National Forest Foundation

Ventana Wilderness Alliance Uses NFF Funds to Support Wilderness Trails

NFF Grant Partners and Projects


The Ventana Wilderness Alliance (VWA) used NFF matching funds to contract the American Conservation Experience (ACE) to work in the Silver Peak and the Tassajara Networks.

Starting in January 2016 the ACE crew set up a backcountry base camp at Upper Cruikshank camp and conducted three eight-day hitches restoring the Buckeye Trail from Cruikshank Camp to Buckeye Camp. Several years of neglect left this trail hummocky and difficult and completely unsuitable for stock use. Restoration was a success, and now Buckeye Camp will be used as a base of operations for future backcountry trail work.

An additional ACE hitch was used to repair damage from the stock train that supplied the backcountry crew on the Cruikshank trail and begin maintenance on the Soda Springs Trail. This project is part of an ongoing effort to improve trails in the Silver Peak Wilderness.

Photo by Trevor Willits

ACE Crew on the Buckeye Trail

Photo by Mike Heard

ACE Crew at Cruikshank Camp

After wrapping up the Silver Peak work, the VWA used ACE again to improve trails in the Tassajara Network. In two eight-day hitches the ACE crews and VWA volunteers worked on the South Fork Trail which is named for its proximity to the South Fork of the Big Sur, a federally designated wild and scenic river.

The South Fork Trail was neglected for several years, and was in far worse condition than the Buckeye Trial. The trail was classified as impassible, and several segments were lost entirely. During the hitches, the crew cut back brush to an 8-foot corridor, reconstructed tread to a 24-inch wide path, and removed 72 logs from the trail along the 3.5 mile section from Strawberry Valley to South Fork Camp. VWA volunteers returned to the South Fork Trail to reopen the remaining segment between South Fork Camp and Rainbow Camp. The trail is now part of a wilderness freeway that crosses the Ventana Wilderness from west to east.

Photo by Trevor Willits

Cross-cut team removes a log from the South Fork Trail

Photo by Mike Heard

NCCC Crew on Kirk Creek Trail

Additionally, during the grant period the VWA used an AmeriCorps NCCC team to work on the Kirk Creek Trail, a popular trail connecting Highway 1 to Vicente Flat. The crew worked for six weeks cutting back the encroaching brush and re-working the tread to achieve pack and saddle standards. The team repaired 1.5 miles of the Kirk Creek Trail.

Many thanks to everyone involved in this project.

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