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Arroyo Seco-Indians Road

Re: Arroyo Seco-Indians Road

Postby Jim Ringland on Sun May 15, 2016 8:26 pm

Date Hiked: May 14, 2016
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

I, like many, discounted this route because it was a “road”. The VWA page on the subject (https://www.ventanawild.org/projects/ias/ias.html) has some of the checkered history, but the road has an opened-and-closed history going back at least to the Marble Cone Fire in 1977. My 1981 Sierra Club guide says that it was closed except by permit and had been since the Fire. I recall the road was closed by a slide when I hiked the Marble Peak Trail in 1986. I gather from the VWA page it was last fully opened during the Kirk Complex Fire of 1999.

Today the roadbed is still mostly there –- just a handful of rockfalls -- but it only feels like a road in places. Much is down to a single track with deerweed (Acmispon sp.) and other mostly soft stuff filling the rest. It’s easy hiking, but it’s fair to call this a Wilderness Freeway trail walk more than a road walk. It’s a trail bike (non-motorized) route as well, but I would guess most cyclists wouldn’t be quite so sanguine about it because of the grades, occasional roughness/rockiness, and encroaching plants. I saw tracks but no cyclists when I was out.

And to discount it is really, really wrong. Spectacular views, interesting rock formations, varied terrain, plus a fair number of wildflowers (including one I sure didn't expect: read on) made this a very enjoyable walk.

I hiked it northbound from Escondido to Arroyo Seco. The first water I saw was at a stream 2.8 miles up from Escondido where the topo map marks BM 2690. About a mile and a half further on, Hanging Valley is a series of open grassy meadows (“lumpy” meadows rather than flat turf) surrounded by lots of chamise and a clusters of knobcone pines in the distance. The stream at the end of the Hanging Valley Camp Road/Usetrail was running. This was a campground once but it doesn't look like many stay now. I didn't see any established camps in the meadows although those would be the best places to camp. There was just a meager make-do fire ring camp at the end of the Hanging Valley Camp Road on bare ground at the edge of what likely was once a parking lot. (Or, during the Kirk Complex Fire, maybe an equipment storage lot?) A bit more than three miles after Hanging Valley, I heard (but didn’t see) water at Jackhammer Spring. The spring is, I gather, a few tens of feet up a draw away from the road behind a big sycamore. It was brushy enough (grasses, black sage, but not much PO) that I didn’t work my way to it. It would have been easily do-able if necessary. After Jackhammer Spring there is no water until Santa Lucia Creek, almost to the Arroyo Seco end of the route.

Even more interesting as a water source was the intermittent stream (on the top map) about 1/3 mile south of (for me, before) Jackhammer Spring, immediately north of a rather large rockslide. That "stream" here is actually water seeping over rocks. There was a little grotto where the water was coming down. Someone had put a metal bowl in just the right place to catch dripping water and make a most soul-satisfying sound. I could have refilled my water bottle out of that bowl if I had needed to. I didn't. It would have disturbed the music, and besides, I was too busy gasping at the plants. Maidenhair ferns in the grotto. Woodwardia ferns above. And on the sides and below, many, many, Epipactis gigantea (stream orchids) in bloom. The top of the Arroyo Seco - Indians Road was just about the last place I expected to run into great big moisture-loving orchids. But here they were, on the east side of the Santa Lucias, with the rigorously dry high hillside landscape just yards away. Amazing.

(Addendum 5/27/2016. I've been researching that grotto. It appears the slide immediately south of it is the Adit Slide, the slide that closed the road for good according to the web page I cited earlier. That being the case, the "grotto" may indeed be the adit. My 1981 Sierra Club trail guide states, following a discussion of Jackhammer Spring, heading southbound, "The road then passes a cave that was a test mine for molybdenum (a mineral used in alloys) and drops down into Hanging Valley." It looks like the wilds are doing a respectable job of reclaiming that mining scar.)
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Re: Arroyo Seco-Indians Road

Postby Hydro-Logic on Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:10 pm

Date Hiked: August 24, 2014
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

My friend, my two kids (12 y.o. boy and 6 y.o. girl) and I originally had planned a single overnight backpack from Escondido to Lost Valley and back but since I wasn't sure there was water there we decided to go for a slightly shorter hike with less climbing to a place where water would be more sure. We hiked up Indians Road in perfect mid 80's weather with a steady breeze. The "road" was in perfect condition with hardly any brush encroaching the tread. Our destination was the "perennial" spring and water hole at Hanging Valley. We got there in good time but when we hiked down to the spring we found nothing but a stinky, stagnant, pool of water that we quickly named the "crap hole". I suppose in a desperate survival situation I would have boiled and then filtered the water but we quickly changed plans. The obvious camp spot at Hanging Valley is in a completely open and shadeless clearing. Not the best spot by any means. The temps were low 90's and wind was scarce in that area and it was around 1 pm. The thought camping at that god forsaken shadeless spot next to a stinky crap hole was not appealing to anyone. After a quick lunch I rallied the kids to hike back out of the "crap hole" and to the car where ice cold orange juice and asian pears awaited us. The plan was to hustle back and drive to Indians rock where we would find a place amongst the rocks to set up the tents for the night. Without hesitation we put our packs on and went for it. The 4.5 miles back took us 1:30 and we had plenty of time to set up an amazing camp spot amongst the rocks and have a well deserved dinner....with ice cold beer for the two 2 adults!

point being in this severe drought there is no guarantees for water where you would most likely expect it.
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Re: Arroyo Seco-Indians Road

Postby mikesplain on Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:56 pm

Date Hiked: April 12, 2013
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Don't let the "road" part fool you- this is an excellent walk and very trail-like along much of its length.
We started at the southern end and hiked out and back to Hanging Valley,
encountering lots of encroaching deerweed, much of it teeming with ticks, so check frequently, especially if you're taking the point.
Conditions were extremely dry and dusty for early April-
Sky Ranch aka Eagle Creek wasn't even flowing at the road culvert,
but abundant water could be found in the fine spring / pool at Hanging Valley.
We saw no other humans, but did enjoy the company of plentiful wildflowers, birds and a ringneck snake crossing the road
(bicyclists- please be careful!)
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Re: Arroyo Seco-Indians Road

Postby Guest on Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:06 pm

Date Hiked: April 14, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked leaving from Memorial Park up past Escondido to the rock formation. The path to the Escondido gate is clear and easy to follow- it is basically a road. You can see a spot where there was a slide near Escondido, but it has been cleared by some kind of earth mover. There is a spring where the landslide happened- not to sure about the quality of the water, but the dogs were happy to have a romp in the puddles. Past the gate above Escondido the brush closes in. There were places where it was pretty overgrown, but passable.

Overall it was a great hike- lots of wildflowers this time of year and temperatures were perfect. I didn't have any problems with ticks- my dogs did not bring any home either. I saw lots of coast horned lizards up past the gate and some tracks that could have been mountain lion. I saw one garter snake down where the creek runs into Arroyo Seco.

it is a good trip for the beginner or wilderness novice.
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Re: Arroyo Seco-Indians Road

Postby Betsy M on Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:33 pm

Date Hiked: March 23, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

For a VWA trail crew trip, we started at Arroyo Seco Campground, and took the road approximately 5 miles to just before the spur trail to Last Chance Camp. The road is a freeway to the Marble Peak Trailhead, and beyond it is still in pretty good shape. There are some rocks and encroaching brush, but not enough to block your progress. After the first saddle above the Marble Peak Trailhead (Horsebridge), there is a small slide that has been pared down to make a manageable walkway. There is also a fair amount of lotus, which was filled with ticks when we were there. Someone has cleared just enough that a bicycle or hiker can pass through, though the first person in our group ended up with a crowd of ticks eagerly climbing up their legs.

At the second saddle, the sign at the Spur Trail was lying on the ground, and we tried to prop it up so you could at least see it.
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Arroyo Seco-Indians Road

Postby mikesplain on Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:11 pm

* USFS road # n/a
* Parking: Arroyo Seco Gorge or Escondido Campground environs (or Santa Lucia Memorial park if gate is locked)
* Watersheds: Arroyo Seco River
* Junctions: Lost Valley Trail, Santa Lucia Spur, Marble Peak Trail, Santa Lucia Trail (northern end)
* Connects: Arroyo Seco Campground with Santa Lucia Memorial Park Campground
* Camps: Hanging Valley
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Arroyo Seco-Indians Road

Postby renardsubtil on Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:52 am

Date Hiked: March 23, 2013
Time: 5AM to 12PM
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This report is for a the section of ArroyoSeco-Indians Road area leaving the Santa Lucia Memorial Campground passing the Escondido campground and half a mile or so northeast into the start of the switch backs.

The road was passable, 0 deadfalls, a few rock slides, a car with decent height clearance would make it but the gate from Memorial campground to Escondido but the gate was closed this weekend. After passing Escondido campground about a mile beyond the closed gate (aprox. 36.142675, -121.49197) my buddy and I turned back as the grass in the road contained quite a few ticks. We lunched at Escondido campground for a little while but also left the area as ticks were plentiful here as well.

It has rained earlier in the week (approximately 3 or 4 days before the hike) and so the trail was fresh with animal tracks. We did find fresh mountain lion tracks in our own tracks when we headed back in the late morning toward Memorial campground so be mindful.

Beyond the locked gate passing Escondido campground, the road is slightly overgrown, passable but full of ticks.

Cat tracks (the latter mountain bike tracks was within the same hour)
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