Prewitt Loop Trail

jenanddarwin

Prewitt Loop Trail

Post by jenanddarwin »

Date Hiked: May 20, 2009
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I entered this trail from the south entrance at the ranger station. All the way to kelly camp it was wonderful - everything one would want for a day hike with one's dog and to get away for a bit.

Every bit of the trail inbetween Kelly and Stag camp was relentless - neverending off camber, loose soil and rocks, with narrow,overgrown trail and the endless potential of falling/sliding off the edge. Dont take your eye off the trail or you WILL slide off. There are 3 major trees down. The third is the largest and most difficult to get over but certainly not impassable. There are several creek passings where there is in fact water but the majority are dry.

Once I got to Stag camp the ground flattened out and the soil was solid. It was much more enjoyable and I imagine what most people are looking for. It is more exposed than the south entrance. So, if you were to do this on a hot day, I'd make this part your a.m. route and exit at the ranger station.

It of course goes with out saying that there is more poison oak than you can imagine at any given pt. on this trail. My dog and I were there 5/20/09 and at the end of the hike, I picked 27 ticks off him and I.

Wear long protective pants and shirts with sleeves. Make sure to cover yourself with ivy block. Wear supportive shoes and ones that wont cut into the outside of your right ankle when you are on the 4 mile +/- stretch inbetween the two camps that is off-camber (at the same angle) for the ENTIRE time.

It took exactly 6 hours and we only stopped for about 20 minutes. It is a 12 mile loop.
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Prewitt Creek Trail Conditions History 1999-2007

Post by Site Administrator »

Date Hiked: October 6, 2007
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Conditions reported by: Gary Felsman
Survey date: 6-OCTOBER-2007
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Overall:
My wife and I headed to Prewitt Creek today for a hike along the northern side of Prewitt Creek. It was a beautiful day. Cool and Clear along the coast. We hiked from the trailhead to slide past Stag Camp along the back wall.
We were hoping to run into our friends who had started earlier in the day along the southside doing the entire loop.
We never did meet them as they took longer than expected. On our trip we clipped all the hanging limbs that were covering the trail to the slide. It is now much easier to hike this section of the trail.

Section: Coast Highway to 1 mile inland - Wilderness Freeway
The USFS just brushed this section of trail as they do on the south side.

Section: 1 mile inland to Cattle Gate - Clear
With encroaching brush. very little poison oak at this time. A couple of trees to barely duck under and one to climb over or around. It was easy get around this tree..

Section: Cattle Gate to Cattle Troughs - Clear
Clear with encroaching brush. The trail is uneven or collapsed in many places mainly do to cattle traversing the trail. A good portion of the tread work that was done several years ago has been heavily damaged. We will have to start all over again if it is ever repaired.

Section: Cattle Troughs to Stag Camp - Clear
Clear with uneven trail as mentioned before. There is one large Oak Tree just after the Cattle Troughs across the trail an alternate trail has been worn into the hillside.

Section: Stag Camp to the slide - Passable
Another large oak has fallen across the trail. One will have to skirt arournd this tree climbing up the hill into the bruush to make it safely. After this tree, the trail is clear yet uneven. It looks like the slide is stable with a well worn narrow trail across it.
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Conditions reported by: Jack McInerney
Survey date: 20-MAY-2007
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: North Trailhead to Stag Camp - Passable

Trail is in good condition. Plants do encroach on the trail in many places. We frequently stopped for "tick checks" and would almost always find a few crawling up our pants (this was true on the entire loop). Long pants are recommended. There is a lot of poison oak along the trail edges (generally ankle high or knee high). There is some encroachment of poison oak on the trail. You can avoid it if you are paying attention, but since it is nearly constant, it is inevitable you will brush up against it. About 2 or 3 miles in we came to a barbed wire gate. It wasn't clear to us that we should go through it. After exploring a dead end side trail, we did go through it and were back on the trail.

The water source 0.3 miles before Stag Camp consists of two troughs that receive the waters of a spring. The upper trough was about 2/3 full; the lower one was empty. A steady flow was coming out of the spring. The water looked good, but we didn't pump any.

To get from the troughs to the camp we had to cross a large tree that had fallen across the ravine. The area is filled with poison oak and it took some effort to figure out how to get over it. Once we got to Stag Camp, we didn't want to head back over this obstacle to get water. There is a spring up the hill from stag camp that had water flow similar to the trough spring (at least on May 20th). We made a little dam to gather the water and pumped from this source. It was a bit muddy and kept clogging the pump. The water tasted great, though.

The camp is in good condition and the picnic table is very handy for organizing one's gear. We hung our food from a tree at night, but we didn't see or hear any animals, so I am not sure this is necessary.

Section: Stag Camp to Kelly Camp - Passable

Even though this portion is reasonably level, it took us about 6 hours to cover this distance (we are in pretty good shape, but in our 50s, you time may vary). The trail is much narrower and there is a lot of encroachment of plants, especially poison oak. You will brush against it on this segment. The trail goes indistinct in many places, but some kind soul has placed small blue irrigation flags every several hundred feet over most of the trail. They were a life saver. It would have easily taken another hour or two without them.

The great slide area was passable. There is a well defined, but narrow, trail across it. The rock in this area is very loose and you want to go slowly and pay attention. Hiking sticks help.

There are many areas where the trail is obscured with leaves or plants. In some of those places, the trail is slippery or there is no trail. I fell a few times. In one case I put my foot right into a well-covered hole in the trail and nearly fell into a ravine. Probing the trail with hiking sticks is a good idea.

There are quite a few fallen trees in this portion of the trail. Most are easily navigated. There was only one where we had to take our packs off.

There is a nice spring about 0.2 miles before Kelly Camp. We pumped 8 or 9 liters here and the water was excellent.

Kelly Camp doesn't have a table, but otherwise is nice. It is in nearly full shade. There is a lot of poison oak in the area, but that is true everywhere. The camp itself is clear of this evil plant.

Section: Kelly Camp to Pacific Valley Station - Passable

The first mile is like the previous four. Narrow trails, uncertain footing in places, lots of poison oak encroachment. The little blue flags really helped. After that, the trail improves. And the last two miles are a joy. You get incredible views of the ocean and canyon, and its all down hill. There are patches that are heavily overgrown with grasses. Many of those will leave ticks on your pants.

Overall, the trail condition is pretty good, but its not for the casual hiker. You need to be on guard for ticks, poison oak, uneven/uncertain footing and indistinct trails. In terms of water, most of the streams are now dry, particularly on the southern half of the loop. We only found two water sources near Stag camp, and only one near Kelly camp. There were several streams running between Kelly and Pacific Station.
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Conditions reported by: Chris
Survey date: 12-FEBRUARY-2007
General: CLEAR/DIFFICULT
Specific:

Section: Pacific Valley Station to Kelly Camp - Wilderness Freeway/Clear

Wilderness freeway for the first 2 miles. Really great trail, two wide in many areas. Once the trail enters the forest there are a few deadfalls and encroaching brush, but not bad at all.

Section: Kelly Camp to Stag Camp - Difficult

Once the trail reaches the head of the basin, conditions deteriorate. I lost the trail at a couple spots (faint treads go in more than one direction), and there were some serious fallen trees that, with the wet conditions, were non-trivial to get across. Brush is heavily encroached at times, especially in the chaparral area in between the south and north forks of the Prewitt Creek (more lost trails). The big slide is clear and not much trouble.

Section: Stag Camp to north trailhead - Clear/Passable

Mostly clear. A couple downed trees, one quite large and relatively recent just west of Stag Camp. Going counterclockwise, the junction to the top of the ridge for views a mile west of Stag Camp was quite confusing. The actual trail goes downhill (left), but going uphill (right) also looked like the actual trail for quite a long time. The last mile or so until Highway 1 is a wilderness freeway.

One additional consideration for those considering hiking this for the first time: almost the entire route in either direction, since it skirts a creek basin, requires sidehilling. There is little even ground, so my feet were quite uncomfortable by the end, and I got blisters in places I've never had them before.

Despite the complaining, it was really a wonderful hike! Views were spectacular and the wildflowers were starting already.
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Conditions reported by: Jean LeBlanc
Survey date: 26-MARCH2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Coast Highway (North side trailhead) to Stag Camp - Wilderness Freeway

There are three small trees down (one you can walk over, the second you must crawl under, the third you can walk under). Poison oak is starting to encroach in places.

Section: Stag Camp to Middle Ridge - Clear to Passable

It gets rougher once you pass Stag Camp (less traffic this far out). Track is easy to follow, but there is much encroaching (tick infested) brush, including lots of fresh poison oak. The "big slide" is passable but not recommended for the faint of heart. All streams are running strongly but easily negotiable.

Section: Middle Ridge and beyond - Passable

I ventured a little beyond Middle Ridge to determine how I missed the continuation of the trail when I did the hike on 2/12/06 starting on the south side; suffice it to say that the grassy hillside on the south side of Middle Ridge is a maze of confusing trails, and that when you are looping counterclockwise and get there the real trail does disappear. The key is to get up onto the top of Middle Ridge (look for a large oak tree that has fallen down on the ridgeline--the continuation of the trail (which contours onto the north side of Middle Ridge, heading north-northeast) is very close to that).

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Conditions reported by: Jean LeBlanc
Survey date: 12-FEBRUARY-2006
General: CLEAR
Overview: The south side is Wilderness Freeway, north side is more difficult as noted below. I hiked 60% of the loop in the counterclockwise direction (starting on south side, ending on north side). Note that the elevation of the high point of the trail as reported in the "Trail Guide to Los Padres National Forest (Northern Section)" (reported as being 1,950 feet) appears to be understated as I had a reading >2,500 feet at the high point.

Section: South trailhead to Kelly Camp and "High Point" - Wilderness Freeway

The south side is in absolutely perfect shape. This is a Wilderness Freeway all the way to Kelly Camp and a little past there. Thanks much to those who have worked on this section of the trail!

Section: "High Point" to Prewitt Creek - Passable

Tread is evident and in relatively good shape (with some slippage on steeper hillsides and some encroaching brush). There is one deadfall that is negotiable due to two "steps" that have been cut into the top, there is a group of about 4 deadfalls that are easy to work around/over. The trail crossing at the south fork of Prewitt Creek has a huge redwood down over it (right on top of/along the trail) that you need to climb across like a bridge, and when you get to the next creek shortly thereafter (I assume this is Prewitt Creek itself), where there is a leftward downhill switchback, the trail has a big redwood down over it that you need to climb over on the upper switchback and squeeeze under on the lower switchback (or just turn left immediately when you get to it as you approach the creek and follow it down to the lower switchback).

Section: Prewitt Creek to "Middle Ridge" - Passable/Difficult

Tread to what I believe to be the Middle Ridge referred to in C. Royer's report is generally in good condition; this section does follow some steeper hillsides and there is some slippage, but the track is evident. However, after crossing the first open grassy south-facing hillside, the track kind of disappeared into an amalgam of cattle trails. Someone has posted a flag at a point where a 15-foot wide gully comes down the grassy hillside (about 150 feet before the grass gives way to a stand of trees), and the trail seemed to cross the gully but it disappeared again, and after I had spent an hour searching up, down and across the hillside for the continuation of the trail (and with just under three hours of daylight left), I was forced to turn around and return the way I had come.
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Conditions reported by: Robert Parks
Survey date: 28-JANUARY-2006
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Pacific Valley Station to Kelly Camp - Clear

The trail is substantially Wilderness Freeway to near Kelly Camp (south side of loop). Near Kelly Camp, the tread narrows and has a few degraded sections. Only a single deadfall remains across the trail (with an easy bypass). Substantial amounts of logging/clearing and treadwork was accomplished by a joint CCCMB and VWA work crew. Kelly Camp is obvious with a metal firebox next to the trail.

Trip Pictures
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Conditions reported by: Sus Danner
Survey date: 13-MARCH-2005
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: North Prewitt Loop to Prewitt Creek just past Stag Camp.

My partner and I hiked from the North Prewitt Loop entrance at Highway 1, turning around at Prewitt Creek just past Stag Camp. The trail tread was great, though a little narrow in areas. There are two large snags across the trail, both negotiable, and quite a bit of brush growing into the trail. Ticks are abundant; we pulled more than 70 off of our dogs. Not much tall poison oak in the trail, but plenty knee-high. We encountered one baby rattlesnake torpid on the trail near Stag Camp, and take care around Prewitt Creek itself to avoid the many migrating California Newts crossing the trail. The wildflowers were striking; lupine, fiesta flower, chocolate lilies, buttercups, and shooting stars.
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Conditions reported by: Dave
Survey date: 31-OCT-2004
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Section: Entire loop (nearly 12 miles)

yo- This was surprisingly easy, my last visit being 10/99, when I think we were the first to do the whole loop in many years. I started from the ranger station on the south side. It was weed-whacked and manicured all through the switchbacks up the south rim of Prewitt Creek. Where it trends into mixed hardwoods on the N facing slope, mountain bikers have cut new tread for another mile (big help)- then it gets fainter and off-slope but easy to follow. Only 2 or 3 snags to negotiate. 6 inches of rain helps.

There are MANY water sources all along this trail (all probably requiring filtration). After Kelly camp the trail enters more open country and the trail becomes more vague but, having been through once before (and having someone's ? Topo file), I could follow it easily. Noticing previous clips on vegetation always helps. A few rock cairns were helpful marking the top of the switchbacks that drop down through the most beautiful middle section of the trail. The trail contours in and out of several drainages without much elevation change. More water sources along this trail... After crossing the 2 N fork redwood branches the trail improves as mountain biker and cattle grazing use increases.

This isn't a wilderness trail. There was some litter and we heard shotguns and some drumming at night coming from the vicinity of Prewitt camp off Alms ridge road. It's a very lovely tour of a coastal drainage, however, with great views everywhere.
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Conditions reported by: Paul Crafts
Survey date: 22-NOV-2003
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY
Specific:

Section: Hwy. 1 trailhead (north) to 1 mile past Stag Camp

North end of the ridge loop: Clear and passable most of the way to Stag Camp (4 miles). 1-2 Deadfalls after first storms of the season. Beautiful trail in and out of washes and coastal oaks. Water about 1/8th mile before Stag Camp, at a cattle trough. Easy to filter. Thanks to BSA Troop 67 for the table at Stag Camp.

Tread washes out 2 times about 1 mile past Stag, with exposure of 50-75 feet below if not careful. Didn't go further. Poison oak, but cut low at various places. Beautiful day!
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Conditions reported by: Gary Felsman
Survey date: 8-JUNE-2003
General: CLEAR
Specific:

Section: Stag Camp to Big Slide

I hiked the northern side of Prewitt Creek Loop last weekend and caught up with a group of 10 volunteers including the ranger.

We had good day repairing the section of trail past Stag Camp. We brushed all the way to the slide at the back of the canyon, and built good sections of tread most of the way to the Slide as well. The Ranger and a few others punched through the slide, built a rock wall making the slide traversable on foot.

The trail into Stag camp is clear as well. Several volunteers have put in lots of regraded tread making walking a delight along the northern section. One could almost wear shorts.

The views to Sand Dollar Beach were great as the fog lifted, flowers are still plentiful.

Take a hike on this wonderful trail before it grows over again.

P.S. There were very few, almost no biting flies to report along the back wall of the Prewitt Creek Loop.
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Conditions reported by: C. Royer
Survey date: 24-MAY-2003
General: DIFFICULT
Specific:

We began the hike on the north side and for the first ~4 miles the trail was clear and tread distinct. However, once past Stag Camp the tread became sloped with some slumps and loose gravel. Big Slide was passable, but use caution, the tread is dynamic and is subject to change with each passer by. In the grassy area south of Middle Ridge, the rains have brought a lot of growth causing the trail to be swallowed up and difficult to find. We reflagged this area. The trail on the dry south-facing slopes was covered with coyote brush, lotus and chamise pushing the folks off the trail and wearing the downhill edge. We cut most of the uphill foliage to help maintain the integrity of trail, however, brush clearing is still needed on the backside ~1 mile north of Kelly Camp. We also removed most of the deadfall with the exception of trees to large to handle with a bow saw. By far the work most needed is reworking the tread on the backside between Stag Camp and Kelly Camp. Overall our experience was pleasant, wonderful views and clear nights. If one were to hike this trail I would suggest bringing a hand saw and loppers / hand sheers. Also, a reminder to pack out the TP ... it makes the experience nicer for everyone ... and we don't have to pack it out for you!
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Conditions reported by: Steve Wilson
Survey date: 16-NOV-2002
General: PASSABLE (W/DIFFICULT SECTIONS)
Specific:

Just a few notes to embellish on previous reports. While technically rated "passable," I would rate this trail as "black diamond" to use ski area terminology. While many intrepid volunteers have hiked through and cleared most of the downfall, along comes another windstorm like a week and half ago, depositing a new obstacles, large and small, on the trail. Also, there are several active slide spots on the back portion that lost most of their tread in the recent downpour. So I would term the conditions of this trail "dynamic." To the best of my knowledge I was the only one hiking the trail on this glorious fall day. The trail provides the quintessential Northern Santa Lucia experience in a long day's hike - climbs, decents, traverses; redwoods, oak forests, grasslands, coastal scrub, chaparral; wilderness freeways to braided deer trails; and solitude a couple of hours from major metropolitan areas. Highly recommended for the experienced Santa Lucia hiker, and if everyone passing through moves a few obstacles, it will be available for future hikers. A final note - a USFS firefighter at the station said that they clear the trail to the edge of their "response zone" and he and evidently the rest of the station wishes more money was "available" for them to clear the whole trail. I'm sure he meant "allocated."
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Conditions reported by: Vince Manning
Survey date: 28/29-SEPT-2002
General: WILDERNESS FREEWAY to CLEAR to PASSABLE
Specific:

Many of the worst and confusing portions of this trail were recently improved by a group of VWA volunteers as a National Public Lands Day effort.

From the ranger station trailhead the trail starts off as a wilderness freeway. By the second mile it becomes mostly clear all the way to the minor ridge where the trail switchbacks and drops in elevation with much of the sloping tread leveled to Kelly Camp and deadfall removed.

Beyond this, the trail is passable with tread still distinct enough but you'll encounter more sloping areas needing work. At a crossing in the south fork we redirected the trail to a downed redwood to bridge the creek. In the north fork portion, there is a slide area where caution is needed.

The final three miles of tread to the north trailhead is in much better shape and the trail is clear.

Much of the flagging from an earlier time remains and there is reliable creek and spring water year-round.
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Conditions reported by: Boon Hughey
Survey date: 9-MARCH-2002
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

Well, with the slight increase in use the Prewitt Loop trail seems to slowly be getting in better shape. Three of us dayhiked the loop from south to north on March 9th, putting up a few flags where necessary and cutting out a few of the smaller downfalls across the trail where we could. The footbed is still a challenge over the back 5 or 6 miles of the route, but more boots using it seem to be helping out.

With some botanizing along the way the hike took us about 8 hours. Allow yourself plenty of time for this walk - it's longer than one might think.
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Conditions reported by: Barbara Rose
Survey date: 27-OCT-2001
General: CLEAR TO PASSABLE
Specific:

Thanks Boon and others for flagging this trail. After 3 attempts we finally made it! Our group of 4 spent one night, hiking 6 hours each day. We were happy to find abundant water in both the south fork and the north fork of Prewitt Creek. We hiked from the south and discovered the trail was much better marked than when we had attempted it in June (from the North). Thanks also to the Forest Service for clearing most of the fallen logs from the forest on the north trail. It was a very difficult passage last June.

The tread continues to be very difficult on the middle third of this loop. It has improved with the traffic during the summer and fall, but it continues to require a great deal of concentration and wear on the sides of ones feet. The view of Sand dollar beach is beautiful. We saw tarantulas on the trail and a few very young fawns. Poison Oak is abundant along the trail, but most of the leaves are gone.

Stag camp and the one (Kelly Camp) on the South are in good shape, but not very close to water. This continues to be a challenging trail, but the forests and vistas are well worth it.
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Conditions reported by: Dale Kinney
Survey date: 14-AUGUST-01
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

We hiked in on the North Leg less than 2 miles. It was recently cleared by Forest Service to that point. Beautiful Vista from the North slope. Some rabbits seen.

We then drove to the Ranger Station and entered at the South Leg. Again the trail was recently cleared to about 2 miles. After that the trail narrowed considerably in the oak forest. Fallen oak leaves on shale hillside made for tricky footing. My partner and dog tired before we made it out of the oaks. Great Redwood groves on the way up. One creek crossing flowing well.

Rangers said they couldn't clear the trail any further into the back country because it took them to far away from the station during fire season. Beautiful Vistas.
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Conditions reported by: Boon Hughey
Survey date: 11-AUGUST-01
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

I dayhiked the loop from south to north, and it's a tough day's walk. Forest Service fire crews have done a fantastic job of brushing and grading the first 2 or 3 miles on each end, but the remaining 5 or 6 miles in the middle needs quite a bit of work. There are a handful of fallen trees in the trail that make for some inconvenience, but the real difficulty is the poor condition of the tread. It's filled in from disuse and broken down by cattle on the north half so badly that one is constantly catching one's balance and paying HARD attention to the act of walking, which gets tiring after many hours. But it's a beatiful trail and a wonderfully fulfilling day's walk. It doesn't see a whole lot of hikers and as such can be a bit vague in places, but I re-flagged all the tricky spots so if you pay attention you should be able to make it.

If you plan to through-hike it I suggest that you get an early start, plan to be on it for at least 8 or 9 hours, bring a flashlite just in case, wear your best fitting boots, and bring some moleskin.
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Conditions reported by: Katherine Dollard
Survey date: 25-MARCH-01
General: (northern leg) PASSABLE TO DIFFICULT
Specific:

Encroaching brush, some difficult deadfalls. Tread OK.

We followed the trail from the northern trail head, following the signed trail along the north side of Prewitt canyon, until we were within sight of the cow pastures. The lushly vegetated switchbacks from the road to the canyon were easy to follow, though the trail was overgrown in two places where it crossed a trickle of a brook and at one of the places a downed tree that wouldn't be pushed over took some careful navigating. Once in the canyon the tread became narrow, though always easy to follow. Small clumps of chocolate lilies were spotted by the side of the trail. Before reaching the oak forest we had to push through tick-ladened and poison oak-infiltrated ceanothus and coyote bush. Once under the forest canopy we only had to contend with branches of poison oak reaching across the trail and big, bushy, immovable, too-green-to-break downed bay trees that had to be crawled through (in one of which you may find my sunglasses). I was delighted to catch sight of a brilliantly blue iris along the way, since I have missed them in my hiking over the last few years.

Upon coming in sight of the open grass lands, we decided that we had immersed ourselves in enough poison oak, so we headed for the open grass, intending to detour on a cow path around the oak forest, in parallel to the official path. While checking out the stupendous views from the north side of the ridge before continuing on, we came across a well defined, well (but not over) trod path near the spring fed cattle trough mentioned previously by Steve Chambers (01-Oct-00). The trail, often following an old road bed, took us straight up the ridge to the coast ridge road. We were treated along the way to spectacular views of the ocean, the coast, Cone peak and bountiful fields of flowers. Large patches of poppies, lupine, white forget-me-nots, blue Dicks, baby blue eyes, butter cups, shooting stars, johnny jump ups, paintbrush, plus scatterings of blue-eyed grass and golden yarrow, fiddleneck, and owl's clover decorated the grassy slopes. On our return we followed the trail straight down the ridge to where it met the Prewitt trail about twenty minutes from the north trail head, as mentioned previously by Steve Chambers (01-Oct-00).
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Conditions reported by: Katherine Dollard
Survey date: 11-MARCH-01
General: PASSABLE (southern leg)
Specific:

We hiked from the south trail head to about a half hour past the spring welling from the moss covered bay tree. (Looking for all the world like something out of a fairy tale enchanted forest.) The climb was always gentle and the route provided a wonderful variety of beautiful plant communities and water sounds, from crashing surf to churning cascades and burbling springs.

The tread was at its best where the trail switchbacks past the fire break until it enters the forest cover. Elsewhere the tread was narrow and often at an angle close to the slope's. We never lost sight of the trail, but appreciated the reassurance of the red survey flags, since there were so many other paths crossing the trail, usually diagonally, going up and down the slope of the canyon. Needless to say, after the recent rains, the ground was quite soft.

In open areas the trail hosts an exuberant growth of spring annuals and lush grass. The poison oak is a few inches shy of making the trail impassable for those who want to avoid contact.

The going was quite slow as we pushed numerous large tree limbs and small downed trees from the path. There were a number of recently downed bay trees that could be made short work of with a saw of some sort, but which were too large and rooted for us to push aside and too green to break up. The downed trees that looked like they had lain across the path for at least a few seasons were easy to climb over or under, unlike the bushy bays.

At our turn around point I had the misfortune of sitting down on a log that seemed to be the site of a tick convention!

Yesterday was foggy, so the views disappeared as the trail ascended the canyon, but the wild flowers were a delight. There were plentiful scatterings of paintbrush and splashes of shooting stars, buttercups, baby blues, plus sprinklings of lupine, yarrow, blue-eyed grass, and spots of ceanothus, morning glory, ribes, blue dicks, monkey flowers, redwood sorrel and pearly everlasting in bloom.
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Conditions reported by: Steve Chambers
Survey date: 1-OCT-00
General: PASSABLE WITH DIFFICULT SECTIONS
Specific:

We began at the south trailhead adjacent to the Pacific Valley Forest Service Station. After the trail leaves the private road, it soon comes to the dozer line constructed last summer for control of the Plaskett 2 fire. The fire crews have reestablished the tread through the dozer line and have done a very good job of armoring the line with cut brush to minimize erosion. Evidence of the fire can be seen in the upper reaches of the side canyon to the south of the main stem of Prewitt Creek.

The trail is roughly defined as it climbs under a dense canopy of a oak forest. We found a couple of small water sources before reaching Kelly Camp at about five miles from the trail head. There is a reliable water source a short distance north of Kelly Camp, one of the south forks of Prewitt Creek.

Shortly past this water, the trail switchbacks into the burnt area of another fire. Numerous hand lines, dug to control this fire, cross the trail. Most of these hand lines are steeply up or down, while the trail tread is a gentle grade. We also removed most of the brush that had been piled on various sections of the trail by the fire crews.

Past the burnt area the trail continues, but is only roughly defined, as it was "lost" until re-discovered last year.

After reaching the ridge separating the major forks of Prewitt Creek, the trail becomes slightly more defined and passes another reliable water source, one of the north forks of Prewitt Creek.

Beyond this running creek the landslide area is encountered. Attempting to maintain an even grade, the trail was constructed through a steep, land sliding slope. A difficult, narrow, unstable path winds thRough the loose sandy soil.

Past the landslide, the first signs of cattle, from the Gorda Allotment, appear: cow shit and broken down trail. A spring fed cattle trough is passed, in a large grassy meadow.

Later the trail forks, allowing either a steeper shorter ridge route (with great views if not foggy), or a slightly longer, more gradual canyon route. After rejoining, the trail forks again, allowing a steeper much shorter route passing the long row of planted pines, or the more graded switchbacks through coastal scrub. Views of the coast, the trailheads, and noise of the highway are seen from these last sections.
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Conditions reported by: Betsy MacGowan
Survey date: 14-NOV-99
General: PASSABLE WITH CARE
Specific:

Betsy MacGowan and Susan Butkus scouted this hike as a possible Ventana Chapter Outing. Many of our favorite hikes are closed for the forseeable future, and VWA members had suggested this loop at the meeting at Plaskett Campground. At that time David Rogers and I started up the north end of the trail, which we enjoyed a lot but we didn't have time to continue. So I recruited another hardy soul for what was a great adventure. Many thanks to Steve and Dave Nelson of the red survey flags, most elegant and gracious festive emblems of the merest hint of a trail through several miles at the back of the loop. There were places where we probably could have found the trail on our own, but the weather turned foggy and even rainy at the end, so we didn't have the view of the ridge or the ocean to orient us, but even with clear weather and a good map we would have had great trouble at many locations without the flags. I remembered whenever there was either no trail or several (including animal) trails to stop, look all around, and without fail there would be a flag. I found the tread to be most in need of work; there was brush in some places, especially the north end, but maybe I'll be able to take Dave's suggestion and bring along a tool. I plan to lead a Sierra Club Hike here on January 9, 2000, meeting at the trailhead probably 9:30 AM. Rain or personal committments cancel. Page me for info, 510-678-5804.
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Conditions reported by: Dave Nelson
Survey date: 26-OCT-99
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

On October 25 & 26 Steve C. and I completed the location and flagging of the entire Prewitt (Jim Kimball spells it Pruitt) Loop Trail. Steve and others in 3 or 4 trips had scouted out the north and south sides for 5 or 6 miles each. The beginnings of both sides are easy to follow and comprise the majority of the climbing or descending to and from an average elevation of 1800 to 2200 feet. The switchback climbs on both sides are very well graded and even though the approx. 14 mile total length could have been a little shorter, you don't have to strain anywhere on this trail... except for the fact that over much of it, the tread is gone and walking on the sides of your feet gets old fast. Now the worst snags are sawn out. Only a few large trees need to be crawled under or over.

Those with strong backs and a Macleod tool or shovel are encouraged to check out this extremely beautiful and scenic trail and scratch out a little new tread. There is LOTS of water on this trail even in October - I don't think we went more than 1 1/2 miles without seeing chain ferns and at least a dripping seep. Four main fork channels were flowing on our last trip. There are several natural campsites including Kelly Camp - about 5 1/2 miles in the south side - and with a water sack you can find many more good places to spend the night.

The middle sections of the trail were a little hairy for me. Now they are flagged and the more they get used the more the less intrepid traveler can find their way safely. If you lose the trail, remember that you don't have to climb way up or down anywhere without good switchbacks and these cuts are often still visible. This trail was laid out in the 60's and they used a mule-drawn trail plow and even a motorized trail tractor at times.
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Conditions reported by: Steve Chambers
Survey date: 6-MAY-99
General: PASSABLE
Specific:

The trailhead for the northern section of this loop-cattle trail, begins approx. 1/2 mile north of the Pacific Valley USFS station. Directly across from the rusty pipe cattle corrals, climb the rusty pipe gate and head uphill for the bottom of the line of planted pines. The pines follow an unused jeep-cattle road into Prewitt canyon, through a useless barb wire gate, passing a couple of fire breaks leading of to the left. At 1/2 mile or so from the start , the jeep-cattle road forks in a steep rocky eroded area. Take the left fork a short distance, again on a jeep-cattle road, until the FOOT trail crossing. Turn east. ( Following the foot trail down to the Hwy. allows one to experience a trail which takes the longest possible route, through the most brush, poison oak and overgrowth, to cover the shortest overall distance. Excellent tread in most places though)

On the foot-cattle trail, it climbs steadily on hillsides (not on the ridge) through oak woodlands and large grassy hillsides. A few deadfalls from the "Wild " fire of 1996 are easily crossed or detoured around.

On a large grass hillside the trail traverses across a huge beginning landslide. Another El Nino and the slump will release.

Around four miles from the Hwy. the most bewildering camp location is passed. Stag "Overnight" camp is deeply shaded, on a slope with small tent sites dug into the rocky soil, with a cattle trodden seep up slope aways. A new, well built redwood picnic table, inscribed "Troop 67", sits on the only level spot.

We crossed one of the major arms of Prewitt Creek and turned around at five miles plus. Parts of the trail further on could be seen across the canyon on our return trip on the well used cattle trail down the major ridge to the starting trailhead. Spectacular views of Pacific Valley and the coast on that ridge, as well as many other places.
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Prewitt Loop Trail

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* USFS Trail # 5E06
* Parking: Pacific Valley USFS Station, Hwy 1
* Watershed: Prewitt Creek
* Junctions:
* Connects: Loop
* Camps: Kelly Camp, Stag Camp
(Note: This trail is actually outside of Silver Peak Wilderness boudaries)
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