Miller Canyon Trail

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Joined: Wed May 08, 2019 7:50 pm

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by taylor »

Date Hiked: May 7, 2019
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

The Forest Service has posted a sign at China Camp indicating the Miller Canyon Trail is lost or impassable.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by Alison »

Date Hiked: February 9, 2019
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

We attempted this trail via Carmel River trail to see how far we could get. We soon discovered the answer: not far. We maybe got a 1/4 mile on the "trail" before giving up. There's nothing there besides some game trails that appear and disappear.
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amy patten
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by amy patten »

Date Hiked: August 30, 2017
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

A report on trail conditions received from Brian Rowlett from August 2017. Most of the Miller Canyon Trail is difficult to impassable. Brian conducted this trail survey as a USFS volunteer and was approved to enter the Soberanes Fire closure area for the survey.
Miller Canyon Notes:

From the end of Jeffery Road to Carmel River Trail intersection

(0.2) First tread issue was .2 miles from trailhead - 100 ft of washout

(.07) Then mostly good until .5 miles where they were a few more short sections of tread washout (either undercut or buried from slides). The tread is never really "good" it is always a bit rough and uneven/broken.

(1.0) Just past some unnamed use camp (fire ring) the tread worsened. Hard to follow the trail as missing sections of tread become longer and the brush/grass gets thicker. Previous flagging helped in this section.

(1.5) About .5 miles past the use camp, the tread was mostly not there, and not much flagging to rely on. You have to follow the GPS track here closely to stay on trail. Following the GPS you discover islands of tread that are mostly intact, but quickly they are gone again.

(1.8) The lost tread becomes more problematic after another .3 miles as the hillside gets steeper - some scrambling here in loose/steep soil. Conditions persist on and off through the first half of mile 2.

(2.75) The second half of mile 2 though mile 3 the poor conditions deteriorate further. There is no differentiation between the tread - if you can find any - and animal tracks. Steep canyons here probably cause enough GPS tracking error here that even close monitoring of the GPX track provided little help. We may have missed some sections of tread that were really here are it was hard to stay on trail.

(4.0) There is one longer island of tread here that is welcome relief - maybe a whole quarter mile of walking on the actual tread.

(5.0) Basically the conditions keep getting worst and hit bottom as you approach mile 5 where you face the steepest/loosest scramble of the day. And then no obvious way back down to the river and Miller Camp.

(5.0) Miller Canyon Camp - is a welcome site. Up to this point we have not encounter any big obstructions on the trail except a couple downed Oak where we had to cut though the canopy with clippers to make a path. The issue up to this point is the trail itself - not a lot of saw work.

We periodically find the tread as we head downstream toward Clover Basin Camp. But at least half the time we are in the river or bushwhacking on the slope along the river.

(5.5) Clover Basin Camp - past here we are walking the river more often than not. Much of the low part of the trail much have been washed way or covered by the water from heaver winter rains. Very slow going for almost 2 miles.

(7.5) We are out of the river most of the time now finding more and more tread sections on both sides of the river all the way to Bluff Camp.

(8.0) From Bluff Camp, Carmel River trail looks like a wilderness freeway to is at this point.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by Elena »

Date Hiked: July 4, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

This is update to my previous post regarding 2.3 miles section of the trail, from Carmel River to Clover Basin camp.
First about 1/2 mile trail has plenty of poison oak alongside, but not too tall. After that, trail opens up, follows creek past some interesting cliffs and not too overgrown. At about 1 mile the trail climbs higher up along southern side of the creek and, for about 1/2 mile it is more or less clear, with some good views of the canyon ahead.
At about 1.5 miles trail returns to the creek. From here to Clover Basin we were walking through dense thickets of ferns, berry vines, poison oak and other brush.
With help of flags, and watching for subtle signs of trail we followed it without problems. And since it is along the creek, there was no chance to get lost.
Camped at Clover basin: million mosquitos in the evening.

I made some video recording along the way. It is a little shaky, but will work for the purpose of showing trail condition.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by Elena »

Date Hiked: June 18, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked from China Camp trailhead down to Clover Basin, camped by Miller Canyon camp and hiked back up next day. Great trip, when I have more time, will go again for the loop hike, returning along Carmel river and Pine valley.
This review is for Miller Canyon trail between China Camp and Miller Canyon Camp.
Route is marked with tape. The trail is faint, but it is there. On the way down it was pretty obvious where to go. However, when going up, I lost trail couple times, but since I knew that it is there, it was not a big problem, and take long to find it back.
Few places where trail, very narrow, contours a steep hillside over loose soil.
Few places (3 or may be 4 ) where fallen trees blocking trail. One very large (3+ feet in diameter). I manage to go over it on the way down, but going up I had to make my way around it through poison oak.
Lost of poison oak. Out of 5 miles between Jeffrey Road and Miller Camp, for at list one full mile I was surrounded by poison oak.
It was brushing against knees, shoulders and occasionally overhanging, so it was brushing against my hat as well.
Since I am well aware that poison oak is unavoidable there, I wear protective clothing (including gloves and bandana on my face) and bring spare clothing when backpacking in Ventana.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by alexmsf »

Date Hiked: June 12, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Previous posts were dead-on. We headed up to China Camp and although we faced curtains of poison oak and negotiated multiple fallen branches, those ribbons were super reassuring and kept us on the sometimes very faint trail. We did have to hunt a few times as some ribbons had fallen off (we retied those) but always ended up back on track somehow. We camped at the Nason Cabin site where there was just about enough water to filter from the creek. Other than a couple of creek puddles, that was the last place we saw water. Ironically, it was once we popped out of the final thicket where no more ribbons or signs were to be seen, that we took a wrong turn. We followed the last few hundred feet of the clear trail onto private land through a gate and onto a Jeep road. Somehow we ended up climbing too high and too soon, and joined Tassajara Road by the junction to Mira Observatory, a mile and a half up the road from China Camp. Still trying to figure that one out. Otherwise a beautiful though buggy trail, no trash or other people (hurrah!), very dry with lots of wildflowers, grass seeds and stickers, butterflies, birds, evidence of meals (piles of feathers and fur), deer, squirrels and a rattesnake or two. Amazing vistas from ridges and across meadow areas.
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by randomtrailuser »

Date Hiked: May 8, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked up the trail to china camp. Lost it a few times and was thankful for the flagging... although even the flagging is sparse. I macheted a fair amount of PO and other brush to help with upkeep. Trail is fairly easy to follow in the trees... its the meadows that are problematic.

Saw plenty wildlife, and mtn lion scat, prints, and a even remains of last night's deer feast... right on the trail.
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Steve B
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by Steve B »

Date Hiked: May 11, 2016
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Volunteer Wilderness Rangers Re-flagged the Miller Canyon Trail from Jeffery Road (China Camp) to the Carmel River Trail May 11, 2016. The trail is very over grown and is in danger of becoming a lost trail. I would call this trail an ‘Adventure Trail’ it is difficult, overgrown, steep, and the poison oak is thick, if you are susceptible to catching Poison Oak I would avoid this trail. I must disagree with the last writer about the trail not being particularly scenic between China Camp and Miller Canyon Camp; I find the views of the Miller Fork of the Carmel River Spectacular, I think the trail is beautiful (but when we hiked it the wildflowers were in full bloom)
The cows that escaped during the Basin Fire in 2008 are still in the area and causing damage to the trail, the cows have made it all the way in to Hiding Camp. I had hoped the cows would have died by now but they must live a long time.
Again I would like to stress IF YOU LOSE THE FLAGGING ON THE TRAIL STOP AND FIND THE FLAGGING BEFORE YOU CONTINUE. The Sheriff Department contacted me about lost hikers in Miller Canyon and wanted the VWA to fix the trail but at this time flagging the trail is the best we can do with the current Forest Service funding and the difficulty of working volunteers in remote Miller Canyon.
If you are looking for an adventure where you won’t see another person and you are not too susceptible to poison oak I recommend this hike. Plus the more people that hike it the better the trail becomes.
Flagging the trail
Flagging the trail
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

Post by davidjohnbremer »

Date Hiked: March 28, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I would echo much of the report of the previous post. We traveled from China Camp to Carmel River Camp. The trail was not always easy to follow, and was very rough as though a cattle drive had passed through. The ribbon markers were a huge help. Long pants are an absolute must, as you travel through a seemingly endless forest of poison oak. I've never seen so much in my life. Lots of brush encroaching on the trail. This trail is not for the faint of heart, and frankly, until you get to Miller Canyon Camp, is not particularly scenic. From there to Carmel River Camp the trial is pleasant. Not much water between China Camp and Miller Canyon Camp.
Daniel S
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Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:57 pm

Miller Canyon Trail via China Camp

Post by Daniel S »

Date Hiked: March 21, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

First off i just want to say, if you are wishing to travel this trail have prior experience in this region! Knowing the general geography was an immense help to us, if you have not hiked this area before I would have to recommend against traveling the Miller Canyon. Being able to identify the surrounding mountains and ridges is a must. Moving on, the tread is very faint to non existent for much of this trail, however you can often see where the ground is slightly lower through the bushes and grass, along with the pink flagging (thank you to whomever put it up!) we were able to stay true to the trail. It seems cows and other animals use this trail as well, resulting is game trails running off of the main trail until Miller Canyon Camp. Between the Nason cabin site and miller canyon camp cows have walked along the trail after a rain resulting in constant holes along the trail, making the opportunity for a rolled ankle or a tumble off the cliff very present, watch your step. Some poison oak encroachment which at this point in time was navigable with minimal bushwacking, however in a couple months I could see it being a much more serious problem. Some deadfalls but we were able to get around them. The miller creek is running strong at this point in time. After reaching Miller Canyon Camp the trail becomes much easier to follow. We stayed at Clover Basin and moved on the next day, there are a good amount (around 10 or so) of river crossing between Clover Basin and the Carmel River trail, but the trail becomes much more obvious as you continue. The pink flagging was present from the start up until the end, giving us reassurance that we had not wandered off trail. Follow the flags! Beautiful trail that I will most definitely be taking again some day! The one piece of advice i must give is not to leave the trail, the trail was often obvious when standing on it but from 10ft away was invisible. Stay on the trail and follow the flags.
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