backpacking
23 days ago

This review is more about car accessibility, dogs, water availability, and insects (especially bees).

Went on a little backpacking trip from 6/23-6/25/18. It was 80-85 degrees during the day and full sun. I brought my two very fluffy dogs with me and went 3 miles down the hill to the creek. I left the main trail and followed the trail to the left (south, downstream) one mile. One mile downstream there is a large oak perfect for climbing and very shady to set up multiple tents. And alright yes a campfire ring, but please DO NOT start a fire! Also there is a stone dam and tower and small sandy beaches to enjoy. To get there go just beyond the campsite, up and over the rocks. At the top is a lone cactus, at that point head down and walk along the creek to avoid the very steep hill down directly to the dam and tower. I saw 3 hikers total on my entire trip so a very secluded trail!!

There is minimal shade along the first 3 miles till you hit the creek. It is best to complete this portion of the hike before 930-10a. The shade is optimal then as the hill is basically west facing. The first mile or so has partial shade at least every 0.1 miles, then no shade for 1 mile, then spotty shade till the creek. It is gently sloping downhill, but nothing strenuous at all even on the way up. Took me two hours to do the 4 miles to the campsite and just under 2.5 hours back to the car. I did stop whenever the dogs wanted to and for however long they wanted. Walked at a very average pace.

Water- No water until one mile downstream (4 miles total). Currently there are several pools of water varying from 20 feet in length to only a few; they are up to 4 feet deep and are not flowing. Please be conservative and conscientious when using water to avoid washing any sunscreen, bug spray, and dish water into the pools. It is also very easy to mistakenly scoop up tadpoles, frog eggs, and fish! Critters of every size and class are trying to make it in and around there!

Car accessibility- I have a 2005 Hyundai Accent so low clearance and very compact. I did not find the road leading to the trail head to be very bad at all! Took me 50 minutes to go up and down since due to my vehicle I have to be very careful and thoughtful about how I drive up there. Definitely having a narrow car that allows me to use the whole road to avoid bad areas was very helpful and a wider car with similar clearance may have more problems.

Dogs (previous ER/ICU vet nurse here)- Do not attempt this hike if it is above 85 degrees with your dog especially between 10a-2p!! Bring bare minimum 1 liter of water just for each dog (just for this 3 mile portion) and let them have a good rest in every bit of shade and free choice water at all times. After heat, your next biggest enemy is foxtails!! Right now it is peak season and the meadow the oak tree campsite is in is filled with them! Check frequently especially deep in the toes. Dogs have died from going septic from them embedding themselves. They will creep up into the eyes, ears, nose, prepubis, everywhere!! I spent at least 6 hours removing them total. Did pick off a few mostly dog ticks (not a large prevalence of tick borne dz in SoCal), they have 2 month (out of 3 month) old Scalibor collars but they go in the water a lot.

Insects- Yes expect a constant buzz. Once a swarm finds you walking along the creek, you've got new friends. They were tolerable, but certainly disrupt mediation. The mosquitoes are not too bad just annoying flies. Far from ruined the trip for me! I found Honest brand bug spray (mostly essential oils) worked fairly well but needed frequent application. If you care about bees as I do, due to a severe allergy, then its not perfect but it could be worse. I attract bees like crazy! So I still had a few stalkers, but no stings. Wildflowers are currently in bloom the first 0.5 miles and then along the creek where there is water. The ones along the creek seemed basically too pre-occupied to pay me attention. A few got a little interested, but not for long. I felt comfortable knocking into the flowers that crossed the path even if bees were busy working on the bush. The ones to be worried about are the swarms on the little white poms in the first 0.5 mile of the trail. There are just so many bees and I believe close to a hive that they are more protective and I had quite the stalker for a while that made me nervous (...and forget my hiking poles in the car!).

Things I was glad I brought or wished I had:
- Bug spray
- Visor > sunglasses
- Sunscreen
- Chapstick
- Hiking poles- lots of loose gravel and small rocks on the trail that poles help balance and stabilize you
- Comb to help remove foxtails from dogs
- Way to clean water

Things you don't need:
- sleeping pad- quite comfy on the bed of oak leaves, not worth the weight