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Willow Creek Trail

Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby jdoelman on Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:45 am

Date Hiked: June 17, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Myself and 3 friends came down from the coast ridge along the seldom travelled (former) Kinder-Mine road / (present-day) Willow Creek trail. This had to have been one heck of a tough drive even when the road was in its heyday. There are Yucca growing in the old road-bed and lots of various brush. The Kinder mine seems to be have been seldom visited, but was left in good shape. It was unfortunate that we didn't have time to investigate (or find) the mine shaft. From the Kinder Mine site, we did not have the benefit of a print-out of the bigsurtrailmap.net map. We lost the Willow Creek Trail at that point and followed what were in retrospect local Kinder Mine use-trails. The one we followed dead-ended in a ravine, then we found another trail about 200ft below us, so went down there and followed an obvious, but overgrown trail past a porcelain toilet and an abandoned propane fridge. This trail again dead-ended. We were now well below the mine and elected to follow the creek, we followed the creek about 1/2 mile to the next tributary coming into willow creek, ascended above and west of this tributary to find the trail about 150 ft above Willow Creek, followed that to Willow creek camp. This trail is a fine adventure for those who are Poison-Oak tolerant and adventure minded.
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Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby Jon on Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:55 pm

Date Hiked: September 19, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I found the conditions to the camp by the creek good and easy to follow. I tried to venture beyond the camp and did not find the trail, perhaps to the ridge if I had time but was not successful. I had referenced a map that showed the trail continuing along the creek to the junction with the North Fork of Willow Creek (scroogled). So beyond camp I had an easy rock hop to the confluence of the two creeks. At that point the trail was shown as a fall line trail going up the nose of the ridge. I found a few "Hobbit Mine" markers, and including one on a short segment of old tread that was definitely cut in, but old and overgrown just over the confluence of the creeks. Where the trail would have headed up the ridge, there was evidence of an old slide or debris flow that obliterated the trail and perhaps lead to the demise of this section of trail. At that point I turned back. Explored the forks of the creek a bit. I ventured up the "new steep trail" referenced below, I think it was game trail. It intersected a better section of trail that I followed back to the creek, but it was cutoff by a fallen tree and the trail was not easy to follow back after that. Reading now, it appears the trail crosses to the north side of the creek and I found that on my return. But the crossings are not marked and are generally difficult to follow beyond the camp. There are also well used intersecting game trails that confuse the path. I relied on gps quite a bit.

There was water in the creek, except right at the camp. But was live again just above the camp, and I found a pool deep enough for a quick plunge to cool off in.
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Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:09 pm

Date Hiked: August 12, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

The current Willow Creek Trail situcation is that a thin use trail has been constructed to connect the "upper" and "lower" sections.

Originally (and as shown in the USFS database) the trail followed an old mining-era road, crossing Willow Creek and ascending along a relatively steep slope. Later the section along that slope was lost, I assume due to tread erosion and vegetation growth as has happened so many other places in the Ventana, leaving no apparent connection between upper and lower sections. What had been the stub trail to Willow Creek Camp remained in reasonable shape, continuing beyond the camp to old mining artifacts. Access to the upper trail has more recently been made by bushwhacking up from the camp trail, though not consistently so no connection was apparent. The upper tread had been maintained to some degree by the caretaker of the Kinder Mine, who liked to visit Willow Creek - but he is no longer there, so the tread had became increasingly overgrown.

Currently some tread has been cut into that steep slope from the unofficial camp use trail to intersect the upper tread - so a connection between the upper and lower sections is now apparent to hikers (FYI this is supposed to be a section of the "Condor Trail"). The bad news is that it is not very trail-like and how last it will last along that very steep slope is known. But while not as nice as the original tread, IMHO it is better than nothing, which had been the previous case (and maintenance of the original track would be difficult given its length over a steep vegetated slope and relatively light useage).

The map below shows how I have modified my trailmap to indicate the current situation.

Jack
Attachments
WillowCreekTrail-connection.png
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby trail_guy on Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:49 am

Date Hiked: August 21, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail to creekside campsites is clear of poison oak . Vegetation on the trail up the canyon on the north side of Willow Creek past the second campsite area has been cut back. Work on the Kinder mine trail continues. The section from the stream crossing to the “living bridge” has been widened and reconfigured where needed and poison oak has been cut back. The stream crossing at the “living bridge” is dry, but water is nearby. Ticks may be present on the sunny sections of the trail. Water just below the turnaround at the end of the jeep trail and at Willow Creek.
Road Advisory. The section of "Willow Creak Road" that goes down to the turnaround from the redwood camping area continues to be in very poor condition. 4 wheel drive and high clearance are strongly recommended.
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Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby trail_guy on Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:19 am

Date Hiked: July 23, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail to creek side campsites is clear of poison oak . Vegetation on the trail up the canyon on the north side of Willow Creek past the second campsite area has been cut back as far as the narrow rocky gorge. A simple access trail up the slope on the north side of Willow Creek now connects to Willow Creek Trail up to Kinder Mine Road. Work will continue here over the summer to make use of the hiking trail to the Kinder mine easier and safer.
Road Advisory. The section of "Willow Creak Road" that goes down to the turnaround from the redwood camping area is in very poor condition. In the last couple of months a number of cars have had to be towed out. 4 wheel drive and high clearance are strongly recommended.

Editor (Jack Glendening) note: I trust that as a "TRAIL guy" any trail work will keep the original route, i.e. along the old road (and hence with relatively gradual slope) to cross Willow Creek west of Willow Creek Camp - as it originally extended to the Kinder Mine. Somebody seems to be trying to instead make a rough trail up the steep hillside, which would have erosion and maintainability issues. Willow Creek Camp (with grate and picnic table) is meant to lie along a spur off the Willow Creek Trail, not lie along it (as attested to by Sierra Club Los Padres National Forest Trail Guide, which dates back to 1969). Someone cannot expect praise (or be considered a "trail guy") if they simply hack out an arbitrary route instead of following the actual trail. Original route noted on map (road location on quadrangle map was only approximate, to indicate the presence of a road in that area)
Attachments
WillowCreekTrail-sansStubs-topo.png
Willow Creek Trail - original route
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Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:27 pm

Date Hiked: July 15, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Paul Danielson and I hiked the Willow Creek Trail up to Kinder Mine Road. The section south of Willow Creek is in excellent shape - a "wilderness freeway". However, that tread now goes directly to Willow Creek Camp and beyond to eventually dead end at the creek - the original route following the old road to the "upper" section, north of Willow Creek has been lost. One must now "know" that the trail continues atop the bluff north of Willow Creek and ascend the slope north to find it. That upper section has been recently worked on and though rough in places is "clear" to Kinder Mine Road - but that tread work does not extend down to the connection between the upper and lower sections.

Jack
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby trail_guy on Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:19 pm

Date Hiked: April 24, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail to creekside campsites is clear of poison oak . Trail just past jeep track turnaround at site of minor landslide is now passable. Cross with care. Trail on the north side of Willow Creek past the second campsite area has been opened up the canyon as far as the narrow rocky gorge. The unmaintained trail up the slope on the north side of Willow Creek has been partially cleared and reconfigured. Ticks are present on the sunny sections of the trail. Water just below the turnaround at the end of the jeep trail and at Willow Creek.
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Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:31 pm

Date Hiked: May 17, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section: to Willow Creek Camp

I hiked this trail with a Youth in Wilderness group this past spring. We parked near Sycamore Flat and hiked down to Willow Creek without much impediment, trail is for the most part clear with little poison oak and few dead falls, did not see any ticks. Such a gorgeous camp with the giant coast redwoods and the beautiful creek. We did not encounter any other groups or people.
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Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:07 am

Date Hiked: March 7, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Paul Danielson and I found this trail to be good shape, "clear" up to Willow Creek Camp and "passable" afterward when it ascends to contour the slope above the creek. It became brushy only in the final section where it emerges from the trees, ending in a large meadow. The "Living Bridge" has fallen, but I crossed over it just to say I had used it - the planks were actually in good shape, but were quite tilted and slippery so crossing required crawling (photo below for those like me who had heard it mentioned in previous reports and wondered what it looked like). The connection between the lower and upper sections, just beyond Willow Creek Camp, is vague - I found a tread which gave a steady ascent from the creek bank opposite the camp and have used that route for my Ventana Trailmap. It appeared some others were intercepting the upper trail later, which requires a much steeper ascent - likely they have followed the usetrail which extends upstream beyond Willow Creek Camp before crossing the creek.
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LivingBridge.halfsize.jpg
Living Bridge
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: Willow Creek Trail

Postby Mehm on Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:11 pm

Date Hiked: June 19, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

When looking for this trail from Highway 1, look for the Tree Bones turn off. Follow the road up the mountain for probably 5 miles (a wild guess) and take the dirt road that veers to the left down a fairly steep hill. There are no signs marking the trail head... This road was only passable in a rugged car or truck and took some fancy driving. If you want to avoid this, park at the top of the hill somewhere and hike down..its not that far.

The path was a bit overgrown in places but easily passable. Once you are at the bottom of the canyon, there are two campsites. One is very large and nice, the other was small and flooded after the wet winter. For a great day hike put on your water shoes and see how far up the river you can go. It eventually comes to some some falls and a swimming pool.

The map on this site shows the trail connecting all the way through to another road, but I couldn't find the trail if there even is one. This is a short hike but is the typical Big Sur amazing experience. It is a good one if you get a late start and want to make it to camp before dark. Have fun!
Mehm
 

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