Church Creek Trail

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Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Hydro-Logic »

Date Hiked: September 7, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Tassajara Road to Church Ranch Road

Tread well defined with a few loose spots but about 50% of the trail has encroaching brush and good amount of poison oak. We wore shorts and short sleeves and got pretty scratched up. I most likely would wear at least pants of not long sleeves also.

Maybe 3 or so dead falls that were easy to go over/under

Stagnant water at wildcat camp but a nice steady flow from a spring? about 3/4 of a mile from wildcat toward Church Ranch. It was upper 90's and not much breeze so this was a very welcome stop to drench the head and back. If needed this could be filtered.
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Church Creek Trail

Post by mikesplain »

Date Hiked: October 13, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section- Church Creek Divide (Pine Ridge Trail junction) to Church Ranch Road-
Quite a bit of encroaching brush along this stretch, with a couple unnecessary detours to be avoided.
Staying on course is not difficult though; ample water was available in Church Creek despite this year's drought conditions.
A new sign attached to an oak warns hikers to stay on trail and not camp on private property for the next 2 miles,
but by my GPS, the sign is ~1 mile northwest of the ranch boundary, and thus well within public lands.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by scrachelm »

Date Hiked: September 29, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail in great condition overall!Thanks trail crew! As with all trails there was very minor brush growing over trail, a few downed trees, few double trails, but I'd call that great. Sign at Church Rd burnt however and at first I wasn't positive that was the turnoff (though there were a few ribbons). Getting a new sign that says "trail" or something would be helpful. Camped at Wildcat. Lots of fun critter activity-birds, deer, squirrels+/but only had to shoo something (probably a curious hog) away once in the middle of the night. Agree with earlier post, that water at Wildcat is less than desirable, but with a bucket it was possible to scoop some up to pump (plus there are not a lot of other great water options until you get to Marble Peak Creek if headed south). This was the highlight of my 4-day Arroyo Seco-based 40 mile solo loop.
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Betsy M
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Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Betsy M »

Date Hiked: September 7, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section: Tassajara Road to Church Ranch Road

The Church Creek Trail is clear and easily followed along the entire section between Tassajara Road and the Ranch driveway. There is some brush growing up around your knees in a few places, but there are no deadfalls and no major obstacles. It is apparent that hikers have been using the trail, and this really helps make the route more obvious in the meadow areas. There was water at Wildcat Camp, barely. As noted previously, the many dead, standing trees at Wildcat should make you think twice about camping there. There was a good flow of water at the creek between the Wind Caves and the Ranch Road.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by kaleek »

Date Hiked: August 31, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Headed down Church Ranch rd to the caves. Hot, humid and swarms of relentless black flies. Spent an hour or so shooting (photos) at the caves then headed up toward the Divide. Church Creek was flowing well down at the caves but soon disappears, as does the trail, within a mile or so of the Divide. I sort of knew what to expect so I brought along my machete, which came in handy but was useless for the most part. Most of the overgrowth is around 6 or 7 feet high and there were a couple of times when I took the wrong 'trail', but both times ended up back on the main trail. I think the heat made this part of the trip more difficult than it would have been otherwise. Finally made it to the Divide with less than a pint of water left, and that got me by until I reached Pine Valley camp. The river was not flowing down in Pine Valley but I was happy to share what was available with old Jack's horses. Spent a very warm night in P.V. All-in all a good trip, and I am so glad I packed my bug net, which I wore more often than not.

[Editor: a machete is not only ineffective on the type of brush in the Ventana, it is downright dangerous. When the blade is sharp enough to slice through brush, it can just as easily slice through skin. A small slip is all it takes to open up your leg, thigh, or arm. And the long stubs left by machetes not only are a hazard to the hikers that follow you, they often resprout vigorously. VWA trail crews do not use these tools.]

Re: Church Creek Trail Pine Ridge-Church Creek Road

Post by Kyle »

Date Hiked: May 5, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

There are several reports this season for the southern stretch of this trail, I don't see any for the northern part, which we did out and back. Trail down from Divide with Pine Ridge quickly disappears in brush - mostly buckbrush - up to 8' high at times - and proceeds to wind its way - faintly - downhill playing hide-and-seek. Its a little tricky to follow some of it - the brush is thick and tall in stretches, and the trail thin and faint - plus there are several dead end side trails left from lost hikers which look to all the world as valid and well-worn as the trail itself. This seems to happen esp. in the grass, where there are section where tread disappears and you follow only the path of beaten grass footsteps. We got lost twice, both on the way back. Trail winds back and forth through brush and sloping meadows, until finally getting more defined for the bottom half or so as it drops down towards the Caves/Church Creek Road. Side creeks had some water in it - Church Creek was wonderfully verdant and high - spotted 5 California newts in one pool alone. Side trail to the Caves was ultra rewarding, in fine shape for a use trail. Ticks and poison oak to be expected.
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Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by RSIBryce »

Date Hiked: April 10, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Tassajara Road via Horse Pasture Trail to Church Ranch Road

Good signage at the intersection of the road lets you know to go left, south west along the road to find the beginning of the Church Creek Trail. Encroaching brush, poor tread and deadfalls across the trail in several spots, but well flagged and followable. We made it to Wildcat for the night just as it got dark, having started our day at the Arroyo Seco Gorge parking lot, and were a bit spooked by all the standing dead alders around camp. Crossing our fingers as we went to bed after a hearty dinner, we hoped we wouldn't wake to one falling on us in the middle of the night in the gusty winds. Probably not a smart place to camp at this point due the possible falling hazard.

We woke and hiked on to the Church Ranch road. Passable trail though a little brushy (as much of it is especially now the spring) and some deadfall along the trail, but nothing too inhibiting and flagging along the way. Absolutely gorgeous rolling oak meadowlands in the valley. Saw two golden eagles overhead when we reached the Church Road!

Amazing area, we continued on to the Church Creek Divide after some exploration. The trail follows along the oak woodland meadowlands and flagged as it begins to climb towards the Divide from the ranch, some meandering use trails exist, and in the midday heat we missed a flag and ended up doing a little bushwhack to re-find the trail towards the Divide through a not-so-fun section of chaparral. At the Divide we ate lunch, afterwards we witnessed a fox running up the trail from Pine Valley and take a left east onto the Pine Ridge trail with a lunch of its own hanging from the mouth.

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by bigsurnut »

Date Hiked: March 23, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

This is a clear and gorgeous trail. There were just one or two spots near a river where the trail was a bit unclear, but it's easy to find if you look around.
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Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Rob »

Date Hiked: November 23, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Some brush here and there. The tread has greatly improved, thanks to all who worked on this trail ! The sandstone formations are always a treat.

The gully that had washed out the trail seemed to have been filled in with sticks and large branches. That works too :)

Wildcat Camp had a new metal sign, with plentiful water nearby.
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Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by jack_glendening »

Date Hiked: November 3, 2012
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

For the section from Church Ranch Road south to Tassajara Road trailhead:

It is a pleasure to hike this trail now, when the tread is evident, in contrast to my last hike along this trail. I went both ways and found a few places where there were Ys with two tread choices, possibly some deer trails, so flagged the correct choices. The most curious was one where the straight-ahead path through the grass looked to be the correct route (left in photo below), not the route going upslope (to right in photo) - but a branch lay across the straight-ahead route, often a sign that the path should _not_ be taken. After determining that the straight-ahead route was indeed correct, I moved the branch over to block the upslope route.

My thanks to all who worked to make the trail more enjoyable.

Y with branch blocking correct route
Y with branch blocking correct route
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