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Carmel River Trail

Carmel River Trail Conditions History 1999-2008

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 12, 2009 4:16 pm

Date Hiked: April 22, 2008
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Conditions reported by: Paul Norris
Survey date: 22-APRIL-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hiding Camp to Pine Valley - Passable

Difficult in several spots. I counted 36 significant deadfalls on this stretch (i.e., more than a step-over), with seven where you had to sidehill around. Some of the side-hills would have been difficult in wet weather, and a couple were difficult in dry weather. There were also six places where the tread was washed out, a couple of which were relatively exposed and would have been risky in wet weather. A lot of poison oak, unavoidable (brief wading) in several places, and a lot of brush incursion from both sides and overhead, making for wet going in the rain and dirty going in dry weather (bending over to tunnel through, getting twigs and leaves down the collar).

There has been some trail-work done on this trail, by someone in a hurry (or with a quirky sense of humor): deadfall logs sawed through but only in one place so the log is still intact across the trail, brush cut with the "why stretch?" philosophy so the lopped-off branch still protrudes into the trail, unoffending branches chopped while the deadfall is left in place, and colored plastic ribbon tied to brush in places where the trail is obvious.

The turn-off to Round Camp shown on the Forest Service topo map isn't signed on the trail. No idea what shape that trail's in, or if the camp is still there.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers (Stevenson Wilderness Expedition)
Survey date: 2-MARCH-2008
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Dam to Big Pines Trail - Wilderness Freeway

Section: Big Pines Trail to Hiding Canyon Camp - Clear

A newly fallen oak tree clutters the downstream end of the camp. We cleared an adequate tenting place there, but the camp is not as open and nice as it usually is.

Section: Hiding Canyon to Pine Valley - Clear

We cleared most of the intruding timber and lots of the brush. There are still some off-trail detours on the way up to the Round Rock Trail and places where the foot bed has slumped, narrowed or is simply soft and slippery. Generally, though, the trail is now clear. Pine Valley camping areas are clear except on the flat near the Pine Valley spring, where a new sign warns against camping under falling timber.

Section: Pine Valley to Church Creek Divide - Clear

Trail is clear with exception of one or two off-trail detours around freshly fallen trees.
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Conditions reported by: Myron
Survey date: 12-JANUARY-2008
General: PASSAABLE
Specific:

Section: Hiding Camp to Pine Valley - Passable

On this stretch there are a fair number of recent deadfalls, mostly passable but a few are very tricky to get around. Tread well defined, some encroaching brush but easily passable. No marking at cutoff for Round Rock camp, without a map the correct trail would not be obvious.
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Conditions reported by: Andy
Survey date: 18-NOVEMBER-2007
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

This was quite an experience! We camped the first night in Pine Valley and endured an extremely cold night out there. Visited with Jack for a while then made camp. The trail to Pine Valley is, of course, in outstanding shape and a pleasure to hike. The next morning we continued out of Pine Valley along the Carmel River Trail. No more pleasure here folks. The trail is a MESS from Pine Valley to Hiding Canyon. Overgrown and tough to follow. Poison oak all around. From Hiding Canyon on it was the expected never ending series of river crossings. Although the river is not very high right now, rock hopping is still a pain. I elected to just use my boots as river sandals and that saved some time. I found Hiding, Buckskin, and Sulphur Springs camps to be dark and gloomy this time of year. I liked Buckskin the best since it has a large open area. We had planned to spend another night on the trail but after seeing the camps elected to push on out the entire 13 miles to the dam. I would not recommend this trail until it warms up a bit. By that time however, the trail will be in even worse condition.
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Conditions reported by: Arno Holschuh
Survey date: 30-SEPTEMBER-2007
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

This is at times a trail in name only. Low water meant little trouble crossing the river the literally dozens of times one is required to, but the trail is so faint as to be more of a suggestion than a rule. Cows everywhere, which may make some people angry, but hey, at least they're beating back the briars. If this trail doesn't see either a lot of use or a visit from a trail crew, it will revert before too long.

On the up side, the creek is running, and the campsites are very nice, if abandoned. The whole trail looks and feels like no one has used it in a while.
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Conditions reported by: Sarah
Survey date: 10-JULY-2007
General: CLEAR to DIFFICULT

At the time of our visit, there was plenty of water for filtering at Pine Valley: both the headwaters of the Carmel River and the spring at the foot of the Bear Basin trail were flowing. The Carmel River and Ventana Mesa Creek were lower than usual. Danish Creek was dry. The creek in Hiding Canyon was mostly dry, and that area would be vastly unpleasant to stop and filter at this time. So if you’re traveling between Pine Valley and Hiding Camp, I’d advise taking plenty of water from one of those places, or the spur at Round Rock, before you start. In fact, the water was so low on this trip that we never got our feet wet in any river crossing, and some pools that normally invite us to dunk were not so alluring.

A word for overnighters: Aggressive, omnivorous rats inhabit lots of the campsites on this trail. It seems as though one of these animals is always on duty, 24/7, just waiting for you move three feet away from your food. Tupperware would work nicely for food and garbage storage; even a tightly zippered pack with a thick skin might do. What wouldn’t do is what we did the first day: ziplock bags in drawstring compartments.

Specific:

Section: Los Padres Dam to Big Pines Trail - Wilderness Freeway

The dirt road from Los Padres Dam trailhead to just before Big Pines Trail junction is wilderness freeway.

Section: Big Pines Trail to Carmel River Camp - Clear

I’d advise poison-oak-susceptible folks to avoid it nonetheless.

Section: Carmel River Camp to Round Rock Camp Trail - Passable

Lots of poison oak and briars crowding the path along the river, and lots of chaparral crowding the path above the river. Some stretches of faint tread lurk amongst the briars, but nothing too bad, and the river crossings are easier to find now than they were even a few weeks ago.

Section: Round Rock Camp Trail to Pine Valley - Passable/Difficult

This section is full of wildly canted, crumbly tread and encroaching brush and deadfall, but it’s also passable, with the exception of Hiding Canyon itself, which is difficult.

If you are sure-footed and not bothered by heights or thorns in your face or ticks or poison oak, you will be fine in this whole section. And you might even enjoy the character-building experience of traveling up Hiding Canyon (not Hiding Camp but the actual canyon, which on our map is 2 miles past the camp). If you are such a soul, the stretch that encompasses the creek crossings in Hiding Canyon (which are mostly dry as I mentioned earlier) will especially delight you. Awaiting your arrival to this area is a jungle of briars, thorns, poison oak, various large-leafed grasping vines, steep-and-crumbling-and-hidden-under-pokey-vegetation tread, and squadrons of blood-sucking insects. It's a head-to-toe prickly experience, even if you are wearing long pants and sleeves and a hat and glasses, for the hour that it seems to last (traveling uphill). Check your clothes for ticks often here. I found a couple dozen on me.

Section: Pine Valley to Pine Ridge Trail - Wilderness Freeway

At Pine Valley, the trail becomes clear. At the junction of the Bear Basin trail in Pine Valley, the condition changes to wilderness freeway until trail's end at the Pine Ridge Trail. This section has recently been cleared and is marvelous. Many thanks to whoever did the work!
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Conditions reported by: Lynn Miller
Survey date: 9-JULY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Good water in Carmel River, lots of poison oak overgrowing the trail. Some difficulty telling which is hiking trail and which are cattle trails from higher pastures. Camp sites are clean, but steel fireboxes need attention.
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Conditions reported by: Kalista
Survey date: 14-MAY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Initial river crossings were time consuming due to finding the best crossing. Not all crossing points were passable without getting boots wet. Trail picks up on the other side of Hiding Canyon Camp. Make sure to take left turn at junction point across from the falls. We missed it and ended up lost for half the day. If you get to a campsite that has a red birdhouse shaped sign with no info on it and tables falling apart, that's Round Rock Camp. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CONTINUE UP THE PATH JUST PAST IT. The path beyond the junction is clear then becomes very overgrown and infested with ticks once you reach the stream crossing part. Beware of snakes once you reach the meadow in Pine Valley. Also, if you want the Pine Ridge Trail back to China Camp, the junction is unmarked in that direction, but there is a sign for Bear Basin Trail which goes straight up a mountain. Do not make the mistake we did! Turn left and stay in the meadow just past the cabin and before you cross a stream next to the sign. Currently there is moving water at all but 1 crossing on this trail.
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Conditions reported by: Ken Swegles
Survey date: 15-APRIL-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The river is not running very high at all with the lack of rain, making crossing easy. From Hiding Camp the trail ascends up the other side of the canyon, to where the view of Ventana Mesa Fall is obscured due the vegetative melange. The trail to Round Rock appears to be maintained, although we only observed the first few strides of it. Dipping back down into the creek the crossings are all minor, although some of the sections are slightly overgrown. The trail remains clear as it climbs up to the gate of Pine Valley, where one can find infinite beauty tangled into an ancient Native American paradise. Regarding the trail though, it is very passable and worth walking on.
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Conditions reported by: David C. Laredo
Survey date: 26-MARCH-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

All camps were well marked, and trail markers at all trail junctions were clear and well maintained. The sole exception to this were the trail forks below Los Padres Dam, as several roads branch without distinction. (If you have never travelled this path, always bear right.)

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley - Clear

The trail is well defined, but the tread is a bit worn and rutted, with some minor deadfall. The campsites are all in good shape. Ample water was flowing in Pine Valley, and no insects as yet. We were the sole occupants of the Valley!

Section: Pine Valley to Hiding Camp - Passable

The trail was passable, but more overgrown. The last 2 miles before Hiding Camp is more difficult due to deadfall and brush intruding upon the trail. A few minor slides cross the trail, but are easily navigatable. Poison Oak abounds, and the ticks were out in force. No flying insects to speak of. Hiding Camp was well maintained with two excellent picnic benches, and three excellent camp sites. Again, we were the sole occupants.

Section: Hiding Camp to Carmel River Camp - Passable

From hiding camp the trail is faint at times, but locatable. Although there is good flow in the Carmel River, the 26 river crossings did not pose any problem, with water depth no more than knee deep. Much Poison Oak in this area, and each of our party had mutilple ticks. Stay vigilent!

Deadfall and trail erosion was more evident, but none of these were more than a minor inconvenience.

Section: Carmel River Camp to Los Padres Dam - Clear

The tread from Miller Canyon to Los Padres suffers from heavy horse use (likely when the trail was saturated.)
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Conditions reported by: Adam
Survey date: 16-FEBRUARY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The Carmel River Trail is in good condition with only slight posion oak. The river is no more than 2.5 feet at the deepest crossing. There are about 24 crossings to get to Hiding Canyon Camp. Water shoes are a good idea.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 12-FEBRUARY-2007
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley - Wilderness Freeway

There are no obstacles except potentially wet footbed when water is running along the trail. The main campsites are clear and clean in Pine Valley.
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Conditions reported by: Michael
Survey date: 22-JANAURY-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley - Clear

About a quarter mile in there is A LOT of ice and about 5 inches of snow cover.[Ed: snow conditions change quickly] The trail is as clear as ever though, otherwise, and we didn't have any trouble with it.
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Conditions reported by: NR Schmidt
Survey date: 9-JANUARY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hiding Camp to Los Padres Dam - Passable

Tricky yet amazingly fun trail. Crosses river 26 times. If one heads down river from Hiding Camp the trail is easy to pick up but a bit jarring at first river crossing. Hiding Camp is a very cold place to camp (along a river and in valley), but also secluded with excellent facilities.
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Conditions reported by: Greg Minter
Survey date: 26-NOVEMBER-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Hiding Canyon to Carmel River Camp - Passable

Quite a few deadfalls, with a few big ones to challenge backpackers. A few more to crawl under, too. Added up, all the deadfalls make this beautiful trail a lot harder than it normally would be. Trail was evident and in good shape. Tons of river crossings, most are hoppable, but I just sloshed through, being the last of a 3-day loop around Uncle Sam Mountain. Often, a simple wet river crossing is much safer, quicker, and demands much less energy than a tip-toeoing boulder hop. A note to remember is to always find the trail on the opposite bank before attempting your crossing. As I mentioned, you may find a shallow gravel bar to simply walk across right there and then. The river was swift, but not too daunting. Buckskin Camp was in good shape, but Sulfur Springs Camp is dilapidated. I would camp there only as a last resort, as Carmel River Camp, pretty as ever, and Buckskin are better options.

Section: Carmel River Camp to Los Padres Dam - Wilderness Freeway

This stretch is scenic and accessible to most people, including beginning backpackers. Lots of climbing up and down the river valley, but the trail is clear, well-defined, and free of brush and deadfalls. Bluff Camp was clean and beautiful; not a lot of trash to be seen, despite its proximity to Los Padres Dam.
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Conditions reported by: Reed Thayer
Survey date: 22-NOVEMBER-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley - Clear

Trail is in great condition and goes around any deadfalls. There is a slight gully in the trail near the top.
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Conditions reported by: Greg Minter
Survey date: 17-JUNE-2006
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Reservoir to Carmel River Camp - Wilderness Freeway

The trail is very well maintained and clear of obstacles. Los Padres Reservoir is full and it's the prettiest I've seen it. The river is swift and clean. Boulder hopping across the river was not possible; all river crossings required wet feet. Don't bother taking boots on/off to cross the river on this trail. Just slog through with your boots and make friends with your wet feet. Boots provide much better stability, protection and traction than water shoes or bare feet. Always treat rivers with respect and take good care when crossing. Carmel River Camp was beautiful as ever, clean and in good shape.
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Conditions reported by: Geoff & Kristen
Survey date: 21-MAY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Carmel River Camp to Hiding Canyon Camp : Clear to Passable

Water level is at or just above knee level, but the tread here is easily followed with a few areas that are overgrown and a handful of deadfalls that are negotiable. Started to follow a couple of use trails here or there, but they become faint quickly, so it's easy to just go back 20-30 yards and pick up the trail again. River crossings were obvious at most times.

Section: Hiding Canyon Camp to Pine Valley : Difficult

The trail here climbs up along the slopes of Hiding Canyon, and is heavily overgrown with sage (at least it smells nice) and others, including poison oak that sneaks in there, that make the trail seem more like a brushwhack than a trail. Trail was usually obvious, but the going was slow having to push through the branches. Growth was so thick in places that I couldn't make out my hiking partner when they got more than 10 feet in front of me. A handful of deadfall, but all negotiable, with trails around usually not an option. Upon reaching the gate to Pine Valley, the trail is clear.

Section: Pine Valley to Church Creek Trail Junction : Clear to Wilderness Freeway

This section of trail is Wilderness Freeway, with just a few places where there is slight overgrowth. Many use paths off of the trail, but not as well defined. A few deadfalls, but all have walk-around trails. Between the two of us, we saw all of one poison oak plant on this section, and it was very small.
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Conditions reported by: Paul Dileanis
Survey date: 13-MAY-2006
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley - Clear

This part of the trail is in excellent shape. The easy trail, magnificent views and abundant spring wildflowers, however, lull you into a false sense of confidence...

Section: Pine Valley to Hiding Camp - Difficult

After leaving the Pine Valley meadow the trail conditions rapidly degenerate and "concentrated evil" might be too kind. With spring the encroaching chapparal has made for nearly impassable and there is an over abundance of poison oak here and choking the trails in the riperian woodland. There is a section of the trail which has slid and requires attention from brushwacking weary hikers with large loads. The ticks have been starved this past winter and will abandon their leafy abodes in droves for any hapless warm blooded creature that passes.

Section: Hiding Camp to the Los Padres Dam - Passable

There are many downed trees and again much poison oak. Water levels in the river at this time make for tenuous, but passable crossings (28 counted by my 15 year old son).

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Conditions reported by: Josh and Emily
Survey date: 29-APRIL-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley - Clear

The trail is in good shape, there are some larger deadfalls that require small detours to get around them. There was surprisingly little poison oak, not bad at all. Only found 3 ticks between the two of us over 2 days.
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Conditions reported by: TreeProf
Survey date: 26-DECEMBER-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

From China Camp to the west end of Pine Valley it is in good shape. From west end of Pine Valley to Hiding Camp it is concentrated evil, nearing impassable in some portions (extensive vegetation along riparian corridor and abundant sprouting of chaparral species from most recent fire). Said many expletives along this part of the route.
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Conditions reported by: Greg Minter
Survey date: 26-NOVEMBER-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Pine Valley to Hiding Canyon Camp - Difficult

Encroaching brush, many deadfalls, faint tread, and trail slides on steep sections. Upper Hiding Canyon out of Pine Valley could be considered clear, becoming passable as you head down mid-canyon, and becoming difficult as you head to Carmel River.

Section: Hiding Canyon Camp to Buckskin Flat - Passable

Many river crossings. Three strategies here: tip-toe across rocks, using trekking poles, and try to keep your feet dry; slosh through with your boots and accept the wetness; put on water sandals. I opted for strategy one, but next time I'll use strategy three. Section: Buckskin Flat to Los Padres Dam - Passable

Last day of a point-to-point hike from China Camp to Los Padres. Passable, becoming clear after Carmel River Camp, and a Wilderness Freeway as you get past Bluff Camp. Take special care with waste along all Carmel River campsites. Campers must deposit waste at least 100 feet from the river, requiring some steep climbs to find an appropriate spot. All campsites we passed along Carmel River (Hiding Canyon, Buckskin Flat, Sulphur Springs, Carmel River, Bluff) in good shape, with intact firepits, no ticks, and minimal poison oak. Also, our car was safe and sound when we arrived at Los Padres trailhead- no break-in!
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Conditions reported by: Besalu
Survey date: 10-OCTOBER-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Most of the trail between Los Padres Dam and Carmel River camp is fine, but it gets quite hard after that: fallen trees, land slides that made it quite difficult to cross to the other side of the trail, plus foremost: the two dozen crossings and rock hopings that it takes to get to Hidden Camp. I was quite disappointed with this last one. Analise Elliot ("Hiking and Backpacking Big Sur") heralds it as the most beautiful camp, but I found it quite flat, eroded and overused due to repeated camping. I found Bluff camp, however, much prettier, right there by the water, surrounded by boulders and the canyon right in front of you. As other trekkers have reported, the entire area is infested with poison oak, but I did not have any problem with ticks. None decided to take a ride on me, I guess I have been lucky.
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Conditions reported by: Roland Piedrahita
Survey date: 9-OCTOBER-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Dam to Hiding Camp - Passable

The trail was generally clear though there were 4 or 5 different spots where it was either necessary to climb over or under a fallen tree. Poison oak was rampant through about 90% of the trail though I wore shorts and was able to avoid it with some care. I was able to boulder hop across all the river crossings though I would have to look for the right spots which were sometimes a few feet away from the trail.
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Conditions reported by: Teresa
Survey date: 24-SEPTEMBER-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

This trail was not as easy as I expected given that I've read of people hiking from the Los Padres Dam trailhead to VDC and back in a day. Those people are crazy. And in very good shape! The map that the wilderness service sold me doesn't show how up and down the trail is from Los Padres Dam to Carmel River Camp. I assumed that because the trail was drawn beside the river it would be relatively flat. I assumed wrong.

The trail was quite clear and easy to follow although I did get a little confused about 2 miles in when there's a non-official campsite and a number of trails to choose from. I had heard there were no stream crossings until 4 miles in, at Carmel River Camp, so I thought I was there or where the trail crosses a stream on the map at Bluff Camp. (For those who are GPS enabled, I marked Bluff Camp at N36 21.705, W121 39.386.) I guess the stream crossing doesn't count if you can cross on rocks most of the year?

I was very surprised by the amount of poison oak. I hike a lot and this was the most I have ever seen in my life. While the trail is technically clear, there were many times I had to contort to avoid touching the stuff. (I'm very allergic so I try to avoid getting any on my clothes even when I'm clothed head to toe.) Especially past Carmel River Camp when you get into the more serious stream crossings there's sometimes logs down across the trail and the poison oak grows on it and you have to be very tricky to avoid it.

The river was running well this time of year - we hiked the trail as far as Sulfur Springs and Chris was able to rock hop all the crossings except the one just before Bluff Camp and just before Sulfur Springs campsite. At those crossings (and all the others, which I waded for the fun of it) the depth was below the knee. We had planned to go farther but we were quite worried about me getting poison oak. (I ended up with only a very mild case - I guess all the stream crossings helped rinse off the oils.)

As a final note, when we returned to the parking lot our car had been broken into and our wallets and keys stolen. The forums note a history of this, so be warned.
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Conditions reported by: Saar Drimer
Survey date: 7 JUNE-2005
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Dam to Hiding Camp - Clear

This was my first time on this trail and I had Schaffer's book with me. I hiked from Los Padres Dam to Hiding Camp and back. The trail was defined and easy to follow. I was only able to hop 2-3 river crossings (out of about 25), the rest were wet. The water was thigh-high at times. Camps seemed to be in good shape; there were 2-3 more along the way that are not marked in the book and may not be official.
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Conditions reported by: Ery Arias-Castro
Survey date: 17-MAY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Dam to Hiding Camp: Clear

Some overgrowth of grass and poison oak.

Section: From Hiding Camp to Pine Valley: Difficult

Very overgrown.
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Conditions reported by: Stephen Eggleston
Survey date: 15-MAY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

This trail was definitely a mixed experience!! From the Carmel River Camp to just past Hiding Canyon Camp, the trail was generally easily passable with regular deadfalls, minimal brush and minimal to dense poison oak. Plentiful river crossings.

From about the Round Rock Camp Junction to Pine Valley Camp the trail was DIFFICULT..definitely character building!! Heavy tall dense brush almost obscured certain sections. Frequent deadfalls. Trail erosion was generally ok except for a few pitfalls/slides on some hillside trails. I found myself wishing for a machete, chainsaw, hedge-trimmer, etc. as I climbed the trail in Hiding Canyon between the river and just before Pine Valley.

Of course entering Pine Valley was like a cool breeze on a hot day!
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Program
Survey date: 10-MARCH-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific: Report does not cover Big Pines Junction to Hiding Canyon Camp.

Section: Los Padres Dam to Big Pines Junction (Wilderness Freeway)

Section: Hiding Canyon Camp to Pine Valley (Passable to Clear)

The trail is passable to clear after considerable clearing of brush and blackberry vines. Some step-over blowdowns remain, but none are severe. The stream crossings will remain wet for some time. Section: Pine Valley to Church Creek Divide (Wilderness Freeway)

The trail to the Pine Ridge Trail is a Wilderness Freeway, although the trail goes through a couple of blowdowns and negotiates the crown of one tree through a tunnel cut through the greenery.
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Conditions reported by: John Fedak
Survey date: 25-NOV-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Miller Fork junction to Hiding Camp (Passable)

The camps (Carmel River, Sulfur Springs, Hiding Camp, Buckskin Flat) were all in good shape and unoccupied. The river was not rock-hoppable and required shin deep wading for most of the crossings (this was before the December/January rains). The trail itself was in decent shape and easier to follow than on my last trip a year prior.

Section: Hiding Camp to Pine Valley (Difficult)

The climb up from Hiding Camp into the chamise was overgrown, tick infested, and washed out in places. The vegetation encroachment got worse as the trail dipped back down into the canyon and required tunneling through the overgrowth in places.

Section: Pine Valley to Church Creek Divide (Freeway)

The trail opens up as it climbs up from Hiding Canyon and no further encroachment or routefinding issues are encountered for the remainder of the trail.

Trip Pictures
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Conditions reported by: Paul F.
Survey date: 06-NOV-2004
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Los Padres Dam to Bluff Camp

From Los Padres Reservoir to Bluff Camp, approximately 4.1 miles. This has always been a good trail, but some parts were getting a bit narrow. However, within a short time prior to 06 Nov, an energetic group (Probably quite a few of them.) has put in a lot of time and energy restoring the tread and widening it substantially in many, many locations. They also did a tremendous amount of trimming and cutting back brush. Hundreds of meters of trail that used to have a good deal of poison oak reaching out onto the trail have been pruned back--and cut back a lot! It looks like dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of labor have been put into restoring the trail. It is in superb condition now.
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Conditions reported by: Todd Meister
Survey date: 08-OCT-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Carmel River Camp to Pine Ridge Trail

As someone else mentioned in an older trail report, the firepit at Carmel River Camp was half-filled with tin cans and other assorted human debris. We took out the lighter stuff (wrappers, mostly), but our packs already felt way too heavy, and we didn't have it in us to pack out 10 empty cans of beef ravioli.

All river crossings were doable without foot-wetting. This was my first time, so I can't say if the area was more beautiful than usual, but the fallen leaves and complete lack of humanity made for a spectacular hike.

I lost track of how many logs and fallen trees we scrambled past. Not much in the way of washouts, up to Hiding Camp. The poison oak was beautiful and almost entirely avoidable to Hiding Camp.

On the climb from Hiding Camp to Hiding Canyon, we encountered some of the most frightening washouts of the trip. The trail was well-defined at the ground, but brush has grown in to where the trail would probably be unrecognizable from the sky in many places.

The hike up and out of Hiding Canyon was the same until maybe half-way, when the landscape changed to more woodsy, and the trail became a "wilderness freeway" to Pine Valley Camp. The camp itself, and the cabin before it, was the first place we encountered humans on the trip, both groups of whom were sitting around (illegal) campfires.

The trail from Pine Valley Camp to Pine Ridge Trail (at Church Creek Divide, IIRC) was a wilderness expressway, with fresh clippings on the sides of the trail.
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Conditions reported by: Mike Blanksma
Survey date: 30-JULY-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: LP Dam to Hiding Canyon Camp

We hiked in from Los Padres Dam to Carmel River Camp on Friday, then to Hiding Camp on Saturday then back to the dam on Sunday. From the dam to Bluff Camp was wilderness freeway, with the exception of a blow-out/landslide above the reservoir about a quarter mile from the Big Pines Trail junction. There was some brush over hanging the trail, but no big deal. Just after the unofficial (and illegal!) Cold Dog Camp there is a rock outcropping not a foot away from the trail that is home to about a four foot rattle snake. I saw him sitting in the shade in the rocks not a foot from the trail and -very important here- he did not rattle despite me seeing him and him seeing me, even when I approached him as close as I dared. We named him "Tim" after the guardian of the woods in Monty Python and The Holy Grail ("There are those who call me.....Tim"). As there are others who have seen this snake on earlier hikes, this is no doubt the snake's den. Leave him be please!

From Bluff Camp to Carmel River Camp is clear, with one major slippage point high above the river about ten feet in length. The trail could use some clearing as brush is encroaching.

From Carmel River Camp to Hiding Camp, the trail is passable. We counted five major downed trees- three before Buckskin Flats and two after- four of which are too big to be cleared with a handsaw. Some lucky soul(s) will need to bring in a big bow saw to clear these trees. The poison oak is VERY thick along most of the trail, unavoidable for long stretches of up to 50-75 yards. Carmel River Camp was clean with signs of use, some toilet paper was found and buried- same with Buckskin Flats and Hiding Camp. Also noted that there were several burnt tin cans in the fire pits. PLEASE pack out more trash than you packed in- we did. We had no problems finding the trail at the numerous river crossings, all of which were easily boulder-hopped. Only got one wet shoe as I slipped on a loose rock. The flies, as always, were a bother but they went away at sunset. Saw plenty of fox, racoon and coyote scat along the trail, but no sign of any wildlife other than crawdads, a few turtles, a few squirrels and some very small trout in the river. I inadvertently left a package of powdered milk on the picnic table at Hiding Camp and the mice found it and had a feast. Be sure to hang your food from a convenient tree branch at all the camps! All in all a very pleasant hike and despite it being a prime weekend, we were the only two on the trail above Carmel River Camp and saw only six other souls below or at the camp.
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Conditions reported by: David Roberts
Survey date: 03-MAY-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: LP Dam to Hiding Cyn. Camp

I dutifully counted the 27 river crossings between Los Padres Dam and Hiding Canyon Camp. No problems with the crossings, which were generally no deeper than knee high. My buddy and I decided to do it "New Zealand style" and blasted through each crossing with our boots on, which made for soggy boots that evening and the next morning. Hurray for camp shoes. Trail mostly easy to follow, with annoying poison oak encroaching the trail in many places but that's Ventana. Also, occasional deadfalls made for some scrambling, over, under...

Our biggest problem was losing the trail at Cold Dog Camp (unmarked on maps but there is a sign at the camp, which is actually just a wide spot in the trail just after crossing Danish Creek), wading the river there (which didn't count as an official crossing), floundering upstream in waist deep pools until we wised up, returned to Cold Dog and found the trail which jogged through camp and headed up the hill above the river.
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Conditions reported by: josh and kristin
Survey date: 15-APRIL-2004
General: PASSALBE
Specific:

Section: LP Dam to Hiding Cyn. Camp

Clear in some places, but overall the trail is passable, with a number of tree falls and washouts upriver from Bluff Camp. Lots of low brush and overhanging trees. Poison oak is fairly common, but we didn't have any trouble hiking in chaco's due to the 26 creek crossing, at about knee height.

At Hiding camp, we found one campsite littered with toilet paper and human waste near the fire pit. Dismayed, we burned it immediately and found another site to call home for the night. Also found a mysterious looking food bag perched to a tree up the ridge from camp while foraging for fallen wood.

Overall, the trail is fairly obvious, the weather was cool and crisp and we only saw one person on the trail. Ventana is a truly rugged and wild place, but one that needs some serious trail maintenance.
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Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 29-FEB-2004
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Church Creek Divide to Hiding Canyon

The trail from Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley is a wilderness highway with no obstacles and little brush or poison oak. We cleared the trail extensively from Pine Valley to Hiding Canyon, and removed all the blowdowns that would inconvenience a hiker. The trail remains a little brushy, and in the damp sections near water, will require continuing cutting as the year's growth begins.
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Conditions reported by: EW
Survey date: 20-MAR-2004
General: CLEAR-PASSABLE-WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Carmel River Camp to Hiding Canyon Camp to China Camp

I always avoided this one due to it's alleged popularity, but what a magnificent stretch of the river I've been missing!

In spite of about 25 river crossings, this is an easily followed trail; when in doubt, scan the far bank! In March most crossings were knee-deep, to maintain a decent pace river shoes that can handle rocky trail are the only way to go (unless you don't mind drenched boots come day's end).

A stiff afternoon breeze cooled the canyon floor on this first day of Spring (did someone say "in like a lion"???); reached Hiding Canyon Camp without much difficulty in 2-3 hours.

Hiding Canyon Camp> Pine Valley Saddle: PASSABLE I missed the crossing at Hiding Canyon Camp and found myself clawing up steep slopes to get back on course, I imagine the missed crossing was very near opposite the Puerto Suello Trail intersection???

Soon enough, the trail climbs to a brushy chamise with a view of Ventana Mesa Fall and the vertical granitic cliffs rimming the west side of the Carmel. Constantly stopping to remove ticks, this nerve-wracking experience was relieved only by the approach of five hikers from the opposite direction. Warning them of the little parasites, they said they'd seen none and I wondered how many they'd inadvertently collected (the brush-choked route was curiously tick-free all the way to Pine Valley).

Being careful not to accidentally take the side trail to Round Rock Camp, I proceeded up the Carmel River trail, often using poles to hold back the ever-encroaching brush. Several more crossings lie ahead, but these are mere rock-hops and one would be hard-pressed to lose the trail as there simply isn't any other place to walk through the dense re-growth of fire-scarred Hiding Canyon.

After a final crossing, the trail ascends the canyon's south wall, reaching the Hiding Canyon - Pine Valley Divide in less than a mile; be sure to close the stock fence behind you!

Pine Valley Saddle> Church Creek Divide: WILDERNESS FREEWAY What an oasis Pine Valley is after congested Hiding Canyon- descending from the saddle through oak, pine, ceanothus and wild rose, the trail soon emerges into it's beautiful open meadows, essentially bee-lining across a small drainage to Jack English's cabin.

Dropping down a small hill the trail re-joins the infant Carmel River (again, close the stock gate!) and follows it up, gradually ascending to Church Creek Divide in 2 easy miles.

At the divide we crossed paths with Jack English himself, having hiked a respectable 6.5 miles up Church Creek Trail (not bad for 85!). Jack said he no longer parks at China Camp "since kids totaled my car, riddled it with shotgun blasts and pushed it off the side of Tassajara Road one new year's day".
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Conditions reported by: Andrew McDavid
Survey date: 13-MAR-2004
General: CLEAR/PASSABLE/DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: LP Dam to Hiding Camp

From LP dam to Carmel River Camp, the trail is CLEAR, with minor encroachment of poison oak. No ticks found. Both camps before Carmel River Camp (Cold Dog Camp and something else? One wasn't on my map) were in good shape. Camped at Carmel River camp, which was in good shape. No table or stove, not that it matters.

The fords, all 20+ of them, were all definitely wet. No boulder hopping to be done here. The water was knee high most of the time, occasionally thigh high, and the current was pretty strong. Watch your step, and bring an extra pair of old shoes for the 4 miles from Carmel River Camp to Hiding Camp and you'll be fine.

The trail from Carmel camp is DIFFICULT. It was never too difficult to find, except at a crossing or two, where the tread on the opposite bank wasn't obvious, however, there are deadfalls and washouts galore, and in inconvenient places. The worst deadfall requires a good scramble, since it is on a fairly steep slope. Others require removing your pack, or taking a detour off trail. Washouts just require careful footing. Found a few ticks, too.

Hiding Camp is in fine shape, with water literally by your tent by means of a stream emptying into the Carmel River.
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Conditions reported by: John Fedak
Survey date: 07-DEC-2003
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: LP Dam trailhead to VDC via Puerto Suello

Full trip report and pictures

Carmel River Trail, Los Padres Dam to Hiding Camp: Wilderness Freeway to Clear

Carmel River level calf to knee deep. Not rock-hoppable in most places. Trail clearly defined, no new down trees or mudslides. Minor issues finding trail after river crossings.

Puerto Suelo Trail, Hiding Camp to Ventana DC Trail Junction: Clear to Passable.

No real change since last week. Tributary streams now require rock hopping. No route finding or down tree issues.

Ventana DC Trail, Puerto Suelo Gap to VDC Summit: Passable to Clear

First 2 miles overgrown and wet, but route finding not really an issue. Trail widens after Lone Pine Camp junction.
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Conditions reported by: Nathan York
Survey date: 27-MAY-2003
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Day hike from China Camp to Church Creek Divide via Pine Ridge Trail, Chruch Creek Divide to Pine Valley Camp via Church Creek Trail, Pine Valley Camp to Los Padres Dam via Carmel River Trail.

Pine Ridge to Church Creek Divide: Passable except a few obstacles. Notably, there's a large tree(s) down on Pine Ridge Trail about .25-.5 miles before Church Creek Divide. People have started making their own trails around this area, some of which are now well defined and actually dead-end a fair distance from the trail. I had to backtrack after unknowingly taking one of these false trails.

Carmel River Trail to Pine Valley Camp: Wilderness Freeway.

Pine Valley Camp to gate on Carmel River Trail (before decending into Hiding Canyon): Passable. Trail is faint in places in the meadow.

Carmel River Trail in Hiding Canyon: Difficult. Very overgrown. Finding the trail after river crossings is difficult in places. The fork to Round Rock Camp probably needs a sign (or, if there is a sign, it needs to be made visible) as I missed this trail altogether. I had to fend off several hungry *ticks* in this section -- wear DEET and long clothing to protect from both ticks and vegitation. I suspect that this is the least used section of the trail (being about halfway from China Camp to Los Padres Dam).

Hiding Canyon Camp: I didn't stop to look for the Puerto Suello Trail (to Ventana Double Cone), but it is interesting to note that this trail is on the Forest Service Trail map but not on some of the USGS topo maps!

Because of rain late in season, the Carmel River was flowing well and was waist high in some places from here to the Dam.

From Hiding Canyon Camp to Los Padres Dam: Passable-Difficult. The main difficulties are trying to find the trail again after river crossings. Also, the trail from Carmel River Camp (heading north) is difficult to find and there is a false trail from this camp heading east from the north-most site (from north-most site, cross river for about 20 yards, then cross again to continue on trail to Miller Canyon Trail intersection). This section of trail also has *lots* of Poison Oak.

In general, a great trail with lovely camps along the Carmel River. Its a bit much in one day though, with some slow going along the way. From China Camp to Pine Valley Camp we saw quite a few people on there way out (about 15), but we saw no one from Pine Valley Camp to almost the Dam (~13 miles).
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Conditions reported by: Joe H
Survey date: 22-MAr-2003
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

I counted 25 river crossings from Hiding Camp to Los Padres Dam. Much of the trail is becoming very narrow with extreme amounts of poison oak on both sides. Make sure to bring lots of Tecnu. There are also a ridiculous number of ticks throughout the trail. I pulled out about 20 ticks off of my dog after the trip.
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Conditions reported by: Thomas Meissner
Survey date: 19 and 20-OCT-2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY to DIFFICULT Specific:

We (the Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter Backpack Section) hiked the Carmel River Trail from China Camp to Carmel River Station (Los Padres Dam) on October 19-20, 2002 in its entire length:

China Camp - Church Divide:
CLEAR. one fallen tree. on the descend into Church Divide some of the gullies start to show signs of erosion.

Church Divide - Pine Valley: Wilderness Freeway

Pine Valley - Round Rock Trail Jct.: PASSABLE to DIFFICULT:
After crossing the gate the trail is a little ambiguous (several dead ending treads). up to the ridge line the trail o.k. descending from the ridge: lots of encroaching brush and poison oak. just before ascending the little shoulder the trail is difficult to make out.

side trail to Round Rock Camp: PASSABLE
descend to Carmel River o.k. after the river crossing very brushy and eroded.

Round Rock Trail Jct. - Hiding Camp: CLEAR

Hiding Camp - Miller Canyon Trail Jct.: PASSABLE:
Carmel River can be basically rock hopped this time of the year. lots of poison oak along the whole section. just before Buckskin Flat Camp, where the trail climbs high above the river, there is a badly eroded gully to cross, which might get problematic or dangerous pretty soon. near Carmel River Camp the exact course of the trail is somewhat confusing.

Miller Canyon Trail Jct. - Los Padres Dam: CLEAR
some eroded sections just before the junction with Big Pines Trail. The road section just beyond Big Pines Trail Jct. down to the Dam has now been nicely marked and should be easy to find in both directions.
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Los Padres Dam to Big Pines Trail
===========
Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: FEB-2002
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Los Padres Dam to Danish Creek Camp: Trail is open with minor brush. Descending to Danish Creek Camp exposed some ticks. We did some clipping along the way.
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Conditions reported by: Michael Golden
Survey date: 1-MAY-1999
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

It's a dirt road. I had two troubles in route finding: First, I wandered to the wrong side of the freeway. When you see the weather station, turn right, cross the bridge, and walk up to the top of the dam on the paved road.

Second, when the trail reaches a meadow about halfway down the reservoir, the road splits off at random, with no signage. Stay right, away from the resevoir. Eventually the dirt road becomes a footpath: the Carmel River Trail. I found this incredibly hard to find.
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Big Pines Trail to Hiding Canyon Camp
===========
Conditions reported by: Mark Riddle
Survey date: 10-JAN-2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY TO DIFFICULT
Specific:

Wilderness freeway from Los Padres dam to inlet of Los Padres Reservoir. From there difficult until Carmel River Camp, due to high water this time of year. Many sections of the river I had to walk a mile upstream/downstream to find a safe crossing (e.g. mid-thigh). I would double-check river conditions before heading down this trail during the rainy season. This was my first time on this trail, and somehow I lost it across one of the myriad river crossings. (Ed. note: One river crossing, at Bluff Camp, between the dam and Carmel River Camp.) Be sure to have a map, as you can eventually find the well-marked junction at Miller Fork (Carmel River Campsite) if you keep following Carmel River upstream (as I did). Just be sure to allow plenty of time to navigate in case you lose the trail.

Saw several groups of ducks along with a few newts and one tick. Some baby blue eyes are starting to bloom.
===========
Conditions reported by: Tom Hopkins
Survey date: 19-OCT-2000
General: CLEAR
Specific:

I day hiked the Carmel River Trail from the gate below Los Padres Dam up to Buckskin Flat camp. The trail is open and clear all the way with only small amounts of brush encroaching over the trail. There are three or four down trees across the trail that are easily negotiated, unless you are on horseback. The tread is very well established and easy to follow except at some of the numerous fords of the river and tributaries. If you find yourself on anything other than an obvious well worn tread, you are likely on one of many use trails that follow along sections of the river. In that case, I suggest you back track until you are on the established tread, then proceed with eyes peeled.

The river was low enough to make the dozen or so crossings fairly easy rock hopping affairs. The trail usually crosses at wide fords to facilitate horse crossings, so hikers who want to keep their feet dry need to mosey up or down stream a bit to find some accommodating rocks and boulders. The use trail network along the river usually accommodates this effort.

Signage is good all along the way. At the junction with the Big Pines trail the signs are so new that that invasive species, Homo sapiens var. ignoramus, has yet to carve his initials on them. There is also good signage at the Miller Canyon Trail junction and all of the official Forest Service camps along the way are identified with signs.

The autumn colors were spectacular. Big leaf maples and the Black Oaks were showing lots of brilliant yellow and the Poison Oak was carmine, orange and fluorescent pink. There is also colorful fruit on the madrone, toyon, coffee berry and holly leafed cherry.

The belted kingfishers and dippers were active and I saw a small flock of wood ducks along with about twenty other bird species that are common to the area.
===========
Conditions reported by: Tom McNicholas
Survey date: 27-MAY-2000
General: CLEAR
Specific:

This 3 day one way backpacking trip went from China Camp to Los Padres Dam starting on Saturday, May 27, 2000, via the Pine Ridge and Carmel River trails. The wildflowers on the first burned section of the Pine Ridge trail to the Pine Valley trail were no less than fantastic - a thruway fit for a royal procession! We camped at Hiding Canyon because Round Rock was crowded. The Carmel River trail with 29 crossing to Carmel River camp was just great for our party of 11. A few ticks, only a few mosquitos, lots of poison oak and great trails. No more roads please.

Tom McNicholas

Bay Area Backpacking Section
Sierra Club
===========
Conditions reported by: Jack Howe
Survey date: 22-MAY-1999
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

As noted previously, from the Los Padres Dam parking lot follow the dirt road to the dam. Stay to the left until you get to the weather station then bear right crossing the dam outlet on a bridge and climbing to the top of the dam on a paved stretch of road.

Continue to follow the dirt road across the top of the dam to the right. The road climbs around the right side of the reservoir and eventually reaches a meadow. Ignore road branchings to the left. At the meadow, continue straight ahead (the right fork) the Carmel River Trail enters the woods in a short distance.

The trail from this point to Bluff Camp is clear of all obstructions except poison oak and ticks (stay in the center of the trail). About 3 miles from the trail head the trail drops down to river level, crosses a tributary (two log crossing) and enters an unofficial camp. The trail continues approximately 50 ft. to the right after crossing through the camp. Between here and Bluff Camp there are a couple of places where the tread has broken down and needs work (step carefully). The trail forks just before you reach Bluff Camp. The left fork is easier. There are large camp sites on both sides of the river. Rock hop the river crossing.

The trail segment from Bluff Camp to the Miller Canyon / Carmel River junction could use some pruning (I ran out of pruning energy... watch for ticks). Rock hop and continue into the first of the Carmel River Camps. Two wet river crossings will get you to the second and larger of the Carmel River Camps.

Except for one major obstruction, the trail from the first Carmel River Camp to Buckskin Flat Camp is clear (I did some pruning on my way out. Watch out for poison oak and ticks.) From the first Carmel River Camp to Buckskin Flat Camp there are 12 river crossings. All were wet but easy. Finding the trail on the other side was sometimes difficult. There were a few "ducks", but I always saw them after I crossed (ducks on both side would help). The Sulfur Springs Camp (suitable for a tent or two) looked as though it hadn't been used in a long time. Between Sulfur Springs and Buckskin Flat there is one point where a large tree has fallen across the trail. The only choice is to get flat on your stomach and crawl under (my pack and I barely cleared). Heavier equipment than I had will be necessary to clear this obstacle. No more problems to Buckskin Flat. Buckskin Flat is sunny and has plenty of room for a large group.
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Conditions reported by: Mark Connell
Survey date: 10-APRIL-1999
General: SEASONALLY DIFFICULT
Specific:

Carmel River Trail from Puerto Suello to Big Pines Trail
Difficult - This is not a trail. It is a bad joke by someone at the USGS. Sometimes the trail goes into the river and comes back out on the same side, sometimes it crosses. Almost all crossings involve wading through thigh deep water. A couple were quite dangerous, involving waist deep, fast moving water. I lost the trail many times since there is no well defined track in many places or it is under the river. NOT recommended until the water level drops.
===========
Hiding Canyon Camp to Pine Valley
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Conditions reported by: Everett and Kody Reed
Survey date: 14/15-SEPT-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE (sometimes difficult)
Specific:

Pine Valley to Los Padres Dam

Much brush and poison oak overgrowing the trail. Without some maintenance, I suspect his trail will be very bad come tick season and renewed poison oak growth. Some confusion near the Round Rock Trail intersection, be aware of a trail washout near an illegal campsite. From Hiding camp to the dam the trail is again mostly clear although a large fallen oak poses a challenge, and some hillside washouts are encroaching. This time of year the river can be rock-hopped all the way.
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Conditions reported by: Ojai Valley School - "Las Papas Gigantescas"
Survey date: APRIL-MAY, 2002
General: PASSABLE to DIFFICULT
Specific:

Carmel River Trail: Hiding Camp to Pine Valley: Steep up hill to Pine Valley gate with lots of thick berry bush and P.O. Pine Valley was beautiful (green grass, wild sun flowers, ect.) We camped on the hill west of the cabin and main camp. There was a sweat lodge and a small stream to the west with reliable water.
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Conditions reported by: Jim Yurchenco
Survey date: 14-21-APRIL-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Clear with a bit of overgrowth crowding the edges of the trail in a few places. Water high at Hiding camp, go upstream a couple of hundred yards to a down tree to cross the creek, otherwise you will have to get wet.
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: FEB-2002
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Hiding Canyon to Pine Valley: The trail was heavily overgrown but we cut brush along the way and the route is currently clear of most serious brush. There is only a little poison oak at this time.
===========
Carmel River Trail: Pine Ridge Trail intersection to Hiding Cyn. Camp

Conditions reported by: Mark Riddle
Survey date: 10-JAN-2002
General: DIFFICULT TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Some stretches very tough. Had to take off my pack several times to get over/under deadfalls. Poison oak is all over the trail this time of year, impossible to avoid. At some points there was no visible trail due to all the poison oak (the rash that I now have over 10% of my body).
===========
Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 7-Oct-2001
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Pine Valley to Round Rock

There is some major brush on the trail after dropping down the ridge into Hiding Canyon, and before the next ridge where I lost some epidermis, but the trail tread is easy to follow, though painful in spots. Lots of poison oak, but it's mostly avoidable.
===========
Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition 2000
Survey date: APRIL-2000
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Pine Valley Camp to Hiding Canyon Camp=CLEAR

This trail has received extensive clearing and some rebuilding. Some new water diversion traps are in place. On the section that crosses and re-crosses Hiding Canyon Creek there are wide mud and stone flows across the trail between crossings four and six (if my counting is right.) The trail is clear, but the foot bed can use some work. All the stream crossings are clear of vines and brush and much easier to negotiate than in pre-fire years.

The wildflower display on the slopes above Round Rock Camp is gorgeous. Poppies, various lupines, paintbrush, and baby-blue-eyes predominate.

Fire did not touch Hiding Canyon Camp; it is in good shape. The trail continuing down the Carmel River shows signs of trail work, but I did not follow it.
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Conditions reported by: Shari Arroyo
Survey date: 18-JUNE-99
General: CLEAR
Specific:

About 0.25 mile from Pine Valley Camp, grassy meadow is full of horse manure. Lots of chamise on trail about 0.5 to 1 mile above Hiding Camp; chamise needs major trimming. Lots of poison oak and bugs. Saw one rattlesnake on trail.
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Pine Valley to Church Creek Divide
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Conditions reported by: Ted Merrill
Survey date: 8-OCT-2002
General: CLEAR
Specific:

From Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley the trail is in reasonable shape. Adequate water in the creek and campsites along the creek. Trail signs present both at the divide and at the Bear Basin junction.
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Conditions reported by: John Ueng-McHale
Survey date: 6-AUGUST-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Some sections were overgrown (long pants and shirt sleeves recommended, even in the heat of August), but the tread was always obvious. Pine Valley Camp was quite buggy in the midday heat, but at least water was plentiful. The sandstone cliffs and ponderosa pines were worth dealing with the bugs (flies, mosquitoes, bees, ...).
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Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition 2000
Survey date: APRIL-2000
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

The trail from Divide to Pine Valley is great--we hiked it in the dark with one headlamp for four people, and no real problems. This heavily used trail has a few spots where it has become doubled, and others where water running on the trail has unearthed rocks, making it likely that the trail will double there as well.
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Conditions reported by: Steve Barba
Survey date: 20-JUNE-99
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

The signs at Church Creek Divide are clear. The trail is easy to follow. Brush doesn't encroach in any significant way. No obstacles.
===========
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Carmel River Trail

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 12, 2009 4:13 pm

* USFS trail #3E03.1
* Parking: Los Padres Dam
* Watersheds: Carmel River
* Junctions: Big Pines Trail, Miller Canyon Trail, Puerto Suello Trail, Round Rock Camp Trail, Bear Basin Trail, Pine Ridge Trail
* Connects: Los Padres Dam with the Pine Ridge Trail at Church Creek Divide
* Camps: Bluff Camp, Carmel River Camp, Sulpher Springs Camp, Buckskin Flat Camp, Hiding Canyon Camp, Round Rock Camp, Pine Valley Camp.
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