Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Miller Canyon Trail
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Re: Miller Canyon Trail

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 11:26 am
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.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 6:27 pm
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.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:16 pm
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.

Miller Canyon Trail via China Camp

PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:03 pm
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.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:38 pm
by Hunter
Date Hiked: November 28, 2014
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

My friend and I hiked this trail as part of the last day of our backpacking trip. It is quite a demanding trail. For the first couple of miles, it follows a stream and the going is easy. There a couple of campsites on this part of the trail. After that, it begins to climb and it doesn't stop climbing until you reach China Camp. The tread is often difficult to follow, and there were many times where the trail would go in different directions and we had to figure out which tread was the Miller Canyon trail. You go up and down a lot. It was raining when we were hiking, so the hike was more difficult for us because we kept sliding on the steep hillside trails. It is an absolutely gorgeous trail, like all of the trails that I have been on in Ventana so far. You have great views of the valley, and the forest is spectacular. When you get to the end of the trail (this part really requires some routefinding, but there are flags to mark the way), you will cross through a cattle fence and onto someone's property. Climb their driveway and you'll then get to a road (Jefferey Road) and there will be signs telling you how to go to China Camp. Turn right from the driveway onto the road, and the first sign will be about 50 yds downhill from you. Then there are many switchbacks to ascend to get back to China Camp. I don't recall there being much poison oak on this trail. Keep your wits about you, and you should be able to navigate this trail just fine.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:58 pm
by Steve B
Date Hiked: September 16, 2014
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

A VWA trail crew worked the Miller Canyon Trail from the Carmel River Trail to Miller Canyon Camp. The trail was cleared of all down trees and we did some brushing. The trail is mostly clear to Miller Canyon Camp from Carmel River but it is still a little brushy in places. We did not have time to go beyond Miller Canyon Camp toward China Camp however we flagged the trail last year so be sure to follow the flagging. There was very little water in Miller Canyon, there is some flowing water below Clover Basin Camp and Miller Camp is dry. There are signs of cows living in Miller Canyon, Clover Basin Camp is covered with cow dung, if you see the cows please report it on the forum or to the Forest Service, note the date, location, and the number of cows.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 11:40 pm
by ACD
Date Hiked: May 14, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

It was clear that few people took this route, as the trail was often very faint. The trail was very well-flagged however, making it pretty simple to follow. A LOT of poison oak along the route however, and a couple of places where the trail has slided down. Nothing insurmountable.

People hiking this trail should be aware that there is NO WATER at China camp, and that the few little streams above where the trail climbs out of Miller Canyon will probably be dry in a few weeks. I got to China camp assuming that I'd find water, then had to hike back down the way I had come to find a little mud trickle to pump from.

Generally had a great time, and didn't see a soul between Bluff Camp and China Camp.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:37 pm
by pmannisto
Date Hiked: February 23, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I hiked this trail before the recent rains, so this report might be a bit out of date. I went from China Camp to Carmel River Camp as part of a loop, returning on Carmel River trail.

The first few miles are along a road and the route is both well-flagged and obvious. After you leave the home association areas the trail becomes more difficult. If it weren't for the flags I probably wouldn't have been able to navigate the trail. Pay attention to the flags!

The first few miles after the home association area the trail is a beautiful walk above Miller Canyon with ancient oaks and grasslands interspersed. As others have mentioned, there are some spots where the trail crosses slides and is a little dicey but I wouldn't consider any of it very problematic.

Soon enough you descend to the Miller Fork of the Carmel River. When I was there it was just a pleasant creek (maybe 4 or 5 feet wide), easily rockhopped at every crossing. I'd imagine it's flowing more heavily now, but probably not enough to make rock hopping impossible (there was lots of room for the creek to grow and still have rock hopping practicable). Just a pleasant downhill jaunt to the Carmel River Camp.

Already when I was there ticks were out in force, especially on the part between the home association area and the river walk. I'd imagine they are much worse now. I'd strongly recommend long pants, especially some material that ticks have trouble gripping. That being said, the trail is clear without much overgrowth. I rated it "Passable" since there are some minor difficulties as mentioned above (dicey slides on the trail and numerous crossings of the Miller Fork).

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:28 pm
by Rob
Date Hiked: January 26, 2014
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Hiked up this trail from the Carmel River trail. It was mostly clear, with the occasional downed tree and very little in the way of brushy spots.

It was a joy to see the Santa Lucia firs and there was even a species of wildflower blooming in the lower canyon (white / purple). The creek crossings were all rock-hops. Brushed off a few ticks. Plenty of water at the camps.

There were a few places where the trail was narrow and crumbling, often above steep terrain : these are not good places to lose your balance, so be warned.

Re: Miller Canyon Trail

PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:46 pm
by wilderwil
Date Hiked: October 24, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

Starting at China Camp we walked down Jeffery Rd. past the cabins and private pond to the trailhead. Steve Jackson, Alan Robertson, William Salmon (wilderwill) and Joe Sortais (as a day hiker). The trailhead easy to find. The road has signs directing you to the trailhead and the trail has been flagged and is well defined. There was no water (October) until about 1/2 mile before Miller Camp. We walked past the Nason Cabin site without seeing it, but Santa Lucia Firs start to appear, and were numerous on this trail.

The Hennickson Trail is not shown on the National Geographic Map, but we found the junction signs, burned off at the base and propped against a tree. Jeffrey Schaffer in his book does not recommend this trail so we passed it by. The trail sign shows 3 miles to Carmel River, but it has been scratched out and a "5" scratched next to it. Five miles is more accurate.

The trail to Miller Camp has some downed trees and a few tricky spots where the trail is sliding away on steep slopes. A hiker could slide right off into the dark canyon below. Miller Camp is spacious with fire grill and a sign. No fires or stoves as fire restrictions were in place. Alan ate his Top Ramen dry, I didn't know you could do that ! Abundant acorns under the oak trees and lots of pig manure and ground disturbed by their feeding. There was abundant, free flowing water in Miller Creek, but we purified the water before drinking because of the pigs.

Clover basin was a mile away and also spacious and level, the trail was mostly clear and well flagged.

The creek crossings and Carmel River at Bluff Camp are easy to rock-skip this time of year, so no wet clothes or shoes. Flagging and trail work make the lower trail easy to follow. A big Thank-You to the trail workers. We had a hot hike out the West side of Carmel River to a very dry Los Padres reservoir and back to the car in the parking lot.

See Steve's pictures in Picasa at this address: (Ignore the picture of the new grand-nephew. He keeps popping up in Picasa for some reason, but he was too young to go on the trip anyway). ... yonOct2013