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Austin Creek Trail

HARD 55 reviews

Austin Creek Trail is a 8.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Guerneville, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 8.5 miles Elevation Gain: 1,797 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

washed out

no dogs

This loop through the backcountry in Austin Creek State Recreation Area is one of the longest and most isolated trails in the Wine Country. With several creek crossings and two fords of large East Austin Creek, this is wild country, far removed from civilization. The trail has many panoramic vistas of the rugged North Coast Range and primitive backpacker camps, making this a great option for overnight trips. This trail makes several creek crossings; in winter and spring, it is best to check with rangers about water levels. If the water is too high and crossings are dangerous, especially on East Austin creek, this hike should not be attempted.

hiking
4 months ago

Great trail away from the crowds. It gets hot in summer so bring lots of water. I cooled off in Thompson Creek which is a relatively large clear creek. I also saw a rattle snake on the trail right in the stream channel next to Austin Creek so watch out.

6 months ago

Overall a great hike, enjoyed the forested Gilliam Creek portion much more than the exposed fire road. A few downed trees and small mudslides presented obstacles, but easily worked around. There are also a few short washed out sections of the Gilliam Creek trail, particularly in the SW corner of the loop. If you've done a little bushwhacking over the years it's not too bad, but you might be scratching your head for a couple minutes trying to pick the trail back up again. I hiked at midday on a 75 degree day. Took 2 liters of water, wished I'd brought 3, or a filter. A dozen or so creek crossings, only felt the need to take boots off at 2 of the deeper ones.

hiking
bugs
over grown
7 months ago

This is a serious adventure for most. Getting to the trailhead has a couple of options- pay the $7 to enter the park and find the limited quantity lot near the top of the mountain, or park at the Ranger Station for free and add a few gorgeous miles to your journey. Once in the Austin Creek section, things change dramatically, the fire roads are high gradiant and relentless, and single tracks are overgrown and unused, leading to a plethora of wildlife waiting for you to walk through. There are many creek crossings and no other water sources, so make sure you bring a filter or plenty of water on your trip. There are warning signs before you enter the Austin Creek, dont take these lightly, most people should be fine on an average day but i cant completely imagine a novice being stuck on an above average temp day. This is one i will return to countless times

hiking
blowdown
bugs
muddy
over grown
rocky
washed out
8 months ago

Ive done this loop multiple times at different times of the year its an awsome and wonderfull experience that i have enjoyed year round and each season brings a different challenge. It is not for the faint of heart but definately a must see one day or multi day adventure if you realy seek the thrill of the hike.

Sat Sep 22 2018

I’m a beginner hiker this year ramping up to bigger hikes with elevations. That said, I was hiking solo on this trail and after a couple miles I decided to head back due to lack of experience. Will try again when Someone else can join me.

Fri Sep 21 2018

I would suggest to go counter clockwise starting on the fire road because there is no shade, it was not too hard seemed more moderate to me, you must cross the creek 20 times and some of the crossings are 20 feet of water to cross even in the summer, in the rainy season you will have trouble and will get wet. I did not see any other hikers the whole trail. My Fitbit showed over 10 miles not 8.5. My time was limited it took me 3.5 hours I would have liked to stop to enjoy the views and animals but rushed through it. Overall a nice private trail.

hiking
Sun Aug 05 2018

Parking is $7 fee to enter Armstrong woods, drive through the woods and up a significant elevation to the very limited parking at the trail head. Gets hot and about half the trail is in sun so bring plenty of water. The trail goes right by Bullfrog Campground which looks like a lovely spot to pass the night.

hiking
Sun Aug 05 2018

We did this in reverse-starting down Gilliam Creek and ending on the fire trail. We had an early start, but still ended up doing the uphill fire road in full sun. The last few miles were very hard and unenjoyable. The stream crossings were no problem this time of year. We saw only 3 other people and enjoyed the solitude. A few turkeys passed our way. Bring 2 liters of water per person!

backpacking
Sat Jun 02 2018

This is a challenging hike in some places with beautiful views and lots of stream crossings. The beginning of the hike is very steep and is especially challenging at the end when coming back in with a pack on. The fire road offered very little shade so be prepared to sweat when going back uphill. The water levels were low enough at most crossings but there were a few where you want to take your boots off or wear water shoes. It was refreshing to cool your feet in the water on a hot day in June. We camped at Tom King campsite. It was secluded near a creek with a couple picnic tables and a fire ring. Pretty nice for backcountry camping! This time of year there is a fire ban in the backcountry so we couldn’t build a fire to ward off the swarms of mosquitoes. Bring your Deet! Overall a really nice hike with good views. This is the only backpacking trail in Sonoma county and they only give 3 permits per day so you will need to get one early.

hiking
Tue Mar 06 2018

Very beautiful hike. Had a great time. Wish we had brought footwear for fording, had to take off shoes a lot. I think the hard rating is probably a bit off, more of a moderate hike. There is some elevation gain, but it is on a fire road, so footing is solid and the grade is not too bad. Certainly give yourself enough time to complete, took us all afternoon due to having to change in and out of footwear frequently. Lots of newts and wildflowers. Also saw a king snake sunning itself.

hiking
Sat Feb 03 2018

The forest you're in for much of this hike is just stunning - so lush and green and undisturbed. We only passed 2 other groups the whole hike. There are > 15 stream crossings, so be sure to bring/wear your water shoes or be prepared to take your shoes off a lot. We saw a TON of red bellied newts, so watch your step! The reason this hike gets a hard rating is definitely the last 1.5 miles (otherwise definitely would not classify it as such). That steep uphill at the end of an 8.3 mile hike is not fun!

hiking
Tue Jan 16 2018

The forest is lush and the newts are frolicking! There are currently (January) a dozen or so stream crossings; knee-high water at one ford. I clocked the loop at 9 mi, 1145 ft, 3.5 hrs.

hiking
Mon Jan 15 2018

20 + river crossings two requiring us to remove shoes and socks to cross. Bring water shoes and a water filter. Being from NorCal, trail had average scenery. Saw, turkeys and lots of interesting salamanders.

hiking
Mon Aug 14 2017

Strava has this hike at 9.3 miles and 2100 feet so don't believe AllTrails. And the extra mile is tough! Did this in "reverse" from Gilliam Creek trail looping back on the fire road. Very little water flowing in mid August. 3h 45min. Only 2 other hikers on a Sunday. Entrance to the park is through Armstrong SP so watch out if Google maps says otherwise!

hiking
Wed Jul 26 2017

Took the Gilliam creek trail 12:30 pm was perfect start for mid day start. The 10 mile loop was challenging with river crossings, obstacles from our wet winter, steep elevation changes. We had 5 liters water we could have brought more. We saw 4 other people on trail. The meandering creeks were beautiful. The oak trees were stunning to view. We saw deer, snakes, turkey,crawfish,wild boar and a lot of birds. We will return to see the other seasons. Highly recommend

Wed May 31 2017

Did this backwards. Started at Gilliam creek. Finished on the fire road. All ip hill for almost 3 miles. Amazing variety of scenery but lots of creek crossings. A good solid workout.

Mon Apr 03 2017

Great trail that leads down a fire road to some beautiful creeks. The Second half of the hike you have alot of creek crossings, then a solid 1.5 mile climb back to the trailhead.

Sun Mar 19 2017

Very hard, wading through rivers

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