Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

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Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by toejam » Mon Jan 08, 2024 10:32 am

I hiked the Lottie Potrero Trail solo on Saturday from Baldwin Ranch Rd. after the recent report of efforts to clear the trail. The trail is easier to follow than 2 years ago, but it remains faint and brushy with places requiring you to crawl. The worst section was after the last creek crossing where it turns northeast to the clearing with the good water source where the trail climbs to the ridge. I spent a little time cutting brush here until the brush got too many cuts on me. There was flowing water near the homestead site in a creekbed, but not from the seep spring.

As you push through the brush on this trail you are tempted to look forward to an easy road walk to get you back to the part of the wilderness frequented by people. But the road is rough with many steep ups and downs (mostly ups if headed west), so it's probably more physically demanding and slow than you expect. I ended the day at the Lottie Potrero car camp and finished the road walk in the morning.

Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by jack_glendening » Mon Nov 13, 2023 1:40 am

Wow. What a wonderful piece of work! And great report. So nice to know the historic Lottie Potrero Trail lives on (roughly following the route used by the 1769 Potrero Expedition).

I can add to what already appears on previous VWA postings:

() A link to downloading the Lottie Potrero Trail route GPX file is
https://bigsurtrailmap.net/cgi-bin/down ... _Trail.gpx
It also contains waypoints for Lottie's homestead, the spring, northern and southern crossings of Wagner Creek, Davis Creek crossing, and sign marking intersection with Baldwin Ranch road (I assume it is still there).

() Regarding the spring near the homestead, below is a photo from October 2012 (by the late Paul Danielson). On my three visits in October 2012, November 2012, and April 2013 there was always visible water there, though not very obvious and more a dripping seep than a running flow. But others have apparently found it dry.


PS: if anyone has a digital correction to my route, I can incorporate it. And if the LCA feels some info should be added to BigSurTrailmap.net that can be done

Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by klucas » Sat Nov 11, 2023 11:04 am

The Lottie Potrero Trail is now passable to clear from the Spruce Creek Trail to the South Coast Ridge Road (SCRR). Condition overall is PASSABLE.

A group of four locals worked with Land of Calm Abiding (LCA) director/caretaker Kolby to brush the trail. We would say the overall condition is now passable. Tread is in surprisingly good condition over large portions, given how infrequently the trail is used. Where tread is off-camber or narrow, the trail remains well-defined. Almost all encroaching brush has been significantly pruned, such that a brisk pace is unencumbered. There is one remaining buckbrush tunnel about 10-ft long which we did not remove, but can be ducked underneath without too much trouble. Jack Glendening's route on BigSurTrailMap.net will keep you on track, and anyone interested in hiking the Lottie Potrero trail would do well to research his route/GPX/KML data. LCA director Kolby gave us input on how LCA would like hikers to approach the route, and it sounds like Jack's route more or less matches what LCA would like. For any future visitors, please bring loppers and do a little pruning as you go to contribute to the preservation of this historic route.

First, for clarification:

There is a VWA forum titled "Lottie Potrero Trail (aka San Carpoforo Trail)" that states the trail connects Lottie Potrero with Elk Camp, but this is somewhat confusing, because the forum seems to focus on the Spruce Creek Trail in the general vicinity of Dutra and San Carpoforo Camps:
https://www.ventanawild.org/trails/silv ... rero-trail
The VWA map more clearly differentiates between the Lottie Potrero Trail and the Elk Camp Trail:
https://www.ventanawild.org/images/Silv ... A_site.pdf
BigSurTrailMap makes note of alternative trail names. The Elk Camp trail connects from the Spruce Creek Trail at Baldwin Ranch Road through San Carpoforo Camp and continues on to Elk Camp; it is also sometimes referred to as the San Carpoforo Trail or Lottie Potrero Trail.
https://bigsurtrailmap.net/trailmap.htm ... e=trailmap
We will be following the clear distinction on the VWA map shown above. The Lottie Potrero Trail (7E01) connects Baldwin Ranch Road to SCRR. The Elk Camp Trail (aka San Carpoforo Trail) connects Baldwin Ranch Road to San Carpoforo and Elk Camps. We also mostly followed Jack Glendening's route, because it proved to be pretty accurate.

Directions for hikers:

Beginning at where the Spruce Creek Trail bisects Baldwin Ranch Road, there is a small wooden post next to the road beside a field, but it is somewhat hard to notice. Follow Baldwin Ranch Road toward SCRR to the entrance gate of the LCA Buddhist monastery, which is a private property inholding. There is a sign indicating the facility is a retreat center for serious meditators and asks for respect. Kolby said he would like to make a VWA forum posting explaining more of LCA's preferred path. The situation is like that of the Tony Trail passing through the Tassajara Zen Center. It is a private property where people are seeking a remote location for quiet meditation, so be courteous by staying on the preferred path. Straying off-path is trespassing.

After hopping the gate onto LCA, follow the road until you reach a Y. Go left on the Y up a steep jeep road. It is somewhat slippery with a heavy pack. This goes for about a mile and passes a good viewing point, which is private for LCA. A little after the vista, the jeep road comes to a meadow on the right-hand side. You take the road into the meadow, and then the official trail will shortly veer to the left. The road will gradually transition into a trail, reaching a barbed wire fence. Hop over the fence, and watch out to not step on LCA's pipes. The trail proceeds clearly from there.

At first the trail is wider, then it narrows as you enter the San Carpoforo canyon. You pass through a mix of chaparral and forest. Make note the unique grove of Santa Lucia firs, which are endemic to Big Sur. The trail descends to the riverbed at Davis Creek, where there is a flat spot for camping and reliable water.

After crossing Davis Creek, there is an option between an upper and lower path that follow the riverbed. Both lead to the same place, continuing on to the trail. Near Wagner Creek, there is a creek crossing with blazes on trees to help you. Watch out for barbed wire. On the southeast side of Wagner Creek, there is the old Heisel Cabin in a meadow. It's not far.

Enjoy the trail as it ascends. Right before you get to SCRR, you cross a creekbed, pass through some chaparral/forest, and then the trail soon enters an open meadow. There are cairns and some footbed, but ultimately you're aiming for the ridgeline, where you'll find the SCRR. Some have commented regarding the spring on Jack's map near this meadow. Even after this wet winter, we found it dry. The intersection of Lottie Potrero Trail and SCRR is marked by a cairn across from a big rock monolith some have called "the Monkey's Head." Lottie Potrero Camp is one mile north of this location.

Final comments:

For anyone wondering, according to Monterey County Place Names, Lottie was an old landowner's daughter, and was given this swath by her father. Wikipedia explains that "potrero" is spanish for an enclosed field where horses are bred. A definition we found more appropriate after our brush-clearing adventure is, "a potrero is common land in poor condition."

Here are other VWA forum pages where Lottie Potrero is discussed:
https://www.ventanawild.org/forums/topi ... tie#p11918

Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by toejam » Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:25 am

I found a couple of guys willing to go back to the Lottie Potrero Trail with me. We did a little more clearing and flagging heading up the creek past Heisel Cabin. After camping in the meadow next to the cabin, we spent some time the next morning looking for a good path on the slope north of the creek headed back to Davis Canyon. We cleared a couple of game trails that don't quite meet in the middle and left a little flagging. The poison oak is growing quickly and will soon become epic.

We pushed on up the trail finding about a mile of very thick chaparral where the trail was difficult to discern. We cut a lot of brush just to get through, but by no means cleared the trail. We crawled on hands and knees often an had lots of poison oak in the face.

The thick brush ended in trackless grassy slopes below the top of the ridge. There is a short discernable path through the woods past the Lottie Potrero seep spring (not a good water source) that reaches the meadow at a couple of rock cairns. We followed the gps up to a flat spot where the homestead is marked on bigsurtrailmap.net, and found tread through the meadow leading to the South Coast Ridge Road.

We cleared some brush near the road and built a cairn. Now if you stop on the road at the large tooth-shaped rock, you can see a rock cairn and trail on the other side of the road.

Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by toejam » Wed Jan 22, 2020 9:21 pm

I had some time on the long weekend to spend on the Lottie Potrero Trail. I'm confident we can clear this up for anybody to follow, but poison oak will always be an issue.

Using gps data from bigsurtrailmap.net I was able to slide through the gate at the hermitage and take the second left heading up the mountain without disturbing anybody's meditation (you're in their space for a very short time so don't sweat it). The ranch road climbs a ways and then forks and re-forks with no signage to indicate the Lottie Potrero Trail. Roughly it's the first major road to the right and then an immediate left on an old road headed into the woods in the right direction traversing the mountainside without much change in elevation.

The road passed through a couple of fences and then got rougher and narrower. I ran into some trail clearing tools stashed at a place where I had to drop my backpack and search for the trail. From there I used my tools to clear brush for about 5 hours until I got to Davis Canyon, where I camped at a nice flat spot near the creek.

In the morning I explored the woodsy path along Wagner Creek. The higher route on the north side of the creek was easier to follow but not a continuous tread. It turned up the drainage that leads towards the South Coast Ridge Road but soon disappeared. I didn't have time to pursue it, so poked around the homestead there, and then hiked out.

So from the Baldwin Ranch Road the trail can be hiked in an upright position with a backpack to Davis Canyon where there's good water and a place to camp. I'm hoping to go back soon with some friends to clear the rest of the trail. Then I'll have to update that hikelospadres report.

Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by jpdoelman » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:51 pm

I found trail reports from April, and July 2019 for the Lottie Potrero trail here:

http://www.hikelospadres.com/lottie-pot ... rettyPhoto

The reporter, "Steve Cypher" may have been disappointed he was unable to share his trail status information elsewhere.

Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by jdoelman » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:28 am

Should there be trail condition information on the VWA site for this?

Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by Jim Ringland » Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:17 pm

A small correction in my earlier post. I wrote that I saw no water at Lottie Potrero Spring. What I saw was a dry creekbed a few 10's of feet below where the map indicated the spring was located ... and made an inference. I've since learned that inference doesn't apply to the situation.

I had an e-mail conversation with Jack Glendening today, more focused on the San Carpoforo Camp area than on Lottie Potrero, that included my sending him my GPS track. In the discussion, he offered up a few more of his experiences hiking the LP trail. In the process, he noted I was off the trail near the spring in a way that was very similar to what he had once done. That got me to researching the spring just a little more. In another thread on the Lottie Potrero Trail (http://www.ventanawild.org/forums/viewt ... =26&t=1030), Jack quotes Boon Hughey as saying it's a "seep spring right by the trail". Since I was maybe 40 feet off the trail as I passed by, the spring is in the woods, and it is a seep, it sound to me like that a dry creekbed was not the indicative marker I thought it was.

None-the-less, between Jack's work and written comments from Boon and others, I think this reiterates that this route is an interesting exploration for those up for a bit of a route-finding challenge.

Jim Ringland

Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by jack_glendening » Fri Mar 20, 2015 3:18 pm

I enjoyed reading Jim's detailed report, its nice to hear that trail is still currently followable (and it brought back memories). Thanks for posting it. I hope others also make it out there, as much of it follows the route Gaspar de Portola took on his historic expedition from Mexico to Monterey in 1769, when he turned inland to avoid the Big Sur mountains. His diary mentions staying overnight a few days at an Indian encampment to allow a "road" to be built for his party to follow, which is the flat area where the original route crosses Wagner Creek.

It also makes me want to add this note about the "original" vs "use trail" routes, since I've done both. Going south, at Wagner Creek the original trail crossed to its other (south) side, near the Heisel cabin, then followed its east side. The advantage to this route is that it is very flat and not brushy. Although there is no visible tread, that in itself is not much of a problem since the area is easy to walk through - you do so until reaching an embankment which forces you to cross to the other (west) side. But the disadvantage, and the reason why there is no tread, is that area is covered by sea of poison oak so cannot be negotiated without continually touching it. The "use trail" does not cross there, instead later crossing a tributary and staying on the west side of Wagner Creek - it had much less PO but was a much rougher tread along a steep hillside and difficult to negotiate and tiring, So you can choose your "poison", so to speak.


Re: Lottie Potrero Trail FOUND

by Jim Ringland » Fri Mar 20, 2015 1:44 pm

I hiked from the South Coast Ridge Road down to Baldwin Ranch (and eventually on to San Carpoforo Camp). Although the previous trail reports date from late 2012, they remain representative 2+ years later. It's still an interesting and doable exploration for those with patience, route-finding skills (preferably with GPS assist), and limited sensitivity to poison oak.

I had a GPS and was following Dr. Jack’s track, although in a great many places there was sufficiently clear tread that electronic assistance was unnecessary. But, as other have noted, there were plenty of sketchy places too. There is no obvious turn-off from the South Coast Ridge Road. The GPS trail route goes through a thin wall of brush just north of where the grassy meadow opens up. It skirts a very weak-looking Coulter Pine. Right beyond, a faint tread appears. This upper part of the route is through grass and open woodland. Tread is on-again off-again and I was off the GPS track several times for the first 300 vertical feet of descent, to well below Lottie Potrero Spring. No water in the spring that I saw, but the stream was running nicely less than a 1/4 mile below. From that water at about 2000 feet elevation down to 1600 feet, I found pretty much continuous follow-able tread. I got off it once, but only briefly. At 1600 feet elevation, Dr. Jack’s map shows the trail more-or-less on top of the creek for a 500 foot stretch. I had to cast about at the north end until I discovered the trail crossed from the west side of the creek to the east side. Route-finding was then not a problem until approaching Wagner Creek, down at about 1,150 elevation. As other have reported, the 1/2 to 2/3 mile stretch along Wagner Creek has issues. I followed what Dr. Jack marks as the usetrail running along the hillside above creek, not the “main” Lottie Potrero Trail. I started on the usetrail, found it difficult, tried walking the creek for a while, hit obstructions, and decided the 40’ climb to the usetrail was the lesser of evils. But even the lesser evil had lot of deadfalls, slumping, and obscure segments. After the Davis Canyon crossing there were no significant route-finding issues.

There was some flagging, but since the old flags are getting rather ragged and faded, they weren’t all that useful for route finding. I generally didn’t see them until I was quite close.

Even without the route finding issues, I’d rate this trail difficult. There is lots of slumped, uneven tread, although nothing that I’d consider dangerous. Brushing against poison oak was unavoidable, although there was never a case where I was engulfed in the stuff. Lot of pushing branches and brush aside, although none of the extra-heavy pushing that I’ve encountered on the worst parts of the Black Cone or VDC trails. Some sections of the trail continue to see a bit of maintenance: there were some clearly trimmed tunnels though old chamise. Small new sprouts suggest that trimming was less than a year old. A few ticks.

Delighted to see some Santa Lucia firs just after the Davis Creek crossing.

From the South Coast Ridge Road to the Lottie Protero Road, it took me about 4-1/4 hours. Add another 30 minutes or so to get down to the Baldwin Ranch Road. I’m a pretty slow hiker and stopped to take pictures along the way, so I’d guess most could do it faster.

Jim Ringland