Church Creek Trail

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Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by gfelsman »

Date Hiked: October 4, 2020
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

With the MRD Forest still closed. Volunteer VWA/USFS Rangers and trail crew worked on the Church Creek Trail near the Ranch driveway. They cleared 150 yards of trail and removed oak tree across the trail.

The forest will remain closed until the Dolan Fire is declared out.

Remember to do your part to help keep things nice. Pack out all your belongings and trash.

Leave your place nicer than when you found it. No Campfires of any kind.

Enjoy your travels

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by zenko »

Date Hiked: April 2, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from Tassajara Road up the Great Divide. No difficulty with the trail from the road to the Wind Caves, even the poison oak is keeping its distance. Sometime in the past week, a massive mushroomy oak (probably from 2008) fell over the trail just beneath the Wind Caves. It was so large that it obliterated the trail, one switch back, then another. The brush was too thick to try to try to mosey along the tread. I went up the grassy pasture and did some bushwhacking down to a little stream crossing the trail. From there to the end of Church Ranch Road, things were bright and clear. Some poison oak is reemerging after it was cleared by the trail crew, but it is still little.

I didn't manage to find the tread at the end of Church Ranch Road. There were two treads, neither looking very distinct. I went to the right, and ended up bushwhacking until I found a nice oak savanna to trek up. I aimed for the gap and hoped for the best. Ran into another hiker taking a breather and she brought me back to the trail. From there to the divide, there was flagging and some clear brush removal (thanks!) No more troubles.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by coyote »

Date Hiked: March 28, 2020
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

We hiked from Tassajara down the Church Ranch fireroad to The Caves. From here we took Church Creek Trail up to The Great Divide. We did some trail work with clippers and opened up a few sections. There are a few spots close to the great divide where it could be possible to get off trail, but hopefully our brush clearing made it more obvious which direction is correct!

Plenty of water in Church Creek!
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Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:32 am

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Sillyman56 »

Date Hiked: February 8, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from Tassajara Rd to the divide.

There were occasional brushy patches between Wildcat camp and Church ranch road, but not bad. I got turned around and missed a switchback just after Wildcat camp, but I backtracked and found it.

As the previous post says, the most difficult section was between the caves and the divide. It was very brushy at times, but not too difficult to push through. Tread became faint in brief sections and there were moments with use or animal trails that made it slightly confusing which way to go. I relied on my gps. Without it, I may have taken a wrong turn here or there and had to backtrack, but overall it wasn’t too bad.

Water was flowing in many small streams throughout the trail. Beautiful hike!
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Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:07 pm

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by AaronP »

Date Hiked: January 15, 2020
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Most of the trail is well maintained except for the few miles between the caves and the divide junction. As we passed the property by the caves it started to snow and the trail there was difficult to follow, probably easier in normal conditions.
Nic Stover

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Nic Stover »

Date Hiked: June 3, 2019
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked from Tassajara up. Church Creek road was just re-graded to the Homestead and a little past there. At the end of the road the trail was tough to find as the path was very faint. Stay to the left and start climbing up there.

The 1st half was nice. The last bit up to the ridge was tick infested, overgrown, and had a bit of deadfall. Someone(s) had recently cleared the Wildcat camp which was nice and parts of the 1st half of the trail had been cleared which made for easier going in place.

Final note is the Nat Geo map showed the distance at about 6 miles. It was every bit of 7 miles.
David Hirsch

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by David Hirsch »

Date Hiked: October 30, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The Church Creek Trail is mostly clear with a short brushy section between Wildcat Camp and the ranch driveway, and another brushy section and some deadfall between the ranch house and the Pine Ridge Trail.
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Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:23 am

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by hydrologic »

Date Hiked: June 3, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Very similar to previous report. The brushy section has gotten worse since last time we hiked it 5 weeks ago. The grass seeds are in the millions and sticking to socks and shoes like crazy. Poison oak is creeping in at certain spots. Tread is slumping a bit. Easy to follow, plenty of flags. Last 1/4 mile before the road has been grubbed and is in great shape. Water at wildcat, 1/4 mile past Wind Caves and 1/4 before road.

After the homestead the trail is mainly just high grass and some brush.. Tread is getting faint. Best solution is a weed whacker. One person could clear the trial in a day. Since power tools aren't allowed weeks of grubbing it shall be....

Church Creek is one of the bets and most scenic trails in all the Ventana. Would love to joina trail crew and rehab this beauty. It is brutally hot now and the bugs are horrible. Must wait til late fall to do any work here....
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Jim Ringland
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:02 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Jim Ringland »

Date Hiked: May 10, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked from the junction with Tassajara Road north to Wildcat Camp on the 10th. Then on the 11th I continued to the Church Ranch Road. (At that point I levitated up the Ranch Road to Tassajara Road and walked down to my car at the Pine Ridge Trailhead.)

Tassajara Road to Wildcat Camp: Clear

The trail from Tassajara Road to Wildcat Camp is clear. No trail issues. Lots of hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) in bloom. No water along the trail.

Wildcat Camp had lots water … really musical water as is danced over various rocks and little drops. The camp is not large and I had to pull a few California mugworts to fit in my tent. (Don’t worry, there were zillions in the area.) My guess is that the site gets more use by day hikers from Tassajara than by backpackers. Two came through as I was setting up. In 2012 when I was last here, the site was mostly open to the sky with a few burnt-out trees from the 2008 Basin Fire sitting just a little too close. Most of those trees are now down, and the site is in the shade of a couple of big white alders that either weren’t there or were inconspicuous saplings in 2012.

Just south of Wildcat, a use trail connects the Church Creek Trail with Tassajara Road. (Dr. Jack’s map at shows the spur coming off the Church Creek Trail and the top part, the Lime Point Use Trail, which connects a rocky outcrop with the road. He doesn’t doesn’t connect the two. They do.) Use Trails are typically beyond the scope of this forum, but I think this is a special case. This is not some rude path through the shrubbery. It is a highly constructed trail, with even grades, rock-reinforced switchbacks, and level tread. A little piece of Wilderness Freeway. It’s also not in the Ventana Wilderness. In fact, my National Geographic map shows this a private land. In any case, the net result is that there is an easy bail-out to the road if you need it … and an easy way for folks on the road to come down to Wildcat if they know about it and are up for a 300’ climb on the return. I didn’t see any impacts at Wildcat from day visitors when I was there, but it might be something for future wilderness visitors to watch for.

Wildcat Camp to Church Ranch Road: Passable

North from Wildcat, the trail remains clear for about a mile. The maintenance level is high: well pruned shrubs, cut and leveled trailbed when needed. But maybe 15 minutes beyond the wind caves area the good trail just stops. I, in fact, retracted my steps a ways to see if I had missed a switchback. The remaining 1-1/2 miles or so was mostly Passable: follow-able tread, some brush to push aside. There was one Difficult section about 1/4 mile after the Clear trail ended, just past the bottom of the valley the trail had been descending since the wind caves. Even with a GPS, I had to search around for flags. When I did, I found a route that required a bit of pushing through brush. The good news is that this whole bad section was only a few hundred feet long. Then it's back to Passable trail. Some of the later stretches are through meadows. Flags here generally provide adequate guidance, although if the meadow is small and surrounded by chaparral -– here mostly chamise -– one sometimes has to continue along the edge of the meadow a ways to find the next flag.
Tom N

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Tom N »

Date Hiked: April 28, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked the whole trail from the Pine Valley/Church Creek divide past Wildcat Camp to Tassajara Rd. From the divide the trail has some overgrown grass on the tread and a small section of brush tunnel but the trail is easy to follow and water was flowing in Church Creek soon after the start at the divide. All through the ranch property is clear and we said hi to Greg and Shay (the caretakers and hence a couple of the luckiest people I've ever met). South of the ranch the road section is clear and at the junction where the trail picks up again some recent grass clearing has made it obvious. Then the trail is easy to follow through the grass up to the wind caves and down to Wildcat Camp, Tassajara Rd junction. Water at Wildcat.
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