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Lost Valley Trail

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:37 pm

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

Section: Escondido Trailhead to Arroyo Seco River Crossing

There's a nice spring coming out of a pipe at the trailhead leaving the Escondido Campground. We filled our water bottles and ate some of the spicy green water crests that grow there before hitting the trail. Recent trail work makes it an enjoyable jaunt down to the river with epic views of the valley. Great job to the trail crews for there excellent efforts.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby wavejumper on Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:25 am

Date Hiked: June 14, 2012
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Just wanted to post an update on the section from Escondido camp down to the Arroyo Seco river and up to the saddle (i.e., the first ~two miles of the trail): it's been super-cleared recently and is now a "Wilderness freeway." Thank you, whoever's been working on this! Was a nice, easy introduction to a trail that definitely becomes more annoying after that point (in terms of ticks, overgrown bushes, biting flies, slides, etc.) But, good job and much gratitude.

I was also wondering about the horse poop along the way...mysterious.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:22 pm

Date Hiked: April 22, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This report is for the northern portion, from the Indian Valley Trail junction down to Pelon Camp. The "Difficult" rating is an average since in general the trail gets progressively better as one goes south, so individual section ratings follow.

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Section 1: 1/3 mile section from Higgins Creek crossing (just south of the Indian Valley Trail junction) to Upper Higgins Camp

I must rate this section along a slope as "Impassable" as a trail (though bushwhacking is always possible) due to extensive downfall covering and obscuring the old tread. The trail is particularly difficult to follow because (1) there are switchbacks which are easily missed in the downfall and eroded slopes, and (2) there has been some downfall clearing in places which does _not_ follow the old tread (perhaps while looking for the old tread), which can lead you astray. If a GPS is used having a pre-loaded trail track to follow, it would be merely "Difficult". I only found the tread because I had 1994 satellite images showing some pieces of the trail (including the two major switchbacks) so could use those as a guide and then connect the dots to find the missing pieces - and even then it required much crawling and searching.

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Section 2: 0.6 mile section south of Upper Higgins Camp

"Difficult": the tread appearing-and-disappearing and easy to lose (and not always easy to re-find), especially in the growth around the larger tributary gullies flowing into Higgins Creek. I've added a photo of the still standing, but rarely viewed, "Upper Higgins Public Camp" sign!

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Section 3: 0.6 mile section south to Pelon Camp

In much better shape than the northern sections, close to being "Passable" (though this may be a slightly rosy view, since it is in comparison to the previous sections; for example, there were sections overgrown with ceanothus such that the tread was not visible, but one could feel it with one's feet - so in that sense it is "passable").

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Notes:

For Section (1), on a previous visit in Feb (when I did not go very far), I noted that someone had done brush clearing along the very northern end, before the trail starts to descend along an eastern slope, marking the trail with orange adhesive tape and making it easily followable to that point. At that time I had stopped and returned when I reached the end of his work, where I ran into extensive downfall. "Orange tape guy" had obviously not returned since, as places which had been easily "passable" then were difficult now, with orange tape showing in the midst of new downfall presumably from the November windstorm. This time I pushed on beyond my last turn-around point, but did not find any further clearing beyond or any orange tape (or any flags at all prior to Upper Higgins Camp).

Also for Section (1), the downfall and associated trail-finding/following difficulty on the eastern slope was very similar to that I had found earlier this year on the northern and eastern slopes of the ridge just south of Pelon Camp. But there someone has created (apparently using a shovel) a readily followable "use trail" which avoids the denser downfalls (and cuts the switchbacks) - but "shovel guy" seems not to have reached this slope, since I did not find any useful usetrails here.

In sections (2) and (3) there are multiple trail "Y"s where the original tread follows a contour but that is now brushy so people have taken the path of least resistance by making usetrails going up and over the small open ridges to keep out of the brush, rejoining the trail as the usetrail descends. For my GPSing I always tried to follow the old tread, i.e. the contour, so long as it was reasonably possible.

Upper Higgins Camp is in poor shape, with some pig damage - I did not find it very attractive (an icemaker stove remains, and the original sign, but no grill). Pelon Camp is likewise not particularly attractive, but there was no pig damage (the original sign remains, but no grill or stove).

I did place green flags along the route, but only when I felt that I was on the correct trail - so there are gaps in that flagging. And it's sparse on the northern-end switchback section because I had nearly finished my new 150 ft roll so had to conserve.
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Upper Higgins Public Camp sign
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:42 pm

Date Hiked: February 24, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This report is for the section from Lost Valley Camp to Pelon Camp.

Leaving Lost Valley Camp headed north, after finding a way across the Lost Valley River and surrounding willows one must cross a series of small hills and gullies. There is not much brush, but the route is mostly obscure, though from time-to-time you find sections of old tread. In many places there are numerous possible routes, but there are also a few choke points (such as an opening in a barbed wire fence) - I was mostly following what looked good to my eyes, but at some questionable spots would use the Forest Service and Schaffer routes I had in my GPS as a guide. There were pig-created torn-up patches in this area, but not nearly so extensive as at Indian Valley.

The trail then descends to and follows along the river, crossing several times at orange flags (there are also a few orange flags not at crossings). However there is a somewhat hidden ascent from (and descent back to) the river on the north side, which was not marked by an flag and one could easily miss this ascent (my GPS's routes helped alert me to where I should be looking for this departure) - it has some very brushy spots, requiring feeling the tread with ones feet. .

Shortly after the fourth Higgins Creek crossing, the trail climbs up and over a ridge on the south side to get to Pelon Camp. One should not continue upstream, as emphasized by Schaffer and the SC Guide, because of the difficulty of that route, but the trail ascent can be missed. The path going up was not initially apparent to me even though I knew there should be one nearby (based on my GPS'd Schaffer trail - the FS one was completely wrong at this point) - it took closer examination to find it. This was the most difficult stretch of this section as there was MUCH dead tree downfall and the old switchbacks go back and forth through it, making one often crawl and even then a day pack gets hung up. I was trying to follow the old tread to establish where the old trail went on my GPS, but I'd advise others to instead follow an obvious dirt track usetrail which someone has created - it goes up/down much more steeply than the old trail but avoids much of the downfall, coming back to the old tread at intervals and then departing from it again. This usetrail is well defined and deep with sharp edges, not simply a foot-beaten path, appearing as though someone used a shovel to carve out the path into the dirt.

Given that usetrail I'm rating the route over this section as difficult, mostly due to route finding difficulties (though patches are very brushy) - without the usetrail, I'd rate the route impassable. In trying to follow the old tread there was one place where I simply could not do so, an extensive area of deep downfall which one could not even crawl through and so large that I could not see where the old trail exited it - so there I was forced to abandon the old trail and use the usetrail until it came back to the old tread.

The "Lost Valley Trail" route that I've put into my on-line Trailmap http://ventanahiking.net/ventana_trailmap.html includes the usetrail for the LostValleyCamp-to-PelonCamp section, since that is what people should use (I have no expectations about the old tread being passable in the near future or perhaps ever) - but I've also indicated the old tread switchbacks I found by crawling as "stubs", in case that information should ever be of use to anyone. In the meadows and open areas, where many paths are currently possible, I've used the location of the old trail as revealed in 1994 satellite imagery.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:35 pm

Date Hiked: February 23, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This report is for the section from Escondido Campground to Lost Valley Camp

Much encroaching brush, including warty ceanothus. Some thin, eroded tread on steep bare slopes which requires attention but are only 1-3 steps long. Easy to step off thin tread on non-bare soil sections since edge not obvious. Flagging at Arroyo Seco River crossing and nearby tributary as well as elsewhere along route so route finding not a big problem, though can see where it was a problem prior to clearing and flagging by Todd Brockman and others. That work made my hike easier and was greatly appreciated. (I brought along a hand saw and did some additional cutting - until I lost a saw blade nut+bolt somewhere near "Pothole Slide Falls"!) And last but not least, many ticks.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:04 am

Date Hiked: November 16, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

This report is for the northern end of the Lost Valley Trail. There is now a new sign marking the intersection of the LV Trail with the Marble Peak Trail.

I was able to follow the Lost Valley Trail south from the Marble Peak Trail 1 mile, where I ran into an extensive brush downfall which I deemed impassable and turned around. Overall I'd call that section "passable to difficult", requiring occasional trail hunting. But there was one stretch of 200 feet, around 0.5 mile from the north end, where I know from Schaffer that the trail was supposed to run along the west side of the creek but I found that overgrown and impassible so had to cross over to the other side and creekwalk to get through, then back to the "correct" side.

Someone had been working on the trail as I found occasional orange tape wrapped around branches and some newer cuts in addition to the older ones. I've flagged the route I took and also put what I consider a "correct" route (i.e. following where the trail "should" be, e.g. not where I was forced to go to the other side of the creek) into my on-line Ventana Trailmap.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby whhoward on Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:36 pm

Date Hiked: November 4, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Three of us went to Lost Valley on Nov 4. We had planned to stay for two days, but rain the night before and gathering clouds added to the trail condition made us think it wise to leave on Nov 5. We didn't want to hike the trail in wet or snowy conditions.
The trail from Escondido to Arroyo Seco is clear, well defined and pretty easy. From Arroyo Seco to Fish Camp it was difficult, but not hard to follow. From Fish to Lost Valley were several sections overgrown that we had to bash through and hope we were staying on the trail. We lost the trail a few times but backtacking got us on the right track. Most difficult and causing concern were the sections on a steep slop where the trail seemed to disappear.
Most intriguing was finding horse droppings with no hoof prints on the trail. And the droppings were small. We have wild horses east of San Luis Obispo. Does anyone know of wild horses or burros in the Ventana?
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby Huntnfool on Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:34 pm

Date Hiked: July 3, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

We went from Escondido to Lost Valley. Trail from Escondido to the Arroyo Seco River is good. Dramatically different from there. From Escondido to Fish Camp is extremely overgrown and almost impassable. It's even hard to find where the trail continues after you cross the Arroyo Seco river. Pushed through brush most of the way. Branches, limbs, logs across the trail. Most of the trail itself is ok. Very thin in steep spots though going up the grade from Arroyo Seco river. Scarey.
From Fish Camp to Lost Valley is a nightmare. Trail either gone or only a few inches wide on loose sidehills or nonexesistant. Dangerous if you fall. MANY tree limbs, downed trees across the trail.
Fish Camp is in pretty good shape. Nice to place to camp when it's hot under the trees next to the creek. No flies.
Lost Valley is nice but the Pine Trees burnt in the fire so don't offer any shade. The flies are unmerciful till the sun goes down. The same picnic table that I remember 40 years ago. Ok shape, but only 1 bench. The small camp by the creek is nice and some nice shade.
A metal stove in good shape for cooking in both campspots.
A Rattlesnake greeted us as got into camp. Big one.
I wouldn't reccommend going to Lost Valley unless you're prepared to spend at least 6-7 hrs of cutting limbs, branches, trees. If you go in the heat it's unbearable. If you went when it's wet you'd be completely soaked from the brush over your head most of the way.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby CMcIntyre on Sun May 29, 2011 5:00 pm

Date Hiked: May 22, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Posted from note left on the Information Board at Escondido Camp:

"From Escondido Camp to Lost Valley Camp, trail is mostly very overgrown. Plenty of ticks and poison oak!

Fish Camp in decent condition with two firepits. Lost Valley Camp in poor to worse condition. Lots of biting flies during the day."

/s/ Charles McIntyre and Mikal Russo, Santa Cruz
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Re: Lost Valley to Marble Peak trail conditions

Postby selago on Sun May 15, 2011 6:02 pm

Date Hiked: May 10, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Many deadfalls, new growth, trail washed out, no sign of any trail cleanup or even other people coming through. Roger Foote and I hiked from Escondido Camp to Marble Peak and found a highly deteriorated trail for the entire route. Someone had been through perhaps a year ago with orange marker tape, which was useful. for a video on flickr of an example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/selago/572 ... hotostream
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