt - Jan 23, 2006 2:53 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Triail Date Climbed: January 14, 2006  Sucess!

I awoke on Saturday and it was raining,,,, I got up around 6 ish... and then drove to the trailhead, which was about 18 miles north of the Hacienda lodge and the Mission... Not a soul in sight.. The road was quite easy to travel on ,but I had to make two stream crossings. Going there was not a problem, since the water had not risen (returning was a different story)... As I started the hike, I placed all my gear in my red backpack including gloves, hat and a gore tex jacket. I had several maps, and had read a few summaries listed on several web sites.... The hike is listed as 6.2 miles and 6 miles in other books, however, several signs and indications suggest that it could actually extend up to 7 miles one way to the top of Junipero Serra (by the way Salinans Indigenous Peoples refer to the mountain as Pimkolam and a sign positioned about 1/2 mile from the trailhead states Mount Pimkolam 6miles ahead...)...

As I departed from the grasslands and oak woodlands, located in the canyon area, I could see the beautiful rock formations of Monterey granite and some remnants of sedimentary sand stone (sea bed) formations. I passed an old tractor after one and half miles, and then the trail started to steeply rise. The vegetation began to change and gone were the oak woodlands and non native grasses, and suddenly due to the southerly facing slope, the chaparral made of chamise and coyote bush hugged the and tugged my entire view.... The display of shrub and bush took me by surprise, but I quickly realized that I was now in the southern extent of the Ventana Wilderness.

After a steep climb from about 2500-4500 feet I reached a saddle and a junction of another trail... With either trail not clearly marked, and after a quick review of the map and topography, I headed in a southeasterly direction and up.... The chaparral still covered the slope, but manzanita, yerba santa and some coulter pine began to sprout and spread and fill my eyes with new found diversity. At the same time the weather showed signs of the altitude and hail began to drop faster and faster.... I was wet and now a little cold, but my poly pro and gore tex and my continuous movement was keeping me out of the hypothermia category.....

As the scenery changed, the altitude once again showed its effects on the climate…snow dropped from the sky above, and a soft white beautiful powder could be seen everywhere, which began to blanket my entire view and the surroundings.. The trees also changed from a mixed vegetative biota to a largely coniferous forest of Santa Lucia fir and pine. With its industrial long but soft cones the Santa Lucia fir forested the surroundings and would remain a fixture until I reached the top....

The snow, although gorgeous, quite tasty, and gentle to the throat, presented itself some degree of challenges.. The trail now was lost and the my wet clothing now was an enhanced by cold weather. I had to ensure that I would keep warm only by continuous movement... As I reached the top of the mountain.... the smell of fir and its pleasant smells derived from the snowy conditions, created a sense of complete spiritual splendor... The only thing that distracted from this meditative endeavor , was a 30 foot metal and wood structure that stood erect and in somewhat disrepair... As I attempted to climb the lookout tower the ice hardened and became a challenge for my footing. I realized that my fatigue and sense of clear thinking could limit my “mind to foot judgment” and such a beautiful moment of goal seeking adventure could disappear and succumb to such an event as a slip onto a humanous structure. I told myself to forget the extra goal-seeking endeavor and decided that, oh shucks... I would attempt it some other time ......

Now after placing snow into my water bottle and mind you my judgment proved that it was a little fatigued and weak , because I noticed and observed bits and pieces of fine loamy material swimming around in my water bottle... Yes it was time to start running as fast as I could down and down and down... As I ran energetically, I catapulted my body over the snow and branches and began to pick up speed, and then ..........I noticed the sensation of pain on my feet and hands.... Ah...... the pain grew and grew and then with a climax of nerve ending surges,,, my feet and hands were trying to warm themselves to normalcy... Uggh. it took two miles past some turns and some several 1000 feet drop in altitude for the “regaining warming procedure” to take place...

Finally after returning to more comfortable ambient conditions, I realized the soothing sensation circulating around my body, I was completely warm and my thoughts of clarity were now returning.....

And then… I was becoming too warm and although the rain still dropped and dripped and fell from above, I was forced to change my clothing from cold weather gear to…… …………………let's see how far we can remove clothing and still be somewhat decent...Anyway, for the bears and deer that were among the present, I remained decent thank you....

After another mile or two, I had reached the trailhead and finished the adventure at around 12pm.... Suddenly I realized “yes” the creek crossings may present a slight degree of improbability as to whether our trusty van would navigate, float, or turn itself into a hovercraft... I could tell you two stories, but the truth of the matter is that the water did rise considerably but our trusty mobile gleaned through the water and made it safely to the other side... without a scratch mind you... and to point out how daring this escapade was ,... I revisited the second creek crossing about an hour later and the road had closed...

All in all it took just over 2 and half hours to hike to the top and over 1 and half to come down...and I would defintely do it again, but in the summer???? hmmmm. Don't look too pleasant if you read everyone's summit logs... Oh the Rangers in King City were very nice to talk to ....


SawtoothSean - Jan 4, 2006 8:59 pm

Route Climbed: Trail Date Climbed: May 28, 1995  Sucess!

Did this when I was working on the CA county high points. This was one of my favorite coastal peaks- Amazing pine cones at the top (Coulter and Sugar Pines)- these cones weigh 2-4 pounds each!


kaos14 - Oct 19, 2005 1:43 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia trail Date Climbed: 12/11/2004  Sucess!

Hiked up with a group of 9 friends. Once we reached the ridge the trail was somewhat overgrown and I wished that I had worn long pants. It was hotter than we expected and exposed most of the way, and most of us ran out of water before we returned to the trailhead.

Trail Dog - Sep 21, 2005 6:34 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: September 4, 2005  Sucess!

HOT! Started at around 3:00pm. Returned in the twilight. Constant barage of bugs. Tons of poison oak. Trail was somewhat overgrown in the first couple miles. At least I didn't get any ticks. Ran into a rattlesnake on the switchbacks before the saddle. Views were good. Definitely wouldn't do it again in the summer though.


hagertyp - Aug 22, 2005 4:25 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: August 21, 2005  Sucess!

Climbed with Brian Kalet. Round trip took 5:05. Bring a lot of water, and expect to get scratches from the overgrown shrubs lining the trails. The mountain is far enough inland that there is no coastal breeze. The heat caused some problems for my partner, an experienced mountaineer, and I ran out of water before the summit. Furthermore, there was a 200 yard stretch just before the summit that had some annoying swarms of flies. The mountain is beautiful with some of the most impressive views on the approach. Enjoy!

Brian Kalet

Brian Kalet - Aug 22, 2005 4:06 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: August 21, 2005  Sucess!

Climbed with Paul Hagerty.

miccc - May 31, 2005 11:01 am

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: May 29, 2005  Sucess!

Perfect day for a beautiful peak. Excellent weather, lots of water in the creek and tons of wildflowers. Snakes are plentiful, as is the poison oak.


keema - May 22, 2005 10:56 am

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: May 21, 2005  Sucess!

The weather was a little warm but a breeze higher up helped keep things nice. Met two other SPers (whose name escape me right now) at the summit. Didn't think to look in the shed for a summit register. The views of the Salinas Valley (to east), Santa Lucia Range, and Pacific were great. Saw quite a few snakes, lizards, squirrels, and birds. Just an overall great day. (CA CoHP #20)


cjrandall - May 12, 2005 12:46 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail from Memorial Park Date Climbed: January 2002  Sucess!

Had a great winter hike and only saw a tad bit of snow on the northern flanks up high. Brush was dense in this section of trail, and I had to climb through quite a bit while there.


derbilly - May 3, 2005 11:27 am

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: April 30, 2005  Sucess!

A beautiful spring hike with abundant wildflowers at the lower portion of the trail.


puma_patrick - Mar 27, 2005 1:39 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: March 26, 2005  Sucess!

The National Forest needs to call the landscaper and have the bushes cut, three miles worth! Beautiful spring day with lots of lupins and lizzards. Snow on the lea side of the mtn from the storm earlier in the week. TAKE LOTS OF H2O! 3:31 to summit,7:17 round trip, with a half hour break.


fedak - Jan 17, 2005 3:10 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail (main trail) Date Climbed: 2006-01-16  Sucess!

Couple feet of snow on the peak and the trail was a mess from the recent storms, but it was a beautiful day and visibility from the peak was outstanding.

Pics here


Diggler - Jun 30, 2004 5:27 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: 11 June, 2004  Sucess!

This was by far one of the most trying physical endeavour's I have undertaken (13er Mt. Dana that I did 2 weeks after this was like a cake walk!).

Left crib in Oaktown 8.25, arriving at parking lot across from ranger station @ 11.35. Approach roads are great- only county roads I've been on where 140mph speeds attainable! Got things together when ranger arrived. Found out I'd passed the actual 'entrance' to the trail 'parking lot' by about 100 yards. Went to TH, cracked a brew, left TH @ 12.06. (**note: it is a BAD idea to start this trail around noon in summer conditions.**)

Tried to keep good pace, but heat was relentless. By the time I was on the latter portion of the trail (unshaded, heat-absorbing due to oppressive shrub vegetation), I was in the process of getting my ass kicked. My profound stubbornness prevailed over my intelligence, however, & I continued onward. After a few hours of extreme discomfort & honestly foreseeing heat exhaustion/stroke as a likely outcome, I staggered to the summit, sick to my stomach & on the brink of collapsing.

After crawling up the summit lookout, I ate my half burrito, cracked my 2nd Fat Tire, attempted to relax, & took it to a higher level. After hanging out for awhile, I felt much better, & enjoyed the serene setting, the little birds swooping by all over the place at high rates of speed. It was cool being able to check out Cone Peak, the Salinas Valley, & the Pacific in the distance. Thought at times that I would break through those decrepit boards that make up the "floor" of the lookout!

Leaving the summit, the return was much more pleasant (it had cooled down a lot- starting temp of my bike's coolant was 82F upon returning), & I arrived back at the trailhead at 19.04, & my bike @ 19.05. Leaving at 19.09, I got back to the pad @ 22.56, to go climbing at the Leap the next day (full weekend!).

A beautiful mountain and area, but do not challenge it under a summer (or late spring, as the case may be) sun!!

Bob Burd

Bob Burd - Jun 19, 2004 11:36 am

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: May 15, 1998  Sucess!

A nice spring outing with Michael, one of our first together. Trip Report

flexter17 - Jun 19, 2004 11:07 am

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: 06/07/2004  Sucess!

Definitely an exhausting hike.. warm temperatures and plentiful sunshine helped me drain my 100 oz camelbak pretty much by the time I reached the summit. Beautiful scenery was abundant.. the trail was overgrown a little bit in spots, but not too bad. At the beginning we passed through a forest of poison oak.. yay! Although I bathed myself in DEET.. there was still a constant barage of annoying flies almost the entire way to the summit. Also ran across a rattlesnake at the summit near where the shed was located.. but that was cool!

davehead - Jun 15, 2004 8:10 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail Date Climbed: 6/7/04  Sucess!

Took 2 east coast friends up as preparation for a hike up to White Mountain. I knew this would be a strenuous hike but without the altitude. It proved to be so as temperatures were quite warm at the beginning, in the upper 80s, but nice at the summit, around 70. We drank lots of water and acutally drianed our 100 oz camelbaks about 1/3rd of the way back down. Lots of water is definately recommended in the summer. The trail was a little overgrown as I think a lot of the trails in the Los Padres National Forest are becoming.


blmcclain - Feb 2, 2004 1:56 pm

Route Climbed: Santa Lucia Trail with south gully option Date Climbed: 31st January 2004  Sucess!

Since there are several variations on the Santa Lucia trail, we (hyperbolictans and rgreene) followed the south gully route up to the ridge line. Originally planned on taking the northern ridge route but missed the turn somewhere (someone wanna post a waypoint coordinate for that!). Nice hike. Climbed the observation tower at the top and had a nice view of the ocean. The view east isn't that great because of the tall trees but the view west is excellent. The hut is a great place to have lunch and get warm. Highly recommended route in the winter - summer would cook you on the ridge I think.

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