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Carrizo Trail

Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby pantilat on Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:08 pm

Date Hiked: March 19, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Nothing to add to the prior reports for the lower section but the uppermost 0.7 mile section from the Carrizo-Cook Spring Connector Trail to the junction with the North Coast Ridge Trail is now clear. This 0.7 mile section was becoming moderately brushy but now this is a nice stretch of clear trail passing through some adolescent Coulter pines with occasional views to the rugged NE face of Cone Peak. The Carrizo-Cook Spring Connector Trail is also clear and a new PVC was recently placed at Cook Spring to enable easy filling of hydration systems.

Carrizo will be a great, clear trail from bottom to top once the mile long brush stretch from Carrizo Camp (3400 ft) to the saddle at 4120 ft is cleared.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby hydrologic on Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:24 pm

Date Hiked: March 12, 2017
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Betsy's last report was spot on. The brush is horrible after camp. I had shorts and a tank top and got scratched up pretty bad. It's less than a mile section. It needs major work!

Hanging a left at the cook carrizo connector and heading south towards the NCRT the trail again becomes rather brushy. Not as bad as the carrizo section but it too could use some work.

Carrizo is one of my favorite trails and if it were cleared it would be an absolute pleasure.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Betsy M on Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:54 pm

Date Hiked: February 4, 2017
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Thanks to a group of VWA trail crew volunteers, building on the efforts of Ventana Wilderness Rangers and the Gabilan Crews last year, the trail is CLEAR from the Trailhead at the Salsipuedes Ranch bridge to Carrizo Camp. Including the large rock that made stock access challenging. Hikers and horses should have no trouble in this section.
However, up above the camp is A MESS (difficult to passable rating). Don't even think of taking your horse here. The brush begins immediately after the Camp. It continues to the saddle at the "rock garden", and then the brush continues, even more dense, to the next (mudstone) saddle. From there to the uppermost saddle, with a view of Cone Peak, conditions are WILDERNESS FREEWAY. Work was done 5+ years ago, yet the trail is still a pleasure to hike. The only issue on this mile long section is a small tree that you need to crawl under or walk around.
Did not have time to continue beyond the uppermost saddle, where the trail contours south to meet the North Coast Ridge Trail. However, we flagged the start of the Cook Carrizo Connector that takes off to the north, which is at a wood post just below this saddle.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Yesenia Fernández on Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:04 pm

Date Hiked: June 25, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Cliff Bell and I hiked with our 2 dogs Henry and Tevah. This Was Our second attempt to get to the Carrizo Springs as labeled in the sign at the begging. This time I took a picture of the brochure ( to leave comments for future hikers. The first time on May 29th 2016 we were just exploring and had no idea what was out there. It was late and once we hit the bushy area were we had to swim through the bushes at about 2miles, we decided to head back to the car thinking it was impassable or the trail was still in the process of being cleared (since we saw much brush cut off to the sides evidence work was being done)

June 25 2016 we Headed back to complete the trail. Temperature was 102 but we carried enough water for us and the dogs. We knew the difficulty of the hike, straight uphill so we were hoping that the trail had been cleared already.

The Trail was passably clear up to about mile 2.30,up here temperature went down to the 80-88 . Along the way I took beautiful pictures of boulders and breathtaking views of the mountains .

At @2.47 miles The bushes from both sides started closing in on us again so we knew no work had been done but we pushed through. Most bushes were soft , but there was this one bush that was very spikey and got me with scratches on my legs everytime, Cliff never complained about it, he was wearing jeans, long sleeve and gloves and he opened the path for the dogs, I was a bit behind so cliff made me stop and put on a long sleeve shirt and long thicker pants (since my yoga style pants weren't preventing scratches, thank goodness I listened to him )

We saw the flags on some trees that told us we were on the trail . We reached an area where we lost the trail, cliff walked around a bit with the dogs (I was exhausted lol ) there was a huge light brown rock on the right hand side, cliff came back and we saw the faded flag on a branch , we kept swimming through the bushes (pokes where bearable now from that pokey bush)

We Passed an area with some kind of lavender growing plant which smelled heavenly. We reached a big blackish Boulder with holes in it on our right hand side, here cliff heard water flowing, so we headed to the left following the sound and saw the water spring which was surrounded by what looked to us like raspberry bushes and beautiful huge oak trees, nevertheless It was a small stream going down into the ground. I was disappointed that it was nothing We could jump in) We saw No SIGNS anywhere saying that we had arrived to Carrizo springs at 3 miles as marked at the sign in the beginning. It was obvious it was a campsite with clean flat land and a fire pit.

The GPS at this point said 2.67 miles so I wanted to keep going until we hit 3 miles like the first sign had announced, still had hopes I'd find a nice water spring I could relax in. We jumped over fallen trees and saw another flag on the tree to the left. We saw more evidence of people working on clearing the trail , but still the trail was closing in with bushes, it was already @5:30pm so we decided to head back especially when we realized we had finished out water supply.

Overall it was beautiful, extremely exerting (heart rate in the 150-170s) great workout burned over 2,500 calories
Yesenia Fernández

Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Wilderwill on Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:56 am

Date Hiked: June 16, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Alan Robertson and I backpacked the Carrizo Trail on a warm June day. As reported much trail work has been done for the first 2 + miles, for clear hiking. Then some brush and poor tread (climbing over boulders) for the third (passable) mile before Carrizo Springs campsite. Good camping spots and abundant water at Carrizo Springs.

Then climbing west, mixed clear /brushy hiking (swimming is a good description for some areas) but mostly passable above the Springs. A few trees down, most are easy to step over, and one crawl-under downed tree. Some cairns and a few flags to guide in the less obvious spots. We hiked to the Cook Springs cutoff, marked by a tall post with no sign. We took a short, faint but follow-able path heading north to Cook Springs camp site. We left the area the next day by the Arroyo Seco Trail.

If a further upgrade was to be planned for this historic trail, I would suggest a few switchbacks in the steep areas, and avoiding climbing over the large boulders. The trail was mostly enjoyable. The clearing of brush would attract many more hikers, of course, but thanks to all who have worked on this historic pioneer route.

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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby runcyclegirl on Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:18 pm

Date Hiked: April 10, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report is for the first ~2.5 miles.

We didn't get very far on Carrizo before the threat of rain chased us down, but we got far enough to see the work completed thus far by Steve and Beth Benoit, the Gabilan Conservation Corps., and other VWA volunteers. The first 2.5 miles of trail are clear and wide with no obstructions. That plus the elevation gain made for a nice hike.

It was obvious where the trail work ended as the brush on both sides of the trail touched making "swimming" necessary to pass through. It's not so bad, really. The brush was soft with tender leaves and flowers so I thought it was lovely.

Many thanks to Backcountry Horseman of California for funding this project.



Clear, wide trail.

End of clear section but tread is good.

Lovely surprise of Harlequin Lupine in a meadow nearby.
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Carrizo Trail

Postby jbl on Mon May 25, 2015 7:48 am

Date Hiked: May 23, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We hiked the entire length of the Carrizo Trail.

Section: Bridge at the end of Road 6 (lower trailhead) to Carrizo Springs Camp: Passable to Clear. The grassy meadow section after the bridge crossing to the beginning of the uphill is getting a bit obscured/vague due to height of the grass now but you can easily find "a" way if not "the" way. The initial 1/3 of the uphill section to Carrizo Springs Camp is still pretty clear but brush continues to encroach a lot as you get higher, there are some well placed cairns to guide you through some of the trickier spots; As you approach camp there is a little flagging to help guide you through.

Camp was empty, water was flowing nicely in the spring on the left (as you look uphill) side of camp.

Section: Carrizo Springs Camp through Brush Bowl to San Antonio/Arroyo Seco divide: Passable to Clear. The initial creek crossing immediately above CS Camp has a bunch of PO vines and branches sticking into the trail, I wish I'd had my loppers. This is only about a 20' stretch. The uphill to the saddle above CS Camp remains somewhat clear but brush encroachment continues. The Betsy McGowan-led VWA work on the Brush Bowl of a few years ago has held up but some of the heavier brush tunnels have grown in and you must plunge through with hands and arms in front of you in "divers" position.

Section: San Antonio/Arroyo Seco divide to NCRT: Clear. This is a beautiful verdant section mostly in the shade of towering sugar pines, luckily none have fallen across the trail other than those which have already been cut. And this was my first time ever taking the Carrizo Trail from the Cook Spring Camp connector up to the NCRT, this section is beautiful and a much more pleasant way up to the NCRT than the old steep firebreak.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Jim Ringland on Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:51 pm

Date Hiked: April 16, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I hiked from the Cook Springs Connector down to the Salsipuedes Ranch Bridge.

I’m grateful for the work done by the equestrian group. I’m amazed they made it up and back. This wasn’t all that easy on foot with a backpack, even after their work.

The first mile through the sugar pine forest is open, clear, and lovely. Then, at about 4000’, the forest thins, the trail comes up to saddle, and the route crosses onto a south-facing chaparral covered slope. The next 3/4 mile or so has some difficult sections: very brushy and a few pitches of steep, washed-out trail. Brush bowl indeed! It looks like the wet December, followed by a warm and mostly sunny winter, has led to considerable growth since Rob’s February 1 report. There’s nothing quite as bad from that second saddle on down, but most of the way has brushy sections interspersed with easier ones. It's something of an endurance test: no individual block of trail is hard, but the effort doesn't stop. Some poison oak, mostly but not entirely avoidable. No route-finding problems except for short spurs that dead-ended pretty quickly. Plenty of water at Carrizo Camp. The very last slope down is -– finally -– open and clear under forest cover. A fair number of globe lilies were in bloom: the only place I saw them on this trip.

This trail strikes me as being right on the edge between a passable and difficult rating. Even in the brush bowl, difficult chunks were interspersed with less challenging ones. If I chopped that 3/4 mile out, this would fit into the passable category, albeit with the warning that the modest on-and-off brush bashing extends for a few miles. So perhaps "difficult" as a general condition is a tad pessimistic, but somehow "passable" just seems a bit too rosy.

At the bottom of that last hill, I tried taking the Carrizo Use Trail over to the Road 8 rather than heading to the bridge and Road 6. My car was at Memorial Camp and the Use Trail would have cut maybe half an hour off the walk. Unfortunately, I gave up on the Use Trail after about 1000 feet and backtracked. I made it through the brush tunnel at the beginning -– and probably opened it up quite a bit in my bashing through -– but turned around when I saw more poison oak than I wanted to deal with as I approached Carrizo Creek. The last half mile on the regular Carrizo Trail through grassy oak savannah on a wide path was fast and easy.
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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby Hillary on Mon Mar 16, 2015 7:14 am

Date Hiked: March 15, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I would agree with EquiHiker. We saw where they had cut back some of the brush and branches and all along the way we remarked how knarly it would have been if they hadn't. It was very thick in many areas. We were glad for the tape and stacked rocks along the way. Beautiful hike otherwise. Water was flowing at Carrizo Spring. Campsite was clean.

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Re: Carrizo Trail

Postby EquiHiker on Fri Mar 13, 2015 1:17 am

Date Hiked: March 7, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

We rode on horseback from Indians trailhead to the ridge above what we believe was the North Coast Ridge Trail. Many sections of this trail are in serious need of brushwork as parts of the trail were so obscured by overgrowth we would have lost it were it not for the aforementioned tape job. Sure, the tape was ugly in the wilderness, but we were thankful when we spotted it while standing knee deep in brush on a disappearing trail.

The lower portions of the trail were wide open for about 1/2 mile until we hit the brush line. From then on, for equestrians, it was whack and ride much of the way.With three of us carrying hand saws and two with garden shears, we cleared as necessary to make the trail more passable and safe for horse and rider, but upon our return discovered anyone following us would still have thought no work had been done in years. We almost missed the jig, just above the flat table rock, that leads to Carrizzo Spring as that intersection was almost entirely obscured by brush. The trail marking tape tipped us off. The trail around the spring disappears in low brush, but the sound of the water kept us on track. Above the spring, poison oak abounds in some sections and has encroached upon the trail (yes, I'm paying the price this week). Water was bubbling from the spring, and we found running water at another crossing further up the trail beyond the rock garden.


Some of the rocks could use some rollin' to make the trail more passable for horses.

We found running water along the trail at Carrizzo Spring as well as another narrow crossing further up the trail.

Just short of the lovely, groomed, wide-open spaces of the pine forest section, we came across two fallen trees (18" diam. or so) which had crossed the trail and were too high off the ground for horses to pass, though hikers could have climbed over or crawled under. We used handsaws to drop those logs to ground level so both hikers and horses can step over.


While we spotted the signPOST for the Carrizzo-Cook connector, the sign itself was not. The trail up to NCRT was so clear that we missed the turn onto the connector until our return trip at which point we stopped to consider the reason for what appeared to be an oddly placed old signage. Further exploration led us to the trail, but it was late in the day so we opted to go back down the way we had come up. As we had not cleared branches (other than purely impassable sections) on our way up, there were still countless low-hanging branches along the route. One swept off a rider on our decent. Two wrecks occurred at and near the table rock overlooking Salsipuedes Ranch. Clearing the smaller boulder on the north side of that rock would provide an equestrian bypass to the dangerous, smooth rock.

More shots from the day:
The clear woods - Image

Based on the lack of any trail/tracks in this area, we appear to have been the first ones through here in quite some time:

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