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San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

San Carpóforo Trail Conditions History, 2000- 2007

Postby Site Administrator on Fri May 01, 2009 3:22 pm

Date Hiked: January 1, 2007
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Conditions reported by: Leif Behrmann
Survey date: 22-JULY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: San Carpoforo Camp to County Line Road - Passable

The 1/2 mile trail between the jeep road and San Carpoforo camp has large encroaching annuals, poison oak, and blackberry which don't pose a problem, but just before the last creek crossing there is a nasty patch of stinging nettle covering the trail which gave me large welts. Of course I was foolishly plowing through in a tee shirt and board shorts. On the way back I slashed at the stuff with my knife while wearing long clothes.

Section: County Line Road to Turkey Spring Camp - Clear/Difficult Navigation

I headed off the jeep road as the ancient "Trail" sign indicated with my Burro Mountain 7.5 minute topo, compass, and pencil in hand. For a while the trail was evident and seemed to make logical progress upslope and in a generally north, west, and northwest progression. However at one point it went down to a creek (dry) and seemed to be headed the wrong way. It took a bearing on the creek, and pretty much figured out which part of which creek I was probably next to on my topo. I crossed and explored the other side. There seemed to be no less than 3 trails veering off. So, ya know I picked one and came to some excellent grazing. Now folks, keep in mind it helps to know what Jones Mountain looks like and where it should be as you head up this trail. I could see good old Jones Mountain and it bore almost due east and I was headed west. That was the correct direction so I made for a tree to the west across this field. Lo and behold there was the trail again. It seemed to tack a round while I took the steep way up. After that the sailing was smooth until I found a junction - left or right? Right had horse hoof prints, so I went left. It started looking like a wash, and I started hearing water. Ah ha! Turkey Springs Camp appeared before me and I rejoiced. Was that Really only a mile?

Section: Turkey Spring Camp to Dutra Flat - Clear

From Turkey Springs Camp to Dutra Flat Camp the trail is clear, and incidently there is a nice little springs on the trail about 1/4 mile before Dutra. Yes there are a few spurs that lead to good cattle forage, but if you know which way you need to be heading to get to Dutra, and the spurs appear to only lead to some nice grassy slopes, be sure to take the logical fork in the trail. Also someone has erected cairns at some of the more well worn cattle trail junctions, however some cairns along the way seemed overkill, except maybe during wet days when the cattle have been grazing.

Section: Dutra Flat to Salmon Creek Trail - Clear

The water pipe is not currently flowing into the trough at Dutra, but the trough is full.

The trail was easily followed, only some minor logs across the trail and an occasional skating rink of bay leaves.

It was quite HOT up on the grassland areas near Dutra Flat and Turkey Springs, but the canyons of Spruce Creek and Salmon Creek are nice and cool.
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Conditions reported by: Gary Felsman
Survey date: 24-JUNE-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

The report of May 18th is correct as Darlene and I hike this trail today. He did forget to mention the large 2 foot diameter oak across the trail as reported by Jean Leblanc just past the slide near where the trail meets Spruce Creek.

We hiked in with a cross-cut saw to take care of this tree today, we cut it in two, then rolled it off the trail with a lot of effort.

The flies were not to bad as the day was cool.

On this trek we ran into four different groups hiking in to Spruce Camp. Two backpackers and three hiking groups.

It was a beautiful Day, no ticks, several flowers
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Conditions reported by: Ted
Survey date: 18-MAY-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY to DIFFICULT
Specific:

General: Supplies needed for the San Carpoforo Camp trail: Patience, sense of adventure, navigating skill, allergy medicine, Technu and something to hack away the poison oak with.

Section: Salmon Creek Trail to Saddle - Clear

The first couple of miles is pretty straighforward, you hike up past Salmon Falls up toward Spruce Creek and Estrella camps.[Ed: on the Salmon Creek Trail] At the first major junction you have the opportunity to make it easy on yourself and just stroll on over to the Spruce Creek or Estrella camps, both of which are very nice in their own rights and boast shade, fire rings, campfire grills, a creek with swimming holes, are you sure you really need to go another 6 miles?

Well OK then, on to San Carpoforo it is! The first ~1.5 miles you go thru some dense and pretty oak woodlands with no shortage of spiderwebs and poison oak. The poison oak is not overwhelming, but you'll have to deal with it somehow. It's nice and shady in here and you can get water in a few places.

Section: Saddle to near Turkey Spring Camp - Difficult

Then the trail comes over the hill, over a saddle, into a big field which continues in big expansive patches for a few miles, broken up by pine and oak groves. (Speaking of big expansive fields, my multiple doses of Claritin and Sudafed were no match for the sheer pollen power lurking within these amber waves of sinus torture!) The trail can be difficult to follow for two reasons: 1 - in some places there is no trail, just a faint line of slightly depressed grasses, and 2 - there's a number of cattle trails over hill and dale and these can lead either to the same place you're going, to nowhere, or to somewhere new and mysterious. I didn't check them all out, but I certainly was led astray by a few. We didn't get lost because we had remembered to bring our sense of adventure, and humor. Keep checking your topo map and you probably won't get that lost (you did bring a topo map, didn't you?). Dutra Flat Camp is in the middle of this expanse, and there's a nearby sign directing you to more fields full of ambiguous trails.

There's a beatiful iconic scene of a lone oak atop a nicely rounded grassy hill with spectacular views of the surrouding mountains (pictured on the back cover of Elliot's Big Sur backpacking book). Take a picture, and then pay attention: The trail goes to the north of this hill and veers southward down along the north and east side of it. Around a quarter mile or so the trail inconspicuously veers off into the bushes, crosses a stream a few times, and comes down to Turkey Springs Camp, and you will miss this turn if you're not watching for it - it looks like the trail just keeps on going straight. I spotted a little rockpile off to the left, just before a forked pine that's right in the trail. The pine splits into 2 main trunks in its first 5 feet and one of the branches has remnants of pink flagging wraped around it. If you see this tree, step back 10 feet and head left into the trail that leads thru the bushes. I would have made a more obvious marking but I was sneezing too much. Sorry. If you don't find the trail, you won't get lost, just continue until you hit the dirt road and head East (Left), but you will miss Turkey Springs Camp, which is a pretty nice little place, with shade, pretty flowers, and it's right next to a little creek.

Section: near Turkey Spring Camp to San Carpoforo Camp - Passable

There are a lot of little trails in this area, so there are plenty of alternate routes, like the one we found leading down to the dirt road from Turkey Springs. I don't know where we lost the main trail, it sure looked like the main trail to us, and it got us to the same road that you have to get on anyways, and we even took it back up because we didn't want to get lost again. Yup, walked right past the "Trail" sign on our way back, we weren't going to get fooled again, no sir! My National Geographic topo map program shows the San Carpoforo Camp off to the left side of the road, but it's wrong. San Carpoforo Camp is definately off to the right. This time we follwed the sign, thru a thicket of blackberry thorns and stinging nettle, across the creek, into the trees and a fenced-off campsite and we were home!

There's some other places to camp down along the trail, we saw one right along the creek. There are nice places to hang a hammock and dip in the creek. Our campsite was in the shade of a big Oak and some assorted Bay laurels and had 2 nice tables. Plenty of firewood can be collected in the grove to the NW of the camp.
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Conditions reported by: Jean LeBlanc
Survey date: 26-AUGUST-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Salmon Creek Trail Junction to Top of Spruce Creek Canyon - (mostly) Clear

The trail is clear with minor brush encroachment. All deadfalls reported in all prior reports have been cleared (thank you to the loggers who did this). There is a new deadfall, about 2' diameter, about 3/4-1 mile up (just past the first double switchback) that you can crawl under or climb over.

Section: Top of Spruce Creek Canyon to Dutra Flat Campground - Wilderness Freeway

The tread at the beginning of this section of trail, just over the saddle between the Spruce Creek watershed and the Dutra Creek watershed, which is often hard to see or find, is extremely well defined now (better than I have ever seen it).
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Conditions reported by: Greg Minter
Survey date: 4-JULY-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Spruce Creek camp to Dutra Flat - Wilderness Freeway

Easy-to-follow trail with no obstacles and well-established, defined tread. No brush to speak of, no deadfalls. Dutra Flat Camp is disappointing, with the dilapidated barbwire giving a bit of a 'prison vibe'. The meadows were golden and beautiful, though. Take care as you approach Dutra, as the hardened cattle tracks make for tricky footing at times.
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Conditions reported by: Erik Nehls
Survey date: 23-MARCH-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Salmon Creek Trail to Dutra Flats : Clear

Trail clear and easy to follow in woods (2 miles or so) UNTIL trail came to barbed wire fence for cows. Gate easily open and closed by humans (presumably San Carpoforo trail hikers). After gate, woods opened up into flats and pasture. At that point, trail became less clear and difficult to follow (especially at night w/ headlamps only). Most likely we followed a cowpath along the flats. Unsure of our location, we camped for the night approx 100 feet off cowpath. We slept under stars (awesome!) but also setup pole tent due to 50% chance rain. We were glad we did because at 2AM it started pouring (there is no tree protection). One deadfall tree, but visible walk-arounds.
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Conditions reported by: Jean LeBlanc
Survey date: 19-MARCH-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Salmon Creek Trail to the top of Spruce Creek Canyon - Clear

The trail is clear and in good shape all the way to the top, other than 3 trees that are down that are negotiable. The first is about 100 feet up from the Salmon Creek junction, and you can crawl under this one or climb over it to the right. The second is within the next 1/4 mile, and you can easily step over it. The third is at about the 1 mile mark and has fallen over all 3 sections of a small double switchback, completely blocking the bottom and middle sections of the swithcback so you must cut directly to the top section, where you can walk "through" the portion of the tree that is over the trail.

From the top of Spruce Creek Canyon, the tread of the trail to Dutra Flat was clearly visible.

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Conditions reported by: Jean LeBlanc
Survey date: 4-JULY-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Salmon Creek Trail Junction to top of Spruce Creek Canyon - Passable

Tread is relatively well defined, but the poison oak is extremely heavy, especially in the first mile or so, and is encroaching on the trail in places. There is a large deadfall (3-4 foot diameter) about 3/4 of a mile up from the junction that you must crawl under on your hands and knees (on the way down the mountain it is possible to climb over it (but you then have to jump off the downhill side) because of a strategically placed branch on the uphill side). There are a couple of other easily negotiated deadfalls on this section. Section: Top of Spruce Creek Canyon to Dutra Flat Campground - Clear

When you reach the saddle at the top of Spruce Creek Canyon, it can be hard to find the trail (and I have failed on two prior occasions) As you stand there, look ahead and slightly to your left at the grassy hillside and you should see a trail contouring around that hillside--that is where you want to go and NOT straight ahead and down into the valley in front of you. Once you get to that that trail on the hillside it is easy to follow, and virtually the entire trail is now in open grass-covered country except for one brief tree-covered section where you drop into what looks like a creekbed and in which you wind down to the meadow where Dutra Flat is located. This section of the trail is in very good condition and the tread is well defined other than as noted above (i.e. at the beginning of this section) and around Dutra Flat Campground (where heavy cattle traffic has left a lot of hoofprints that have obliterated the trail, but by this point you can see the campground).
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Conditions reported by: John Yeo
Survey date: 09-AUG-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Salmon Creek Trail towards San Carpoforo Camp

I repeated my attempt at this trail, destined not to get lost this time. It is very dry right now, and water was scarce. Gnats got annoying, some ending up caught in my eyes and mouth. Late summer definitely isn't the best time to hike in the silver peak wilderness.

Salmon creek junction to Dutra Flat: Trail clear, one small deadfall. Spruce creek was running, but low.

At the saddle at the top of the spruce creek watershed, the trail was pretty clear. Do not take any side trails leading down into the valley. Dutra Flats is on the north side of the watershed.

There is a small wetland by the Dutra Flats campsite that has been heavily damaged by bovine use. It was dry this time of year, but deep hood prints covered the entire area. The Dutra Flats campsite is surrounded by barbed wire to keep out cattle. The nearest water source to Dutra Flat was a small tributary approximately 1/2 mile east on the trail. This may dry up later in the season.

There were three pear trees at Dutra Flat, 1/4 mile south past the campsite. One tree had three pears, not yet ripe. The trail to Turkey Springs was difficult to follow at places. I stacked rocks as markers in places where the tread was scarce, or there was a fork.

The Turkey Springs campsite had running water. The picnic table has almost rotted away.

Between Turkey Springs and San Carpoforo, the trail was pretty easy to follow. Fresh prints from a small cougar were found on the road, along with ATV, truck, human and deer prints. San Carpoforo creek was completely dry, with a cow poo like slime covering most of the rocks. Didn't find San Carpoforo camp, but didn't try very hard either as I was running out of time to get back before dark.
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Conditions reported by: John Yeo
Survey date: 10-MAR-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Salmon Creek Trail jct. southeastwards

I started at salmon creek, and took the spruce creek trail. The trail was very clear up to the top of spruce creek canyon, where there is a grassy saddle. From there, I could not find the trail.

I followed the most prominent cow path, did some bushwhacking and eventually found the unimproved road. I did not find Dutra Flats nor Turkey Springs.

I followed the unimproved road to the top of the ridge, for incredible views all the way to Piedras Blancas. I returned down the unimproved road, but could not find my way back to the spruce creek trail. I backtracked yet again up the unimproved road, and followed it down to highway 1. Back on the highway, I walked about 2.5 miles back to my car.

Everything is green this time of year, and it is beautiful!

Photos at http://www.enteric.org/personal/031004/index.htm
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Conditions reported by: EW
Survey date: 7-MAR-2004
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Dutra Camp to Salmon Creek Trail

Grazing allotments along San Carpoforo drainage have left a sad legacy of muddy creeks, denuded slopes terraced and mangled by bovine hooves. Still, this is a very beautiful valley, open with sunny meadows and surrounded by gentle slopes of chaparral and oak woodland; unlike any other part of the Santa Lucia I've yet seen.

This section of the San Carpoforo Trail is easy to follow, but watch your step as the footing can be tricky between dried-up ruts and muddy patches near streams and ground-water.

If you agree that the place would be vastly improved by the removal of grazing, don't hesitate to let the forest service know how you feel:

MONTEREY RANGER DISTRICT
District Ranger: John Bradford
406 S. Mildred
King City, CA 93930
(831) 385-5434
TTY: (831) 385-1189
FAX: (831) 385-0628
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Conditions reported by: Jean LeBlanc
Survey date: 4-JULY-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Salmon Creek trail to Dutra/Salmon divide

THIS REPORT ONLY COVERS FROM SALMON CREEK TRAILHEAD TO THE SADDLE BEFORE DUTRA FLAT (ABOUT 1/2 MILE FROM DUTRA FLAT CAMP)

1. Salmon Creek Trailhead to Spruce Creek Junction--a trail crew has been working this section and it is in pretty good shape, with the poison oak cut back and no obstacles. Views up and down Salmon Creek Canyon are great. Shorts are definitely ok. See my more detailed description of this section of the trail dated June 28, 2003.

2. Spruce Creek Junction to Top of Spruce Creek Canyon--the trail crew was just starting to work the bottom section of this trail when I hiked up, so as of July 4th the first 1/4 mile is very clear. After that, there is heavy poison oak up to about the 1 mile mark, and that hopefully will be cleared by the trail crew. As you continue up the canyon and through the switchbacks, there is less poison oak and the trail is relatively clear (there are currently two trees over the trail, but they can be stepped over and the trail crew will probably remove them). Once you reach the top of the canyon, you get to a gate that opens out to the saddle between the Spruce Creek side that you've just hiked up and the side where Dutra Flat is located. The Dutra Flat side is a grassy, gently sloping valley, but the trail to Dutra Flat is not readily discernible. (The San Carpoforo trail is visible climbing the ridge to the northeast.) I climbed to the top of the hill just to the south of the point where the trail came out of Spruce Creek canyon, had lunch, looked around for where the trail continued to Dutra Flat but couldn't find it (I was just doing a touring hike so I didn't really need to get to Dutra Flat), and headed back down the way I had come.
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Conditions reported by: Gary Auth
Survey date: 9-FEB-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

This report covers the San Carpóforo trail between Dutra Flat camp and San Carpóforo camp:

The trail is well defined just out of Dutra Flat camp, heading in a general southeastly direction with magnificient views. However, due to heavy grazing in the past, the tread soon becomes difficult to follow as it crosses and merges with some well-worn cow paths. Somehow, we got off the main trail and missed Turkey Springs camp altogether. We continued on since we saw other boot prints in the dried mud. Eventually, this track dead-ended so we searched around and found another well-used cow path further to the east (since this is open grassland, no bushwacking thru poison oak was required). This new path finally led into the Baldwin Ranch jeep road, about a mile or so west of where the official trail, marked with a small wooden sign, comes out. If you hike this trail (from Dutra Flat) and come to a fork , stay on the one which leads east!! But even if you do get off the true path, it is relatively easy to make your way to the Baldwin Ranch road.

Once on the road, we headed east until we saw the sign directing us to San Carpojo camp. (Carpóforo and Carpojo are synonomous; the story goes that someone at the Williams Ranch, at the mouth of the creek and Highway 1, couldn't pronounce "Carpóforo" and just changed it to "Carpojo" and the new pronunciation caught on with the locals.) The trail crosses the creek twice before arriving at the camp. The water is high at this time of year and difficult to cross without getting your feet wet. This is not a recommendation, but since my Camelbak hydration system failed, I drank liberally from the creek and suffered no ill effects. Carpojo camp was spacious and clean with a heavy iron fireplace/stove and table. The new-growth grass underneath the huge shade trees provided a perfect spot for lunch.
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Conditions reported by: Neil Havlik
Survey date: 25-JULY-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

As soon as one leaves the Salmon Creek Trail onto the San Carpóforo Trail, near Spruce Camp, the poison oak begins to encroach. There is no avoiding it for the first half mile or so, until the switchbacks. Once on the switchbacks the trail is more open and free of poison oak. Once out into the grassland of the Dutra Creek watershed, the trail is an absolute pleasure to walk on, but expect to have your pants turn green from the tarweeds. The grassland itself is still sort of green from all the tarweeds.

Dutra Camp was clean and attractive. The spring is running, into a cattle trough, at about a half gallon per minute, and the water is clear and presumably free of "stuff". At least, I didn't worry too much about drinking it.

I noticed a trail going off the San Carpóforo Trail maybe 500 yards west of Dutra Camp, which looks to be an old wagon or jeep road, which appears to be being maintained by the grazing permittee. It was not noticeable going toward the camp, but coming back was very plain, taking off to the west. It looks like it goes across Dutra Creek and over to the road on the Coast Ridge and might be a good way to get to Mt. Mars. I didn't have time to go that route, but left it for another day.
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Conditions reported by: Gary Felsman
Survey date: 25-JUNE-00
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

On the Dutra Flat Trail some trail work has been done. There are a few trees down across the trail but can be stepped over easily. The Dutra Slide near Spruce creek been repaired for hikers and backpackers only. Other work is being done on this trail; watch for updates as they arrive. The Dutra Flat trail still has several places where the poison oak is unavoidable. This trail should be used by foot traffic only at this time.
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Conditions reported by: Dirk Woestenburg
Survey date: 07-JUNE-2000
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Just returned from San Carpojo. Funny, the spelling of the camp name is different from the spelling of the creek name. The trail from Dutra is fairly easy to follow but about half way between Dutra and Turkey Springs there is a distinct fork in the trail. I haven't been there in twelve years but used to go there twice a year for 20 years. I don't remember seeing this fork before. I mistakenly took the right fork which was the most distinct. Big mistake! After the trail dissappeared I hiked cross country until I finally hit the jeep road about a mile west of the real trail crossing. I met another hiker who had done the same thing. Be sure to take the left fork. Could use a trail sign. San Carpojo looks a lot different than it did years ago. There are no tables and floods have rearranged the place leaving a huge field of boulders and stones....not at all attractive. Trail from jeep road to San Carpojo heavily overgrown. Looks like no one goes there anymore. Trail tread needs a lot of work.
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San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Postby Site Administrator on Fri May 01, 2009 3:17 pm

Image
* USFS Trail # 6E09-10
* Parking: Hwy 1 at Salmon Creek Guard Station
* Watershed: Spruce Creek, Dutra Creek, San Carpóforo Creek
* Junctions: Salmon Creek Trail, Three Peaks Trail, Elk Camp Trail
* Connects: Salmon Creek Trail with San Carpóforo Camp
* Camps: Dutra Flat Camp, Turkey Springs Camp, San Carpóforo Camp
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