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San Carpoforo/Elk Camp/Lottie Potrero Trails

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Re: San Carpoforo/Elk Camp/Lottie Potrero Trails

Postby Herb Stroh on Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:56 pm

On November 12 I hiked the Forest Road near Ragged Point Inn to San Carporforo Camp. The trail head is about 100 yards south of the Inn.

The road climbs fairly steeply to reach a saddle in about 2 miles and 2200 feet elevation gain. The map does not show a side road at the saddle, but there is a defined dozer cut going to the right. Say on the main road, and in a short distance it will split—to the left the road/dozer cut follows the ridge line providing fine views of the coast south of Ragged. Eventually this road turns down and makes an exceptionally steep descent to Highway 1 (a stone’s throw from the Monterey and SLO County border line).

At the split turn right and the road will begin to head down into the valley toward Baldwin Ranch. The road first reaches water (seasonal) at 35, 48, 11.005 N, 121, 18, 1.440 W, and shortly thereafter crosses San Carporforo Creek. There is greater likelihood of finding water where the road crosses the creek. Continuing on, you will eventually come to a sign marking the very faint Spruce Creek Trail from Turkey Springs (35, 48, 10.818 N, 121, 17, 9.816). Within minutes the trail to San Carporforo appears to the right, marked by a small “trail” sign (35, 48, 8.010 N, 121, 17, 0.175 W). The sign is visible, but the trail is faint as viewed from the road, winding into the brush.

That said, the trail to San Carporforo Camp is not difficult to follow. There is poison oak and stinging nettles along this section, but it is not terribly overgrown by Central Coast standards. It appears other hikes have beaten down the brush as they passed, and I contributed to the cause where needed. From road to Camp is about a half mile. San Carporforo Camp (35, 47, 46248 N, 121, 16, 47.856 W) has two sites with fire pits and no tables. The sites are under large trees along what was a dry creek bed. But if you head through camp roughly parallel to the dry bed you will reach water in about 100+ yards.

My goal was to either reach Elk Camp or find the trail leading there. After searching around San Carporforo for promising leads, I headed back down to where I found water and crossed the creek (35, 47, 43.033 N, 121, 16, 45.282). There I found a faint but definite trail leading away from the water. This seemed to have some promise, as it was generally headed in the right direction for Elk. However, the trail splits often and the following the more ‘defined’ trail took me away from the direction of Elk Camp. My sense is that the best way to find Elk is to create a GPS route leaving San Carporforo, and anticipate cross-county travel most of the way. It would best be done as an overnight trip, to allow time to sniff it out.

I did follow what appeared to be the most defined version of the trail to a dry hunter’s camp (35, 47, 51.443 N, 121, 16, 20.773 W) about a half-mile from San Carporforo. I flushed some nice size deer from a near-by draw as I searched in vain for a distinct trail leaving the camp.

Retracing my steps I headed back to San Carporforo Camp and then reached the road. After about 1 ¾ miles on the road I noticed a fairly visible unsigned side trail (35, 48, 14.858 N, 121, 18, 27.642 W) that looked like it would serve as a nice shortcut to reconnect to the road above. I headed up this side trail, and it did regain the road at the ridge (35, 47, 45.982 N, 121, 18, 47.678 W), cutting the distance by over ½ mile. This side trail continued on the west side of the road heading in a general north-west direction, an enticing subject for future exploration. In the absence of an official name, I am referring to the side trail I hiked up as Baldwin Trail East and the trail heading north-west as Baldwin Trail West. Baldwin Trail East is not difficult to follow, but is a very steep climb heading west. For those who want to get off the road, it provides a scenic “short cut”.

The round trip to San Carporforo Camp is just under 13 miles with an elevation gain of 4,654. Except for the short section from the road to San Carporforo, the hiker can easily stay out of poison oak and stinging nettles. I look forward to finding the way to Elk Camp, and exploring that area in some detail. I also wonder if there are hunters trails from Elk to Jones or that would eventually connect to the South Coast Road.
Herb Stroh
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 2:17 pm

Re: San Carpoforo/Elk Camp/Lottie Potrero Trails

Postby John Doe on Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:02 pm

In my opinion that's a long way for one day. The gain on the fire road is around 2k, the descent into the drainage is at least 1k, probably more. I went up & over not long ago & turned around halfway down the other side. Another thing to note is that ALL the creeks were dry a couple weeks back. May be different now with the recent rains but take a decent amount of water regardless. I've also seen a mountain lion in broad daylight on the backside of the ridge once. If you're a strong hiker go for it, would love to hear how it goes.

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John Doe
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Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:46 pm

San Carpoforo/Elk Camp/Lottie Potrero Trails

Postby Herb Stroh on Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:51 pm

Vet Day weekend I am day hiking up the fire road from Ragged Point hoping to reach Elk Camp. If time permits I may scout out the trail to Lottie Portrevo Camp. I know the trip through San Carpoforo to Elk will be difficult to find. If anyone has hints, waypoints or any other useful info it would be greatly appreciated.

Herb Stroh
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 2:17 pm


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