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Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

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Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby jbl on Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:05 pm

Let me put my 2 cents in. I've hiked all of these various routes a number of times and trust me, anything that involves either "Buckshank Ridge" (which connects the Buckeye Trail where it crosses between the Villa Creek and Redwood Gulch drainages up to the Silver Peak Road about 1/4 mile southeast of Silver Peak) or the Soda Wildtrail is not for the faint of heart or for anyone not armed with a very accurate GPS track. In fact, on my last time when I did a clockwise route from the Cruikshank Trailhead to the Soda Springs Trailhead via Buckshank Ridge up to the Silver Peak Road and then back down via the Soda Wildtrail, and even though I'd been there several times and had my GPS tracks, I had much trouble finding my way through the Soda Wildtrail section in the area behind (on north side of) what I call the Chert Peaklet (which is the rocky peaklet at ~2,600' that is above Buckeye Camp. It had gotten terribly overgrown, and this year's rains have, I am sure, made it that much worse.

Your much better route is the clockwise route of Cruickshank Trailhead up Cruikshank Trail to Lions Den (with side trip, if you like, to Silver Peak to sign the summit register) and then back down the Salmon Creek Trail to Highway 1 (with car shuttle set up, or alternatively to then hike from Salmon Creek Trailhead over to Buckeye trailhead and take Buckeye Trail across to the Cruikshank Trail and then down to Highway 1 on that).

Whatever you do, please provide a trail report!
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Re: Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby Juggernaut on Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:56 am

Dear Mcarey,

Your name will be heralded in the halls of the VWA if you can pull of the traversal of the seldom travelled. Wild Soda route. Should you manage the buckshank ridge you will be a legend.
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Re: Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby toejam on Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:41 am

I believe the route indicated with the red line question mark is referred to as "Buckshank Ridge" and the reports I've read sound gnarly. You can see a use trail leading up from the bottom (Buckshank Saddle on the Buckeye Trail between Buckeye Meadow and Cruickshank camps), but there is no sign of it from the top of Silver Peak.

Soda Wild Trail is doable for those confident in routefinding and willing to bushwhack. I had no trouble following it in 2017, and a friend did it a few months ago. The old road to Silver Peak from the north is clear, but south of the summit is quite brushy. There should be water at the use camp. The Soda Wild Trail starts as a tight, brushy trail and turns into a tunnel as you cross a couple hundred yards of thick brush. You emerge at a big rock outcrop (Soda 2), and it's an easy hike downhill through meadows to the Buckeye Trail. The brushy section is much shorter than the Buckshank Ridge.

Check the satellite images and get the bigsurtrailmap.net gpx file.
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Re: Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby jack_glendening on Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:09 am

The "wildtrail" has that name for a reason. Originally established and named by its creator, a founder of the VWA, to make loop hikes such as yours possible, it has become overgrown due to lack of use and maintenance. It used to be very prominent in GoogleEarth but now not so. The last group I know of went through in 2014. I have heard of individuals such as Jim Ringland getting through since then, but they have been few and it was an adventure. In your direction, the difficult part begins from just beyond Silver Peak Usecamp - it is a half-mile section of once-broken brush which has filled in, until you reach a rocky chert peak (with a nice view), which one circumvents along its north side then easily descends through grass along a ridgeline.

A spirit of adventuresomeness and route finding skills are required since it is not a nice beaten track. The route through the brushy section should be mostly apparent via broken/cut branches but necessitating pushing though or crawling under the brush will be needed in places . Jim's experience is a good guide. Personally I would recommend carrying a GPS with accurate route loaded to decrease any frustration of indecision. And a short pair of loppers could help. Would be much more difficult for a backpacker with large pack so would not recommended that unless you are into increasing the "level of difficulty" of the achievement!

In short, doable for the adventurous, especially those experienced and willing to deal with wilderness hiking, but not for the typical hiker unused to overgrown trails.

Mike Splain's suggestion of hiking counter-clockwise more easily allows discontinuing the loop if you find it is more than you expected. But if you are bound-and-determined to do the loop the opposite direction is preferable since the stone chert peaklet is a more easily seen objective than is Silver Peak Usecamp (the two ends of the difficult section).

BTW, there is a backstory behind the second trail you mention. A SilverPeak-knowledgeable hiker and explorer (not me) led a loop hike to Silver Peak which included that bushwhacking section - in the group was someone who likes to put things on OpenStreetMap, the more the better ("quantity not quality") - hence, afterward, a new OSM "trail" line appeared.

Jack Glendening
Big Sur Trailmap: https://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby Jim Ringland on Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:48 am

I was up there last spring. I did a long dayhike out of Villa Creek Camp: south to Buckeye Camp continuing on the trail to the ridge south of camp, east on the cross-country stretch to the Silver Peak road/dozer cut, north past Silver Peak to the Crickshank Trail, then down the Crickshank Trail. (So I was going counter-clockwise.) Conditions on the dozer cut and cross-country section are pretty much as others have indicated. Let me just add a few notes. On the cross-country stretch, I used my GPS following Dr. Jack's map in several places to find the route: sometimes was there was an identifiable use trail on the ground but often not. The route mixes open ground, a very rocky section (I did easy scrambling) near the top of peak 2866 (what your map lables "Soda2"), and some brushy sections. Silver Peak Camp, at least as of April 18, 2018, had a decent flat bedsite, a long-unused fire ring, and nearby water. The turn off from the road/dozer cut to the use trail toward Silver Peak Camp may be hard to identify without GPS guidance if doing the route clockwise. Last year it just looked like a partly-open gully, and after this wet year it's probably even more filled in than it was. There's a register at the summit of Silver Peak. The dozer cut/road is quite follow-able, but it has filled in in places so you will need to poke around occasionally to find how to continue.

I saw no evidence of that that second trail you indicated. As Mike noted, some maps have trails that the don't exist any more (if they ever did).

Late addition: Silver Peak Camp is a responsible place to camp if you go. It's a bit away from the creek and on a "hard" flat.
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Re: Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby mikesplain on Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:08 am

That's definitely not a trail, nor are several other lines on this map. (One of the more common Search & Rescue destinations is Villa Creek, where hikers attempt to descend the creek below the camp using the very NE>SW line depicted here.) The only sure-fire alternative is the Salmon Creek Trail.
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Re: Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby mcarey on Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:31 pm

Thank you gfelsman and mikesplain for the replies!
I've also recently found this trail map from another site, but not sure this even exists as it's the only one with a reference to it (indicated with red line question mark).

Do you guys know if this even exists, or could be another alternative if 'Soda Wildtrail' is not passable?

Thank you again!
Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 7.20.11 PM.png
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Re: Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby mikesplain on Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:47 am

Your proposed loop involves cross-country travel. Part of the "use trail" is an old dozer line (possibly scraped in during the 1985 Rat/Gorda fires?) The other "trail" is not a trail, just bushwhacking across open country & picking the least painful passage through shrublands. It's probably do-able with a light pack (& sturdy clothing) but were it me, I'd attempt this "counter-clockwise" to avoid disappointment, & assume that Silver Peak Camp is a lost/unusable historic camp. Ticks will be abundant in spring. Travel safe, leave no trace, & please do not establish new campsites or post sensitive off-trail locations on social media.
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Re: Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby gfelsman on Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:12 am

Getting to Silver Peak is doable past that. I have no clue. Cruickshank Trail is clear from bottom to top.
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Help Wanted! Loop through Silver Peak

Postby mcarey on Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:04 pm

Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 9.53.40 PM.png
Hello -
I am looking to hike a loop through Silver Peak:

Start: Buckeye Trailhead from Hwy 1 (adjacent to Salmon Creek TH)
2) Merge East onto Cruikshank Trail to Silver Camp
3) Continue East on Cruikshank toward Lions Den Camp
4) Merge South/West onto Silver Peak UseTrail toward Silver Peak Camp
5) Merge West onto Soda WildTrail toward Buckeye Trail
6) Merge South/East onto Buckeye Trail back to Trailhead

Conditions reports can be found recently for Buckeye and Cruikshank - but I've not been able to get much information on the Silver Peak UseTrail to Silver Peak Camp, and I have found very little on "Soda WildTrail".

Is this loop passable? Any help is appreciated for more information on items #4 and #5 in particular.

Thank you in advance. I hope this is the right forum!
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