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Carmel River Trail

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby JeffBobMarin on Thu Jan 13, 2022 4:38 pm

Date Hiked: January 11, 2022
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Section Covered: From 2.75 miles west of Pine Valley Camp to Church Creek Divide Junction.

I camped at Pine Valley Camp on the night of 10Jan22. It was cold overnight with heavy frost on my tent in the morning. The camp site is excellent - lots of space and a great water source at the adjacent Carmel River.

The Carmel River Trail from Pine Valley Camp heading toward Hiding Canyon Camp has every trail condition from Wilderness Freeway for the first 1/2 mile through the meadow to Clear for a short distance then Passable to the peak and wooden gate. From there, heading downhill toward the river, the trail conditions are quite difficult - lots of overhanging brush and many dead tree falls. The trail was fairly easy to follow. It also helped that there were a few marking ribbons along the way. I was able to make it approximately 2.75 miles west of Pine Valley Camp where the Carmel River Trail became Impassable at a washout on a steep slope. At that point, I turned around and headed back to Pine Valley Camp.

From Pine Valley Camp to the Church Creek Divide junction, the trail varies between a Wilderness Freeway and Clear.
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Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby BG Rich on Thu Nov 11, 2021 5:50 am

Date Hiked: November 1, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

We hiked the Carmel River trail as part of our trip from China Camp to Ventana Double Cone November 1-3. We did the section from Pine Valley Camp to Hiding Canyon Camp. The first mile from Pine Valley Camp through the meadow was clear though the tread was light. There is a wooden gate that marks the end of the meadow and the beginning of the descent into Hiding Canyon. It was like entering through the gates of hell: a hell of faint tread, overgrown trail and thick poison oak. The trail completely disappeared on the climb from the river to the knob overlooking Hiding Canyon Campsite. It would have been very difficult to find the trail here without our GPS. As noted by a previous writer, there are some ribbons marking the trail coming down the initial section of the canyon which were helpful. This trail leaves the feeling that it's gradually being reclaimed by the wilderness. A previous poster noted an immunity to poison oak: we don’t have it and a week later, we’re both covered in rashes from head to toe. A biographical note for context: my partner and I are very fit, have 50+ years of backpacking experience between us and frequently choose routes that are "off trail" and require route finding. We found this to be a very challenging route. Hiding Camp itself was beautiful: nestled in the small canyon next to the river and had a nice picnic table. We left the mini bottle of scotch we found on the table for the next group.
BG Rich
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Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby DaveP on Tue Jun 01, 2021 4:24 pm

Date Hiked: May 21, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked China Camp to Los Padres Dam. China camp to Pine Valley is a wilderness freeway. Camped in Pine Valley.

Pine Valley to Hiding Camp is close to impassable. I am an experienced hunter and tracker, and have been on this trail before, so we got through without problem, but we met 2 parties in Pine Valley that had turned around due to the trail condition. I should also mention that our entire party was immune to poison oak which is a must after leaving Pine Valley. Checked out Round Rock camp site and Hiding Camp. Both are clear of brush but the trail to Round Rock is getting faint. I feel bad for not bringing a machete or pair of loppers, because this trail will be impassable next year if more maintenance is not done on it this summer.

Hiding Camp to Los Padres Dam is not a bad trail, but if you are allergic to poison oak you are going to want to stay off of it. There were multiple areas where you had to push your way through head high poison oak. There was not one river crossing where it was possible to boulder across with dry shoes, so either bring some water shoes to hike the river with, or accept hiking in wet boots.

Overall, we had a great time, but once again we were all immune to poison oak. The youngest in our party was 12, and the oldest was 50.

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby DorianVR on Tue Jun 01, 2021 9:07 am

Date Hiked: May 30, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Unavoidable poison oak overgrowth on trail, starting about 1/2 mile in from Pine Valley Camp. Many small deadfall trees and washed-out/fallen portions of trail. Trail condition would be near passable if a brush clearing job were done to clear the poison oak.
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Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby VWA Admin on Thu May 20, 2021 7:59 pm

Date Hiked: May 20, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Thanks for the report. Please note that access to the Los Padres Dam trailhead remains closed by the property owner CalAm pending a collaborative solution.
- The "official trail" is only a rough track scratched out in order to present a GPS proposal to the county, CalAm and the USFS.
- Work is tentatively scheduled for October(barring red tape snafus) to bring the trail up to standard without any slippery sections.
- The old trail is too steep to maintain over time.
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Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby Eric-ventana on Tue May 11, 2021 1:58 pm

Date Hiked: May 8, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I hiked the Carmel River Trail (in and out) from the Los Padres Dam trailhead on Saturday, May 8th. I wanted to report on the slide by-pass near the dam. On the way in (from the dam) we skipped the "official"/first/flagged by-pass and took the second one, then on the way out we took the flagged route. The unofficial trail, it turns out, is significantly shorter than the marked one; the dam side of it is pretty easy, but the wilderness side is steep and slippery. Taking the flagged trail on the way out was a challenge. Not only is it three or four times longer (more than half a mile in total length, but not the two miles reported earlier), but the north/east/dam side of it is almost impassible. In many places the nominal 18" width of the trail differs in elevation from one side to the other by six feet. We were going down so this was merely difficult and sometimes dangerous, but trying to go up it would not be a hike, it would be a climb. Based on my experience I would suggest the dam side of the unofficial trail be connected to the wilderness side of the flagged trail -- this would result in a much better experience that either of the two existing alternatives.
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Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby Addison on Sun May 02, 2021 10:30 pm

Date Hiked: May 1, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Day hiked from Pine Valley to Round Rock. Trail is fine from camp to the saddle separating pine valley and the next drainage, then gets rough pretty quick. Moderate overgrowth with many downed trees and avoidable poison oak the first mile but by the first creek crossing there is an unavoidable head high poison oak patch on trail and around it. Best to be immune to poison oak from here until the the trail climbs out of the drainage again. Path is flagged in parts but the whole area is still fire-scared and the creek completely choked by blackberry and poison oak (the flags in this section were easier to follow in the opposite direction). The high section the last mile or so before the Round Rock junction has barely visible tread as you hack your way through scrub oak, chamise and black sage (at least it smelled nice). There is one very confusing flag that could be hinting at a new trail on the north instead of south side of the ridge the high section is on? I followed it a few hundred feet but then stuck with the old south side trail (on map and gps). On section about 1/2 mile above the junction is washed out making for a pretty dangerous scamper across a steep, sandy chute. Will likely be gone after the next rain or couple of crossings. The tread for this whole high section is lacking on the downslope side and a few sections one could easily step off trail under cover of sage and slide down the hill a bit. Whole trail from saddle to junction needs work but this last high section was actually a bit dangerous instead did just spikey and poison oak-filled. Large downed tree a few hundred feet further towards Hiding Canyon Camp from junction.

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby mgeggie on Sun May 02, 2021 10:10 am

Date Hiked: May 1, 2021
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Tried to hike from Los Padres Dam Trailhead to Carmel River Camp.
There is a fence up on the trail just as it turns left from the dam to follow the perimeter of the reservoir. Skirting the fence is easy, but not far up the trail there's a landslide that has taken out about 500' of the trail. There is a detour trail, but it is very narrow, steep, loose, off camber and dusty. This trail seems to take nearly 2 miles and nearly 500' of elevation to circle around the landslide.
We gave up our hike when we reached the peak of the trail due to running out of daylight and not being confident of the condition of the trail ahead.

Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby Jim Ringland on Thu Apr 15, 2021 2:12 pm

Date Hiked: April 12, 2021
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section: Church Creek Divide Junction to Pine Valley -- Clear

Were it not for a few low shrubs brushing against the knees and thighs, plus the one duck-under deadfall, I’d have rated this as Wilderness Freeway. Fine trail for making good time if dinner is calling.

Pine Valley has loud owls.
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Jim Ringland
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Re: Carmel River Trail

Postby rcmd8418 on Thu Apr 01, 2021 9:43 am

Date Hiked: March 25, 2021
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Hiked from the Church Creek Divide to Pine Valley. The trail was extremely easy to follow, but there is brushy overgrowth at places and one deadfall you can easily walk around. We surprisingly didn't see any poison oak on/around the trail.

We camped at a DELUXE site in the meadow before you reach the cabin. We also attempted the trail to the falls, but turned around after 25 minutes when the washed out trail got pretty thin and the GPS showed we still had a bit to go.
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