2011 Cone Peak “Sea to Sky”

Last year’s “Sea to Sky” adventure run up Cone Peak was so awesome that I came back to do it again in 2011! The description of the run below is largely based on last year’s post. Many more photos in the complete album here.

Cone Peak is a spectacular summit along the rugged Big Sur Coast. At 5,155 feet, it is the second highest mountain in the Santa Lucia Mountain range, but it’s the highest mountain to offer a view of the ocean. The mountain rises  nearly a vertical mile in less than three miles from the coastline as the crow flies. This is one of the steepest gradients from ocean to summit in the contiguous United States, hence the name “Sea to Sky.” In fact, the average gradient from sea level to summit is around 33%, which is steeper than the average gradient from Owens Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney. The three canyons that descend from Cone Peak to the ocean are impressively steep with thick stands of redwoods and cascading streams. The ridgelines contain oak woodland and chaparral transitioning to a pine forest higher up and even some firs near the top.
A rugged dirt road reaches the 3,800 ft level on the mountain leaving a 2.25 mile hike to the summit, but a far more aesthetic approach is to climb the mountain from Hwy 1 near the ocean, hence the “Sea to Sky.” The fastest and preferred route is the Vicente Flat Trail which is well maintained all the way up to the Coast Ridge Road and the Cone Peak Trail. The Vicente Flat option is extremeley scenic with great views of the coastline and passage through Hare Canyon, including redwoods, streams, meadows, and views of the canyon down to the shimmering waters of the Ocean. In all, the trip is over 22 miles and includes over 6,000 feet of total elevation gain.
It took us 2:45 to ascend to the summit, around 35 minutes on the summit, and 2 hours for the descent.  The weather was spectacular for early January with temps reaching into the 70s and brilliant blue skies. I will definitely be returning to run Cone Peak again! Many more photos in the complete album here.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bernard Yin says:

    Only someone like you could cover this so well. I didn’t know that it was such a steep rise. Thanks for sharing.

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