Church Creek Trail

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Betsy M
Posts: 437
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Betsy M »

Date Hiked: October 8, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Tassajara Road to Church Ranch Road

The major issues described by several posters have been resolved and the difficult sections flagged. There is still an odd section of trail that goes straight up (or down, depending on your direction of travel) a knife-edge ridge. But the continuing section that appeared to be the real trail has become overgrown so at least the choice at this junction will not lead you astray. Much effort has gone into repair of this trail, with brush cut back, fallen trees removed, and questionable sections flagged. However, there are still many brushy sections and hikers would be well advised to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

When we hiked this trail there was water at Wildcat Camp, and also the small stream midway between Wildcat and the Ranch Road was flowing well. The sandstone outcrops are as beautiful as ever.
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Organicfarmgirl

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Organicfarmgirl »

Date Hiked: July 9, 2012
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Parked on S. Tassajara Rd.
Entered Church creek trail to Bruce Church Ranch. rd.
after wind caves, about 1/2 mile or so the trail becomes more difficult to follow we lost it twice then relocated, upon crossing a small creek ( trickle ) the trail was gone we could see the road at one point off in the distance , and headed by sight navigation toward it. due to extreme heat and no trail this accent was very difficult. with out a map and compass this would have been pretty bleak. it was 98 in the shade I was thinking 104-110F with full exposure. When I read a previous post referring to this part trail as the Bermuda Tiangle I agree completely! TOPO map looks like 3.5 miles turned to be 6.6 What we thought was going to be a fun little hike turned into 8 hours tell someone where your going if your heading in this way bring lots water head lamp layers you may be spending longer than you think. when we got to,Tassajara two of the Monks said they got lost in there as well. the trail has not been used much since the fires and is over grown.
Peace
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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 5, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section: Tassajara Road to Church Creek Ranch Road

The trail is essentially clear from Tassajara Road north to Wildcat Camp. The biggest problem is a washout just south of camp where one has jump 3-4 feet down into a dry gully and then climb back out. On this first section, I met two folks from the Zen Center who told me that the section from Wind Caves to the Church Creek Ranch Road was pretty bad. They told me that two of their folks had gotten lost there in April. Read on. The route finding issues that others have written about here – and that Schaffer described in his 1987 book – are still here.

Wildcat camp has a fire ring, a stove, a nice bedsite, plus lot of big logs to sit on where one can listen to the multitudes of sounds the stream makes as it runs by. The only down check is that many of the trees overhead have burned.

Immediately north from Wildcat, the trail remains good, but there's more brush to push aside than south of camp. Then the trail hits its first grassy meadow. Here, as was to be the case for the rest of this segment, the trail was either faint or invisible in the grass. Early on, the grassy sections are small and one can find the trail again pretty easily when it ducks back into the chaparral. About a half mile out from Wildcat, there's a chaparral-covered saddle with sandstone rising on each side – is this the Wind Caves? – which gives a view ahead to some much larger meadows and the Church Creek Ranch area. The next half mile is OK but then the route finding gets harder. There are deadfalls in generally grassy sections where it is hard to find the trail on the far side. I got sufficiently off the trail at one point that I pulled out the GPS (loaded with Jack Glendening's map) to find it again – not something I expect to do much. There was one creek crossing / deadfall combination that was a real mess. About 1-1/4 miles out from Wildcat, there was a dry stream bed where the trail is reassuringly marked by ducks, but then it was back to the grass-and-chaparral mix. After about 1/4 miles of that, I came to a quite large grassy meadow rising to another saddle. There was no trail I could see. I just headed up. From the top I could see over to the next big meadow where the Church Creek Road was. From here, the trail is mostly in grass over open ground or in scattered trees. There is one stream basin to cross, with some steep descents along the way. Then the fun concludes with the last ascent to the road, including one short but ridiculously steep pitch. My GPS recorded only about a mile of walking from that last grassy saddle to the Road, but it took an hour – 40 minutes if walking and a 20 minute break in the beautiful grassy/oakey stream basin bottom. I pulled out my GPS for guidance several times – a reliance on technology that I found a little disquieting – but it would probably have been quite possible to treat the section (heading northbound) as a cross-country traverse and not take a whole lot longer. Widely spaced flags help in spots. GPS in hand, my overall experience hiking this section was closer to "Passable" than "Difficult", but absent that guidance, the latter would definitely apply.

I then zoomed up the Church Creek Ranch Road and down Tassajara Road to my car at China Camp. That last 4+ miles, with just under 2000' of climbing, took just about the same amount of time – 2-1/2 hours (including breaks) – as it took to get from Wildcat to the Church Creek Ranch Road.
Salty fly
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:07 am

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Salty fly »

Date Hiked: March 3, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Church creek trail is in good shape from the four way with Carmel river trail and pine ridge trail, down to the ranch.From church ranch road, the trail becomes hard to find.not to far after church ranch road turns away from church creek there is an old burned 4x4 post with some hunters tape tied on it,we missed it the first time had to back track a little to find the trail.Once we were back on the trail the tread was faint to gone, it was hard to tell the trail from deer trails.The pink hunters tape lead the way. The tail was this condition all the way to wild cat camp. the trail improved some what from wild camp to Tassajara road.the trail was still fun, not to bad.This part of the trail was really ripped up by the fire,lots of dead falls but not that hard to get around.All in all it is still great country,if we dont use it we lose it.

Bryan
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Akaleek
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:10 pm
Location: Monterey, California

Re: Church Creek Trail. Tassajara rd to the Wind Caves

Post by Akaleek »

Date Hiked: February 4, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Parked on Tassajara road and walked a couple of miles down to the trailhead heading North to the Wind Caves. Within a few minutes I came across a cluster of deadfalls which I was able to scramble over after breaking off a few of the burned branches. The remainder of the trail was ok with a little encroaching brush in some places and a couple of spots where the tread was faint or washed out. This end of the trail doesn't appear to have had much use in recent months. Crossed 2 or 3 creeks that were flowing and a couple that were totally dry. A beautiful day to be out on the trail :D
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trolleypup
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Location: San Francisco, CA
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Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by trolleypup »

Date Hiked: December 19, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Tassajara Road to Wind Caves

Generally in decent condition. One large dead pine on the trail south of Lime Point, large sycamore across the camp area at Wildcat Camp (missed the fire ring). Brush and tread issue increase towards Wind Caves but are not major.
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Akaleek
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2011 8:10 pm
Location: Monterey, California

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Akaleek »

Date Hiked: November 26, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Left China Camp later than expected. The plan was to explore some of the rock formations on the west side of Church Creek but I didn't fancy driving back down Tassajara rd in the dark. It's bad enough in the daytime. Anyway, headed down Church Creek trail from the Divide. Lots of encroaching brush early on, wishing I'd packed my machete. Looked like Church Creek was flowing somewhat. Trail was easy to follow. Turned around after about 10 mins and headed back to China Camp. Beautiful day to be outside. Planning to go back again soon with tent, sleeping bag... and machete 8-)
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mikesplain
Posts: 660
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:15 pm

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by mikesplain »

Date Hiked: October 9, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

section- Church Ranch Road to Church Creek Divide-
wide open and easily travelled,
almost "wilderness freeway" but for a few detours around small deadfall
& a bit of encroaching brush.
This stretch of trail is much sunnier post-Basin Complex- lots of pine mortality
(watch for widow-maker branches if it's windy!)
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trolleypup
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Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:06 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
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Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by trolleypup »

Date Hiked: April 16, 2011
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Trail is in very good condition from the Tassajara Road to just short of Lime Point with brush removed and most tread issues addressed. From there to Wind Caves, tread is decent, brush is much reduced. All logs removed except for one low hanging stub just south of Lime Point.

From Wind Caves to the Church Ranch Road, the trail has been flagged and some deadfall has been removed.
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Rob
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: SJC

Re: Church Creek Trail

Post by Rob »

Date Hiked: February 11, 2011
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked from Tassajara Road to Pine Ridge Trail and found conditions to be much the same as below. There was some blowdown near the beginning, some requiring a little scrambling. Just before Wildcat Camp there is a spot where a gully has washed out the trail, but it isn't a showstopper for hikers yet.

As mentioned below, the trail is faint in some of the grassy areas north of the Wind Caves and south of Church Ranch Road. Some flags and cairns were present amid the game trails and use trails. Be wary around there.

Early-season wildflowers were blooming in places -- shooting stars, bush poppy and paintbrush, among them.
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