Lost Valley Trail

pantilat
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:16 pm

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by pantilat »

Date Hiked: February 11, 2024
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Marble Peak Trail to Lost Valley Connector Trail

This entire section is generally passable with only light brushiness but I highly recommend bringing GPS with GPX of the trail from Big Sur Trailmap. The trail is evident and followable except for the following instances which make the GPX very useful:

1. Downstream of Pelon Camp where the trail traverses higher up the hillside there are some collapsed ceanothus causing hikers to step off the tread to get around.
2. Closer to Lost Valley the trail travels very close to the creek which regularly floods over the trail. The trail is therefore not discernable as a trail in a few spots and one most rock hop alongside the creek.
3. In Lost valley the trail is very faint to indistinguishable from game paths in the grassy sections. There is abundant evidence of bear activity in Lost Valley. It's either an extremely active bear, or more likely multiple bears residing in the valley. The Big Sur Trailmap GPX is very useful for finding the correct crossing of Higgins Creek.
4. In the vicinity of Lost Valley Camp and nearby Lost Valley Creek it's difficult to locate the trail in this area that burned in the Dolan Fire.
5. Climbing up from Lost Valley to the Lost Valley Connector junction there are a few down trees over the trail.

Overall, the trail is decent shape on this section reflecting how excellent the work of the VWA crew was in rehabilitating this section of trail a few years ago. I was happy to see that most of Lost Valley was spared in the Dolan Fire although the pines immediately above the Lost Valley Camp were all burned. The "Upper Lost Valley Use Camp" is now the more pleasant place to camp since the pines survived there.

Note: The Higgins Creek crossing in Lost Valley turns into a river after heavy rain and can be impassable. If the Big Sur River gauge is reporting discharge >500cfs on the Big Sur River, or the Arroyo Seco gauge >800cfs, the Higgins crossing in Lost Valley is likely difficult to impassable. The Lost Valley Creek crossings may become difficult as well at these flow rates.
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Betsy M
Posts: 432
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Betsy M »

Date Hiked: January 4, 2024
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

SECTION: MARBLE PEAK TRAIL TO PELON CAMP

We hiked from the north end of the trail, starting from the Marble Peak Trail. There was some brush, and lots of trees and branches had fallen across the trail. We cleared a lot of the brush, and most of the branches. There are still about 10 trees down but they are pretty easy to climb over. We expect that the next section, from Pelon Camp to Lost Valley, will also have brush and trees down. But since this section didn't burn in the Dolan Fire, we aren't expecting it to be the horrible brush bash that people are reporting on the south end of the trail.
Clearing a knobcone pine
Clearing a knobcone pine
Waterfall.jpg
Upper Higgins Camp sign
Upper Higgins Camp sign
Lunch at Pelon Camp
Lunch at Pelon Camp
James Santana

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by James Santana »

Date Hiked: May 23, 2023
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

I packed into Fishcamp and beyond 3 or 4 years ago. Although I read the two negative reports in May for this trail, like a fool, I brushed them off, and figured I could make it to Fishcamp again, however we could not brush off the nasty trail conditions. We barely made it to the crossing at Arroyo Seco creek, then we pushed through for about another quarter of a mile, but it became next to impossible. If you were a snake you'd get through. There are many fallen dead trees across the trail and brush, both dead and living that make it extremely difficult. We crawled on our hands and knees, and even on our bellies 2 or 3 times, we camped at the creek scratched and bruised. Walked back out the next day. There are also slides to deal with and much poison oak which was the least of our worries. Would not recommend this trail at all. There looks like there has been no maintenance for several years and with the fires and the rain, the understory has taken over and it will soon be a true wilderness where a rabbit wouldn’t go. We were humbled, but not injured. On the good side, I have never seen so many wildflowers and the weather was perfect. No other people and almost no deer sign. Didn’t see one squirrel or chipmunk or snake.
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Jim Ringland
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Jim Ringland »

Date Hiked: May 9, 2023
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: Escondido to about ½ mile west of the Arroyo Seco ford

My experience very, very closely matched that of the most recent VWA_Ranger posting. I wish it had been put up a few days earlier!

On the 9th, I was aiming for Lost Valley as the first part of a big loop up onto the North Coast Ridge Trail, south to Cook Spring, then down the Carrizo Trail. My car was near the Salsipuedes Ranch bridge. I had walked to Escondido on the 8th. I knew I was going to have to make choices along the way depending on conditions. I too ended up turning back just about a half mile beyond the Arroyo Seco ford. While I was making progress and knew it would eventually escape the brushy riparian corridor for the big climb up to the saddle, I worried that I would find more of the same on the descent to Fish Camp and beyond. And there being stopped would require a bigger backtrack.

A few stray details. Leaving Escondido, the route was not super obvious. About 50 feet in, there’s a choice of going ahead or angling right. Turn right. Once out of the tall growth just below Escondido, all is obvious and fairly open. There is just enough occasional light brush leaning into the trail -– and plenty of deerweed between knee and ankle level -- that “passable” is more honest a rating than “clear” here. Great flowers going down: bush poppy, Oregon sunshine, lupines, larkspur, bindweed, paintbrush, yuccas, and several others. The hillside across the river was dotted white with Ceanothus. The Arroyo Seco ford was easy: calf deep if crossed a little downstream of where the small stream comes in from the west. Mighty pretty down there too. Once heading west from the ford into the vegetable soup, I’d add pea vines (our native Pacific pea) to the offending parties. At times, I had to think about each individual step to avoid getting tangled or hitting the PO. I saw no evidence that earlier hiker. A wet week had let all the vegetation rebound. Outbound from the Arroyo Seco ford took close to an hour, albeit with a pause to deal with a minor gear issue. The return to the ford, this time downhill following the mashed-down path I had created and with no stops, took about half that … all for something like a mile round trip.
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VWA_Ranger
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 4:41 pm

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by VWA_Ranger »

Date Hiked: May 1, 2023
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Repost from D Bliss

Post by D Bliss » Mon May 08, 2023 10:04 am

Date Hiked: May 1, 2023
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

The Lost Valley Trail is pretty clear from Escondido campground down to the river, but after that, it becomes almost impassable. I only hiked about a half mile beyond the river, but there is a multitude of fallen trees on the trail and it's overgrown with bushes and poison oak. Looks like it hasn't been cleared for several years. Don't bother with this trail unless you bring tools and are prepared for a lot of work. Also, if you get poison oak, stay away until it's been cleared.
Rob
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: SJC

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Rob »

Date Hiked: November 13, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked from Escondido CG (open for business this time) to about 7 miles in, after the first Higgins Creek crossing, but before the second, and camped on a knoll in the valley around 1800'. Overnight temps were probably low 30's; awoke to a hard frost and a thin layer of ice in my water containers. Glad I brought a warm down sleeping bag :)

Conditions were similar to last year, but with some differences -
  • Down to Arroyo Seco two minor blowdowns (worked on sawing one).
  • More poison oak on lower section of ascent to saddle. Washouts had seen more traffic and seemed to be in better shape. Some troublesome large blowdowns.
  • Brush starting to grow back on descent to Fish Camp. Vines especially. Spent some time sawing here, mostly on post-fire brush skeletons.
  • Vegetation along Lost Valley Creek regrowing.
  • Lost Valley Creek crossing getting fairly brushy.
The flags on the section after Lost Valley Camp were still there.

Towards evening a boar wandered by, perhaps on his way to the creek ? I yelled and stamped my feet and he ran off. Oh, and saw a tarantula out looking for a mate on my descent to Fish Camp.
Rob
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: SJC

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Rob »

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.
kai

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by kai »

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.
zenko
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue May 26, 2020 11:30 am
Location: Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by zenko »

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.
Rob
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: SJC

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Post by Rob »

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.
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