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Lost Valley Trail

Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby hydrologic on Tue May 05, 2015 10:27 pm

Date Hiked: May 3, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

LV to Escondido. Almost a wilderness freeway. Just a bit of encroaching brush. We got to LV camp from LV connector trail and saw evidence of horses on that once mile section. We got to the first camp and in the meadow above saw 5 horses grazing. We later ran into the 3 men that were camping at the main camp, The had giant ice chests, steak, dutch ovens, etc.... they used two of the horses to pack in their gear.

The next day the horse pack left earlier than us. We hiked to Escondido. The horses destroy the trail . They create massive downhill slumpage and leave giant turds every 1/3 of a mile or so. Much of the trail is loose sandy soil and the heavy, over-packed horses just cause lots of damage.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby Jim Ringland on Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:14 pm

Date Hiked: April 14, 2015
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Escondido Camp to Lost Valley

Since Mike Splain hiked this three days before I did and provided detailed particulars on the conditions, let me just offer a few additional observations and notes. I hiked the route westbound as part of the three-day backcountry loop, carrying a 30+ pound load.

Three of those blowdowns in that first mile west of the Arroyo Seco crossing required me going onto my knees so the pack could clear. All was open again once the trail emerged into the chaparral about half way up to the divide.

Right near the divide and again between Fish Camp and Lost Valley, the trail is cut into some steep, loose slopes. While the down-slope sides of these cuts remain in good shape, there are a few places where loose debris is coming down from above and accumulating on up-slope side. I found nothing hard or dangerous, but there were a few places where, with a full pack, I had to be alert to my footing and balance.

Other than these issues, this trail was clear and sometimes of wilderness freeway quality. This seems right on the edge between “clear” and “passable”, but I’m inclined to think “some brush and/or deadfalls …” is a bit more accurate for the backpacker than “no obstacles …”, hence the passable rating overall.

Pothole Slide Falls is running gently. Not too much on the slide but the pothole is really pretty.

I stayed at Fish Camp in 1993 and haven’t been back since. 22 years ago it was a rather dumpy camp. It’s beautiful today: several very clean openings under oaks next to a nice creek. Two grills.

The camping situation in Lost Valley is a little more mixed. I stayed at the use camp at the very east end of Lost Valley. Table or not, it is a pleasant place. Those tables can’t be new. There was an ’04 graffito carved into the one at the use camp where I stayed. The table at the other camp, near the old public camp fire ring, is rickety and missing one of the benches. I'll note too that while that second camp is under live trees, it’s not really all that appealing an area. (My pictures from 1993 and 1982 show a much more full forest there. And in 1982 you didn't want to camp in the meadow: I have a picture of cows grazing. [4/23: Just revisisted that old fuzzy picture. Horses grazing, not cows.]) There’s a third campsite, with a stove/grill, a little farther along the trail from the old main camp but before the creek crossings. It’s down the hill, off on a little spur, and under two large Coulter pines. It is certainly a nicer spot than the area by the old public camp.

How could Mike not mention the flowers near the Bill Cotta plaque! Goldfields, lupines, owl’s clover, and popcorn flower carpet the ground. From a distance, it’s yellow. Up close, it's kaleidoscopic.

By the way, Dr. Jack’s map suggests the plaque is right at the creek crossing. It’s not. It’s up the hill a bit west of the crossing. His location for the plaque matches what I saw on my GPS. The map, however, appears to mis-locate the creek by about 50 feet!

I explored as far as the first Higgins Creek crossing. The right route down to water is indeed north from where the trail seems to end. I more-or-less followed the route Dr. Jack mapped except right at the end where the clearer route to the creekbank was about 50 feet farther north. I didn’t cross the creek to see what was on the other side.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby mikesplain on Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:32 pm

Date Hiked: April 11, 2015
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Section- Escondido Campground to first crossing of Higgins Creek (NW of Lost Valley Camp)...

If not for the many (small) downed trees, this trail would certainly qualify as a Wilderness Freeway, as there is very little encroaching brush & the tread is generally in fine shape. I'll break this "section" into segments to report.

Escondido CG to Arroyo Seco crossing- Easy travel on an excellent trail with no obstacles and as of 11-April, a stellar bloom of (mostly perennial) wildflowers.

AS crossing to AS / Lost Valley Creek divide- Fairly easy travel, but we counted 21 downed trees, all small, mostly fire-killed snags that have finally tumbled into the trailway. Only one would present much of an obstacle to a backpacker, but this section is definitely not stock-passable and encroaching poison oak is unavoidable. Lots of spring ticks along this stretch, especially on deer weed (Acmispon glaber) and in shady stretches with herbaceous vegetation or grasses. The Arroyo Seco tributary was running swiftly.

AS / LV Creek divide to Fish Camp- Easy travel despite 3 small deadfalls, all of which are easily stepped over; good water sources in a few springs and LV Creek. Fish Camp was clean and very appealing.

Fish Camp to LV Connector junction- Generally very easy travel, but 3 small fire-killed deadfalls and 2 larger trees that might warrant a crosscut saw. Still, everything was easily stepped around or over; a few ticks climbed aboard when we passed through the shadier recesses.

LV Connector junction through LV Camp to Higgins Creek (1st crossing)- A truly lovely stretch of trail; 1 small deadfall, easily stepped over. Someone has (illegally) packed in and assembled picnic tables at 2 of the developed camps in Lost Valley, which certainly compromises wilderness character there. The large camp amid fire-killed pines is now much safer as a second fire ring (alongside one of the aforementioned tables) has been constructed ~50 yards north beneath living trees. The old fire ring is in dire need of a clean-up though- it's gigantic and riddled with glass, bullets and other trash; next time I'll bring a shovel, a rake, work gloves & some industrial grade trash bags. Beyond LV Camp, the trail descends toward the creek, crosses it to pass the Bill Cotta plaque, traverses over shaley hills, then crosses a meadow to reach Higgins Creek at what appears to be a mis-route. It's easy to see how a crew could have lost the correct tread, but the northernmost leg of this stretch needs to be properly re-located; I suspect it's downstream of this crossing.

North of Higgins Creek, cross-country travel ensues as the LV Trail is essentially gone. Hikers bound to or from Pelon, Upper Higgins, and Indian Valley Camps or the Marble Peak Trail are in for a hell of a bushwhack.

Overall, it's a great time to visit Lost Valley, water and flowers are plentiful, but face flies are already an annoyance. Unless you're a glutton for abuse, go now or wait until at least October.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby bobbomcc on Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:55 pm

Date Hiked: February 26, 2015
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Our Stevenson crew took a day hike from Lost Valley Camp to the northwest towards Pelon Camp. For about 1 mile, the trail is easily passable and beautiful! So cool to be back here after so long, and it looks like not many people have walked these trails lately (although we did see some fresh boot prints). We hiked until the meadows ended and the willow thickets began, which is when the trail quickly became very difficult to find and follow. We did not venture far enough to truly assess the trail beyond here, but nothing we saw suggests an easy way up to Indian Valley. Too bad, this is an incredible area!
Lost Valley N of Campsite 3.JPG
Lost Valley N of Campsite 2.JPG
Lost Valley North of Campsite.JPG
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Escondido to Lost Valley

Postby Paul David Tuff on Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:09 am

Date Hiked: April 17, 2014
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and/or well maintained)

Some deadfall and minor slides along the trail but generally in great shape. However, as previously reported, the trail north of Lost Valley Camp where it crosses and recrosses Higgins Creek is very difficult. 2 miles past the camp, where the trail crosses the creek and begins the climb to Pelon Camp, it gets even worse. However, about .3 miles upstream from this point is the waterfall that Schaffer showed in his book. Well worth the bushwhacking!
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby greg meyer on Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:00 am

Date Hiked: March 7, 2014
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

The trail from Escondito to the Lost Valley Connector was generally clear but a half dozen deadfalls along the way will slow your progress. These are mostly fire killed madrone and oak and are a pain to get through.

The trail is mostly clear, the tread is good and it was brushed recently so it won't be too bad other than these spots.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby radioshack73 on Mon Dec 30, 2013 11:10 am

Date Hiked: December 29, 2013
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Backpacked from Escondido into Lost Valley. The trail is open with no dead falls and no obstructions from Escondido to Lost Valley Camp. The USFS did a great job opening this trail up. There are two picnic tables at Lost Valley. The Fire Ring at Lost Valley Camp could use a cleaning. We did not feel comfortable having a fire due to encroaching brush close to the ring. However, considering how dry it has been water is plentiful in Lost Valley Creek.
Lost Valley Fire Ring.jpg
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby lori on Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:36 pm

Date Hiked: November 28, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Went out and had the valley and trail to ourselves. The river was a rock hop, most other crossings were step across or rock hop. The trail is great considering it's obvious there was no trail a short time ago! This is not for people who like hiking barefoot or in those Five Fingers shoes - in places there are 1-2" stumps of brush that had to be lopped out of the middle of the trail bed - I tripped on one and was very glad for sturdy trail shoes with big bumpers over the toes.

We got as far as the bank looking down the slope at Higgins and decided not to cross - we wandered around up the stream looking for a less precipitous approach and were faced either with forcing our way through walls of brush or wading in brambles. Had a lovely night at Fish Camp and a leisurely trek back to the car. There was no gear at Fish Camp, and the only trash was a single Mountain House bag that may have been blown away from someone's collection as it was back in the brush out of sight.

There was one set of footprints on the trail and here and there a cigarette butt(!!!) - someone missed the no smoking part of the ban there!
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Lost Valley Trail

Postby mikesplain on Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:50 am

Date Hiked: October 29, 2013
General Condition: Wilderness Freeway (Heavily used and well maintained)

Section- Escondido Campground to Higgins Creek (first crossing)-
I'm thrilled to report that a USFS fire crew has completely resurrected this once nearly-lost stretch of trail. The terrain is steep and very loose in places, but one could theoretically hike to Lost Valley Camp and beyond in shorts, at least for now. As expected, I encountered the first tick of the season (it having rained the day before).
A few concerns- 1) the crew has yet to pack out a bit of trash & gear from Fish Camp, so it's not the most appealing place to stay for the time being; 2) the main camp in Lost Valley is extremely hazardous due to standing fire-killed pines with multiple widow-maker branches, best to plan on an alternate campsite; 3) the trail disappears at the first Higgins Creek crossing, about a 1/2 mile northwest of Lost Valley Camp. The bank has collapsed and the apparent route descends steeply to a deep pool through which a wet ford would be necessary to proceed. It was late in the day so I turned back there, but am interested to hear how conditions are en route to Pelon Camp.
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

Postby mikesplain on Fri May 24, 2013 11:30 am

Date Hiked: May 21, 2013
General Condition: Impassable (completely overgrown or tread obliterated)

Section- Marble Peak Trail junction to Indian Valley Creek environs-

Sadly, the northern end of the Lost Valley Trail is essentially gone.
One can find bits of trail here and there, but encroaching brush and vines
and fire-killed trees and shrubs obscure the way more often than not.
Crossings of Higgins Creek are toughest of all- watch for flagging if you're really determined to try this route,
although some flagging is dead wrong- I gave up at the crossing below Indian Valley Creek confluence,
as tape marked "the way" on both sides of the creek, but petered out into loose, dangerous terrain either way.
The upside is that the USFS has secured some funding to clean up Lost Valley Trail
(beginning where a CCC crew left off near the Arroyo Seco / Lost Valley Creek saddle),
the downside is that with conditions this bad, they might run out of money before completing the job.
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