Trout Creek Trail [CLOSED]

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Garcia Wilderness

Trout Creek Trail [CLOSED] is a 7.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Arroyo Grande, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, camping, and horses and is best used from March until November. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Length7.9 miElevation gain1177 ftRoute typeOut & back
dog friendlyCampingHikingHorseback ridingWalkingRiverViewsWildflowersWildlifeOver grownClosed
Description
Waypoints (5)
Contact
Tips
Getting There

As of September 2020, trails in this area are closed due to wildfire. See park page for more information. The route to Buckeye Camp in the Garcia Wilderness follows the Trout Creek and Buckeye Camps Trails, first paralleling Trout Creek and then following a climbing traverse along the south slopes of Garcia Mountain to Buckeye Camp. The route crosses a mix of national forest land and private inholdings for the first 2.4 miles before entering the designated wilderness area. The drive to the trailhead is something of an adventure in itself, as the Hi Mountain Road (30S05) is unpaved and deeply rutted. Wet fords of the Salinas River and Trout Creek itself make a high clearance vehicle essential for safely reaching the trailhead. Hi Mountain Road is usually closed during the winter months due to mud and high river levels. The trailhead itself consists of a small grassy clearing marked by a fence. A hiker's stile allows access to the trail itself. Neither the trailhead nor the trail is signed. Despite the lack of signage, the Trout Creek Trail is in good shape and quite easy to follow. The trail runs downstream along Trout Creek, crossing and re-crossing the stream nine times before reaching a junction where the Buckeye Camp Trail turns left uphill. This important junction is currently marked with a carsonite trail sign - and a cow skull. The main Trout Creek Trail continues for approximately 0.5 miles before reaching a fence and private property. Once on the Buckeye Camp Trail, the route climbs steeply uphill, shortly entering the Garcia Wilderness. The trail crests at a saddle at 3.25 miles, where Caldwell Mesa and Pine Ridge are visible to the southeast. A brief descent from the saddle leads to a junction where the side trail to Buckeye Camp heads left. A short climb from here leads to Buckeye Camp, nestled on a well-shaded flat beside a spring-fed tributary of Trout Creek. The camp has a single fire ring with a metal grate and several benches. A wilderness toilet is located just below the camp, but dense poison oak made it difficult to access. Back at the junction with the lateral trail to Buckeye Camp, turn right to return to the trailhead. From here, it is also possible to continue deeper into the Garcia Wilderness.

Wilderness permits are not required for the Garcia Wilderness. Spring is the best time of year for this hike, as temperatures are pleasant and the wildflower display is generally very impressive. Summer is unpleasantly hot. Fall is not as hot, but still very dry. While this would make a pleasant winter hike, access to the trailhead is doubtful due to the seasonal closure of Hi Mountain Road. Poison oak is prevalent along the entire length of the trail. Other possible hazards include ticks and rattlesnakes.

The drive up Hi Mountain Road to the trailhead is possibly the most adventurous part of the trip. While 4WD is not required, you will need a high-clearance vehicle to navigate the numerous stream crossings and deep ruts in the road. Hi Mountain Road is frequently closed in the winter due to muddy conditions. Check the Los Padres National Forest road conditions web page for the current road status.

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Reviews (13)
Photos (28)
Recordings (7)
Completed (19)
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Nathan M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 17, 2021
Hiking

01/17/2021 80°F The road to the trailhead was in much better shape than expected and relatively smooth. The trail itself is in good shape and easy to follow, though it isn't very scenic right now because it is so dry. Most of the creeks are dry as well, though there is water in a few spots with good flow. The water source at Buckeye camp was trickling, but sufficient to filter water. This is a pretty moderate hike with few steep inclines, though the heat today made it a little tougher. Only saw two people on the way back to the trailhead. On IG as @picbynathan

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Brooke Reasner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 28, 2020
Hiking

Great Springtime trail with lots of reliable water and tree cover. Coming from the south on Hi Mountain Rd (currently closed), it is approximately 3.9 miles to the trailhead itself. There is cattle turned out beyond the gate that have kept the trail from becoming overgrown. This trail is easy to follow and there is some poison oak along some spots of the trail so long pants are advised. I made it 1 mile shy of Buckeye camp. You can take Piper-Paid connector trail to shave off 2 miles from the south on Hi Mountain Rd when it is closed. I will be back soon to do an overnighter. This trail is a hidden gem!

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Ryan Rempel
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Backpacking

Very overgrown with poison oak and "hitchhiker plants" crowding the trail. There was plenty of water in the creek when we went. Lots of snakes, but none of the snakes we saw were dangerous. Many creek crossings but they were all easy crossings. There is a fallen tree across the trail at one of the creek crossings.

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Mike Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 18, 2018
Backpacking

I should have checked with the forest service and noted in the above description of winter closure, and yes, the road from the south entrance was closed approximately 4 miles from the trailhead.

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Toney Green
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 14, 2017
Backpacking

This trail or what used to be a trail is severely overgrown with poison oak and weeds. We actually went all the way and stayed one night. If you attempt this make sure you are fully covered with clothes. Trekking pole are a must as well.

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Yoneko Tamaki
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 22, 2016
Hiking

First time on this trail about 2 weeks ago. I have a 4Runner with 4WD, but ended up parking in the shade where the county maintained dirt road ended as it was very clear where the maintenance ended; and I didn't want to risk getting stuck way out there. It was about 1/2 of a mile to get to the trailhead (located on right hand side of the road). Trailhead not clearly marked- just a metal gate with a hikers entrance. Other hikers have posted pictures. No water in the creek and plenty of poison oak and foxtails. Pants would be a good idea on this trail. Overall, beautiful views and very peaceful amongst our California Oaks. Pretty isolated, so bring plenty of water and come prepared.

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Justin Madruga
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 8, 2015
Hiking

I recently did an overnighter to the camp. Poison oak was unavoidable in some spots. There weren't many ticks, but I had a few on me when I got to camp and when I got home. Wear long pants and take plenty if water if you're camping. The creek had small holes, but it wasn't flowing very well.

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Sheryl Stanley
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Agree on the vehicle. The hike was awesome but at the time we went in July the poison oak is abundant. Suggest long pants. It's on both sides of the trail. Don't go on a hot day. There was some water periodically in the creek but not running.

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Frank Kehl
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Hiking
First to Review

This is an excellent creekside hike that leads into the Garcia Wilderness and visits a remote, seldom-used backcountry trail camp. You'll need a high-clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead, and finding the unsigned trailhead itself is somewhat challenging. If you can get past these challenges, the hike itself is a worthy reward. It's best to go in the spring when the weather is cool and the wildflowers are blooming.

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Dominico Cosma
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Hiking
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Jim Greenaway
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Hiking
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Rob Wooldridge
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Backpacking
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Frank Kehl
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Hiking
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