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Miller Canyon 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: Miller Canyon Trail

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by Elena on Tue Jul 12, 2016 8:47 pm

Date Hiked: July 4, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This is update to my previous post regarding 2.3 miles section of the trail, from Carmel River to Clover Basin camp.
First about 1/2 mile trail has plenty of poison oak alongside, but not too tall. After that, trail opens up, follows creek past some interesting cliffs and not too overgrown. At about 1 mile the trail climbs higher up along southern side of the creek and, for about 1/2 mile it is more or less clear, with some good views of the canyon ahead.
At about 1.5 miles trail returns to the creek. From here to Clover Basin we were walking through dense thickets of ferns, berry vines, poison oak and other brush.
With help of flags, and watching for subtle signs of trail we followed it without problems. And since it is along the creek, there was no chance to get lost.
Camped at Clover basin: million mosquitos in the evening.

I made some video recording along the way. It is a little shaky, but will work for the purpose of showing trail condition.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by Elena on Wed Jun 22, 2016 9:14 pm

Date Hiked: June 18, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked from China Camp trailhead down to Clover Basin, camped by Miller Canyon camp and hiked back up next day. Great trip, when I have more time, will go again for the loop hike, returning along Carmel river and Pine valley.
This review is for Miller Canyon trail between China Camp and Miller Canyon Camp.
Route is marked with tape. The trail is faint, but it is there. On the way down it was pretty obvious where to go. However, when going up, I lost trail couple times, but since I knew that it is there, it was not a big problem, and take long to find it back.
Few places where trail, very narrow, contours a steep hillside over loose soil.
Few places (3 or may be 4 ) where fallen trees blocking trail. One very large (3+ feet in diameter). I manage to go over it on the way down, but going up I had to make my way around it through poison oak.
Lost of poison oak. Out of 5 miles between Jeffrey Road and Miller Camp, for at list one full mile I was surrounded by poison oak.
It was brushing against knees, shoulders and occasionally overhanging, so it was brushing against my hat as well.
Since I am well aware that poison oak is unavoidable there, I wear protective clothing (including gloves and bandana on my face) and bring spare clothing when backpacking in Ventana.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by alexmsf on Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:13 pm

Date Hiked: June 12, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Previous posts were dead-on. We headed up to China Camp and although we faced curtains of poison oak and negotiated multiple fallen branches, those ribbons were super reassuring and kept us on the sometimes very faint trail. We did have to hunt a few times as some ribbons had fallen off (we retied those) but always ended up back on track somehow. We camped at the Nason Cabin site where there was just about enough water to filter from the creek. Other than a couple of creek puddles, that was the last place we saw water. Ironically, it was once we popped out of the final thicket where no more ribbons or signs were to be seen, that we took a wrong turn. We followed the last few hundred feet of the clear trail onto private land through a gate and onto a Jeep road. Somehow we ended up climbing too high and too soon, and joined Tassajara Road by the junction to Mira Observatory, a mile and a half up the road from China Camp. Still trying to figure that one out. Otherwise a beautiful though buggy trail, no trash or other people (hurrah!), very dry with lots of wildflowers, grass seeds and stickers, butterflies, birds, evidence of meals (piles of feathers and fur), deer, squirrels and a rattesnake or two. Amazing vistas from ridges and across meadow areas.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by randomtrailuser on Fri May 13, 2016 11:26 am

Date Hiked: May 8, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked up the trail to china camp. Lost it a few times and was thankful for the flagging... although even the flagging is sparse. I macheted a fair amount of PO and other brush to help with upkeep. Trail is fairly easy to follow in the trees... its the meadows that are problematic.

Saw plenty wildlife, and mtn lion scat, prints, and a even remains of last night's deer feast... right on the trail.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by Steve B on Wed May 11, 2016 6:27 pm

Date Hiked: May 11, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Volunteer Wilderness Rangers Re-flagged the Miller Canyon Trail from Jeffery Road (China Camp) to the Carmel River Trail May 11, 2016. The trail is very over grown and is in danger of becoming a lost trail. I would call this trail an ‘Adventure Trail’ it is difficult, overgrown, steep, and the poison oak is thick, if you are susceptible to catching Poison Oak I would avoid this trail. I must disagree with the last writer about the trail not being particularly scenic between China Camp and Miller Canyon Camp; I find the views of the Miller Fork of the Carmel River Spectacular, I think the trail is beautiful (but when we hiked it the wildflowers were in full bloom)
The cows that escaped during the Basin Fire in 2008 are still in the area and causing damage to the trail, the cows have made it all the way in to Hiding Camp. I had hoped the cows would have died by now but they must live a long time.
Again I would like to stress IF YOU LOSE THE FLAGGING ON THE TRAIL STOP AND FIND THE FLAGGING BEFORE YOU CONTINUE. The Sheriff Department contacted me about lost hikers in Miller Canyon and wanted the VWA to fix the trail but at this time flagging the trail is the best we can do with the current Forest Service funding and the difficulty of working volunteers in remote Miller Canyon.
If you are looking for an adventure where you won’t see another person and you are not too susceptible to poison oak I recommend this hike. Plus the more people that hike it the better the trail becomes.
Flagging the trail

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by davidjohnbremer on Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:16 pm

Date Hiked: March 28, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I would echo much of the report of the previous post. We traveled from China Camp to Carmel River Camp. The trail was not always easy to follow, and was very rough as though a cattle drive had passed through. The ribbon markers were a huge help. Long pants are an absolute must, as you travel through a seemingly endless forest of poison oak. I've never seen so much in my life. Lots of brush encroaching on the trail. This trail is not for the faint of heart, and frankly, until you get to Miller Canyon Camp, is not particularly scenic. From there to Carmel River Camp the trial is pleasant. Not much water between China Camp and Miller Canyon Camp.

Miller Canyon Trail via China Camp

Post by Daniel S on Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:03 pm

Date Hiked: March 21, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

First off i just want to say, if you are wishing to travel this trail have prior experience in this region! Knowing the general geography was an immense help to us, if you have not hiked this area before I would have to recommend against traveling the Miller Canyon. Being able to identify the surrounding mountains and ridges is a must. Moving on, the tread is very faint to non existent for much of this trail, however you can often see where the ground is slightly lower through the bushes and grass, along with the pink flagging (thank you to whomever put it up!) we were able to stay true to the trail. It seems cows and other animals use this trail as well, resulting is game trails running off of the main trail until Miller Canyon Camp. Between the Nason cabin site and miller canyon camp cows have walked along the trail after a rain resulting in constant holes along the trail, making the opportunity for a rolled ankle or a tumble off the cliff very present, watch your step. Some poison oak encroachment which at this point in time was navigable with minimal bushwacking, however in a couple months I could see it being a much more serious problem. Some deadfalls but we were able to get around them. The miller creek is running strong at this point in time. After reaching Miller Canyon Camp the trail becomes much easier to follow. We stayed at Clover Basin and moved on the next day, there are a good amount (around 10 or so) of river crossing between Clover Basin and the Carmel River trail, but the trail becomes much more obvious as you continue. The pink flagging was present from the start up until the end, giving us reassurance that we had not wandered off trail. Follow the flags! Beautiful trail that I will most definitely be taking again some day! The one piece of advice i must give is not to leave the trail, the trail was often obvious when standing on it but from 10ft away was invisible. Stay on the trail and follow the flags.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by Hunter on Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:38 pm

Date Hiked: November 28, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

My friend and I hiked this trail as part of the last day of our backpacking trip. It is quite a demanding trail. For the first couple of miles, it follows a stream and the going is easy. There a couple of campsites on this part of the trail. After that, it begins to climb and it doesn't stop climbing until you reach China Camp. The tread is often difficult to follow, and there were many times where the trail would go in different directions and we had to figure out which tread was the Miller Canyon trail. You go up and down a lot. It was raining when we were hiking, so the hike was more difficult for us because we kept sliding on the steep hillside trails. It is an absolutely gorgeous trail, like all of the trails that I have been on in Ventana so far. You have great views of the valley, and the forest is spectacular. When you get to the end of the trail (this part really requires some routefinding, but there are flags to mark the way), you will cross through a cattle fence and onto someone's property. Climb their driveway and you'll then get to a road (Jefferey Road) and there will be signs telling you how to go to China Camp. Turn right from the driveway onto the road, and the first sign will be about 50 yds downhill from you. Then there are many switchbacks to ascend to get back to China Camp. I don't recall there being much poison oak on this trail. Keep your wits about you, and you should be able to navigate this trail just fine.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by Steve B on Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:58 pm

Date Hiked: September 16, 2014
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

A VWA trail crew worked the Miller Canyon Trail from the Carmel River Trail to Miller Canyon Camp. The trail was cleared of all down trees and we did some brushing. The trail is mostly clear to Miller Canyon Camp from Carmel River but it is still a little brushy in places. We did not have time to go beyond Miller Canyon Camp toward China Camp however we flagged the trail last year so be sure to follow the flagging. There was very little water in Miller Canyon, there is some flowing water below Clover Basin Camp and Miller Camp is dry. There are signs of cows living in Miller Canyon, Clover Basin Camp is covered with cow dung, if you see the cows please report it on the forum or to the Forest Service, note the date, location, and the number of cows.
dry miller cyn.jpg
Dry Miller Creek
clearing trail.jpg
David, Lynn, and Steve clearing a tree.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by ACD on Sun May 18, 2014 11:40 pm

Date Hiked: May 14, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

It was clear that few people took this route, as the trail was often very faint. The trail was very well-flagged however, making it pretty simple to follow. A LOT of poison oak along the route however, and a couple of places where the trail has slided down. Nothing insurmountable.

People hiking this trail should be aware that there is NO WATER at China camp, and that the few little streams above where the trail climbs out of Miller Canyon will probably be dry in a few weeks. I got to China camp assuming that I'd find water, then had to hike back down the way I had come to find a little mud trickle to pump from.

Generally had a great time, and didn't see a soul between Bluff Camp and China Camp.