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Junipero Serra Peak
20 images in this album on 3 pages.
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Day hike to the top of Junipero Serra Peak
Topo map of the area

Was driving back from Santa Barbara and stopped off for this morning hike in the Las Padres National Forest to the highest point in Monterey county. Followed the route described in Jeffrey Shafer's excellent (but very dated in places) book, Hiking the Big Sur Country.

Getting to the trailhead was a bit interesting, as you have to pass through the Hunter Ligget Military Reservation. (Trailhead directions can be found here). The guard at the reservation gate will ask to see a valid unexpired drivers license, registration, and insurance card so be sure to bring these. The left turn onto Del Ventura is hard to see in the dark and if you miss it you end up wandering about the reservation. Once through the reservation, Los Padres requires a Wilderness Adventure Pass. I arrived at the Memorial campsite shortly before midnight and got a bit of sleep before dawn.

Hit the trail around 5:30am and made it most of the way to the peak before the sun popped over the ridge. Was a bit chilly in the morning, but got downright hot (low 90's) by the end of the morning. The trail was mostly dry and exposed and I was glad to have avoided the sun for most of it.

Be sure to note that the lookout tower is not at the acutal peak, the peak is 100 yards or so further up the trail. Be a shame to turn around at the tower and miss the actual high point.

Check the backcountry page for more recent trips to Junipero Serra.
Update 11/05: Adventure passes are no longer required in the Ventana Wilderness.

May-09 Note: This route burned extensively in the 2008 fires. Check the VWA website (or my backcountry page to the left) for more recent conditions.
TL
Trailhead sign.  The trailhead is shortly before the memorial campground on the right and there's room for a half dozen or so cars.  Grass was very dry in the valley.
BB
Trailhead sign. The trailhead is shortly before the memorial campground on the right and there's room for a half dozen or so cars. Grass was very dry in the valley.
Viewed: 502 times.
06/15/2003 05:36 AM
TL
Stand of prickly pear cacti, presumably decendants of the cacti planted at the nearby San Antonio de Padua mission since they are not native to the area.  There were several deer nibbling at them when I approached.
BB
Stand of prickly pear cacti, presumably decendants of the cacti planted at the nearby San Antonio de Padua mission since they are not native to the area. There were several deer nibbling at them when I approached.
Viewed: 225 times.
06/15/2003 05:48 AM
TL
Buck eyeing me.  Spotted a hummingbird in this meadow on the way down as well.
BB
Buck eyeing me. Spotted a hummingbird in this meadow on the way down as well.
Viewed: 253 times.
06/15/2003 06:36 AM
TL
Trailsign about 2 miles in.  The peak was previously/also known as Santa Lucia Peak.  There was a creek near here that still had water.
BB
Trailsign about 2 miles in. The peak was previously/also known as Santa Lucia Peak. There was a creek near here that still had water.
Viewed: 356 times.
06/15/2003 06:38 AM
TL
Saddle between Junipero Serra and a nearby lesser ridge.
BB
Saddle between Junipero Serra and a nearby lesser ridge.
Viewed: 282 times.
06/15/2003 07:10 AM
TL
A good portion of the trail between the saddle and summit tunneled through the woody chaparral vegetation.  Prime tick habitat, though I only picked up one all day.
BB
A good portion of the trail between the saddle and summit tunneled through the woody chaparral vegetation. Prime tick habitat, though I only picked up one all day.
Viewed: 300 times.
06/15/2003 07:53 AM
TL
The last half mile or so crossed over to the opposite side of the ridge and passed through a sparse pine forest.
BB
The last half mile or so crossed over to the opposite side of the ridge and passed through a sparse pine forest.
Viewed: 297 times.
06/15/2003 08:21 AM
TL
The lookout tower near the peak.  Not sure how old the tower is, but it was there in '88 when the Schaffer book was published.  Still reasonably stable, but I wouldn't get too close to the edges.
(I like Matt's picture a bit better)
BB
The lookout tower near the peak. Not sure how old the tower is, but it was there in '88 when the Schaffer book was published. Still reasonably stable, but I wouldn't get too close to the edges.

(I like Matt's picture a bit better)
Viewed: 322 times.
06/15/2003 08:26 AM
TL
Stairs leading down from the lookout tower.  Pretty good wind up here.
BB
Stairs leading down from the lookout tower. Pretty good wind up here.
Viewed: 263 times.
06/15/2003 08:39 AM
   
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