San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Virginia jensen

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

Post by Virginia jensen »

Date Hiked: April 20, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We hike up the Salmon Creek Trail to the Dutra Camp, well actually we didn't make it all the way to the camp. Salmon Creek Trail is a wilderness freeway. Very nice to hike on. the Spruce Trail has a few fallen trees, nothing too difficult to get over, and there is the usual brush and poison oak. The tread was lost in meadow but by looking ahead you can find your way. We encounter Steve Benoit and Esperanza, from the Ventana Sierra Club,leading a group of 4 backpackers making a loop ending up at Ragged Point. The wild flowers were abundant, the weather was beautiful. this was a perfect hike. Hikers: Virginia Jensen, Judy West, Claudia Anderson, Wanda McDonnald
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San Carpóforo Trail(aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)-to Dutra

Post by jbl »

Date Hiked: April 6, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

1. Section from Salmon Creek Trail Junction to Spruce/Dutra Saddle: Clear, a couple of stepovers, minor brush encroachment (including PO). The historic slide (with the nasty uphill diversion) that's about halfway up this section remains; it would be a lot of work to fix this, but that's a project that should really be done sometime.

2. Section from Saddle to Dutra Flat Camp: Wilderness Freeway. There is much erosion on the sidehill parts of this section, and due to cow activity there are sometimes several parallel sidehill tracks, but they always reconverge. The bog crossing just before Dutra Flat camp is the boggiest I've ever seen it, such that I was unable to cross without actually sinking in at a few spots. The pipe was flowing above Dutra Flat camp, and I had some (untreated) water from the pipe, which tasted quite refreshing and I've had no bad consequences. There was a group of cows grazing out on the first big meadow a few hundred yards past camp. Nobody was camped at Dutra Flat, but on the way out I came across a solo backpacker headed in who was going to stay at either Dutra Flat or Turkey Springs.

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

Post by khammer8280 »

Date Hiked: March 12, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

san carpoforo trail from dutra flat campground to end of trail at salmon creek trail junction.
dutra flat campground is fenced off but accessible to keep livestock out. water is available just across from the camp in a trough behind another fence. the trail out of here initially has some muddy cow crossings. multiple cow paths can make keeping on the right trail tricky. once you come out of the dutra creek and into the spruce creek watershed, the trail is much easier to follow as it steeply winds down to salmon creek. a few steep narrow sections exist on this section where the trail has almost washed off the ridge.
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Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by RSI SamE »

Date Hiked: January 28-29, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Spruce Creek Trail
Twixt Salmon Creek Trail Junction
And Dutra Flat Camp
• Trail: Passable
• People: 0
• Signage: camp sign present at Dutra Flat and trail signs at the camp to. Sign also present at the Salmon Creek Trail junction.
• Note 1: Mostly clear path but some sections are falling away.
• Note 2: Spring pipe at Dutra Flat Camp, but lots of cows so drinking is questionable. Camp is hemmed in by barbed wire fencing, and has what seem to be planted yet large Monterey Cypress trees.
• Note 3: Dutra Trail unction is at Dutra Flat Camp.

Spruce Creek Trail
Twixt Dutra Flat Trail
And San Carpoforo Camp
• Trail: Passable
• People: 0
• Signage: Good signs at Dutra Trail junction, near Dutra Flat Camp. Camp Sign at second San Carpoforo campsite. Camp sign reads, “San Carpojo”.
• Note 1: Trail would be clear but cows have made it muddy and uneven to where it must be avoided most of the time. Fortunately the surrounding territory is full of meadows, and cross-country quite possible.
• Note 2: Trail often hard to find with all the diverging cow paths which leave the hillside terraced with trails. Stay high in the meadows.
• Note 3: Trail crossings of Baldwin Ranch road are well marked, with signs that read
“Trail --->”, pointing in the correct directions.
• Note 4: two creek crossings just before San Carpoforo Camp.
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Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by RSIBryce »

Date Hiked: January 28, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Salmon Creek Trailhead to Dutra Flat

Beautiful trail, fairly open and easy for the most part, lots of slow climbing out of the creek canyon to get up and over the ridge to Dutra. Nicely shaded given it is a north-facing slope of the mountain. Some narrow parts where the trail wants to slide away but for the most park a well-defined trail. Some deadfall to duck under but nothing too obstructive. Signage is in good condition all the way to San Carpoforo.

Section: Dutra Flat to Turkey Spring

Once cresting the ridge and approaching Dutra you enter the large sloping meadowlands of this southern section. Really gorgeous country, except, however, the cow pies and trails that checker the landscape. The cows wander every which direction and have made their own network of trails. There also seems to be a lot of water close to the surface throughout these meadows that the cows have then made into mud wallows. I'm not sure if cows actually wallow in mud but they sure walk through it, creating a messy terrain that then when hardens creates an easy way to sprain your ankle if you're not careful. Turkey Spring is a nice camp, sitting under a row of cypress trees and just beyond a large red earth meadow through the manzanita grove. A really neat area to explore, very different than other country I've encountered in the Santa Lucia's. Turkey Spring has a barb wire fence around it to keep out the cows, though they broke down one side and seem to wander in on occasion. The cows are terrified of human presence and go running off when they see you coming. A couple of humming birds really liked the fire pit here and seem to hang out all day. Really fun to watch. Be sure to filter your water.

Section: Turkey Spring to San Carpoforo

It can be easy when crossing some of these meadowlands to find yourself on one of the cows creations that then meander into nothing. Flagging exists in some areas, however, the choice of green flagging is an interesting one and makes for some good sight exercise. The tread is there, however, and with due diligence can be followed. Worth the hike to see this beautiful area. This trail leads to the confluence of Dutra and San Carpoforo creeks. Apparently the Portola expedition camped out here in 1769. Near San C camp is a large midden meadow. Getting to San C Camp requires a couple of stream crossings. There are two camps, one is corralled with barb wire like Turkey Spring, anther can be found further down the trail closer to the creek.

Section: San C camp to Elk Camp

This section of trail can be a little tricky, as various use trails meander through the meadows and can make it hard to follow. Gorgeous oak forest and some steep climbs up the ridge yield incredible views. Keep eyes peeled for the green flags. Trail basically follows the meadowed ridge and then down towards the base of Jones mountain and the big red "pyramid" rock. Elk camp is just beyond. Funny little spot tucked away near the creek. If you find the frog ponds you know your on the right track.

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

Post by jpdoelman »

Date Hiked: September 29, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Second trip to find the trail head near Lottie Potrero. This time we (followed the map) persevered though dense, interlocked chamis, in a direct route down to the creek. We followed the creek until we intersected the trail which proceeds from Lottie Potrero, along wagner creek and downstream to the headwaters of san corporforo creek near Davis Canyon. On following the trail back toward Lottie potrero, we noted the trail is deeply ingrained into the soil in places indicating a very old path. The tread is good in places and poor in others. This trail is not horribly brushy, but it is difficult to follow and should be taken by parties that are interested in challenging route.

NOTE: According to my observation and limited mapping abilities, the wilderness-press map and the vwa map do not properly locate the beginning 1/2 mile of this route (from lottie protrero downward). When attempting to find the beginning of the trail it is necessary to not follow the ridgeline as shown on the map, but proceed more down-slope-toward the SSE to find some cairns and a joyful water source.

We are planning to kayak the San Corporforo, putting in at davis canyon and proceeding to the ocean!
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Re: San Carpóforo Trail (Last 1/2 Mile Of)

Post by John Doe »

Date Hiked: April 18, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Note: This is for the very last section of the San Carpojo trail. The section on the valley floor once you leave the fire-jeep road to the Baldwin Ranch.

Last week I attempted to hike the end the San Carpojo trail.

Leaving the jeep road at the second "Trail" sign, you travel through a beautiful meadow to cross SC creek. The creek was knee deep & I had to go barefoot to get thru it. Perfect amount of water running thru there right now. After crossing the creek you cross another pretty meadow - the tread is not very clear with all the new grass growth but it's easy to figure out. After that, the trail goes into dense thistles (these were definitely thistles & not the fabled head-high Stinging Nettles). I had to break trail thru the thistle for about 25 yards. After that, I came to an area where I could see 100+ yards more of these dense, 6' high, uber-potent thistles. It didn't look like anyone had been thru there in some time. I broke trail thru them for about 10 yards before giving up. I had serious welts on my arms & they were beginning to burn even though I was breaking trail with my boots. I could see the gully/warn area of the trail beneath so I was pretty sure I was on the "trail".

In my opinion you would need a straight shaft gas-powered weed whacker, with a the metal brush blade, leather chaps and a face mask to get thru these thistles. I couldn't find any alternative route that wasn't overgrown & had significant P.O.. I did not make it to Carpojo camp. Plenty of water along the way & it was beautiful :D

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

Post by jack_glendening »

Date Hiked: December 11, 2011
General Condition: Passable

Re John LeBlanc's excellent Trail Report below, the Google Earth image of Oct 2007 clearly shows the trail going on the north side of the brush, i.e. along the USFS route - so the re-routing occurred at some later date. I've included both the current route and the USFS route in the trail route on my Ventana Trailmap (the latter having a break in the middle to distinguish it).
Big Sur Trailmap:
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Re: San Carpóforo Trail (aka Spruce Creek, Dutra Flats)

Post by jbl »


Jack Glendening and I took this trail to get an accurate GPS read of it. The only apparent damage from the recent wind event was a small tree down (and easy to get over) about 1/8 mile from where the trail begins at the Salmon Creek Trail [I believe the large pine(?) that's down in this pic has been here a while; it is easy to walk under]:
1. SECTION: SALMON CREEK TRAIL JUNCTION TO SPRUCE/DUTRA SADDLE: Clear to Wilderness Freeway. This is in about the best condition I've seen it in for many years. There is very little of the usual encroaching (at all levels) poison oak than I've seen in the past.

2. SECTION: SPRUCE/DUTRA SADDLE TO DUTRA FLAT CAMP: Wilderness Freeway. The trail is easy to follow right now (on other occasions I've found the trail hard to find because of how grassy it is and the fact that there may be confusing cow trails). There was a group of cows grazing in the big meadow before where the trail drops down a small gully to the level where Dutra Flat is:
The pipe was flowing at Dutra Flat camp:
I've noticed an evolution of the enclosure at Dutra Flat Camp--it is now much bigger (having been extended (by about double) to the east (left in this picture) and also a bit to the south (the back in this picture)):
3. SECTION: DUTRA FLAT CAMP TO TURKEY SPRINGS CAMP: Passable (due to trail-finding issues; no issues with brush) to Clear. As noted by others, there tend to be some confusing cow trails and use trails (usually to viewpoints) that can take you off track. Jack and I were following the USFS GPS track (which was accurate for this section) and therefore were able to stay on track, but we saw a few spots where hikers might have been led astray. There was a herd of cows grazing on one of the meadows in this section, and we passed closely under the watchful eye of one of them:
Turkey Springs Camp was in good shape but clearly the picnic table is getting into its golden years:
4. SECTION: TURKEY SPRINGS CAMP TO JUNCTION WITH BALDWIN RANCH ROAD: Passable (due to trail-finding issues; no issues with brush): In this section, there are a number of flags and cairns along the way and it pays to look for them. There was one particularly troublesome spot in a meadow about 2/3 mile before the Baldwin Ranch Road junction. As you drop (on a contour going slightly to your right) into a medium sized meadow the track you are on goes straight across the meadow to another meadow you can see ahead but seems to then peter out in the grass (I'll call this the Straight Track); the USFS GPS track shows the trail veering left at this point and wrapping around a brushy section that's below you to the left and then continuing in the same general direction as the Straight Track, and we found clear evidence of a trail with a nice bench in places along this route but with gaps in the grassy parts, and we followed it as it curved around the brush and crossed a creek and we continued to follow this but we soon (about 1/8 mile further along) reached a spot where a more prominent trail came in from the right, and we walked this backwards and confirmed that this was in fact the continuation of the Straight Track (which we found was partially flagged and cairned, so it appears that at some point the trail was rerouted slightly from the USFS-mapped route). The below shows the detail for this section (with the USFS GPS alternative shown in red and the Straight Track shown in blue):
[I apologize for the fact that the countour lines on the map shown above don't appear to align properly with the track as recorded on my GPS; if you look closely you'll see that the track should be slightly to the right relative to the contour lines]

The below is essentially the same map, with the tracks overlaid onto Google Earth (and with the view having been zoomed in) so that you can see where the brush is and how the two alternative routes get around it:
We added some more flagging in this area to make the current use track (Blue) more obvious.

Once the two alternative tracks reconnect on the east, the trail begins to descend down to the junction with the Baldwin Ranch Road, and is relatively easy to follow for the rest of the way (with a flag or two to guide you through one of the drainages that you cross shortly after the tracks reconnect).

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

Post by gfelsman »

Date Hiked: June 18, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

22 of us hiked this trail on Saturday to Dutra Flat and back. The weather was perfect as the skies cleared just before we hit the first saddle. There were no bugs or ticks to speak of as we hiked this trail. It was cool though.

The trail itself is passable to clear. As one turned onto this trail from Salmon Creek Trail, the tread was easy to follow with lots of encroaching poison oak on the first mile and a half of this trail. The large tree that has been across this trail for years has poison oak growing on top and along the back side. We cleared some of it. At the time of this writing there are no deadfalls across the trail. The trail is beginning to close it and could use some work.

The trail at Spruce Creek Slide is reasonable shape. Not covered in brush.

All and all it was a pleasant hike with lots of flowers. Grass is still realatively green at Dutra Flat.

Shorts are not recommended on this trail, lots of knee high PO in many places.

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