Ventana Wilderness Forums • Church Creek Trail - Page 2
Page 2 of 6

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 10:07 pm
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.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:27 pm
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.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:32 pm
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....

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Sun May 13, 2018 8:39 pm
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.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Sat May 05, 2018 9:37 pm
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.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:38 pm
by williamleiter
Date Hiked: April 7, 2018
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from Church Divide junction to Church Ranch road (start of the dirt road).

Trail was well-defined at the beginning and became less so as we neared the road. Some light brush encroaching on the trail, but nothing bad that wasn't easily pushed aside. Main issue was keeping track of the trail closer to where it meets the road. Lots of running water in this area.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:40 pm
by Megan Sebay
Date Hiked: February 18, 2018
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Church Creek trail is pretty clear from Church Ranch Rd. to Church Divide junction. It looked like someone had done a little maintenance in the past few months. There are a few areas where grass has obscured the tread, but it's flagged and fairly easy follow. There's intermittent water in the creek.

We walked the road back from Church Ranch so no report on the section from Church Ranch Rd. to Tassajara Rd., but glancing from the road it didn't look as well-defined.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:09 pm
by Mojave_Geek
Date Hiked: July 13, 2016
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked from the Divide down to the trailhead on the Tassajara Rd (car shuttle starting from China Camp). As with earlier reports I'll break it into parts. The Divide to the beginning of the open oak woodlands a bit outside the ranch, the trail was sketchy and overgrown, but limited PO and generally should be evident to one with some trail finding ability. Once in the grasslands and across the ranch property, the trail is a beautiful path with clear tread in the high grass - a foot wide passage that can't be missed. Lots of water in Church Creek at the one point the trail comes close to it. A bit of water flowing under the road bridge leaving the ranch near the Mesa.

The magic starts on the other side of the Mesa when you leave the ranch road. The trail is brand new! It seems to follow a slightly different track than the old trail. It has been extensively reworked: brushed wide, tread dug out and level, some retaining wall building. It continues thus to the first divide (from that side). Totally wonderful. After that the trail continues with clear tread, some overgrowth, and some small bits of unavoidable PO; not too bad, and I'm very shy about PO.

As you're nearing the end, just after a small camp, there is a surprisingly well constructed trail from the main trail to the road. There is a duck on the main trial but it is hard to see the side trail due to some branches. This is a first quality constructed trial, which comes out at a broad pull out / parking area just a mile marker 2.25. We came up this way and one in our party fetched the car. As an unofficial trailhead, this spot would shave about .7 miles from the main trail.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Mon May 02, 2016 12:42 pm
by pantilat
Date Hiked: April 29, 2016
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

The last conditions report from April 11, 2015 is still valid with a couple notes:
1. A considerable amount of grass growth (in the trail bed) this year has made the tread faint in the meadows and oak woodland as this trail does not receive much traffic (especially south of Church Ranch Road which has very faint tread).
2. Spring chaparral and riparian growth has made the brushy sections brushier (including the 1.5 mile section below Church Divide).
3. There are some ticks in the grass and chaparral (all the ticks I brushed off were Pacific Coast Ticks)

Re: Church Creek Trail

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:25 pm
by pantilat
Date Hiked: April 11, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I agree with prior conditions report but a few more specifics to add: The brushiest sections with very faint tread in spots are located on the 2.4 mile stretch from Wildcat Camp to the junction with the Church Ranch Road. The brush is growing in fast with some push throughs. The grass is also growing in the trail making the tread difficult to identify in spots. There are a few blowdowns. The final 1.5 miles to Church Divide also has some brush and a couple blowdowns, but I thought it was in comparatively better shape than the section south of Church Ranch as it appears this stretch of trail receives more use. The middle section of the trail that uses the Church Ranch Road and through the oak meadows above Church Ranch is clear/ wilderness freeway. Water is flowing in the Church Creek Creeklet and also at Wildcat Camp. Overall, the upper and lower portion of the trail are "passable" with some brush, faint tread and a few blowdowns while the middle section through the oak meadows and Church Ranch road is "clear."