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Church Creek Trail

Trail Report

In the form below, enter a Subject line or title (optional), the date you hiked the trail, and a a rating as to the general passability of that trail then follow up with a more detailed narrative of the specific conditions or problems encountered. For the longer trails some folks like to segment the specific conditions part of their reports, reporting conditions in a serial fashion between landmarks such as camps or junctions. This is fine so long as the entire report is specific to a particular named trail.

Enter the code exactly as it appears. All letters are case insensitive.
Wilderness Freeway: Heavily used and well maintained.
Clear: No obstacles and tread well defined.
Passable: Some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident.
Difficult: Brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread.
Impassable: Completely overgrown or tread obliterated.

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Topic review

Expand view Topic review: Church Creek Trail

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Mojave_Geek on Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:09 pm

Date Hiked: July 13, 2016
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked from the Divide down to the trailhead on the Tassajara Rd (car shuttle starting from China Camp). As with earlier reports I'll break it into parts. The Divide to the beginning of the open oak woodlands a bit outside the ranch, the trail was sketchy and overgrown, but limited PO and generally should be evident to one with some trail finding ability. Once in the grasslands and across the ranch property, the trail is a beautiful path with clear tread in the high grass - a foot wide passage that can't be missed. Lots of water in Church Creek at the one point the trail comes close to it. A bit of water flowing under the road bridge leaving the ranch near the Mesa.

The magic starts on the other side of the Mesa when you leave the ranch road. The trail is brand new! It seems to follow a slightly different track than the old trail. It has been extensively reworked: brushed wide, tread dug out and level, some retaining wall building. It continues thus to the first divide (from that side). Totally wonderful. After that the trail continues with clear tread, some overgrowth, and some small bits of unavoidable PO; not too bad, and I'm very shy about PO.

As you're nearing the end, just after a small camp, there is a surprisingly well constructed trail from the main trail to the road. There is a duck on the main trial but it is hard to see the side trail due to some branches. This is a first quality constructed trial, which comes out at a broad pull out / parking area just a mile marker 2.25. We came up this way and one in our party fetched the car. As an unofficial trailhead, this spot would shave about .7 miles from the main trail.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by pantilat on Mon May 02, 2016 12:42 pm

Date Hiked: April 29, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The last conditions report from April 11, 2015 is still valid with a couple notes:
1. A considerable amount of grass growth (in the trail bed) this year has made the tread faint in the meadows and oak woodland as this trail does not receive much traffic (especially south of Church Ranch Road which has very faint tread).
2. Spring chaparral and riparian growth has made the brushy sections brushier (including the 1.5 mile section below Church Divide).
3. There are some ticks in the grass and chaparral (all the ticks I brushed off were Pacific Coast Ticks)

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by pantilat on Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:25 pm

Date Hiked: April 11, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I agree with prior conditions report but a few more specifics to add: The brushiest sections with very faint tread in spots are located on the 2.4 mile stretch from Wildcat Camp to the junction with the Church Ranch Road. The brush is growing in fast with some push throughs. The grass is also growing in the trail making the tread difficult to identify in spots. There are a few blowdowns. The final 1.5 miles to Church Divide also has some brush and a couple blowdowns, but I thought it was in comparatively better shape than the section south of Church Ranch as it appears this stretch of trail receives more use. The middle section of the trail that uses the Church Ranch Road and through the oak meadows above Church Ranch is clear/ wilderness freeway. Water is flowing in the Church Creek Creeklet and also at Wildcat Camp. Overall, the upper and lower portion of the trail are "passable" with some brush, faint tread and a few blowdowns while the middle section through the oak meadows and Church Ranch road is "clear."

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by hydrologic on Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:38 pm

Date Hiked: March 29, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked form trail head to Pine Falls. Church Creek was in pretty good shape. There are a few dead falls to navigate around or over and some brushy sections. The upper part has had a lot of work is relatively clear. Some trail slumping and faint tread but overall a good trail.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by YNVNE1 on Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:44 pm

Date Hiked: January 24, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Parked at Wildcat camp and hiked to Pine Valley. The trail is steep but has apparently been worked on in the recent past. Some areas are brushy and there are few deadfalls but an overall good trail.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Billy R on Tue Nov 25, 2014 2:32 pm

Date Hiked: July 24, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: Pine Ridge Trail to Church Ranch Road

It was quite clear that this section of the trail has not been used or maintained for quite some time. The trail was overgrown for the majority of the hike (except for when it was in the pasture) and at a few points we even lost the trail and had to track back to find it. If you go, don't plan of finding a whole lot of water, and expect to get hit by copious amounts of poison oak. You will have to fight your way through a few sections, and watch for extremely loose footing towards the top. Despite all that, it was an absolutely spectacular hike and I look forward to doing it next time I get leave, probably next summer! Image

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Hydro-Logic on Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:58 pm

"You cross that drainage, and contour around a knife edge ridge. Once you are at the apex of the small ridge, turn left and go STRAIGHT UP THE RIDGE."

We did an out and back from Tassajara road. When coming back we didn't go STRAIGHT UP THE RIDGE because there was a branch someone had placed on the trail heading up the ridge. We kept going straight and eventually the trail dead ended into a bunch of deer trail and we ended up bushwacking up the ridge to rejoin the trail. So yes left turn straight up a super steep ridge is the proper way

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Betsy M on Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:27 pm

Date Hiked: September 18, 2014
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section: Tassajara Road to Church Ranch Road

All the deadfalls are cleared from the trail. There is a new sign at the Ranch Road that marks where the trail takes off towards Tassajara Road. People were apparently missing the trail completely. If you are hiking from Tassajara Road, you won't have an issue, but if you are coming from Church Ranch, you need to know where to look for the trail. Once the road comes out on a flat hill, and you have a view to the east, start looking for the sign:

This photo shows the view towards Tassajara Road, looking from the Church Ranch Road.
The trail drops down to a meadow, and drops again to a drainage (dry when we were there). You cross that drainage, and contour around a knife edge ridge. Once you are at the apex of the small ridge, turn left and go STRAIGHT UP THE RIDGE. Then follow the trail east, until you reach the meadow shown in the photo. The trail splits a few times in the meadow, but stay generally to the bottom edge of the meadow and you will pick up the trail when it leaves the meadow. From there on, there should not be any difficulty with the route.

The spring halfway between the road and the wind caves area was flowing well. Water was flowing minimally at Wildcat Camp.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Hydro-Logic on Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:58 am

Date Hiked: September 7, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Tassajara Road to Church Ranch Road

Tread well defined with a few loose spots but about 50% of the trail has encroaching brush and good amount of poison oak. We wore shorts and short sleeves and got pretty scratched up. I most likely would wear at least pants of not long sleeves also.

Maybe 3 or so dead falls that were easy to go over/under

Stagnant water at wildcat camp but a nice steady flow from a spring? about 3/4 of a mile from wildcat toward Church Ranch. It was upper 90's and not much breeze so this was a very welcome stop to drench the head and back. If needed this could be filtered.

Church Creek Trail

Post by mikesplain on Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:37 am

Date Hiked: October 13, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section- Church Creek Divide (Pine Ridge Trail junction) to Church Ranch Road-
Quite a bit of encroaching brush along this stretch, with a couple unnecessary detours to be avoided.
Staying on course is not difficult though; ample water was available in Church Creek despite this year's drought conditions.
A new sign attached to an oak warns hikers to stay on trail and not camp on private property for the next 2 miles,
but by my GPS, the sign is ~1 mile northwest of the ranch boundary, and thus well within public lands.