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Lost Valley Trail

Re: Lost Valley Trail to Fish Camp

Postby DPhilleo on Wed May 08, 2013 11:06 am

Date Hiked: May 2, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

As mentioned last year gate across the Memorial Park creek is closed during the week so we backpacked the road to Escondido without incidence. Look for one Incense Cedar and one Santa Lucia Fir within the first 1/2 mile. These are native, unlike the trees at the SLMP cabins. Wildflowers were generally good (small due to drought conditions).
Water available at trailhead at end of Escondido Park (where vast majority of Oaks survived the Indians fire). Trail down (500 ft descent) to Arroyo Seco R. is a near Wilderness Freeway with virtually no loose rocks. River crossing is boulder hops - moderate difficulty. Trail up to within 1/3 mile of the pass (750 ft ascent) is clear again with virtually no loose rocks - however is quite steep in parts 20% grade +. At approx. 2,500 ft elevation the brushwacking begins - could be 15-20 years of no clear - moderately difficult with a couple of deadfalls but more annoying overhead dead branch snags (approx. 350 ft ascent . From the pass to Fish camp (approx. 800 ft descent) about 50% brushwacking with more dead branch snags and a few subtle uneven steps (one fall into the side of a Yucca - luckily only one blood puncture). Enough low brushwacking to scar up the shins, but more moderate trail slope 5-15% slope down. Fish camp is nice, some down wood avail. and surprisingly good water considering the drought condition.
DPhilleo
 

Partial Lost Valley Trail report, from Escondido Campground

Postby renardsubtil on Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:02 am

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


This is a partial Lost Valley Trail report leaving from Escondido Campground.

Leaving the campground was okay and passable for about a mile and down into the creek canyon - there were a few slides which seemed to be solid enough to walk over considering it had rained about 3 or 4 days earlier. Finding a crossing was easy enough but about 70 yards after the crossing, the section of trail is overrun with poison oak. Unfortunately that was too much for me and I ended up turning back as I was unprepared for dealing with poison oak.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby RSI SamE on Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:39 pm

Date Hiked: October 10, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Lost Valley Trail
Twixt Escondido Camp
And Fish Camp
• Trail: Passable
• People: 0
• Signage: Trail sign present and in good condition at Escondido Camp.
• Note 1: Trail is wilderness freeway to ridge, then brushy and trail falling away down to Fish Camp.

Lost Valley Trail
Twixt Fish Camp
And Lost Valley Camp
• Trail: Difficult (and dangerous)
• People: 0
• Note 1: Severe trail erosion with long potential falls.
• Note 2: Sign at Lost Valley Camp is old and barely legible.

Lost Valley Trail
Twixt Lost Valley Camp
And Pelon Camp
Trail: impassable
People: 0
Signage: None.
Note 1: Between Lost Valley and Pelon Camp the trail is in a creek bed and extremely overgrown, crawling is sometimes necessary.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby Rob on Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:03 pm

Date Hiked: November 3, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report is only for the part from Escondido Camp to Lost Valley. The trail was in great shape almost up to the saddle, much better than in past years. The brush started to close in a few hundred feet below the saddle, and continued intermittently until almost Fish Camp, which looked pleasant. The swimming hole off trail to the left on the descent to Fish looked inviting on a warm afternoon. I did flick a few ticks off my pants on the way -- it's that time of year again.

From Fish to the junction with the Lost Valley Connector and on to Lost Valley was pretty nice: a few small blowdowns, but no real brush to speak of. Overnight in Lost Valley it got surprisingly cold, and I awoke to temps in the low 30's with frost in places out in the open (probably got into the high 70's / low 80's this afternoon). The lettering on the Bill Cotta plaque was no longer legible .. looked like weather and vandals have taken their toll.
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Location: SJC

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby wilderwil on Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:14 pm

Date Hiked: September 24, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Alan and I completed the Lost Valley Trail from Escondido Park trailhead to the Marble Peak junction. I will break down the trail into its sections. (The Gate access to Escondido Campground was locked during the middle of the week, but opened on the weekend when we returned. We walked the 2.5 miles on the road to the trailhead). The first 3-4 miles of the Lost Valley Trail is well maintained and an easy trail to hike, it appears that pack animals are using the trail to Lost Valley Camp. We camped at Fish Camp, with a good running stream, two fire grills but a bit cool and damp in the Fall.

The trail to Fish Camp and Lost Valley Connector, Lost Valley Camp is brushy, and some difficult footing in loose gravel, but passable with no deadfalls to speak of.

The trail past Lost Valley camp, (with a table and fire grill that is being used by hunters and horse packers) has been obscured by wild pigs. We followed the trail by following the occasional flags on bushes to get over the small streams that meander through the valley. We then followed the trail parallel to Higgins Creek, but missed the turn up the hill at the creek crossing and continued another 1/4 mile to a waterfall where rock outcroppings on both sides of the canyon prevented further travel.

After careful review of the map from "Hiking the Big Sur Country by Schaffer, we backtracked to the probable trail area and after some false leads (animal trails or previous hikers ?) we found a faint trail through the brush. (This is where it gets impassable !) We spent the rest of the day, crawling, smashing through dead brush, over and under downed small trees and at many times lost in what my friend called "Brush Hell". The tread was faint but we could find it because of a series of four different colored flags, and a faint tread. I would estimate 75% of this part of the trail was overgrown with brush, the worst trail I have encountered in the Ventana. We made it to Pelon Camp, where the only amenities are a running stream, some flat rocks for cooking, shade under an oak tree and the sign for Pelon Camp, Public Campground.
(But the poison oak this time of year are lovely shades of pink and reds).

The next day (after licking our wounds) we proceeded up the valley to find Upper Higgins Camp (on Higgins Creek). The trail on the north-east side of the creek started better but we were back to "Brush Hell" after a while. But only 50% brush on this section.

Higgins camp has not been used for years, but still has remnants of the steel shepard's stove and chimney, and the sign.
More yellow, green, blue ribbons (thanks to previous hikers) and lots of torn up ground due to the pig activity. The brush was about 35% on this next section. We had to search around for our way to the route again because the pig tracks are obscuring the actual trail.

On the trail we reached a burned post of a sign (we assumed) for Indian Valley, south entrance, but did not find an obvious trail. We followed the trail up a dry creek to the Marble Peak Trail junction, and a direction sign, for the routes to the various camps in the area. This area had a small spring to the west and we refilled our water bottles. Again we spent some time looking for the trail in the pig tracks. I thought I heard a (small piglit ?) squeal in the brush, and we quickly got out of there ! Again we searched for the Marble Peak trail east of Indian Valley, got lost, climbed a steep gully until we found the Marble Peak Trail.

I rate the upper, most western end of the Lost Valley Trail as Impassable (even though we made it with much, much effort). because of the overgrown brush, deadfalls, etc. and mostly obscured trail. I would not recommend anyone doing this part of the trail unless you are ready for a challenge !

We looped back to our car at the Memorial campground via the Marble Peak Trail, Coast Ridge Trail, Rodeo Flat trail and the Arroyo Seco Trail. All passable and much more pleasant trails. But, we did not find the spring at Bee camp, it needs a sign and access to this water site.

["Mr. Green Ribbon" (ed): here "Indian Valley" means the valley above and west of Higgins Creek, not where "Indian Valley" appears on a USGS quadrangle. Unfortunately, missing "the turn up the hill" is a common mistake - see Schaffer.]
wilderwil
 

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby whhoward on Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:58 am

Date Hiked: October 19, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Two of went into Lost Valley on Oct 19, but turned around within a 1/2 mile of Lost Valley when a steep section slide out. My partner stopped his slide by grabbing a tree limb and I was able to help him out by climbing down a side route. We have both done hundreds of miles in the Los Padres and this was the first time either of us had a slope give way. The section was on a switch back, so we could have slid to the bottom, resumed the trail and gone into Lost Valley, but we weren't sure if we would have been able to climb back out. Discretion won out and we turned around. We think that once the rains come these shale slopes will become more solid and less likely to slide, but any advice on how to deal with slides on the trail would be appreciated. As I said, I've hiked hundreds of miles, many times over slide sections which required care and a quick step, but this was the first slide that totally gave way and stopped my hike.

One the other hand: the trail from Escondido to the saddle is a Wilderness Freeway, and even in the overgrown parts is not hard to follow.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:45 pm

Date Hiked: October 10, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Section: Lost Valley to Pelon Camp

While there are many places open and wonderful to enjoy the rare beauty of a Ventana valley and meadows, its not easy going to make your way to the other end of the valley to pick up the trail at Higgins Creek. Two stream crossing initially start the journey and in large flows would be a challenge. In fact a memorial placard is placed in honor of a long ago cowboy who died crossing the creek in high flow, "lest man forget the awesome powers of nature." The brush also gets rather thick mid way and turns into a sort of maze that then opens up again to a meadow. We saw a large buck grazing on our way across. Once the trail meets back with Higgins Creek when the valley narrows the trek gets nearly impossible and extremely difficult. Luckily we were carrying only day-packs at this point and enjoy the challenge of a rock hop creek hike. Following the trail becomes a nuisance, which we did at first, forcing us to crawl under brush and push our way through when it leaves the creek. Immense amount of poison oak, blackberry and others are quite thick at times following the creek. Numerous fallen trees and acrobatic crossings also await the intrepid hiker. The incense cedars that line some areas of the river are a majestic and rare sight to behold. I wonder if they are native or were at some point planted. Another great sight we had was a western pond turtle. Pelon is a sigh of relief in an interesting area where the creek gorge opens up and widens. "Pelon" is spanish for bald, though not quite bald it does afford some space to move around free of brush and is at a confluence with another creek. An ancient sign barely reads "Pelon Public Camp". We could not find a current fire ring. The sky opened up and began to pour at this point in our journey with lightning and thunder to add to the display. Gorgeous place to be in the first rain, wonderful smells of wet earth.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:18 pm

Date Hiked: October 9, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: Lost Valley Connector to Lost Valley Camp

Trail winding down the rest of the way into the valley fairly brushy with sections of poison oak and some slide outs. Lower Lost Valley camps have gotten quite brushy. Upper camp next to the meadow got hit hard by the fire and many of the coulter pines are now dead. May be a dangerous place to camp during windy weather.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:13 pm

Date Hiked: October 9, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: Saddle to the Lost Valley Connector

Leaving the saddle and heading down towards Lost Valley one begins to wish the trail crews had ventured a little further. Though I must say this section of trail is not nearly as bad as it was pre-fire in the Spring of 2008, when I was crawling under heavy sections of brush and dragging my backpack. I was expecting the worst and was actually surprised the regrowth hadn't yet come back extra thick. The trail is evident and passable though expect some brushy sections of pushing your way through. There's also some dangerous parts where the trail is simply eroding away at steep sections, especially in the scree (loose gravely hillsides). Fish remains a pleasant place to camp and has a nice flowing creek even in the dry season. The trail remains brushy with several sections of poison oak on the trail down to the connector.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:59 pm

Date Hiked: October 9, 2012
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Section: Arroyo Seco River to Saddle overlooking Lost Valley

This stretch has also received some excellent attention and is in great shape. I last traveled this trail in 2008 when it was overgrown with poison oak. I also remember back to a large fallen tree at the beginning stretch immediately upon leaving the river that made for a very difficult, scrambling start. It still remains a long, steep, winding climb but at least its now wide open the whole way. The view looking back to Junipero Serra Peak from the saddle- tallest point in Monterrey County at an elevation of 5862 ft.- is epic. (Interesting side note, this peak has had many names: formerly known as Mount Santa Lucia, "Lucia" (by local people), "Sierra Peak" (because of views of the Sierra on clear days, must have been pre-smog) and stretching back to the first inhabitants, "ti'at'aula' ", apparently after a plant that grows on the mountain. A friend who owns a cabin at Indians has told me the old name of the natives was "Pemcolon". A mountain by any other name still remains magnificent.
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