San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

toejam
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:41 am

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by toejam »

Date Hiked: November 19, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Was pleasantly surprised to find the water trough at Dutra Flat Camp full of clear water with a trickle from the pipe. The attempt
to patch the rusted bottom of the trough during the dry summer months was successful and the spring re-charged with the season's first good rain. Another metal trough was located and brought to the location for use in the future. Hope nobody shoots it full of holes.

The trail from Salmon Creek to Dutra Flat is in good shape - mostly wilderness freeway with a couple of step-over logs and the scramble across the slide section.
Attachments
Dutra Water.jpg
dougmajor

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by dougmajor »

Date Hiked: July 30, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Traveled from Balwin Ranch Road up to Turkey Springs camp. Entry point marked just by a post, no sigh. Baldwin ranch road was recently cleared but now has areas of very loose soil on very steep inclines. Tread up to the springs decent, needed All Trails to locate where to exit large grassy open sections. Turkey Springs Camp is in good shape with good water flow. No flow down Dutra Creek at the road crossing and further down at the San Carpo trail crossing. The Old San Carpo trail sign is covered with low-hanging branches. I did some trail mild trail clearing and marking. Hunters have made a connection from Baldwin Ranch road to the San Carpo camp ATV accessible, including the river crossing.
Lonhart
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 12:38 pm

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats): Mount Mars use trail

Post by Lonhart »

Date Hiked: May 28, 2022
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Description for Mount Mars Traverse (Use Trail)

I hiked up to Mount Mars on 28 MAY 2022, after spending the night at Dutra Flat Camp. The "use trail" is definitely unmaintained, and although I had a little GPS help (InReach Mini), it was not particularly helpful. The basic idea is to stay on the spine of the ridge, right up to Mount Mars. If you stay dead center on the ridge, you'll make it. I did the hike with a full frame pack on, and was brushing as I went. So the 1.8 miles or so to the summit took me a couple of hours. At some points, due to the pack, I had to crawl on all fours. Other areas were wide open, but not really easy to follow. Some red flagging has been added, more as a reassurance that you are not the first one here. ;-) When in doubt, look for evidence of trimming--that's the way to go.

I did go off the spine at one point early on, opting for the grassy slope and pines, but then had to make my way back up to the ridge line, and found the "trail" again.

There are a few areas with poison oak, and I tried to trim it back, but you will brush into some during the ascent. Near the top it gets easier after one brushy section. As you cross into the zone with low-lying manzanita, you are close. The summit is a clear area, and just before reaching it you'll see a trail head off to your right, along the intersecting ridge and heading south. I now realize that was the use trail down to the County Line Road. The view from the peak is good, but since it is a flat summit, there are obstructions. On the way up, be sure to look behind you, and you'll have some great photo opportunities.

The trail continues down the summit, heading towards the ocean, and into a thicket of madrone and shrubs, averaging 7-8 ft tall. I lopped as much as I could, and pushed through, but the trail is easily observed, just not as easily traversed. This section is relatively short, compared to the ascent from Dutra Valley.

Emerging from the thicket you are in a stand of pines and have grassland spreading in front of you, and on a clear day, impressive views of the ocean. I had very impressive views of clouds and fog, which was constantly swirling and shifting, sometimes allowing views of the coastline.

I was not prepared for this part of the trail. I was standing at about 2500 ft, with lots of golden grass and a few rocky outcrops ahead, and a very, very steep slope. The drop from here to Kozy Kove below is over 1000 ft in a little over 0.5 miles. It was the steepest descent I've made with a backpack on and NO switchbacks. This is, after all, a use trail. Nobody would "design" this trail, and as steep as it was going down, and I had to go sideways most of the time (you cannot point your toes downslope), I thought there might be some people that hike UP it. That is just plain crazy. Down was tough, but up is nuts.

The trail is hard to follow, becoming fainter as you descend, but again is on the spine. I made the mistake of going off the spine, only to realize I needed to angle back towards it.

Upon reaching Kozy Kove with battered knees, I searched for the "use trail" that enters the woods and then connects with Salmon Creek trail near the big gray-soiled outcrop. I walked along the entire edge, saw nothing that looked promising, and to be honest, I wanted no more whacking through shrubbery. I also had not loaded that into the InReach Mini, so I was a bit stuck. Instead I turned south towards the old access road that one can see the entire descent. I followed that, at an easy stroll, downward toward Highway 1. Loved the switchbacks!

After climbing over the fence, I had a 0.9 mile walk along Highway 1, back to my car near the Salmon Creek trailhead. It was a longer route, but it saved my sanity, and likely a lot more pushing through shrubs, which I'd had enough of at that point.

I am very glad I did it, but it would have been much better as a day hike, with a small pack, and with long sleeves.
Attachments
Hint at what is to come, in sections
Hint at what is to come, in sections
in other parts, it is open
in other parts, it is open
Flagging is only on parts
Flagging is only on parts
This is *after* I lopped for 15 minutes
This is *after* I lopped for 15 minutes
You hike the ridge
You hike the ridge
In places the way is obvious
In places the way is obvious
I had to go on all fours here
I had to go on all fours here
A last bushy section prior to the final push
A last bushy section prior to the final push
Mount Mars summit
Mount Mars summit
Heading down towards the ocean
Heading down towards the ocean
The view emerging from the thickets
The view emerging from the thickets
Looking back up the steep, steep slope to the pines where I emerged from
Looking back up the steep, steep slope to the pines where I emerged from
A sense of how  STEEP  it is!
A sense of how STEEP it is!
The old access road and heading back to Highway 1
The old access road and heading back to Highway 1
Lonhart
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 12:38 pm

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by Lonhart »

Date Hiked: May 27, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

This description is for the Spruce Creek trail (6E10), starting at the junction with Salmon Creek trail (6E11), and ending at Dutra Flat Camp, which I hiked to on 27 May 2022 (Friday; left Hwy 1 at 3:20 pm).

The trail was very easy to follow, not as well worn as the section from Hwy 1 on Salmon Creek trail, and was instead covered with leaf litter in many areas. I would rate it "Clear" for over 90% of the way, but there were a couple of minor obstacles. One is the wash out of the slide near Spruce Creek, which has been covered by others (with photos)--it looks the same. I traversed it, slowly, with my pack on and had no issues. Also there are, as I recall, two small tree falls that I easily straddled over. I brushed as I went, so minor encroachment by plants is infrequent. Poison oak was absent from most of the trail, and easily avoided where it occurred.
Typical trail view up the slope.
Typical trail view up the slope.
Upon emerging from the wooded section, I was struck by the vast openness of the "Dutra Valley", which is an expansive grassland dotted with pines and rocky outcrops. Truly spectacular, even in its dry, golden-hued state. There is an ad-hoc fire ring right as you emerge (not a great place to camp), and the trail to Dutra Flat Camp descends on your left, whereas the use trail up to Mount Mars is on your right. More on that in a separate post.
View as you emerge from wooded slope
View as you emerge from wooded slope
This area has cattle grazing in it, although I did not see any on Friday, although there was plenty of evidence. The trail is narrow here, through the grass, and edges along the left side of the valley. It rises a bit onto even more expansive (and flatter) areas of the valley, and after an easy trek you'll arrive at Dutra Flat Camp, with signs to all the other trails just 100 ft past the camp.

Dutra Flat Camp is nestled under 4 cypress trees, which had to be planted here. There is room for a couple of tents inside the "fenced" area, which is not really an intact fence, and cows clearly have made it into the camping area. There are plenty of flat areas nearby, so no shortage of space. There is a table, which is in good shape, and a fire ring with grill and grate, and a shovel.

A sign points to the spring, which is 200 ft up the slope, through a wire fence, and hidden by a large green shrub. There is a metal pipe that pours cold spring water into an old trough, and even an old folding chair that allows you to sit while filling your water bottle! The flow as of 27 May 2022 was strong (fill a liter in a minute or less). I packed a lot of water up because I thought the spring was in bad shape. Someone must have done some work since the prior post, since the flow was good and we had no rain in the interim.

Overnight temperatures were mild. I had a tick bite me at 3 AM, but removed it quickly. Only saw two ticks the whole time, expected there to be more. In the morning, two cows up the hill intently watched me emerge from the tent. Eventually they took off through the brush, and a few minutes later I watched 20-30 all black cows head up the grassy hill north of the spring. Never saw or heard them again.

Did not see another soul the whole time. Very peaceful. Highly recommended if you enjoy open spaces, which are relatively uncommon in Los Padres/Big Sur. Not like Pine Valley, but very cool in its own way.
Attachments
Spring running well 27 May 2022
Spring running well 27 May 2022
Camp and table
Camp and table
Gated area around camp
Gated area around camp
View as you approach camp
View as you approach camp
Trail to Dutra Flat Camp
Trail to Dutra Flat Camp
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VWA_Ranger
Posts: 86
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 4:41 pm

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by VWA_Ranger »

Date Hiked: May 15, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

*** VWA/USFS Volunteer Ranger/Trail Crew Report ***

Description:

Five friends hiked the Spruce Creek Trail to Dutra Flat on Sunday. They ran into Steve Cypher a VWA/USFS Volunteer. He was working on the Spring at Dutra Flat. It worked for a bit, then slowed back down to a trickle the next day. How long it will last nobody knows.

Trail conditions are as follows:

Spruce Creek Jct. to Spruce Creek Slide - Clear with no obstacles, lots of encroaching brush and some PO.

Spruce Creek Slide to the saddle just past the cattle gate - Passable. Lots of encroaching brush and PO. Several sections of the trail are rutted, but the trail has been that way for many years. The slide repair is in good shape, except at the far end. One needs to drop 3 to 4 feet to the upper log, then traverse to main trail.

Saddle just past the cattle gate to Dutra Flat - Clear. Lots of open grasslands and beautiful views all around.
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Attachments
Heading towards Dutra Flat Camp.
Heading towards Dutra Flat Camp.
Climbing up the Spruce Creek slide at the far end.
Climbing up the Spruce Creek slide at the far end.
Spring flow as of May 16th, 2022. Barely a trickle.
Spring flow as of May 16th, 2022. Barely a trickle.
toejam
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:41 am

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by toejam »

Date Hiked: May 15, 2022
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Remember when Dutra Flat had a spring-fed trough that stayed full of clear water most years? Those days are gone.

On April 9 I messed around with the spring trying to find what was plugging it and managed to get a steady trickle. The trough never filled. On May 15 I worked with it some more and dislodged the blockage so that the pipe flowed like a garden hose. But when I hiked through the next day it was back down to a trickle and the trough had no water in it. I was unable to improve the flow. I also mucked out the trough and found where the bottom is rusted through.

So it is what it is - a practically useless trickle of water into a rusted-out trough.

Image
It's a gusher!

Image
Don't get your hopes up.
toejam
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:41 am

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by toejam »

Date Hiked: January 22, 2022
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Dutra Flat spring is not flowing - trough is empty. The creek next to the camp is running with useable water.

The trail east of Dutra Flat is better than it's been. You follow one of a dozen cow paths across the meadows and hope you find a path through the woodsy parts. Follow the bigsurtrailmap.net gps tracks and you'll get where you're going. I've cleared a lot of brush and fallen logs off this trail in the last few months. Only one big step-over blowdown near the bottom of the trail now.
yellowbeard
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:46 pm

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by yellowbeard »

Date Hiked: August 1, 2021
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Plenty of water in the trough (about 3" below maximum) at Dutra Flat Camp, however no water is coming from the pipe. Accessed via the Murry Mine Use Trail which is in excellent condition, easy to follow with no deadfall or encroachment.
driggsy
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:22 am

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by driggsy »

Date Hiked: May 9, 2021
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Surprisingly clear pretty much the whole way. Dutra to the saddle was grassy and good. Did a trail run, and from the saddle down to the slide was very flowy and fun. The slide was easy to pass without backpacks. The slide to salmon creek was the brushiest but still not bad.
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VWA_Ranger
Posts: 86
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2020 4:41 pm

Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by VWA_Ranger »

Date Hiked: March 24, 2021
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

*** VWA/USFS Volunteer Ranger/Trail Crew Report ***

Description:
The Monterey Ranger District Forest has partially reopened, VWA/USFS Volunteer Rangers continue to prepare opening other parts of the closed forest and are continuing their regular patrols. Today volunteer Rangers patrolled from Spruce Creek Jct to the Spruce Creek Slide to check for additional damage after the winter storms. They cleared minor debris along the trail and rebuilt a 10 yard section of trail leading into the slide. The slide is passable. People appear to be lowering themselves into the gully at the far end of the slide to traverse it.

Trail conditions are as follows:


Jct. to Spruce Creek Slide - Passable, narrow tread and encroaching brush. No trees down. Far end of slide needs repair.
Spruce Creek Slide to Saddle - Passable, lots of encroaching bushes and brush.
Saddle to Dutra Flat - Clear, grass along both sides of trail.

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DISCLAIMER: This report is for informational purposes only. Trail conditions may change at any time. The Ventana Wilderness Alliance assumes no liability for the use of this information.
The Los Padres National Forest Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf/

Attachments
Far end of Spruce Creek Slide. The Plan is to remove the vegetation on the high side and recut the trail.
Far end of Spruce Creek Slide. The Plan is to remove the vegetation on the high side and recut the trail.
New Report