Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Carmel River Trail

Carmel River Trail

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby Rowan Hyland on Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:05 pm

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

From Pine Valley to the small ridge directly above the turnoff for Round Rock Camp:

Leaving the small cabin in Pine Valley behind the trail quickly disappears into the dry grass. However, if one looks straight ahead at the next group of pines about 100 yards further on they will see a bright pink marker hanging from the lower branch of a pine tree. From here it becomes fairly easy and obvious to follow the closely grouped markers that lead to the first section of trail before the gate at the top of the Carmel River drainage. This beginning section before the gate is in excellent condition and is passed through easily. After this though the trail worsens, and so begins the fair amount of stooping required to make it through the narrow brush tunnels. It looks as though someone did come through not too long ago and clear this section before the bottom of the creek, and while the brush is annoying the trail itself is very easy to follow. After reaching the bottom of the creek and entering into some of the recent burn areas the tread becomes more faint and is often difficult to follow at times. Essentially though it is not that hard to actually navigate as the trail follows the creek all the way down to a small campsite on the east side of the creek. It is here that the next junction heading up the and over the small ridge where the river begins to bend is easily missed. Once found however, the overgrown trail is followed without much issue until the crest is reached and the trail drops down towards Round Rock and Hiding Camps where as stated from previous reports the trail improves immensely. Note: Though given an overall rating of "difficult" I would say that despite the section of trail along the creek the rest of the trail is "passable". And while the trail does fade into nothingness as it traverses from one side of the creek to the other there were never any sections where I was seriously impeded by walls of brush. Get out there and do it!
Rowan Hyland

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby Rob on Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:51 pm

Date Hiked: December 15, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I did an overnight from the Los Padres Reservoir trailhead to Hiding Camp and back. The trail was in great shape up to the Miller Canyon junction, as previously reported. I did not see a sign for the Miller Canyon trail though.

Above Sulfur Springs Camp there were three or four large sections of blowdown, which could be a problem for folks with large packs. There was a similar section on the way to Buckskin Flat and another on the way to Hiding Camp.

Also as reported there were short sections where the tread was narrow and slumping, as though the trail was starting to wash down the hillside.

The section of trail between Buckskin and Hiding that climbs high above the creek had a short area where small talus had fallen onto the trail, making for some rough going.

Strawberry vines in some of the sections in between the many creek crossings sometimes made footing tricky. Lots of autumn grass stickers to pick up, too. I was surprised to pick up only two ticks, but it has been a bit of a dry autumn so far.

The creek crossings were mostly rock-hops, though some were a bit marginal. I packed water shoes, but managed to dunk my boots on a couple of them, so they made for nice dry camp shoes :)
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: SJC

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby pantilat on Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:22 pm

Date Hiked: November 19, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report covers the 1.7 mile section from Church Divide to Pine Valley:

Tread is evident and large impediments were cut out, but the trail is brushy, including a thorny plant that has taken over in spots and lots of post-fire grass and weeds. A trickle of water was flowing only 150 vertical feet down from Church Divide, which soon grew into a stream. Good flow in the Carmel "River" near the English Cabin.

It looks like a horse pack recently went down this trail to the English Cabin, where they felled a few pines in front of the cabin (likely as a precaution to prevent these trees from falling on the cabin). However, I was VERY happy to see that ~90% of the mature pines in Pine Valley survived the fire! Looking at satellite imagery after the fire I assumed that large patches of pines were lost, but most of these trees ended up surviving yet another fire. Overall, Pine Valley looks much the same as it did before the Soberanes Fire. We also got an unexpected treat as black oaks and cottonwoods along the trail were at peak fall color.

Note: The usetrail to Pine Falls has become very faint with some brush at the beginning and then the steep parts sustained erosion. The fire did not enter the canyon and the Santa Lucia Fir forest leading down to the falls is doing well.

Photo Album:
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:16 pm

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:56 pm

Date Hiked: August 25, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Hiding Canyon Camp to the Los Padres Dam

This trail is a magnificent experience, I really enjoy this area of the Ventana, I especially like all of the alders. This was the final leg of our Soberanes Burn Area survey hike. The river crossings were easily rock hopped, though the river flow is pretty good, maybe a foot or so deep in the average crossing. The fire did not burn along this trail, between Hiding Canyon and Carmel River camps. Though the heavy rains did a number on some sections, there were numerous slides along the sections before Carmel River camp , especially when the trail climbs up above the river. We counted some 16 downed tree events across the trail (some involving multiple trees) and 8 slides. The largest slide involved approx. 40 feet of trail. Careful going in some of the steeper areas, footing can be rather tricky. Overall it was good hiking though, a little rough. Brush is minimal. Once we arrived at the junction of Miller Canyon, we were delighted to find the great trail work done by VWA Volunteers. Having begun our journey traveling The Rattlesnake Creek trail and later Puerto Suelo, walking recently cleared trail and worked tread was an incredible experience. I'm constantly amazed at the work VWA volunteers get done out there.
User avatar
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:48 pm

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:08 pm

Date Hiked: August 24, 2017
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Hiding Canyon Camp to Pine Valley via Hiding Canyon

Continuing our Soberanes Burn Area survey hike, we traveled from Hiding Canyon Camp to Pine Valley. This trail traverses the the steep ridge sides of the Carmel River drainage, and we encountered numerous slides along the route, some more precarious than others. I noted one particular section along hiding canyon, after leaving the Carmel River, that seemed rather dangerous and steep. There is a lot of loose soil and rocks throughout the trail, and I recall falling on several occasions, simply by losing my footing on the precarious tread. I was fortunate to have not suffered any injuries from these falls, and recommend caution. As was common in other riparian areas, the creek crossing in Hiding Canyon- where the trail descends the slope and travels alongside the water before climbing up again- was full of tremendous bramble and other herbaceous plant growth. An animal or maybe even a human (we found unburned flagging in burned areas) had traveled the canyon and made the trail easier to walk. The bramble alongside waterways can make for tricky footing, its easy to get your boot caught up and legs tangled. Water was ample in the stream. I counted 12 trees down on this section, the biggest being a 40" ponderosa further up Hiding Canyon on the approach to Pine Valley, along with a 36", 30" and a 24", also in this area. The fire burned on the northern side of Hiding Canyon, clearing the chapparral that's commonly found there leaving charred remains to push through. The south side, where the trail makes its final ascent up the canyon remained unburned and is rather brushy. The tread is evident however and easy to follow. We stopped at the "Tourist Pasture" gate to Pine Valley, had our lunch then hiked back to the River to survey the Route to Round Rock.
User avatar
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:48 pm

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby bgwinn on Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:54 pm

Date Hiked: March 28, 2017
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

My husband and I took a day hike starting at Los Padres Dam, heading towards Carmel River Camp. The trail gets a little thin across some of the steeper, more exposed parts but was generally in good condition. Beautiful wildflowers. At the 1st creek crossing, we waded across the near branch with no difficulty (knee high) and had lunch on a lovely sandbar. The current was too stiff for us at the wider branch (more than waist high and quite cold) so we headed back.

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby MountainLuke on Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:25 pm

Date Hiked: July 3, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Let me start off by saying thank you to the folks that maintain the trails in the Ventana Wilderness - I just learned that no motorized machinery is allowed for the trail maintenance, and that hand saws must be used to cut a path through even large fallen trees. It must be like trying to hold back the tide! At first I thought it was silly, but then I was glad that I didn't have to listen to chain saws buzzing while out in the beautiful Ventana Wilderness.

Trail report:
From Church Creek divide to Pine Valley:
Trail is in good condition, mostly clear. There was one approximately 6-inch tree at about head-level (think clothes-liner), fallen across the trail. I had to duck to get under it. There is water in the creek at Pine Valley, and the spring is still running as usual. I saw the words "not worth it" scraped on the gate as you exit Pine Valley toward Round Rock. I didn't venture much past the gate, but I could see that the trail was overgrown. Another hiker reported heavy brush this way.

Unfortunately, there was some minor damage to the bench/tables at the English Cabin. It looked like vandalism. I know it happened between the evening (~7pm) of Saturday July 2nd, and the afternoon (~4pm) of Sunday July 3rd, 2016. I can offer a description of the couple that stayed the night there on Saturday, although I didn't actually see what caused the damage.

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby adoutside on Tue May 31, 2016 9:28 am

Date Hiked: May 27, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Our initial plan was to do a loop from China Camp down to Pine Valley, looping around Hiding Canyon/Buckskin, and then taking Miller Canyon Creek back to China Camp. After the rough trail from Pine Valley to Hiding Canyon (Carmel), and hearing that Miller Canyon trail was even more challenging to pass through than Carmel River from Pine Valley to Hiding Canyon, we changed plans. We ended up heading out towards the dam, bypassing Miller Canyon, and catching a ride back to China Camp.

China Camp to Pine Valley via Pine Ridge Trail and Carmel River Trail (passing Church Creek Divide): Some pushing through brush at the beginning of the trail, but overall clear trail with beautiful wildflowers. Mostly down in to the valley. We did see a nice size rattler (rattling at us) on this trail.

Pine Valley to Hiding Canyon via Carmel River Trail: Gnarly (very). We were pretty much swimming through brush/bushes/poison oak for the few miles. We definitely missed the 'not worth it' that was carved in to the wooden gate leaving Pine Valley. We would not do this trail again under these conditions.

Hiding Camp to Los Padres Dam via Carmel River Trail: MANY creek crossings (15-20), beautiful trail, lots of poison oak, very easy to pass, though some downed trees. We walked through the river at each crossing (didn't rock hop).
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue May 31, 2016 6:45 am

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby js_radford on Tue May 17, 2016 1:21 pm

Date Hiked: March 26, 2016
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

I don't understand your "Date Hiked" - cannot be accurate because the big Pine you mention was cut up March 26. I assume you mean "north" as in uphill? There was a Pine tree about 200 yards upslope from the divide. Indeed, a horse/mule packer went through (Pine Valley-China Camp) just this past Sunday. VWA crew was working half way between China and Church Creek Divide when these guys passed by with heavily laden stock. I don't think they asked their stock to do hurdles.
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:19 am

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby Foster-Bates on Fri May 13, 2016 3:21 pm

Date Hiked: April 13, 2016
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked from China Camp to Pine Valley and back. Plan was to survey trail in anticipation of bringing my wife in to Pine Valley on horse back as she has trouble walking on uneven ground.Found the Pine ridge trail to Church Creek divide clear. The Carmel River Trail from Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley was clear except for a large tree across the tail several hundred yards north of the divide. The tree presents no obstacle to hikers but would be impossible to negotiate for many horses. The rider would have to dismount, have the horse jump the tree, catch the horse and remount. There is no way around the tree. Until this tree is cleared Pine Valley is largely inaccessible to horses.


Return to Ventana Wilderness Trails

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests