Joined: 14 Aug 2006
|Hogs Pen Spring Trail
Posted: April Mon 13, 2009 10:41 am
|A spur of the moment overnighter to Painted Rock.
Did this trip with Steve a regular Wed Nighter.
This was our first time out here. We wanted to do an overnighter and had loose plans. Our original destination was changed, and Steve insisted that our destination either had to have a hot spring or an arch site, so the choice was easy. So at about 2 PM Saturday we headed out of town.
Steve was driving his Saab convertible and we originally planned on taking Sierra Madre road the whole way to the gate in the car and then walking the rest of the way. As it turned out the car was not the best of choices. Lots of gizmos on this car and Steve was worried the dirt road would jar loose the electronics. Also we did not have enough fuel as it turned out. The car has an electronic display that give you the miles til you need gas estimate. Well the estimate kept changing, pretty dramatically in the wrong way as we headed up the dirt road. So we were forced to turn around after only driving about 8 miles on the dirt road. We decided that rather then risk running out of fuel we could head out towards Cuyama and fuel up there, and hike one of the trails from there. No gas for sale in Cuyama as it turns out. Because Perkins Rd. is now gated, the most direct route The Rocky Ridge Trail was not so easily available. (A local in Cuyama told us that it would be trespassing to walk up Perkins Rd to the trailhead, past the gate. Does anyone know if this is true?) so we drove up the next road and followed up 6 miles up to Aliso Park.
Aliso Park is a pleasant grove of oaks in a little canyon, its got a toilet a few picnic tables and a few fire rings. I bet this place gets a lot of use from the locals in the summer because its so nicely shaded and a couple of thousand feet higher then the plains. There is a road that goes another 2.5 miles into the canyon with a very gentle rise up to Hogs Pen Springs. This also would be a good place in the summer its pretty out here, with a nice green grassy area. Plenty of water as there are two springs and a trail that goes up to Sierra Madre Rd on the ridge. The trail very closely resembles the hike from Forbush to Camino Cielo. In about a mile and a half it goes up to the top ridge switch backing the entire way, up a little less then a thousand feet. The footing is good and someone recently came thru here and cleared trail (who ever you are thank you) I bet this trail does not get that much use and there is a lot of yucca growing on the slope, but its been cut away so I did not get pricked even once. Up on top we got to the road and drank a beer watching the sunset. It was brisk and a bit windy. The road is in great shape and recently graded. And we hiked into camp at something like 9:30 PM.
Just using dead reckoning I figured we were pretty close, plus I started to see some cow patties in the road evidence of a meadow. Steve thought we still had a couple miles to go, I saw a jackrabbit cross the road. As the moon had not yet come up it was pretty dark and we crossed the last cow crossing and arrived into camp. Looking for a suitable place to camp, so we managed to distress both groups that were there, strangers arriving late at night with headlamps shining around. We ended up camping near the rock had the best spot IMHO. Set up tents ate dinner and climbed into bed. I've never slept so well, it was cold but not freezing cold, and lots of condensation.
Painted rock is gorgeous, a big meadow and interesting rock formations. Looking south we had epic views from on high, of places we often hike, the Manzana and Sisquoc, We could see the entire range running from Big Pine and beyond all the way to Zaca Peak. We could see a bit of snow on the north slope of McKinley, and we got a good view of the North face of Hurricane Deck. There was a bit of water dripping down the face of the rock that cooled our beer and provided us water.
As for the arch site the lower cave was in pretty bad shape just one image, (a humming bird I thought, and later saw a humming bird drink from the air of the water dripping off the rock face adjacent to the image.) The upper cave is in much better shape. The area around it is off limits but you can still get a good gander from below. I found a sliver of a sea shell, and put it back where I found it. Lots and lots of pestles. Obviously lots of people grinding acorns here over the years. Walking over the ridge and down a bit there was an amazing rock formation that was very evocative of a mystical castle. Its interesting because my brother Loren said it reminded him of Disneyland, and that was my thought as well. Really a lot to see out here, and Springtime is the best time to do it. While the grass is green and the temperature is still comfortable. It was a bit chilly hiking in the wind, but that kept us very comfortable as well.
Coming out here made us aware of how much hiking is still out here to explore in our back country. And I'd say its planted some seeds for future trips. I'd be curious to hike the Jackson trail down to the Sisquoc. This would make an excellent way to pass thru on a hike thru from Cuyama back to SB.
But soon enough it was time to pack up and hike back. I’d rate this as another excellent destination for an overnighter and very approachable too. Roughly 5 easy miles from the road. Or if you went our way 10 each way but only a 1.5 of easy ascent. Distance from SB wise, probably not more then an hour more of driving, in comparison to Nira from SB. So when you think about it its not really that far away.