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Miller Canyon Trail

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby Steve B on Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:55 am

Date Hiked: September 13, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

September 13, 2013
The Miller Canyon Trail is open and clear from the Carmel River Trail to Miller Canyon Camp and a little beyond toward Jeffery Road. There are still a few trees in the trail and the trail is a little off the original track but we will fix that in future trips. The tread is well defined as of this writing but after the rains and the grass grows the tread may be difficult to find however the trail is flagged.
From Miller Canyon Camp to Jeffery Road (to China Camp) the trail is flagged and the tread is well defined as it looks like the trail is being used after the last flagging trip August 2012. There are a few portions of the trail before the Nason Cabin Site (West) that the tread has slumped away and you will need to really pay attention while crossing this area, a fall would not be good.
You still need to pay attention to the flagging, if you lose sight of the flagging you need to stop and find the flagging. One would think that the trail drops in to the Miller drainage but the trail stays well away from the drainage until you are almost to Miller Canyon Camp.
The Miller Canyon Trail travels through beautiful Miller Canyon and would be a wonderful three or four day loop if you were to hike Miller Canyon at China Camp to Carmel River and return to China Camp via Pine Valley.
I have a Garmin Mapsource track (miller cyn trail.gdb) the Miller Canyon Trail for your GPS available if you contact me through the VWA.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby tripple t thomskinny on Tue May 07, 2013 3:08 pm

Date Hiked: April 6, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

China Camp to Carmel River. Easy peasy...Whoever did the flagging, thank you, its makes this trial super easy to follow. The cattle have got to go, in the upper part of the watershed the cow patties everywhere, creeks and seeps are suffering from major degradation and pretty much tearing up the place.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:44 pm

Date Hiked: March 18, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Carmel River Trail to Miller Camp

Having heard that this trail was overgrown and rough, we were delighted to find a passable and fairly easy to follow, though rugged, trail from the Carmel River back to Miller Camp. Granted there is some deadfall and encroaching brush, and the trail does not see much foot traffic, extensive flagging throughout makes this a very passable stretch to Miller Camp. We also had the early Spring on our side; later in the season it may be a very different story as the poison oak takes off and everything else grows too. If it wasn't for the flagging, however, this would definitely be a difficult trail to follow, as it would not always be clear where to go next as you navigate the creek. There are quite a few creek crossings, we were able to rock hop them all, though not without some challenge. Obviously if you read the other reviews, it gets tough further up the trail past Miller towards China Camp, which we did not attempt. Miller is a really beautiful camp with the highest concentration of Santa Lucia firs I've seen in one area.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby annevoi on Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:01 pm

Date Hiked: August 30, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

A team of six members of Monterey County Search and Rescue hiked this trail from the end of Jeffery Road approximately 3.75 miles toward Miller Canyon Camp, beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday, August 30, transporting a heavy wheeled Stokes litter for a potential rescue of a patient (at Hiding Canyon Camp--why we were using this trail is a story unto itself). We found the flagging to be relatively straightforward to follow, easily picked up with our headlamps. The trail varied from being clear, with obvious tread, to areas of steep, soft drop-off; in some spots the trail turned and we continued straight, but we knew to keep looking for the flagging, so we never ventured too far before turning back and rediscovering the trail. At a certain point the slope was so steep and the trail so loose and narrow that we broke apart our litter rig and carried it on our backs. I am guessing we did not get beyond Nason Cabin; in any case, we didn't get to an area with very thick brush or face-high poison oak. We've searched before for people who've gotten lost on this trail (mainly by venturing down into the creek rather than staying high up the slope), and now we understand just how easy it is to get lost. Steve B's flagging was invaluable--though by the end of our trek we were cursing him for making us think there actually was a trail to follow. All in all, it took us 8 hours to hike approximately 7.5 miles.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby Steve B on Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:13 pm

Date Hiked: August 8, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Miller Canyon Trail
Date Hiked: August 8-9, 2012
Starting point: China Camp
Ending Point: Carmel River Trail

After leaving the road in the housing area (the end of Jeffery Rd. in tract 37) the trail is overgrown but passable, pink flagging marks the trail but the flagging is sometimes faded and difficult to find (Paul Danielson did a wonderful job of flagging the trail). We added orange flagging starting from the end of Jeffery Road to the junction of the Carmel River Trail. The trail is fairly easy to follow though difficult walking until about one half mile past Nason Cabin where the trail has slid away on a steep side hill; the tread is about three inches wide and crumbly above a dangerous cliff, this portion of trail of about two miles is dangerous and one should use extreme caution traversing the cliff areas. When the trail leaves the cliff area and drops into a north aspect the trail is very overgrown with poison oak well over my head, we lost the trail numerous times but after finding the trail we added more orange flagging, the trail gets worse the tread is mostly gone and the brush and poison oak is very thick. Finally the trail drops into a seasonal creek above the Miller Fork of the Carmel River where it is easier to follow the creek than walk the real trail to Miller Camp. Miller Camp is in good condition and has had some use. From Miller Camp to the Carmel River Trail the trail is overgrown but passible (it seemed easy because of the miserable trail prior to Miller Camp). Although the Miller Canyon Trail looks like a good loop trail I don’t recommend hiking past Miller Camp from Carmel River, if you do hike past Miller Camp toward China Camp be sure to follow the flagging, if you lose the flagging stop and re-locate the trail, don’t follow what looks like an easier route.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby pauldan on Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:05 pm

Date Hiked: June 2, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

As a followup (see previous trail report), I hiked up the Miller Canyon Trail from the bottom. I was able to put in ample pink flagging to make this route easier to follow, especially for the uphill hiker. I got as far as approx. 0.3 mile from Miller Canyon Camp. What I found on this hike was the following:

1. From the lower trailhead at the Carmel River to approx the 0.8 mile point: Passable --- with clear wide tread most of the way and two nasty deadfalls disposed of. This is due to the fine work of Steve Benoit and his trail crew earlier this year.

2. From that point to Clover Basin Camp: Difficult to Impassable --- with stretches of facehigh poison oak completely overgrowing the invisible trail tread.

3. From Clover Basin Camp to my stopping point 0.3 miles from Miller Canyon Camp: Difficult to Impassable --- similar to #2 above.

Bottom line: It is now possible to follow a line of pink flags almost to Miller Canyon Camp. But be prepared for slow going as you pick your way along faded overgrown tread and thickets of vegetation.

Hopefully, someone will flag the remaining 0.3 mile to Miller Canyon Camp.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Postby pauldan on Fri May 04, 2012 4:05 pm

Date Hiked: May 2, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Due to this past report, took upon myself to put in extra pink flagging between the upper trailhead down to a point just below the old Tin House Camp signed intersection. The route should be much clearer now in both directions. As far as the section past Miller Canyon Camp to the Carmel River Trail: --- well, that still is relatively unmarked. Good luck!
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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.
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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.


Jack Glendening
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
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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 vwa@ventanawild.org 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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