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Miller Canyon Trail

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby cshack_21 on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:30 pm

Date Hiked: April 4, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

We are regular backpackers in the Ansel and Miur Wilderness and because of late snow falls this year we decided to do something different.

Miller Canyon Trail was to be third day of a three day backpacking trip my wife and I took this past week. We started the trip from China Camp through Pine Valley to stay at Hidden Valley Camp. This trail was as expected, lightly used with decent tread. The only problems we had on this trail was a one to one-and-a-half mile stretch of trail that was heavily overgrown as you start to make your way down the beginnings of the Carmel River Trail in Hiding Canyon. Would still be considered Passable by all standards.

Second day of the trip took us from Hidding Canyon Camp to Carmel River Camp along the Carmel River Trail. Passable with exceptions - this trail should not be attempted during wet months as it does at least 15 river crosses that are knee to waist high in very swift, almost rapid conditions. Poor planning on our part, but the trail was easily found at each crossing and with only minimum poison oak and overgrowth. We found the camps along the Carmel River trail to be beautifully placed and well taken care of by other users. After this leg of our trip things went very wrong.

Day three was to be our Miller Canyon Trail day. From Carmel River Camp up Miller Canyon the trail was Passable at best. Pink trail markers were very helpful in finding the crossings and keeping us some what on course. It was completely overgrown with only 20% to 30% of the tread showing from Carmel River Camp to Clover Basin Camp. At Clover Basin Camp we should have figured it was time to turn around. The camp was overgrown and looked as though it had not been used in many years. We continued on only to find the situation declining very rapidly. There was little evidence of any trail tread from Clover Basin to Miller Canyon Camp, only occasional pink trail markers. At this point we became very reliant on these markers.

After Miller Canyon Camp we were pleased to see decent tread as we headed up the switchbacks to higher ground. But this is where everything goes wrong. At the crest of these switchbacks we came to a large open grassy saddle where the tread disappeared into numerous animal trails going in every direction. We spent a twenty or so minutes trying to connect the trail. Lucky for us we had an Iphone with satellite gps, topo app and a solar panel. We started to charge it up, while we were exploring the many trails found a pink marker for a trail that had long lost its tread. It is amazing anyone going this direction has ever found this trail connection. After an hour of wasted time we continued on as the tread came and went with every ten to twenty feet. A mile later as we noticed there hadn't been any trail markers for a while we fired up the gps and topo maps to find that we had been following a cattle or deer trail in the opposite direction than we should have. It was late so we camped out along the Miller Fork. In the morning we charged the Iphone and used the GPS to find what was left of the tread where we had last seen a trail marker. We made it to Nason Cabin Camp only after using our GPS several times to make it back to a trail that had less tread than the deer trails we mistakenly ended up on, and only realizing the fact after we hadn't seen a pink trail marker for a while. Yes we did make it out without major disaster (other than it taking two days rather than one), and yes our family knowing our itinerary had made arrangements to call Search and Rescue thirty minutes after we confirmed that we had arrived back. We almost became a statistic ourselves.

Other problems with Miller Canyon Trail, countless deadfalls, multiple major tread washouts, some of the worst tick infestation I have ever seen (me and my wife did tick checks every 100 yards or so) - and these are problems with the actual trail that we were probably only on 40% of the time.

This Trail is completely Impassable other than the presence of pink trail markers, as it is no longer a trail, only remnants of tread. GPS is mandatory if attempting.

Thank you to the person that put up the Pink Trail Markers, your work was very appreciated.
cshack_21
 

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:30 am

Date Hiked: July 14, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Paul Danielson, Esperanza Hernandez and myself reprised our hike of last December, from China Camp to Los Padres Dam, to see how this trail had changed in the interim (during this time a pair of hikers became lost on this trail). We were joined by Robert Barringer and since he had not hiked the trail previously, he went in front to evaluate how the trail is handled by someone unfamiliar with it.

The trail has obviously deteriorated since December. Whereas previously we could generally follow tread except on the grassy saddles (where trail hunting was needed), this time we also lost the trail a few times in non-grassy gullies. Our worst case: we spent 6 minutes off-trail searching and ended up missing/bypassing a 300 ft section of the path (that was the only place I used my GPS, which had the trail data loaded into it, to save some time). There were 4 other places were we got off-trail "significantly", i.e. missing over 100 ft of tread before picking it up again, but those did not require as much searching as our worst case. We did find and follow the flags we had left from our previous hike, which provided good guidance on the grassy saddles and other critical spots such that we encountered no difficulty at the two major problem points of our last hike. We also added quite a few new flags. [FYI our two "major" route-finding problems on our December hike took 20 minutes and 11 minutes of searching to resolve, so having those spots flagged definitely helped on this hike.]

The deterioration was mainly due to vegetation growth, which often obscured the tread, forcing us to pause and look for tread before continuing. And we were occasionally swimming through poison oak. Although we needed less "trail-searching" time on this hike, due to the flagging, our hiking time along the Miller Canyon Trail was still longer than on our first hike (excluding "stopping" times such as lunch, sawing, explorations, etc, to make the comparison fair), a result of having to deal with the encroaching vegetation. While our first hike was rather enjoyable, this hike was more of a slog.

For the "lower" (northern) section, the tread gets progressively less distinct as one goes south from the Carmel River Trail junction, but since that section of the trail largely follows the Miller Fork it's difficult to get "lost" even if one does not see a definite trail. Route-finding problems occur primarily on the "upper" section of the trail, south of Miller Canyon Camp, where the trail leaves Miller Fork and ascends over the saddles and sidewalls of the gullies which drain into the Miller Fork, to eventually reach Jeffery Road.

Two "use trail" notes: [1] the usetrail through the narrow Miller-Fork-tributary canyon immediately south of Miller Canyon Camp is is currently a better choice than the wider-benched "main trail" (shorter and less overgrown, also more picturesque) [2] I recommend taking the switchbacked main trail which climbs above the stream between 0.6 and 1.0 miles from the northern end of the trail instead of taking the usetrail which follows the stream there (less vegetation and a better view).

At one point on the southern section, erosion (new since our first hike) has now erased about 3 feet of tread along a steep slope, at a point where one would slide a considerable ways downslope upon slipping with possible injury. That was difficult for us to traverse with daypacks and with a backpack I personally would want to avoid that point by climbing to the top of the slope there and traversing there, even though there is no trail [I've noted that point on the gpx file I provide via the on-line Ventana Trailmap: http://ventanahiking.net/ventana_trailmap.html ]. At other places the tread along the slope becomes very thin and could be tricky to traverse with a backpack.


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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby Farley on Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:55 am

Date Hiked: June 9, 2011
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

BASICALLY, PLANNING TO HIKE THIS TRIAL IS A BAD IDEA AT THIS POINT IN TIME. Due to the number of rescues Monterey County Search and Rescue has had to deal with on this trail over the last few years, they have asked that we get the word out to not plan on taking this trail (especially if you are new to exploring the Santa Lucia Mountains or have not walked in the Ventana Wilderness).
See posts regarding previous incidents, on the VWA Forum:
http://www.ventanawild.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=510&p=2327&hilit=miller+canyon#p2327
http://www.ventanawild.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=491&p=2190&hilit=miller+canyon#p2190

The Carmel River Trail to Hiding Canyon and the Pine Ridge Trail to Pine Valley both provide good alternatives to this trail. Please leave an itinerary with someone at home each time you travel into the backcountry.

If you are interested in helping restore this or other trails in dire need to maintenance, please contact us at or 831-423-3191. We have a number of organized trips heading out in the wilds for work throughout the year, and the trails of the Ventana and Silver Peak wilderness can always use more active friends.
Thanks, Paul McFarland
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Sun May 08, 2011 11:24 pm

Date Hiked: December 10, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I wondered why the previous post stated "This trail DESPERATELY needs to be flagged ...", since many flags had been hung during my hike of last December, then realized that the post was for a hike way back in September. While often difficult to follow, I do not feel that the trail is _currently_ as difficult as the preceeding post suggests. Personally, I found the narrowness of the trail along some steep slopes to be more of a concern than encroaching brush and poison oak (though there was definitely much PO). Do note the post's recommendation for a navigation aid (particularly a GPS containing the actual trail track) for anyone unfamiliar with the trail.

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Miller Canyon Trail

Postby Chuck on Mon May 02, 2011 11:44 pm

Date Hiked: September 5, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked this last September (2010) from China Camp to the Carmel River. From China Camp to the Nason Cabin site it's a breeze. After that though, it's a nightmare. It goes from passable to nearly impassable. Trail dissapeared at Nason Cabin site. Took us 45 minutes to find the trail on the other side of the clearing there (it's on the northern side of the dry creek, roughly 45 degrees to the right and uphill from the abandoned campsite). Once that trail was found, the nightmare kept going. The trail could be consistently followed only for a maximum of ~200 yards at a time before it faded away. In typical Ventana style, we had to pass through groves of poison oak (impossible to bypass). At points, those groves were 8 feet tall and covered much of the trail, leaving only a 1.5 foot wide 'tunnel' to pass through. Roughly 1/2 mile before the Miller Canyon campsite, we finally and totally lost the trail. Without a compass, we had to pass navigate only based on topographical features. Descended into a dry creekbed that fed into Miller Creek, only to find a ~20 foot drop off (waterfall if the creek was flowing). Required us to climb up and around it, which was a harrowing experience. Instead of making it to our planned campsite at the Carmel River, we stopped at the Miller Canyon camp & called it a day. Past Miller Canyon camp, the trail is still difficult to follow, but better than the preceeding few miles.

Part of our misfortune was undoubtedly caused by our lack of a compass or GPS, a foolhardy mistake on my part. None the less, think twice about taking this trail. Some sort of navigational aid is a must, as is a good machete. Make sure you give yourself extra time when traveling this area unless you know it well. Combining this trail (if cleared) with the Carmel River trail, as well as the Pine Valley/Pine Ridge trail makes a good 3 day/25 mile loop originating at China Camp.

To those at Ventanawild & USFS: This trail DESPERATELY needs to be flagged & cleared. The area is BEAUTIFUL and it's a tragedy that much of it is obliterated.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:41 pm

Date Hiked: December 10, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

If you want to hike along a well-defined track then the Miller Canyon Trail (MCT) is not for you! People have been reporting difficulties on this trail for years, so last Friday three of us -- Paul Danielson, Esperanza Hernandez, and myself -- hiked its entire length, giving us more eyes and bodies to explore around the many trail puzzles. Then on Monday I did an in-and-out hike of the more problematical southern section, from China Camp to Miller Canyon Camp, allowing me to experience that section of the trail in both directions. In addition to trail location problems resulting from fading or multiple tracks, as was expected for this infrequently used trail, to our surprise we discovered that there are two sections which can be, and often are, bypassed by "use trails". Moreover, the guidebooks differ on their reported trails at those spots! On an upstream section Schaffer follows a use trail whereas the Sierra Club Guide (SCTG) describes the "main" (better bench) trail there - then, further downstream, the SCTG follows a use trail whereas Schaffer follows the "main" trail there.

Describing the "main" trail heading south to north, as do both Schaffer and the SCTG, the southern (upstream) use trail departs near the waterfall 6.3 miles from China Camp (3.4 miles from the northern end of the MCT), following "waterfall creek" 0.25 miles through a very narrow canyon to its confluence with Miller fork of the Carmel River where Miller Canyon Camp is located - whereas the benched trail switches back above the creek, contours back to above the Miller fork, then descends in switchbacks to reach the river at 0.30 miles and follows Miller fork 0.07 miles downstram to reach the camp.

The northern (downstream) use trail departs 8.4 miles from China Camp (1.3 miles from the northern end of the MCT), remaining along the Miller fork for 0.24 miles (with 4 river crossings) - whereas the benched trail gradually moves away from the river to ascend 150 ft vertically up the slope and then descend in switchbacks back to the river after 0.46 miles.

Note that both use trails are significantly shorter than the benched "main" trail and not very difficult to follow, so there are reasons to purposely take them. But the "main" trail moves in a unexpected direction at both locations, leaving the stream/canyon in which one is located, so the use trails are easily followed by hikers who do not intend to, or realize they have, left the "main" trail. At the southern use trail, the "main" trail is easily missed in both directions (Schaffer missed it, we missed it on the first go around, Paul and a friend had separately missed it on a previous hike, etc.). At the northern use trail, the "main" trail is easily missed going northward, as one does not expect to veer away from the river, whereas coming south the switchback leading to the main trail ascent is apparent.

Faint or multiple crossing paths (animal tracks fading out after awhile) are not encountered on the northern section, where one can in any case get through by simply following the river. But south of the waterfall, where one has departed from the river to contour along the slopes, such problems abound, particularly at the grassy tops of the seven ridge saddles along the route. Our group often split up to find the proper track, a luxury not available to the solo hiker. We flagged intermittently along this section, focusing on the more problematical spots. In many places the soil along the slopes is friable, the bench thin and unstable. In several places more than one path traverses such a slope (as can be seen in Google Earth) and we generally found it best to take the path higher up the slope, where the slope angle was less and the bench firmer. Still, the bench could use much shovel work along many stretches!

Also note that the Miller fork must be crossed 22 times north of the waterfall (26 times if one takes the northern use trail), which can be difficult with high water.

I have put the GPS'd Miller Canyon Trail (which differs from the USFS track by up to 1/4 mile), the two use trails, and the Jeffery Road connector to China Camp into my on-line Ventana Trailmap, so they can be viewed in Google Earth or in a browser: http://www.ventanahiking.net/ventana_trailmap.html In a few places I have placed "stub pairs" to indicate a prominent alternative, but not recommended, path. By clicking on the Miller Canyon Trail line on the trailmap you can bring up an information bubble which includes links to download a kml file which can be displayed in Google Earth (or a gpx file which can be loaded into a GPS) displaying locations such as the waterfall, Nason Cabin site, the most treacherous slope, a few locations where it is especially easy to get off track, etc.

Hopefully this information will prove useful to a hiker of this trail,which definitely makes for a route-following challenge. On my second hike, on the upper half of a trail I had just come down three days previously, and with flagging added, I still found myself off-trail twice on the descent and three times on the return. As an example, at one place on the return trip after losing my way I returned to the point I had gone off-trail and in bright sunshine saw the contour-following path I had followed (but which faded out after 200 feet) and to me it still looked like the proper path - but then looking around more closely, somewhat up-slope, in shade, I saw a fallen tree along the path I had come out on, making it not very visible. Going downstream following the correct track was not a problem, going upstream it was. I put a ribbon on that tree to lead someone up there, but it's not very visible in the shade and I'm sure that sunny false path will continue to seduce more hikers coming upward at that point.


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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby PMH on Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:18 am

Date Hiked: September 18, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The trail is well marked from China Camp to the end of the Tanbark Association property. Once leaving this property, the trail becomes faint, overgrown and filled with false leads. Many down trees contine to fall from recent fires. Poison oak and face flies abound. The trail is beautiful, but rugged. Lots of rocks and tall grass this time of year. Be sure to take adequate supplies and do not attempt if unfamiliar with this area.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby Nature Nate on Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:42 pm

Date Hiked: August 4, 2010
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

I hiked the Miller Canyon Trail from Carmel River campsite to about 2 or 3 miles past Miller Canyon Campsite.

The trail has been worked on a bit for the first couple miles from Carmel River heading East, but is still chest deep in poison oak and stinging nettle. Once past Miller Canyon the trail becomes virtually impossible to track. Multiple false leads, downed trees and shrubs, terrible poison oak. At a couple spots you can follow deer trails, but they split in so many directions, it's difficult to stay on track. I tried to bushwhack to China Camp for the last 5 or so miles of the trail, but became too exhausted and had to turn around and bail out at Carmel River. I came out of the wilderness a day late and search and rescue was called.

I do not recommend this trail unless you don't mind going cross country or following the Miller fork of the river the whole way.

Peace,
Nature Nate
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Miller Canyon Trail

Postby dknapp1 on Wed May 27, 2009 11:34 am

Date Hiked: May 27, 2009
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Reported by Geoff Jackson:

Trail overgrown with post fire growth and washed out in several places. Plenty of downed trees. Route finding challenging in several areas, especially where new growth in fire affected areas. Once at Miller Canyon Camp trail relatively easy. Pay attention at every saddle as finding the correct trail leaving these overgrown grassy areas is critical to maintaining good time and route. The last decent into the canyon has a few down tress that need to be negotiated. No need to say that poison oak has been the dominant species to first recover in fire ravaged areas.
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Trail Conditions History 1999-2008

Postby Site Administrator on Tue May 26, 2009 10:38 am

Date Hiked: April 26, 2008
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Conditions reported by: JO
Survey date: 26-APRIL-2008
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Miller Camp - Difficult

he trail was findable but disappeared in places requiring a bit of hunting around. Wildflowers are beautiful and poison oak proliferated.

Section: Miller Camp to Carmel River Camp -

The trail was barely there. A few red tags pointed the way in spots and were helpful. Mostly the trail ended in the river so we had to cross frquently. The poison oak was intense and unavoidable so take Zanfel if you go this way! It was hard hiking through overgrown bush most of the way. This trail needs some serious attention.
===========
Conditions reported by: Lynn Miller
Survey date: 10-JULY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

When leaving the canyon bear left until the sign at the second fork, as the first right fork of the trail will take you back to Miller Canyon camp site. Lots of tall poison oak over hanging the trail in side canyons all the way to the road.

No water until Nason Cabin site (walk down the hill past the stove remains), but choose pools with gravel bottom rather than the black silt as it will clog your water filter. Spring cattle movement on upper end of trail was in wet weather and has created badly deformed trail surface in places.
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Conditions reported by: Kalista
Survey date: 13-May-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Mostly passable, some difficult. Meadow at Nason's cabin site has no trail, so continue straight and to the right up the saddle and trail is clear on other side of saddle. Overgrown from Miller Canyon Camp to Carmel Creek Camp through river crossing area, but trail is fairly clear. Still water in creek to the point that you have to search for a good crossing place, but passable at all points.
===========
Conditions reported by: Geoff & Kristen
Survey date: 20-MAY-2006
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to the Nason Cabin - Passable

Heading down to the Cabin Site, there were quite a few overgrown areas (most w/poison oak), but nothing too bad. Ater getting off the road, keeping on the right tread was a bit difficult due to use trails from people or cattle. Found ourselves backtracking quite a few times after getting sidetracked on dead-ending tread.

Section: Nason Cabin to Miller Canyon Camp - Clear

From the Cabin Site to Miller Canyon Camp, the trail climbs up to a few saddles before dropping down into a narrow gulch towards Miller Canyon Camp. The trail here is, for the most part, clear - just stay on the most worn tread here. Slightly overgrown in a few areas, again with poison oak, but nothing too bad. Trail is very narrow in a few places along some fairly steep slopes. We also thought for a while that we might have gotten on the Hennicksons Trail accidentally, since the trail climbs so much and looks like it might be heading towards the ridge, but the Hennicksons Trail is clearly signed.

Section: Miller Canyon Camp to Carmel River Camp - Passable

The trail ranges from clear to very overgrown, with quite a few deadfalls and of course the many stream crossings. Poison Oak is abundant here, with it being to the left, right, and above in more than a few places. This is also the section of trail were we flicked off the most ticks, having to stop about every 5 minutes to check. All of the deadfalls were manageable, with most having trails leading around them. The worse deadfalls were rather small trees that one has to go around, but are up on the western slope of the canyon where the trail climbs up after and before many water crossings, on a steep slope with what is not a very stable turf. Water levels are at or just above knee level.

Overall: Passable/Difficult

Difficult in many sections, but passable for most of the trail, with much poison oak and ticks. Keeping the trail is difficult at times due to the many use trails, but stream crossings were fairly straight forward, and the scenery is magnificent. Our Lord's Candles were in full bloom, and the trail passes by a handful, with many many more wildflowers to be seen along the trail as well.
===========
Conditions reported by: P J Davenport
Survey date: 18-MAY-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

The trail between Carmel River Camp and Miller Canyon Camp was barely passable. I would not suggest taking this trail unless you are good with a map and compass (not for novices), the trail disappears in several places. We had the time of our lives and them some, but be warned, nothing was clearly maked, so be prepared to climb ravines, bush-whack and blaze your own trail. Have fun. We did. Whew!
===========
Conditions reported by: Patrick Dundon
Survey date: 17-MAY-2005
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

After passing the wooden gate 1.5 miles from China Camp, the "trail" contours along above the Miller fork of the Carmel River. There are many places where one wonders if this is indeed a trail at all. This is no place for Teva's, tank tops, or tennis shorts. Protective clothing is the order of the day. Lupine to last a lifetime! Fish are to be had in the stream if you continue as far as Miller Camp.
===========
Conditions reported by: Stephen Eggleston
Survey date: 14-MAY-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

I hiked Miller Canyon Trail from China Camp to the Carmel River Trail as part of a loop trip. The trail was PASSABLE in most areas and DIFFICULT in some. Deadfalls were frequent but managable with a few challenging exceptions. The trail through many of the meadows was eroded and overgrown but visible. I found myself wishing for hiking poles as my ankles and knees suffered the downhill slope. I lost the trail briefly a few times due to overgrowth and erosion. Finding the trail after some creek crossings required extra effort. Poison Oak was surprisingly moderate except in certain creek areas. Ticks were moderate. Overall the trail was a challenge but beautiful.
===========
Conditions reported by: John Fedak
Survey date: 25-NOV-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Miller to Miller Canyon Camp (Clear to Passable)

The trail is in very good shape and is easily followable from China Camp to the Nason Cabin site. At the top of the ridge near the Nason Cabin site the abundance of use trails made selecting the correct trail to decend from the ridge nonobvious. Several sections of the trail are washed out (no problem if the trail is dry, may be an issue with mud) and there are the usual amounts of poison oak and a few downed trees to navigate.

Section: Miller Canyon Camp to the Carmel River (Passable to Difficult)

The picnic table at Miller Canyon Camp continues to decompose, but otherwise the camp was in decent shape. Continuing downstream, the riverside portion of the trail is overgrown and picking up the trail after crossings is not always obvious (in places, there are use trails along both sides of the river). The river was still mostly rock hoppable when I was there, but this has likely changed with the rains since then. Clover Basin Camp is still overgrown with poison oak.

Trip Pictures
===========
Conditions reported by: Todd Meister
Survey date: 08-OCT-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Carmel River

The trail from China Camp to the Carmel River was well-defined. There was a section where we thought we may have accidentally taken Hennickson's Trail up to the Tin House, but that turned out to be incorrect. The correct path from the gate about one mile from Miller Creek Camp was not marked, though now that I've hiked the trail once, I don't think I'd be confused again.

There were some washouts to scramble around, and in the section of the trail between the gate (not marked on the USGS or Schaffer's generally more accurate map) and Miller Creek Camp, there was one particularly bad downed tree we had to scramble around, through poison oak. That whole section, in fact, was the most washed-out and deadfall-infested section of the trail, with some of the washouts being over some pretty dramatic drops.

The final trek along a creek to Miller Creek Camp was also a little washed-out, with one bad-looking clamber up and around a short but potentially wet fall. Thought that clamber turned out not nearly as bad as it looked, it can only get worse with more use.

From Miller Creek Camp to the Carmel River, I was exhausted, so I don't remember much, but from what I do remember, it wasn't too bad. Some logs and downed trees to climb over or limbo under, but not much else. The creek was always low enough to cross without any foot-wetting.
===========
Conditions reported by: EW
Survey date: 20-MAR-2004
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: China Camp to Carmel River Trail jct.

Don't think I've yet rated a trail difficult, but this one earns it (some spots are nearly impassable)! I brought my clippers, but soon realized that merely trimming brush would be an exercise in futility without an experienced trail crew re-building the tread. If that doesn't happen soon, this trail will certainly be lost before long.

Starting off easily enough, Jeffery Road descends from China Camp to the Tanbark Association's private in-holdings, passing a disturbing number of spent shotgun shells along the way; even more disturbing are the pitiful carcasses of band-tailed pigeons laden with bird shot- so sad that another human being could consider this sport... (but I digress)

Carefully following white and yellow "trail" arrows mounted on trees at the various intersections, trail leaves the road just past a large fenced pond. Passing through a stock gate, the trail continues through more private in-holdings and then begins an up and down traverse, vaulting several shoulders of Chew's Ridge (Schaffer counts six) on it's way down to Miller Canyon Camp.

Pay close attention as several switch-backs along this section are easily missed (so many folks have apparently done so, "mis-use trails" have developed). Poles are advisable, since several sections are slumping right off the mountain with barely a few inches width of tread across particularly airy traverses- quite intimidating!

Eventually, the Hennickson's Ridge Connector appears and a descent into Miller Canyon begins via a narrow but scenic west-flowing tributary. Miller Canyon Camp has seen better days, the picnic table is suitable for kindling. Shortly beyond the camp a series of crossings begins (Schaffer counts twenty-one) so keep a close eye on the far bank to avoid more of the aforementioned mis-use trails.

Passing through Clover Basin Camp the crossings continue for another mile or so and then the trail begins to ascend the south canyon wall, avoiding a deep gorge below. Nearing the Carmel River proper, our trail is once again fairly well-graded, dropping to cross the Miller Fork one last time before reaching the Carmel River Trail intersection.

9-10 Miles hiking took me about 4.5 hours.
===========
Conditions reported by: Kelsey Jordahl
Survey date: OCT-2002
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

China Camp to Miller Canyon Camp: CLEAR
The upper portion of this trail, after leaving the road, has been recently cleared and is in fine shape. Both of us separately missed the final switchback before arriving at Miller Canyon Camp and walked down along the steep side of a ravine, wondering how the trail could have gotten so sketchy so suddenly. The trail was fine, if we hadn't missed the turn.

Miller Canyon Camp to Carmel River Trail: PASSABLE
Continuing northwest from Miller Canyon Camp, the trail is sometimes indistinct and crosses the Miller Fork frequently. Following the trail is typical canyon-bottom walking, one has to be alert about when to look for a crossing, the trail is frequently overgrown by leafy growth and poison oak, and multiple use trails have often formed where previous visitors lost the main tread.

Clover Basin Camp is less appealing than Miller Canyon Camp, the camp sign itself has been completely enveloped by poison oak.
===========
Conditions reported by: Mark Riddle
Survey date: 10-JAN-2002
General: PASSABLE to CLEAR
Specific:

A little rough going along the river due to high water until I passed Miller Canyon Camp, climbing out of the valley. From there the trail is in good condition all the way to China Camp. Stopped counting newts at number 10.
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Conditions reported by: Neil Lahaie
Survey date: 20/21-OCT-2001
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

We hiked from China Camp to the Carmel River Trail junction, and returned back up to Miller Camp the first day. Then back to China Camp the second day.

Tread is in decent condition along most of the route with small sections that are badly eroded. The trail was overgrown in some places, but no worse than any other trail I've hiked in Ventana. There are several trees down along the route but none were difficult to crawl under or over.

River crossings weren't a problem in mid-October with a pair of trekking poles for additional points of contact.

Poison Oak was easy to spot since most of it had turned red.

Route finding wasn't difficult at this time of year and we didn't encounter the problem mentioned in the previous reports. Thanks to the folks who tagged tricky intersections on the trail.

Two streams that cross the trail in the upper half of the route had ample water to filter.

Miller Canyon Camp was comfortable and inviting.

Tick count for party of two on two day hike: 1
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Conditions reported by: Benjamin Reed-Lunn
Survey date: 29-MARCH-01
General: CLEAR BUT NOT FOR NOVICES
Specific:

Acceptable trail conditions. This was probably the most overgrown trail I've ever had to follow, but perhaps many of you have seen worse. We only lost the trail for about five minutes at a time though. The worst section was along the Miller Canyon Fork itself. Luckily, the clover on the trail, when stepped on, stay flattened, so we were able to follow most of the trail. There are about 10 river crossings and in at least this time of year you are certainly going to get your feet wet, so bring some sandals! You also should bring long pants as the ticks are out in full force since the trail is overgrown and you are bound to brush up against branches with ticks on them. And to make matters worse you walk through fields of poison oak down near the river. The campsites are in fairly good order, although we found it very hard to start a fire. The portion of the trail up above the river wasn't bad at all; just look out for the turn mentioned in the note below. Needless to say, this wasn't our favorite part of our hike, but it is perfectly do-able.
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Conditions reported by: Shari Arroyo
Survey date: 20-JUNE-99
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Generally good trail conditions. One very large downed tree about 2? miles from Miller Canyon Camp. Loose tread along precipitious gully about 3 miles from Miller Canyon Camp. About 2.5 miles from China Camp, the trail appeared to end in some woods before reaching a gully. We made the mistake of crossing over the gully and bushwacking through some heavy brush and climbing over several large downed trees on a very steep slope, only to realize that we were definitely off the trail. To avoid same mistake, stay to the left and go up towards grassy meadow to stay on the trail. Most small stream crossings were dry. Lots of poison oak and bugs.
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