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Lower Sisquoc Trail

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Diane
Guru at the summit


Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 836
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Lower Sisquoc Trail
Post Posted: March Sat 26, 2005 6:31 pm
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Post your update here or from Bryan's Interactive Backcountry Map.boots
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BSA Troop 42
Backpacker


Joined: 11 Apr 2005
Posts: 38
Location: Buellton, California


Post Posted: April Mon 10, 2006 9:04 pm
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Backpacked from Sycamore Camp to School House during 3 Ė 9 April 2006. Much hill climbing to get around fast / high Sisquoc River crossings. After two days and nights of rain, the River was brown with silt for two days and it dropped about one foot per day during the rest of our trip. Many ducks and Willow ribbons to help find the trail a lot of the way.
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Adam
Day Hiker


Joined: 21 Aug 2006
Posts: 4

Schoolhouse to Sycamore
Post Posted: August Mon 21, 2006 12:22 pm
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We used this trail as part of the Manzana-Sisquoc-Manzana loop. For the first couple miles, it is easy to follow, but is soon lost. We ended up just following near the river until we regained it at Water Canyon. The trail then disappeared again sometime after Mormon Camp. This basic pattern continued all the way to Sycamore. Over half the time, we weren't on the trail at all. The rest of the time, we weren't really sure that we were on it, because it wasn't really that much better than most of the game trails. One good thing is that the camps were all pretty easy to find, being near the river. It was very remote and we only saw two other people the whole time we were back there. It took us two days to cover the ~14 miles to Sycamore from Schoolhouse, mainly because of losing the trail and having to bushwhack through parts around a bend near the middle (took us 2 hours to go a mile and a half). It turns out there's a good reason for all this: this part of the wilderness is actually closed right now. People have cut up/taken down signs, but on our way out, a ranger told us that because of fires, it has been closed since July. It might have been easier to hike the opposite direction, since it seemed like the cairns were strategically placed for coming from the other direction. They didn't do us much good, though.
In any case, it was beautiful and remote and a good challenging hike. Bring maps, and check for ticks frequently.
hills
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Duane
I live on the trails


Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 223
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Posted Elsewhere By Dogoodner
Post Posted: May Wed 09, 2007 9:27 am
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Hiked east out of Nira last weekend (April 28th) headed for west Nira the long way around.

First couple days it was very hot, and of course that figures as we had the heaviest packs. Fortunately it cooled off over the next few days, and we hiked in the early morning hours.

Water was plentiful along the Manzana Creek.

There was water at Happy Hunting -- wonít last long though.
White Ledge also had water, as you might expect if Happy Hunting had it.

Water was good at Lonnie Davis, as well as South Fork. Not as high as I would like to see it this time of year, but plenty to drink and cook.

Water was present all along the Sisquoc, but I suspect that this will be a short-lived water year at the lower ends of the river.

Water was also good all along the Sisquoc until about a mile and half before Schoolhouse. Again, day by day, I expect the river will recede.

Water was also present at the east entrance of Schoolhouse on the Manzana creek.

Ticks werenít to bad -- Iíve seen so much worst.

Lots of beaver activity. Actually sat an watched a beaver do its thing one afternoon. Pretty awesome.

One note: the trail is washed out somewhere near Foresterís Leap. Headed west (out of South Fork) it is treacherous... but we made it. Coming the other way, it would be much more difficult. It may not even be doable. I suggest taking the river through this portion of the trail.

Second note: trail is negligible between Miller and Sycamore. (Nothing new.) Although we made a dent in the thickets, and tried to replace ducks as we went.

Third note: Wizard cave painting seems to be showing its age. It wasnít due to vandalism -- thankfully -- itís just been ravaged by the elements.

We have such a spectacular refuge here in the San Rafael and Dick Smith, and I wish I could get out there more often for longer periods.
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Algalita Research - Learn about the pelagic plastic problem
Duane
I live on the trails


Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 223
Location: Los Angeles, CA


Post Posted: May Wed 09, 2007 9:35 am
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I cut and pasted the below update from the Manzana section. It was written by dgoodner, not me. I meant to enter that in the last entry. Credit where credit is due!! Smile
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Duane
I live on the trails


Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 223
Location: Los Angeles, CA


Post Posted: April Wed 01, 2009 11:52 am
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Hiked the Sisquoc Loop this past weekend (Saturday, 03/28/2009 through Tuesday, 03/31/2009). Trail bed from South Fork to Sycamore is overgrown, but followable if you pay attention. There are two washouts above the river; be very careful. I had no problem navigating them, but it would be difficult to get stock up and over them.

The trail bed is almost nonexistent from Sycamore to Water Camps. There were some ducks and flags, and occasional human footprints, to lead the way, but very little in actual trail. I found that the best way to navigate this section was to make my way to the flattest surface I could find and walk as far as I was able to.

A big thank you, by the way, to those who ducked and flagged the trail. Trail conditions were far worse than I expected, and I was expecting difficult conditions. Shocked

Expect to take a full day to hike from Sycamore to Water.

There is a maintained, mile long upper trail near Abel (or Cliff) camp on the left hand side of the river. It was a nice break.
hills
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Diane
Guru at the summit


Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 836
Location: Santa Barbara, CA


Post Posted: April Sun 05, 2009 3:31 pm
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I think you may have gotten off the trail a bit, Duane. I just hiked that area and the trail from South Fork to Cliff was mostly in great shape.

The trail leaves the water past the first creek crossing after you pass the sign at South Fork. It goes up high and has been freshly worked. When it drops low to the water it's obscure again, but mostly it's easy enough to follow most of the way to Sycamore.

If you are diligent, you may be able to find where the trail goes up high again below Cain, the prominent red montain. Along this section the trail has been freshly worked and is spectacular. Then it drops down again and from then on, it's pretty bad until you can find your way up to the mesa just before Manzana.

We followed blue tape and huge ducks at first. Duckman soon fell down on the job and blue tape man pretty much gave up before Cliff camp. Then there was nothing. It's especially bad around Abel and beyond. We put up some orange tape after Abel, but we may have put some bad markers up in a couple of spots.
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toejam
I live on the trails


Joined: 08 Jun 2009
Posts: 123
Location: Pismo!


Post Posted: October Mon 17, 2011 6:07 am
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This trail is in good shape where ever it stays out of the river bed. Unfortunately it crosses the river every couple hundred yards. I lost the trail at most river crossings, then after a little while I'd find it again. At several places there are parallel routes created by boneheads like me. The persistent growth at the waters edge and high water in the rainy season are going to keep it that way.

As mentioned before, Sycamore to Water Canyon is a good, long day. Actually, neither I nor the the other guy on the trail made it that far - he stopped near Miller Canyon and I stopped at the Lorna camp a mile before Water Canyon.

Water was flowing in the river until very close to Manzana Schoolhouse.
boots
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CJDGO
Day Hiker


Joined: 21 Apr 2011
Posts: 10
Location: Camarillo

Mostly nice trail
Post Posted: April Mon 02, 2012 6:52 am
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My group of six (all experienced backpackers in good shape, 30s-50s) navigated the stretch from Water Canyon to Sycamore in about nine hours on March 30, as part of a four-day clockwise loop from NIRA with camps at Water Canyon, Sycamore and Manzana Camp. I think we were on the trail about 95% of the time, but without the helpful flagging and cairns, we would have been lucky to claim 50%. We would invariably lose the trail at every crossing (there are exactly 50 between Water and Sycamore), but with the team's sharp eyes, someone was usually able to spot a ribbon or cairn or stretch of trail in the distance. Though faint, the tread was surprisingly clear; only for about a 1/4 mile section just east of Abel Camp was there any deadfall to speak of. The stretch between Abel and Cliff was definitely the worst, but by persevering, bushwhacking and creek-walking where necessary -- always plodding up-canyon -- it really wasn't all that bad. We didn't even really have to glance at a map or GPS. As for the camps, which were all easily stumbled upon:

WATER CANYON: nice, lightly-used camp under a sentinel oak. Handy workspace table.

LORNA: What a lovely surprise! The best camp on the loop, evidently lovingly maintained, with a beautiful table and stone hearth.

MORMON: lightly used, on an exposed, slightly sloping bench overlooking a bend in the river with a big beaver dam. (The beaver had felled a rather large cottonwood recently).

MILLER CANYON BASE: grassy, shady and flat, under large oaks, with a series of makeshift benches, but no table.

ABEL CANYON: shady, amid brushy oaks, with a badly decaying picnic table. A pleasant rest stop. Probably used rarely.

CLIFF: gorgeous views of a Grand Canyon-like cliff towering above and a wildflower-filled meadow. No table. Probably used rarely, which is a shame.

We had Water Canyon and Sycamore camps to ourselves, and we passed only one other party, coincidentally making the same loop in the counter-clockwise direction, which was fortuitous, given how deprived of peace and quiet we were on our last night through the jam-packed Manzana Creek camps, which were all full thanks to Spring Break. It's rather a shame this beautiful trail doesn't get more attention, but it's still definitely only for strong, well-prepared hikers. Opportunities for turned ankles abound.
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dlliteras
Day Hiker


Joined: 28 Mar 2013
Posts: 5


Post Posted: March Fri 29, 2013 8:01 am
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I traveled through this section of trail on my big loop hike this past week. It is one of two sections of trail that stand out as needing the most work (the other was a section of the Mission Pine Trail, I've already posted my comments on that one). My experience was pretty similar to the last poster.

The trail (coming from the schoolhouse) was pretty good up until the river crossing right before Water Canyon. Trail got worse from there, and I'd estimate that I spent around 80% of my time on trail and making good progress between Mormon and Sycamore. My time off trail was variable, it went from fast and easy plodding up grassy valleys to crashing through brush and falling down river banks. Granted, some of that was likely my fault; more then once I was trudging along only to stumble upon a really nice, established section of trail. Like the last poster, I also found where the trail passed through the river and its floodplain to be the worst. Cairns and flagging were sometimes helpful, sometimes not. Past Sycamore the trail improves significantly, although it does get thin along some of the steeper sections. After Sweetwater Trail conditions are awesome.

Definitely a cool stretch of the river; rich in beauty, wildlife, and history. Worth exploring. Pictures from this section. Not much in the way of trail conditions.
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toejam
I live on the trails


Joined: 08 Jun 2009
Posts: 123
Location: Pismo!


Post Posted: November Fri 15, 2013 7:22 pm
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TrailJunky & I hiked the Lower Sisquoc Loop last weekend. Good water can be expected at Dabney Cabin, Mormon, Abel, South Fork, Lonie Davis, & Manzana Narrows.

Don't fear the Lower Sisquoc!
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toejam
I live on the trails


Joined: 08 Jun 2009
Posts: 123
Location: Pismo!


Post Posted: November Fri 15, 2013 7:23 pm
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Link to the pictures:

https://picasaweb.google.com/toejamhikes/LowerSisquocLoop1113?authuser =0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNzszrKfo6P64QE&feat=directlink
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toejam
I live on the trails


Joined: 08 Jun 2009
Posts: 123
Location: Pismo!


Post Posted: February Tue 18, 2014 9:43 am
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I was scouting the lower Sisquoc last weekend for a future work trip. With a few trips back there now, I've discovered that the real trail often climbs benches above the river. But it looks like most people stay close to the river and end up bushwhacking. Either way, the route is better than I've seen it, thanks to the dry weather.

There is currently good water at Sycamore. The water at Abel was smelly.
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