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Expand view Topic review: Lost Valley Trail

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Rob on Mon Nov 08, 2021 12:36 am

Date Hiked: November 7, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked this trail from Escondido Campground to about the second crossing of Higgins Creek, and a bit beyond. The following is a breakdown of conditions.

Escondido CG was under construction, looked like they were redoing the tables and restooms. The signage at the trailhead looked new as well. From there to the Arroyo Seco River was pretty decent. Tread narrow and sloping in some places, and a couple of washouts in gullies. Not much in the way of blowdown, except for a minor one near the bottom. A bit of yerba santa in the tread here and there.

The river was a rock-hop, but it looked like the flow was pretty high during the last storm. Not a good place to be in heavy rain, or just afterwards.

From the river up to the saddle: pretty rough condition, several washouts in gullies, and a few areas of blowdown. Brush not bad until near the top, but only intermittently so. Narrow tread in places. There were a few tricky spots where you will want to watch your footing above steep terrain.

From the saddle to Fish Camp: a lot of the troublesome brush seems to have burnt, which is good, but it is growing back, and there were several areas where burnt scrub oak was overhanging the trail. I worked on sawing some of that on my way back out, but there were still some areas that could use some work -- nothing a few people with pruning saws couldn't handle, though. Generally a lot less of a brush-bashing fest than last time.

It looked like a debris flow came down just south of Fish Camp, but the creek and the camp itself looked fine, and I saw a couple small fish.

Continuing on to the Lost Valley Connector, the usual sloping, narrow tread in places, so watch your footing. A lot of brush seems to have burnt since the last time I was there. I spent some more time sawing in some of the troublesome gullies. Lots of water flowing.

The sign for Lost Valley Connector was still there, but it was lying on its side.

The steep descent to Lost Valley Creek had a few areas of blowdown, some large and some small. There was a washout just before the first crossing, where the trail drops down into a seasonal creek (dry when I was there), necessitating a tricky detour. Be careful.

Lost Valley Creek was flowing well, and it seemed like a lot of brush burnt and/or was washed away. The banks of the creek seemed to show a lot of erosion. On the plus side, exploring the creek was easier. The campsite across the creek was easy to get to, and in good shape. The lower camp table was still there. The upper camp looked to have been thoroughly burned, though a few pines still remained. A pretty serious debris flow looked to have come down between the upper camp and the crossing.

Crossing the creek was easier because of the lack of brush, though the easier spot was a bit upstream from the usual crossing. The Bill Cotta memorial plaque was still there, though I found it easy to miss where the trail goes up into the chaparral. There should now be a couple of cairns, and the old flagging was still intact. I don't think the fire burned much beyond Lost Valley Camp.

The trail through the meadow was easy to follow, and the first crossing of Higgins Creek pretty much the same as last time, ie. brushy, but the water level was low enough to rock hop.

I made my way up to the second crossing of Higgins creek, and the flagging was still there. On the way there were some sections of troublesome willow branches that needed trimming, but I didn't get around to it this time.

Always an adventure, but on the whole I was pleasantly surprised.

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by kai on Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:02 pm

Date Hiked: June 20, 2020
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

From Escondido campground to the Arroyo Seco creek, the trail was great (0.5 hours).
From the creek to the ridge (additional 1 hour), the trail was good, with some encroaching brush.
From the ridge to Fish camp (1 hour), the trail was difficult, overgrown in many places. There was Poison Oak everywhere.
From Fish camp to Lost Valley camp (1.5 hours), the trail was less overgrown, but eroded on many gravelly slopes, making it dangerous.

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by zenko on Tue May 26, 2020 2:05 pm

Date Hiked: May 21, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from Marble Peak Trail down to the junction of Lost Valley and Indian Valley Trails, where I camping near the wide green waterfall. I started early the next morning. The trail was a freeway going up and over to the official Higgins Camp. Some brushy poison oak between Higgins Camp, and plenty of ticks this time of year.

My biggest surprise was finding a fellow hiker coming around the bend just before Pelon Camp- a big brown bear. We met eyes and startled each other, but he (by his size) bolted uphill when the moment passed. I'd only heard of bear scat in the past, never expecting to run into one myself. A powerful meeting of the wilderness.

I moved on, a little uneasy, calling out to make my presence known. I continued on through some high brush and poison oak. Lost my footing a few times in the wide and deep creek, hiking into Lost Valley wish sopping shoes. I lost the tread after descending the grade, but still enjoyed the place. Swooping golden meadow, swaying pines on shale hillsides, beautiful creek meander- a great place to be. After a few failures, I found the crossing by the camp and up along the shale hills. Between there and Fish Camp, only the riparians were bountifully overgrown. No sign of the Lost Valley Connector.

From Fish Camp to Arroyo Seco, there was plenty of bush bashing. No issue losing the tread. There's a breathtaking slender falls into a big beautiful pool right before coming over the saddle into Arroyo Seco- I regret not jumping in. From the Arroyo to Escondido, things were clear and I was beat.

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Rob on Tue May 26, 2020 12:38 pm

Date Hiked: May 23, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I think I met Hydro-Logic's group at Fish Camp on Friday, and yes we were all social distancing :)

Anyway, I hiked from Escondido down to the river, then up to the saddle, and on to Lost Valley Camp, and to a bit after the second Higgins Creek crossing. I camped on a knoll between the first and second Higgins Creek crossing, about 7 miles from Escondido.

I hiked the road from Memorial Park, since the Indians road was gated. Escondido was closed, of course. The trail down to the river had a few blowdowns and one washout, but otherwise was decent.

From the river up to the saddle there was some PO in places and some brush, but overall not bad.

From the saddle down to Fish there was a lot of brush, but I think HL's group may have worked on that section. When I went through ot was pretty bad, borderline difficult. Long pants and sleeves would be good. It may be better now.

Pretty much the same conditions from Fish to Lost Valley as reported by HL. Narrow, sloping tread in places, lots of PO in others, some blowdowns. Lost Valley camp was looking nice, plenty of water.

The crossing at Lost Valley creek was very brushy. I encountered a rattlesnake on the way to Higgins Creek in the afternoon. It did not look happy to see me :) Finding the correct path to the crossing was a little tricky, but it's there if you are attentive.

Higgins Creek was just deep and wide enough that I put on wading shoes, but my balance isn't what it used to be. Brushy, but not as bad as the Lost Valley creek crossing in that respect.

The meadows between Higgins Creek and the next crossing had lots of high grass. The trail usually seems a bit indistinct, but it didn't seem terribly difficult to find my way, having been through there before. It seemed to be lightly traveled; not suprising given recent events.

The next crossing of Higgins Creek was a rock hop. Lots of low PO, but mostly avoidable, for now. Very pleasant stretch.

I usually find it gets chillier overnight in Lost Valley than what the forecast grids might lead you to believe. Lots of wildflowers still out, and small rainbows eager to take a fly in the creeks.

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Hydro-Logic on Tue May 26, 2020 12:52 am

Date Hiked: May 21, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

LV proper is amazing. Water is flowing, birds are chirping, meadows are lovely. Climbing to the saddle east there is a lot of unavoidable PO. not the whole way but where the trail crosses the creek ,yes, lots of oak. Some encroaching brush also but the tread is fine. Saddle to Fish is pretty clear. trail crosses a drainage a couple times and when it does there is PO!!! Fish Camp is lovely. From Fish to saddle is tough. Some blowdowns and lots of encroaching brush. We cleared some but lots more work to do. Saddle to Arroyo is pretty good. I can't believe how fast it's grown back since the VWA buffed this out just 2 years ago?? 3 years ago? Anyway, it's good with some brush coming back and lots of PO near bottom. Arroyo to Escondido is fine, mostly freeway, a few blow downs and some brush.

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Matt G on Sun Apr 05, 2020 3:16 pm

Date Hiked: April 1, 2020
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked Lost Valley trail from Escondido all the way to the marble peak connector and up to north coast ridge road at marble peak. Trail is in great shape. Encroaching poison oak is currently avoidable with care, but the buds are tiny. I suspect in a few months this path will be very heavy with poison oak. But the trail is well defined and there are limited deadfalls. Thanks to volunteers for clearing this trail. Some sections are excellent freeway, tougher spots are marked with pink flags.

Important note: the west side connector around Indian valley camp seems to have been left to fall into disrepair, with efforts focused on the eastern side connector to marble peak, which is freeway. If you're heading north on the Lost Valley Trail looking to get to north coast ridge, take the right to the Marble Peak Trail and follow it around the hill until you can take the left to get to north coast ridge road. DO NOT follow the pink flags north toward the old "Indian Valley Camp", as they lead into impassible chaparral overgrowth. If you're heading southeast from North Ridge road toward Lost Valley, do not take the first right to Indian Valley Camp. Go another 0.1 mile beyond, to the Marble Peak end of the Lost Valley Trail.

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by seagoat1724 on Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:57 pm

Date Hiked: October 8, 2018

Editor's Note: this report describes conditions from October, 2018. The VWA trail crew has completed work between Lost Valley Camp and the Marble Peak Trail since the date of this poster's hike.

Lost Valley trail between Escondido and Arroyo Seco River:
Wilderness Freeway

Between Arroyo Seco River and Fish Camp:
Half a dozen small to mid-sized deadfalls. Edge of tread slipping down steep slopes in a few spots. Brush encroaching on trail, touching on both sides in some spots but not interwoven yet.

Between Fish Camp and Lost Valley
Trail good/clear. A few deadfalls, tread is thing on scree slopes not too difficult but a little dangerous.

Lost Valley Trail while in Lost Valley
Trail passable to difficult in parts. Parts of the the trail are great through the meadows but the trail gets harder to find an a couple of spots and the myriad of workings and parallel trails can throw one off.
The main creek crossing is very challenging with a steep fallen away trail down to it and an exit onto the other bank involving stepping up very high and into thick wild rose. Folks have gone downstream and forged various new crossings that exit out onto the meadow on the other side.

Between Lost Valley and Pelon Camp
Trail impassable, use-trails occasionally pop up along creek, but mostly hiking in and along the creek. [Ed.: this section has been cleared by the VWA trail crew]

[Ed.: no report on the section between Pelon Camp and Upper Higgins Camp. This section has been cleared by the VWA trail crew and is now Clear.]

Between Upper Higgins and Marble Peak Trail Junction.
Trail is wilderness freeway. Tread is great, brush encroaching a bit but doesn't impede movement.
Note: This is the way to get to Marble Peak Trail. The trail through "Indian Valley Camp" as on old maps is basically gone.

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Anker on Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:24 pm

Date Hiked: June 17, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Dropped in from Escondido Camp. Was able to cross Arroyo Seco without changing shoes by jumping from rock to rock. There were a few places before the summit to fill water in a water filtration system. For the most part the trail was in good condition with very little brush and poison oak on the trail.

The waterfall at the summit was flowing great and was spectacular from that view. The trail from the summit towards Fish Camp became heavily overgrown making the hike a bit of a pain in the butt.

Fish Camp was in good shape, although the flies were plentiful. The stream was flowing well and made for good cold drinking water. The traverse to the 3 pines ridge was mostly good, with a few sections that were worn away and required attention. The trail had very little brush on it.

From the 3 Pines Ridge and the signs into Lost Valley was in good shape. The trail is steep and loose, but easy to navigate. All of the campsites were open. The one on the east side of the stream had a table and fire ring with plenty of available firewood. The site on the west side was great, the table was in good shape as was the fire ring. The adjoining stream was nice and cold and provided for good water.

The next day we hiked down Lost Valley Creek. The creek was incredibly overgrown with Willows and Poisoin Oak. We traveled downstream for about 6 hours looking for good fishing, but found very little open space to fish and to hike. IF YOU ATTEMPT THIS ROUTE PLAN ON BUSHWHACKING THROUGH
THE WHOLE WAY. Bring Tecnu.

The next day we returned to Escondido the same way we came in. The Arroyo Seco river was considerable warmer than Higgins and Lost Valley Creeks. I suspect by mid July the rivers will be getting mossy.

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Jim Ringland on Wed May 08, 2019 1:25 pm

Date Hiked: May 5, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked from the Marble Peak Trail junction to Lost Valley (some in the rain!) on the 5th, then out to Escondido on the 6th. So the description below is west to east.

Marble Peak Trail junction to 2nd Higgins Creek Crossing Below Pelon: Clear. The end point for this section is the same that Rob called out on April 1 and Betsy on March 1: not the crossing at Pelon but the next one a little more than a trail mile east, after the trail climbs far above the creek and then back down. Most of this section is still nicely open after the excellent trail crew work. There are a few sections closer to the stream that do have some soft brush incursion, but the worst I saw was a few tens of feet of waist-high, easy-to-push-through snowberries. Minor deadfalls. I don’t recall any route-finding issues. As pantilat noted last November, there's a wonderful mature forest here. Some of the incense cedars are quite large.

The two camps in this section are workable, but no more. Upper Higgins Camp has an old sign, a fire ring with some sitting logs around it, remnants of the old icemaker stove, and a flat place to camp, but looks at best lightly used. There’s a bit of a meadow beyond. Pelon too is pretty basic: fire ring with a few rocks (but no logs) to sit on, old and new signs, a larger bedsite space right in camp, but no adjacent meadow. It’s an opening in the trees.

2nd Higgins Creek Crossing Below Pelon to Lost Valley: Passable. More here is close to Higgins Creek than was the case in the previous section. That means more brush, more deadfalls, and often a rocky trailbed that requires a bit of caution or at least slow speeds. Trail finding could have been a problem in a few spots, but well-placed flags were always available. Then the trail opens up into the grasslands (and lupine-lands) of Lost Valley. There isn’t much trail, but it’s pretty obvious you just have to aim down. I hit Higgins Creek well above the location of the last crossing. Owing to a problem with my GPS, I didn’t have Dr. Jack’s map to help. I didn’t recall pantilat’s report in November that “If you run into a wall of willows you've made a wrong turn.” I did and did, and made what I presume should have been an easy crossing into a much less easy one. I found the Lost Valley Creek crossing a little farther on less than easy too. It was congested with willows although seemingly pretty obvious. My crossing lined up with the Bill Cotta plaque on one side and the obvious trail on the other. Did I miss something there too? The crossing itself was a shallow wade.

There are several camps in Lost Valley. There isn’t much of a campsite any more by the ancient Lost Valley Public Camp sign, which you reach by continuing parallel to Lost Valley Creek after emerging from the willows. This is the one Jack Glendening at labels “Lost Vly Camp”. There’s a little-used fire ring and not much of a bedsite.

I stayed up the hill, about 300’ NE of the previous, at a much more used site with a fire ring and logs to sit on. There was a table here in 2015. No more. At one time dead trees and dead branches made this an unsafe place to camp, but most of the dead stuff is now on the ground. I’m encouraged that the next generation of Coulter Pines seems to be coming along well. This camp is maybe 100’ beyond of old big fire pit which Jack labels “Lost Vly Use Camp”.

There are two more camps at the very east end of the Lost Valley, one on each side of Lost Valley Creek. Connecting the two is a short use trail (not the Lost Valley Trail). The one on the north side of the creek seems more heavily used, and indeed was occupied the night I was in Lost Valley. The one on the south side is quite nice today too, although it takes a wet-foot stream crossing to get there. Both sites have tables. The south side camp has a fire ring, a fire grate now enveloped in poison oak a few tens of feet away, and the remains of an old icemaker stove. This site is what Jack labels as the “Upper Lost Vly Use Camp”. His map does not call out north side camp.

Lost Valley to the divide between the Lost Valley and Arroyo Seco drainages: Passable. There are brushy spots on the climb to the Lost Valley Connector junction. More of the same but a bit worse on the descent from the junction to Fish Camp. It’s mostly small branches or soft vegetation, including a fair amount of poison oak. A few deadfalls. There are several spots where the trail is on a steep loose hillside with a rather narrow trail. Nothing felt hazardous … when taken cautiously. The climb from Fish Camp to the divide was the brushiest section on my trip. Lots of chamise or shabby oak branches are coming close to closing in the trail from each side. It’s not awful, and there's no question where to go, but up hill, it’s work. Lots of water in Pothole Slide Falls.

Fish camp is beautiful. Three big camps, two with grills. The brush between the three has been cleared. That makes it a great spot for a huge group, but maybe less so if multiple parties want isolation.

The divide between the Lost Valley and Arroyo Seco drainages to Escondido: Clear. This is pretty straightforward, so there’s not a lot to say. That slide on the way up from Arroyo Seco to Escondido that Rob showed is still there, but there’s getting to be a pretty well established path on the high side of the snag.

Escondido is still closed. As Rob reported, there is a big downed tree. There are also some huge ruts in the campground road. Did the forest service try to get some heavy equipment in to work the tree issue, only get it get it mired in the still muddy soil? In any case, the AS-I Road is now open but the gate into the campground is closed.

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Firefly on Tue May 07, 2019 9:26 am

Date Hiked: April 29, 2019
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked this trail as part of this longer loop: ... mmary.html

I hiked the entire length of the trail from Escondido camp to its junction with Marble Peak. Although there are several trees down across the trail, and quite a bit of poison oak, the trail leads through a stunningly beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers. Navigating the meadow can take a little sleuthing, as knee high grasses obscure the direction sometimes. There are many stream crossings... wear trekking sandals and you will be happy. Water depth never came past my mid-shin. Very grateful to the team that did work on this trail as it is evident at certain parts that their work made this trail passable. There are several use camps along the way in addition to the marked camps. Sometimes these are more beautiful than the official camps.