Lost Valley to Castle Rock
[out of 5]
|For:||Long, sun exposure, difficult rock climb at the end.|
This hike begins at Nira at the Manzana trailhead. It follows the same path
as the Lost Valley Trail hike. The difference is a nice side-trip off the trail for an
adventurous climb up a distinctive rock formation. Don't try this hike if you are
nervous about climbing a slippery, crumbly rock.
When you reach the summit, the rock towers hundreds of feet, with sheer cliffs,
over the valley below. Hurricane deck is right in front of you, and you can imagine
there must be a short-cut up to the Deck along a ridge. Perhaps one day I'll explore
and see if it can be done. Or maybe not.
There is an interesting spot to have lunch where there is a natural ampitheater, similar to the
pool on top of Pool Rock. If you could just block off the one end, it could fill up with rain water
and make a great swimming pool. The sandstone, although too crumbly for hardcore climbing, is fun
to walk on and explore. There are many similar rock formations in the area, many with little
windworn caves. Lots of interesting places to explore.
This hike is about 9 miles round trip. It is a gentle incline the whole way, and then very strenuous the last
You will need an Adventure Pass
Pass to park at the trailhead.
Please add a brief update about trail conditions. All comments are moderated and will not display until approved, which can take days if I'm away on the trail.
Lost Valley trail was substantially hit by the storms two weeks ago. We came down the trail from the Hurricane Deck intersection yesterday evening, and unfortunately, there was a lot of damage starting just before Vulture Spring. Vulture Spring has been mostly washed away. That draw funneled a huge amount of water and is basically debris and a deep gash now. The trail on both sides is rubble, as is a number of the east-facing slopes down to Twin Oaks. The other culverts/draws along the trail are also seriously damaged and many sections along the slope are just rock & sand slides now.
The last mile down to Twin Oaks camp is fine (as is the camp), but traveling on toward Manzana there are many large cuts and washes that have really really changed the topography.
Unfortunately, winter hasn’t started yet. At this point even a moderately large storm will probably make Lost Valley impassable (and dangerous on the higher slopes) to most hikers. At the present state, it would be a mistake to take stock up there (with probably the exception of goats---no disrespect to the mules).
Experienced hikers will not have too much trouble finding their way, but there are several dicey sections. Carrying a large pack would put you at quite a bit of risk if you slip or lose your balance.
Posted by: Jeff
Hiked to Castle Rock yesterday. We tried to more or less find our way with Diane's directions, but once you get off the trail into the creek, the easiest thing to do is to just forge ahead towards the left side of the rock. There are tons of beautiful rock formations though! You could probably spend hours exploring.
Manzana Creek near Nira was basically a bunch of stagnant pools; I think there was only one place where water was slowly flowing between them.
Posted by: Sebastian
Hiked up to Hurricane Deck via Lost Valley trail on June 14, 2014. The trail was fairly easy to follow. Saw mountain lion scat about 1.5 miles before the Deck. Very little water coming from the spring, but enough to form a small puddle.
Posted by: Chris Chirgwin
The spring is barely a dribble now.
Posted by: Jeff
By loop I mean Nira, Lost Valley Trail, Hurricane Deck, Potrero Canyon Trail, Nira.
Posted by: Andrew Carter
Did the loop Saturday afternoon (4 hours) and Sunday (7.5 hours). Trails in "good" condition (local rules apply). Thank you volunteer maintainers. Never once lost the trail, even on the Deck. No water in Lost Valley, but the "surprise spring" climbing out of Lost Valley to table lands above is still flowing. For how long, who knows? No water on Manzana Trail downstream from Nira. Upstream, yes. Hot, but not too hot on Sunday (again, local rules apply). Thank you intermittent breeze. Avoid the middle of the day when the ground itself becomes a furnace.
Posted by: Andrew Carter