Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Lost Valley Trail
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Re: Lost Valley Trail

PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:10 pm
by mstryker
Date Hiked: May 24, 2010
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Merely somewhat difficult going from the river up to the saddle. Tread washout for a short distance after the saddle. From the saddle to the valley was a lot of pushing through brush and collapsed fire damage, plus an experience I've never had before: fighting my way through snapdragons! and morning glory! Fascinating, beautiful fire following, succession, growth all about; admiring it as it strangled us. After camping in the Lost Valley we made our way up Higgins Creek, found the trail up and out of the creek towards Marble Peak. Then it became extremely challenging: crawling under collapsed brush, scrambling above and below obliterated trail. A short while after Upper Higgins camp where the trail crosses to traverse above the creek (south) the trail disappeared completely, both overgrown and washed out. I've done this hike twice before (all the way to Tassajara) before the fire. If there would have been a trace of trail, I would have found it. We camped and hiked back out via the Lost Valley Connector (Clear), to the Coast Ridge Road (a widely bulldozed track rapidly filling with flowers) and down the Rodeo Flats (wide enough for a Mack truck). I'd love to participate in a trail restoration trip(s) to reconnect Lost Valley to Marble Creek trails, and complete a circuit.

Lost Valley

PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:08 pm
by mstellman
Date Hiked: October 23, 2009
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hi Jim,

I agree with you 100% that the section of trail between the top of the ridge and Fish Camp was very difficult. There were 8 of us that hiked out to Lost Valley. A couple of the guys had a real tough time on sections of the trail.

It was a great and exciting trip, but not for the inexperienced hiker.

Jim, what day did you hike out to Lost Valley? We did not see anyone coming in or going out the whole time we were there.

Lost Valley Trail

PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:51 am
by dknapp1
Date Hiked: October 25, 2009
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I just got back from lost valley today(October 25) and I want to submit a trail report.
The lost valley trail has been hit hard by the October 12 2009 storm and lots of erosion has occured due to the intense rainfall that occured in the backcountry.

15 to 19 inches of rain fell within 24 hours in that area according to the local forest service personell. The trail is passable but difficult in some areas, due to minor landslides and dead and down limbs from the recent fires. The worst part of the trail is just before fish camp where it is a battle to stay on the trail. Lots of limbs and debris has fallen over the trail and there are some areas the trail washed out and the tread is gone.

If you are an inexperienced hiker I would not recommend this trail. It has some dangers.

If you are not paying attention you could slide off the trail into a steep canyon. Lost valley government camp was flooded due to the last storm. Lots of debris left behind.

The camp above in the pines is dangerous due to hazard trees that were burned in the last fire. Some positives, there is a lot of water flowing in that area so you'll have no problem finding water.

The forest service has done a good job cleaning up Escondido.


Trail Conditions History 2001-2008

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 10:01 am
by Site Administrator
Date Hiked: May 24, 2008
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Conditions reported by: Bruno
Survey date: 24-May-2008
General: Passable

Overall fairly good, some brush on the section between Arroyo Seco and Fish Camp

The connector was in very good condition. However, we could not find the portion of the Coast Ridge trail going southeast.
Conditions reported by: George
Survey date: 10-May-2008
General: Passable

Hiked from LV Connector to the roadend as part of a long dayhike loop trip. Easy to follow and pleasant down in the valley, but got increasingly brushy and annoying as I headed up to the saddle separating the valley from Arroyo Seco. Plenty of ducking, avoiding PO and brush contact. Going up that part with a backpack would be tiring and unpleasant. Happily, the east side of the saddle was in much better shape, with just some PO to be careful of down low. The trail up from the river to the road was fine.
Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers (Stevenson Wilderness Expedition)
Survey date: 2-MARCH-2008
General: CLEAR

Trail is clear.
Conditions reported by: Reed Thayer
Survey date: 2-JUNE-2007

Section: Escondido to Lost Valley - Passable

The tread is in good condition most of the way, except for several small sections on the north side of the Lost Valley Creek/Arroyo Seco divide. There is a good deal of poison oak in the shaded areas of the trail, but the higher open areas are free of it. There is a messy deadfall just after crossing the Arroyo Seco River heading north that consists of several large branches and requires some acrobatics to negotiate.

We cleared some of the encroaching poison oak on the section between the connector and Lost Valley Camp, so for that section all poison oak growing onto the trail should be below the waist.
Conditions reported by: Steve S.
Survey date: 19-MAY-2007

Section: Indian Valley/Marble Peak Trail Junction to Lost Valley Camp - Passable to Difficult

This section is quite brushy with a good deal of poison oak. Full battle gear recommended. Generally the tread is easy to follow however. Be prepared to spend a good deal of the hike bent over to get under overhanging brush/poison oak.

Section: Lost Valley to Fish Camp - Clear

Section: Fish Camp to Escondido Camp - Passable

The climb out of Fish is somewhat overgrown but easier than the section described above.
Conditions reported by: Stevenson Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: 3-MARCH-2007

Section: Indian Valley/Marble Peak Trail Junction to Lost Valley - Passable/Clear

There is some brush and a couple of river crossings are obscure. We hacked away at some of the brush and tried to make the crossings obvious. There is brush and poison oak to contend with, but the only potential dangers are along the section before reaching the water fall and Indian Valley Camp junction where the trail is slipping and eroding into the creek below.

Section: Lost Valley to Fish Camp - Clear

A few spots of slumping where the footing is thin.

Section: Fish Camp to top of ridge - Passable

The big problem is very intrusive brush and small yucca plants with their sharp points in and near the foot bed. The brush is overhanging and closing in on both sides. Long pants and sleeves are advisable.

Section: Top of Ridge to Escondido Camp - Passable/Clear

From the top of the ridge down to the Arroyo Seco River, the trail condition is better, although there is some brush near the top and a good deal of poison oak. At the bottom, however, a very large oak has fallen. Six or seven trunks/branches cross the trail, and there is no easy way to avoid clambering through, under and over the mess. >From the Arroyo Seco up to Escondido the trail is again Clear.

Conditions reported by: Greg M
Survey date: 30 DECEMBER-2006

General: The condition of the Lost Valley Trail is passable, with sections of the trail running the gamut from Wilderness Freeway to Difficult. This report reflects the trail from the Marble Peak trail to Escondido Camp, with some notes at the end regarding the Indians Road between Arroyo Seco Camp and Escondido Camp.

Section: Marble Peak Trail to Pelon Camp - Clear to Difficult

The trail starts innocently enough at the Marble Peak Trail junction, with faint but discernible tread heading southeast. I never saw the southern end of the Indian Valley Camp Trail. Only a couple of fallen trees in this section, and some kind soul has done some recent pruning and sawing, making the scrambles through these brambles easier. See the next paragraph regarding camp conditions for Upper Higgins and Pelon, but realize that the location of Upper Higgins camp on the USGS quad is not even close to the real camp location (Yet another example of MAPS LIE!). The quad shows the camp on the southeastern flank of a hill marked as having 2810' elevation. This is not the case. Upper Higgins camp lies right along Higgins Creek as you climb down off that hill and cross the creek.

Look for the trail continuing behind Upper Higgins Camp, with the trail seemingly disappearing into a tangle of overgrown tree branches. Within camp, there is an old Ponderosa Pine whose bark has been severely stripped, but upon which is nailed a wooden 'Trail' arrow on each side of the tree: this helps you get a basic heading. As you leave camp, you'll see some blazes and evidence of recent pruning at this overgrown area that allow you to push through this initial barrier, which is really more bark than bite, pun intended. The trail is passable here, with a few stream crossings. Most crossings are obvious, but could be obliterated after heavy rains. If you're not sure where the trail is, always back up to your last known trail contact: do not stumble forward and get even more disoriented. Following the canyon into Pelon Camp is great fun, in that the canyon walls close in around you and create a very intimate riparian corridor. This corridor could become a little too intimate if the creek is flooding.

A word about stream crossings here. On this trail at this point, the Higgins Creek has already gotten its act together, and flows strong and fast down the canyon. Always keep your boots on when you cross any stream. Boots provide much better support, protection, and balance than water shoes or (even worse) bare feet. Also, don't get obsessed with trying to keep every toe dry. If you can boulder-hop accross and keep dry, more power to you. But, if the safest crossing requires you to slosh through, do it without regret. You're likely to get wet feet just by hiking in the Ventana in winter regardless of whether you conduct any stream crossings. You can always dry your boots by the fire at camp that night, whereas a sprained/broken ankle (or worse!) will be a much bigger problem if you're alone in the wilderness. Treat every stream crossing with caution and care, and have respect for the power of rivers.

Upper Higgins Camp was a dump! The ground had been thoroughly rooted through by feral pigs. Thank goodness I did not encounter any of these irascible beasts, as I camped at Upper Higgins on Friday night, 12/29. There was no fire ring, and the only remains of a 'better age' were the pathetic USFS sign noting the camp, and rusted remnants of a stove. I re-established a small, safe fire ring by the rusted stove. This camp can accommodate at most 2 tents, and the ground is bumpy. On Saturday morn', 12/30 at 7:30am, the temperature dipped down to 28 degrees!

Pelon Camp is much nicer than Upper Higgins Camp, with a couple of established fire rings (one dilapidated, though), flatter bedsites, and a more open, clean feel. I should have pressed on the extra 1.1 miles to here, but I didn't know the camp condition.

Section: Pelon Camp to Lost Valley Camp - Clear

This section of the Lost Valley Trail is clearly the easiest, as it passes through the beautiful, flat grasslands of Lost Valley itself. The section out of Pelon camp is passable, crossing Pelon Creek and climbing up and around a promontory before finally dropping into Lost Valley. Only a couple of fallen trees on this section, and each was fairly easy to crawl over/under. The trail through the grasslands was easily discernible, but I imagine this could change in drier weather where various horse hoofprints could obliterate the trail. Remember to leave the Higgins Creek as it turns north to meet the Lost Valley Creek; the trail turns southeast and crosses some fire-damaged flatlands. Watch the trail closely as you approach Lost Valley, because the fire damage and subsequent wash-outs make the trail faint and almost obliterated in a couple of places. Leaving Lost Valley Camp, I actually became lost myself before I simply plodded up the creek and stumbled back onto the trail.

Lost Valley camp is an absolute jewel. Too bad this heavily used camp is not better cared for by its visitors. Lots of trash, an old vodka bottle, a little girl's flip-flops - all of this spoke of a camp used by casual campers from Escondido that have not established a wilderness ethic. There is an unoffical camp before one enters Lost Valley proper, just before the last stream crossing. This is a relatively pleasant spot right next to the Higgins Creek. There's a fire ring and room for 2 tents.

Section: Lost Valley Camp to Escondido Camp - Passable to Difficult

Don't be fooled by the 'short' 6 miles between Lost Valley Camp and Escondido Camp. There is much climbing and dropping as one either enters or leaves the bowl end of Lost Valley. One climbs 500' out of Lost Valley Camp, drops almost that much into Fish Camp, climbs 800' out of Fish to the second saddle, drops 1200' to the Arroyo Seco, then climbs 500' up to Escondido Camp. As I mentioned above, I'm not sure how I got out of Lost Valley Camp, because the tread becomes very faint and is easy to lose at this spot. I simply walked upstream until I hit the trail again, but I know there's a better way. Fish camp is a decent spot, with 2 fire rings and one stove, and no table. However, there are nice, flat bedsites and the Lost Valley Creek is a clean, clear water source just feet away. The trail between Lost Valley Camp and the second ridge before you drop to Arroyo Seco is still recovering from the '85 and '99 fires. The most difficult and dangerous sections of the trail are on steep, barren hillsides devoid of vegetation, with a faint, washed out, nearly invisible trail line precariously skirting along this knife's edge. Otherwise, the trail has a few clear sections, with encroaching brush in various stages of growth invading sections of the trail, making for many more areas I would consider as passable.

The drop down to the Arroyo Seco is in the best shape along this section, even though it is quite steep and unrelenting. There is one last downed tree to navigate through and around as you reach the river. From here, the river crossing is upstream about 100 feet from where the trail emerges (right turn as described in this direction). Flagging and a small cairn mark the river crossing. Downstream about 400 feet is an unofficial camp alongside the river, which would be quite adequate if the river is too dangerous to cross. The climb up into Escondido is strenuous, especially after a long day, but the trail at this point into Escondido is a Wilderness Freeway.

Conclusion: Generally, the Lost Valley Trail is suffering from encroaching brush and many slips, with the area still recovering from the Rat Creek and Kirk Complex fires. Lost Valley itself is a true gem of the Ventana, and worth the effort from either direction. I'm not sure equestrians could navigate the steep burned sections, however.

Indians Road: I was to have met a friend at Escondido Camp on Saturday night, 12/30, and we were to have hiked the fabled Santa Lucia Trail the next day. When he didn't show, I was concerned about not only his safety, but my ability to safely navigate the Santa Lucia trail by myself, especially after the long day through Lost Valley the day before. So, I started up the Indians Road on Sunday, 12/31.

The Indians Road is a beautiful hike with spectactular views. Perhaps the best aspect of this road that has been closed to vehicular traffic since '03 is the easy walking it affords to hikers of all abilities. The grade is gentle, and the tread is still very established, flat, and rut and rock free. There is only one landslide that requires a bit of care; the rest of the landslides that have occurred over the past 4 years have little or no effect on the hiker. I did not explore the old car camping site at Hanging Valley, but this area looked very promising if one had to camp there, despite it being no longer allowed. Water at Jackhammer Springs was trickling, but enough to fill up. Look for a sycamore tree (white bark, yellow leaves in winter) in a bend in the road just before a sizable slide scarring the cliffs above the road. You'll have to climb a few feet up the hill behind the sycamore to reach a good filling station. The spur down to the Santa Lucia trail is signed and obvious. Despite it being 16 miles from Arroyo Seco to Escondido, I covered this distance from south to north in 5 and a half hours. It would be more difficult tackling this road from north to south, due to the long steady climb from Arroyo Seco Camp for about 12 miles to Hanging Valley. From there, the road drops gradually for the next 3 or 4 miles to Escondido Camp. Overall, this is a worthwhile hike for Ventana lovers of all abilities.
Conditions reported by: Eric Rescorla
Survey date: 16-JUNE-2006

The descent from Escondido to Arroyo Seco is clear with obvious tread. The river crossing is fine but getting back on the right trail afterwards is a bit tricky. The section from Escondido to the ridge line is in reasonably good shape with clear tread. Descending to Fish Camp, the trail gets increasingly overgrown and after Lost Valley Camp you have to push through brush about half the time. Both of us ended up with scratches all up and down our arms. It's also fairly easy to lose the tread where it gets close to the river between Lost Valley and Pelon. The trail improves a little bit between Pelon and Higgins, but it's not still fairly bad. Based on the rather complete spider webs on the trail, it looks like this trail isn't getting much use. There's also a fairly serious bug problem whenever you stop.
Conditions reported by: Richard Vassar
Survey date: 14-APRIL-2005

We dayhiked this trail starting from Santa Lucia Memorial Park and walking up Indians Road to Escondido Camp where we found the Lost Valley trailhead. The trail from Escondido Camp to the Arroyo Seco River had some rutting and erosion but was in general good condition. The Arroyo Seco River had a lot of water but crossing in sandals was not difficult. The difficulties begin once across the river where the trail has become quite overgrown with poison oak. Anyone sensitive to poison oak should probably avoid this trail until it has been cleared as it is very difficult to avoid exposure over the first mile or so past the river crossing. Once the trail leaves the creek canyon and begins switchbacking up the drier slopes toward the gap into Lost Valley the trail improves again. Views from the gap back to Juniperro Serra Peak were excellent. Once across the gap the trail has all but disappeared due to erosion and small landslides from winter storms. Trail condition was poor enough just beyond the gap that we turned back since some in our party did not have trekking poles for added security and traction. Overall, the Lost Valley Trail is in need of some significant trail work or it will soon be "lost" to all but those hikers who are immune to poison oak and have mountain goat footing on steep, loose hillsides.
Conditions reported by: Rob Yang
Survey date: 9-APRIL-2005

Mostly this trail seemed to be in decent shape, though I did get the clippers and saw out a couple of times on the descent from the first saddle into Lost Valley (probably still needs work in places). On the barer slopes the tread got very narrow in places, almost on the verge of disappearing entirely.

The part of the trail along Higgins Creek from the first big crossing to Pelon camp was interesting. I don't think any map I had really matched what the trails actually did. In several places there were large logs to enable crossing without getting one's feet wet. At one point I put my water shoes on and just bouldered up the creek, past several swimming holes and small falls (the day was getting warm).

Plenty of water at Pelon and Upper Higgins camps. Really enjoyed the waterfall just before the junction with Marble Peak. Some small streams were also present near the junction.
Conditions reported by: Sean Gass and Justin Widener
Survey date: 31-MARCH-2005

Section: Escondido to Lost Valley Camp (Passable)

The trail is pretty decent in terms of tread but is getting overgrown. Often it's poison oak, leading to a lot of "holding your arms above your head and walking heel-toe" sections. The creeks are full and require some wading at most crossings. After you gain some altitude you get to some steep traverses and trekking poles were a big help there, the trail dissapears in a couple spots. The view from the saddle before you drop down to the camp is amazing, and the camp is incredibly inviting - the only litter we found was a pair of thoroughly dried socks on a grill:)

Section: Lost Valley Camp to Pelon Camp (Passable)

Beautiful but very lightly treaded. The meadows are full of amazing yellow brick roads, but the trail itself is often little more than a shade in the grass. It would be really cool if there were markers at the brushlines. This was the best part of the walk for us though, the wildflowers are still amazing.

Section: Pelon Camp to Indian Valley Camp (Passable to Difficult)

After Pelon, along Higgins Creek, the markings and trail deteriorate. It is very overgrown and with the variable water levels it is easy to lose the trail by being misguided and not noticing crossings. Again, more wading needed here, over and over. The sign for Indian Valley campground is broken and unreadable, so make sure you go right if you don't want to camp there, go left if you do.


The trail is decent but could be a lot better with a little clipping and a couple of markers. Keep a sharp lookout for flags when you're walking along Higgins Creek, they help with the stream crossings.
Conditions reported by: Lindsay Jeffers - Stevenson Wilderness Program
Survey date: 8-MARCH-2005

From the Escondido Camp start to the Marble Peak Trail junction, this trail exhibits a wide variety of terrain and conditions. Generally, the footbed is clear, except in the canyon climbing along Higgin's Creek where high water has made the tread and the crossings a little unclear. After clearing brush on some of the slopes, the trail is certainly passable for its whole length, and large parts are clear or better. Poison oak is present along much of the trail. Lost Valley Camp is as inviting as ever.
Conditions reported by: Mike Blanksma
Survey date: 22-MAY-2004

Section: Escondido trailhead to LV Camp

From Escondido to the Arroyo Seco, the trail is clear for the first 1/3 mile, with some encroaching brush. I forgot my lops but broke off as much overhang as possible by hand. The last 2/3rds of a mile is wilderness freeway, with summer wildflowers in almost full force. The flow in the Arroyo Seco was about equal to late last July, water temp recorded at 58 degrees at 9:30 AM.

From the Arroyo Seco to the top of the ridge, clear all the way. The first 1/2 mile the poison oak was severely encroaching the entire trail- step gingerly! The last good water source was about a half mile in, just before you exit the riparian part of the trail and start the STEEP ascent to the top of the ridge. Some encroaching brush and one noticeable but safe slip. The family following us encountered a 4 ft. rattler in the trail about one mile up from the river. The views from the top of the ridge are spectacular as always. I managed to make a cell phone call from the top even! Can you hear me now?

From the ridge down to Fish Camp is passable to difficult. The trail runs across many steep slopes covered with very loose scree- at some points for 5-10 ft sections the trail was non-evident. Watch your step! The scree covered slopes are extremely slippery! Heavy brush encroachment in places, but the trail is still very evident; I broke off twigs overhanging the trail as I walked but with a pair of lops and a couple hour's work these sections could be wilderness freeway. The first water was encountered about a third of a mile down, but this source will be dry by mid-June. Two other water sources before Fish Camp- again they will be dry by mid-June as well.

From Fish Camp to Lost Valley, the trail is clear, but again, at many places you find yourself hiking a narrow trail across relatively steep slopes of very loose scree. No water between Fish Camp and Lost Valley, but this is a relatively easy section at only a mild uphill slope until you reach the ridge down to Lost Valley. From the top of the ridge, the first meadow below was still green, all other meadows are bone-dry. Wilderness Freeway down the ridge to Lost Valley. The creek is flowing very strong in the Valley and the camps are all clean and litter-free, although there is evidence of much recent use.
Conditions reported by: Eric Brazil
Survey date: 30-MAR-2004
General: CLEAR

The trail from Escondido Flat to Indian Valley, following Lost Valley and Higgins creeks, showed scant sign of recent use -- new grass was growing in the tread -- and was remarkably clear, start to finish, although some sections between Lost Valley and Pelon campgrounds were slightly overgrown and could use some brush clipping. The Fish Camp, Lost Valley, Pelon, Upper Higgins and the old Indian Valley campgrounds were as litter free as I have seen them since first making the hike more than half a century ago.

Both creeks were flowing at a healthy level, but our half dozen rock hopping crossings of Higgins Creek were all dry.

The countryside had burst into spring. The trees were freshly leafed out in new green, and the wildflower show was spectacular from one end of the trail to the other -- goldfields, lupine, scarlet sage, Indian paintbrush,shooting stars, buttercups, bush poppies... the works. We walked through clouds of sweet smelling ceanothus in colors ranging from alabaster white to royal blue. We encountered no other backpackers.

Nowhere on this hike, which ended at Horse Bridge, did we see one single deer or wild boar, which makes me wonder: have meat hunters from the Central Valley decimated wildlife in this part of the wilderness area?

Note: It is imperative for the driver of the car taking backpackers to the Escondido Flat trailhead via Hunter Liggett Military Reservation to have proof of car registration, car insurance and a driver's license in his or her possession. Department of Homeland Security officers will turn you back if you don't have that documentation.
Conditions reported by: Alex
Survey date: 14-FEB-2004
General: CLEAR

Section: Escondido to Lost Valley Connector

No significant obstacles (aside from doing the actual climbing). The valley is wonderfully lush this time of year and has a remoteness appropriate to its name.
Conditions reported by: Rick Johnson
Survey date: 23-JUNE-2003

Section: Entire length

We hiked from Escondido to the junction near Indian Valley. The trail segment from Escondido to Arroyo Seco was good with some brush. Further in the trail can become very brushy, faint, overgrown, slideout, obstructed by fallen timber or very good.

The vistas at the saddles were fantastic. Fish Camp is a beautiful respite as is Lost Valley. From Lost Valley to Upper Higgins, we missed the sharp left hand turn that crosses Higgins Creek (look for two trail blazes on trees, ribbons, and ducks) and continued up Higgins Creek. This detour however, treated us to a magical place of ponds and cascades.

All you can say about Pelon and Upper Higgins is that they are flat spots with water. Very little in the way of shade. Found lots of lady bugs at Upper Higgins. The trail to the junction near Indian Valley had water all the way.
Conditions reported by: Steve Wilson
Survey date: 28-MAR-2003

Section: Higgins Creek crossing downstream of Pelon Camp

On this unseasonably warm day in March, I found conditions as previously reported. Also missed the aforementioned crossing of Higgins Creek. While ascending the trail, about midway along a straight stretch of creek (before it makes a sharp right) along the right bank, look for the crossing marked with a few ducks and a blaze or two. The trail on the far bank can be seen doing a right trending ascent. Another hint: When signs of constructed footbed end, look for the crossing.
Conditions reported by: Kelsey Jordahl
Survey date: 2-NOV-2002

Escondido Camp to Lost Valley Camp: CLEAR
A few slipouts and some encroaching brush, but in reasonable shape.

Lost Valley Camp to Marble Peak Trail: PASSABLE
Often difficult to follow in the riparian growth around Higgins Creek. The switchback that leaves the creek, and climbs up the south canyon wall, as the trail crosses a shoulder before descending to Pelon Camp is easy to miss.
Conditions reported by: Steve Chambers
Survey date: 1-2-OCT-2002

Marble Peak junction to Escondido Camp:

Trenching ditches for large tarps were observed at all camps along the Lost Valley Trail.

Water was located running in the first tributary east of Upper Higgins Camp, then through the rest of Lost Valley until drying up above Fish Camp.

Relentless brush growth, with lesser amounts of user clipping, is allowing many sections of this trail to become difficult to pass. Especially between the Marble Peak Trail junction and Lost Valley Camp.

A baby, 1/2 inch long, Horned Toad was observed under a bush near the LV Connector.
Conditions reported by: Eco Warrior
Survey date: 26-MAY-2002

Marble Peak Trail intersection to Upper Higgins Camp- Passable with Difficult sections-

Plenty of water from here on out... At first this trail is inviting enough, crossing lovely meadows in which your only concern is to follow the (often very faint) tread; but soon enough it gets BRUSHY- this really slows hiking down, give yourself plenty of time for this portion! Soon Higgins Creek plunges over a 10 foot escarpment, forming a shallow fall into a shady pool below- welcome respite on a hot day. Just beyond this point, watch for another well placed sign and STAY LEFT of it- I made the mistake of thinking it pointed uphill to the right and dead-ended in a meadow, way off course. Shortly the trail crosses the Creek and climbs it's northern bank, basically circling peak 2810', beyond which it descends into another meadow- follow the tread carefully as it is faint and sometimes looks like a drainage; after a while you'll reach Upper Higgins Camp (not very appealing, IMHO)

Upper Higgins to Pelon Camp- Passable with Difficult sections- I made the mistake of printing my map for this hike from Topozone, which indicates the trail on the south side of Higgins Creek for much of it's course. I should've known better, but having never been to this area, this amounted to a bit of anxiety as the trail stays on the north side of the creek until past Pelon Camp. Beyond Upper Higgins you traverse the creek bank above some interesting forest of Canyon Oak, Bay, Incense Cedar and even a few Santa Lucia Firs. Trail-wise, basically more of the same- decent tread, but major brush encroachment in places; again allow yourself extra time. Once you reach Pelon Camp, stay to your right, cross Higgins Creek and begin the semi-steep ascent up it's south bank.

Pelon Camp to Lost Valley Camp- Passable (albeit much easier to follow from the west)

From Pelon, the trail vaults up and over a tall shoulder above the gorge of Higgins Creek. Once at the top you get a nice view of Lost Valley ahead. Traversing and descending the south side of the canyon, you eventually drop to creek level and an orange flag marks the first crossing. (well placed! this would be very hard to locate from the east if not for the flag) Several more creek crossings follow (I didn't count) and soon enough you'll enter the beautiful open meadows of Lost Valley. After a semi-confusing 14 mile day, this was a welcome sight!

Lost Valley Camp to Escondido Camp- Clear-

I would say Wilderness Freeway were it not for the badly encroaching brush on both sides of the Lost Valley Creek/ Arroyo Seco River divide.

All in all, I saw about 10 other hikers- not so bad for Memorial Day Weekend. Wildlife tally was pretty impressive as well.
Conditions reported by: Matt Bassista
Survey date: 24-MAY-2002

We parked at Escondido Camp and began our journey on Friday, May 24th. We made it to the river crossing around 7PM and began the ascent up the hill then. For the most part, the trail is in very good condition. The one exception being at the top of the hill, before the descent into Fish Camp. It is slightly washed away, but very passable. All in all, all of the trails were in very good condition and the water was very chilly. The bugs were somewhat a problem, until about 7:30 PM each night. Our first night took us to Fish Camp, which is a very cool little campsite, with the water running right next to you!! The campsite is in very good condition, though the trails leading into it are very dense right now. It was rather apparent that there had not been many hikers on the trail in the previous months. The trail from Fish Camp to Lost Valley Camp is in very good shape. There were no down trees during any stretch of the trail, from Escondido to Lost Valley. Additionally, the poison oak did not appear to be to bad, though there are a TON of ticks, so that is certainly something to be aware of. We did checks at least twice a day and always managed to find one or two during each check. The steams are all full of water and make for great water sources.

The drive in was not bad at all, with all of the water crossings being very passable, even in a rented compact car!!
Conditions reported by: Francis Toldi
Survey date: 19-MAY-2002

Summary: very brushy in some spots, with unavoidable poison oak; some minor trail washouts in steep sections

General Comment: I am now a convert to routinely carrying clippers on all Los Padres hiking and backpacking trips. When I backpacked extensively in this area over 20 years ago it wasn't really necessary. Now it is essential, both for the benefit of my own party and for others. We pushed through massive amounts of brush and poison oak on the way in. Two hikers came in after us with clippers, and the hike out was a very different (better) experience. It doesn't take a trail crew to make a significant improvement.

I spent a pleasant weekend at Lost Valley Camp on May 18, 19, 2002. Escondido Camp is a peaceful, quiet camp, with plenty of shade, birdsong (it must be the Cassin's Vireo capital of the County), and no people at all.

Escondido Camp to Arroyo Seco River: The tread is in fine condition all the way to the river. It is very brushy at the top, but since the Chamise, Yerba Santa and various salvia sp. were in full bloom, it wasn't entirely unpleasant pushing through them. We pulled off a few ticks, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Arroyo Seco River to 1st Saddle. The tread is fine, but there was a considerable amount of poison oak on and over the trail, utterly unavoidable. People who are particularly sensitive to poison oak would be miserable here. In the drier slopes approaching the saddle we counted at least 3 Horned Lizard and one huge Southern Alligator Lizard.

1st Saddle to Fish Camp. The trail is nearly washed out in the steep shale-gravel area near the top of the Saddle. It is passable, but just barely. The descent to Fish Camp is extremely brushy. You won't lose the tread, but you must push through quantities of brush. Two considerate hikers did quite a bit of clipping here, which helped immensely on the return, but it is still brushy and will require much more clipping before it can be called "clear." Nice stands of Bush Poppy along with the other flowering shrubs.

Fish Camp may be compacted and close to the trail, but it is set in a lovely location. Perhaps it is its location on a more moist northern slope, but the forest is more interesting here than further down into Lost Valley, with a greater variety of birds. A Black throated Gray Warbler serenaded us all through lunch.

Fish Camp to Lost Valley. Some brush and poison oak, especially on the final descent into Lost Valley, but overall the trail is clear. Some of the loose, steep sections of the trail are disappearing here, as well.

Lost Valley Camp is as lovely as ever. Poison oak is encroaching on some of the less frequently used campsites close to the creek. We were interested to note equal (large) numbers of BOTH California and Mountain Quail here, an unusual overlap. What a pity that the Bill Cotta plaque is almost unreadable now. The biting flies are starting to rev up their engines. In the warmest part of the day they were a nuisance, but nothing that a little deet couldn't handle. In another few weeks it might be a different story. The night was cool and largely bugless.
Conditions reported by: Stevenson School Wilderness Expedition
Survey date: FEB-2002

Marble Peak Trail junction to Escondido Camp: The trail is in good shape over its whole length. The section from Fish Camp to the top of the ridge above the Arroyo Seco River is still brushy, although we did some clipping on several trips over this section.
Conditions reported by: Stonemike777
Survey date: 09-SEPT-01

Make sure you have all your paperwork in order before you drive all the way to Fort Hunter Liggett. Besides the usual Adventure Pass, Campfire Permit and Fishing License (if you're fishing), the guards are checking car registration, proof of insurance and driver's license at the entrance to the military base. I went through on Sept. 9 (two days before the terrorist attacks), so you should check ahead and see if they are even letting anyone through right now.

Once you get on the trail it's in fairly nice shape and easy to follow all the way from Escondido to Lost Valley. Quite a bit of poison oak though, some of it overhanging the trail. Lost Valley is a beautiful camp. I camped at one of the spots near the creek and there were quite a few bugs during the warmer part of the day. Might not be so bad a little further uphill at the group camp area, plus there's a table up there.
Conditions reported by: Wynn Kageyama
Survey date: JULY-01

Some of the brushy spots have been removed or moderated a bit. I recommend hikers carry a clipper or pruner to ease travel. A number of the overhanging branches and poison oak have been cleared though there are several stretches where you will need to push through the growth. Poison oak vines in the usual amounts. Some stretches have significant erosion and it is recommended that a maintenance team be assigned to fix that.

The last stretch from the Lost Valley Connector to Lost Valley has overgrowth. Though the trail is easy to follow.
Conditions reported by: Thomas Meissner, Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter Backpack Section
Survey date: 27-29-APRIL-01

Road from Indian Station to Escondido CG opened April 28, 2001.

The stretch from Escondido CG to Arroyo Seco River is mostly CLEAR with some brush near the top. Crossing of Arroyo Seco River is an easy ford. Rock-hopping possible. For the first half mile beyond the river crossing through the forest there is a heavy Poision Oak encroachment. Once the trail breaks out into the open it is fine up to the saddle. Across the saddle the tread is getting washed out in some spots and seriously sliding .

From the saddle down to Fish Camp pretty brushy; many ticks. Fish Camp makes a very pleasant rest stop. Between Fish Camp and Lost Valley Camp the trail is rather easy to follow, but again the tread is seriously washed out and starts sliding in various spots. Those slide areas need maintenance soon, otherwise the trail will be difficult and at some point even dangerous to follow.

We base camped at Lost Valley and day hiked the trail further up. Beyond Lost Valley the tread gets faint in some spots, especially through the meadows beyond the 1st crossing of Higgins Creek. This crossing is a wet ford. Finding the right river crossings is a little tricky. Beyond the meadow the trail crosses Higgins Creek twice and then crosses it a 3rd time and is heading up the hillside. We missed this 3rd crossing and kept walking along the creek ending up at 2 great waterfalls with some great swimming holes. Makes a fine rest stop. Because there was no real need for us to go further we returned back to Lost Valley.

On the way back we could identify the correct 3rd crossing of Higgins Creek. if you are determined to go further (Pelon Camp - Upper Higgins - Indian Valley) watch out carefully (red flags)!

Lost Valley Trail

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 10:00 am
by Site Administrator
* USFS Trail #4E08
* Parking: Escondido Camp
* Watersheds: Arroyo Seco River, Lost Valley Creek, Higgins Creek
* Junctions: Lost Valley Connector, Indian Valley Camp Trail, Marble Peak Trail
* Connects: Escondido Car Camp with Marble Peak Trail
* Camps: Lost Valley Camp, Pelon Camp, Upper Higgins Camp, Old Indian Valley Camp