I’ve hiked Boden Canyon (two links, both to my photography website) before and also went up to Orozco Ridge from there. I’ve hiked the old Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail along the Santa Ysabel Creek gorge as well, and I knew this could be combined into a loop hike. Last Friday Fred and I were able to continue our hiking routine 🙂 and so we went to see how that goes.
Since the Boden Canyon trailhead from Highway 78 is officially closed, we started at Pamo Valley (trailhead – when we arrived the gate was still closed and parking there is rather limited). We hiked the loop clockwise, following the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail in south-westerly direction, along the Santa Ysabel Creek gorge. The creek wasn’t really flowing even after the rains, there were some puddles of standing water here and there and that was it. The trail itself contours the chaparral slopes and was very nice this time of the year.
Where the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail meets the Guejito Truck Trail (pronounced Wa-Hee-Tow) we made a sharp right, now hiking north and soon crossing Santa Ysabel Creek. The creek was dry once more here (as expected) – the last time I saw it flowing was in 2012. Past the creek crossing, it’s uphill on the old dirt road and there’s no shade. A nice breeze kept us cool. The trail curves in an S-shape soon, and then enters Boden Canyon‘s riparian woodland, composed of mostly oaks and sycamores that form a beautiful, shady canopy.
To complete the loop, we had to leave the beautiful shade of Boden Canyon soon however, making a right onto the Orozco Truck Trail (on some maps this is misspelled as “Drasco Truck Trail“), now hiking east and uphill towards Orosco Ridge. Where trail swings left and continues north, it continues to go uphill*. Eventually the Orosco Truck Trail splits, and we took the eastward route which slowly winds back down into Pamo Valley and to the trailhead.
You can find the GPS log that I recorded with GaiaGPS online here. If you want to try this hike make sure to have a look at the stats: it is 10,3 miles long, with ~1300 feet total ascend/descend.
Also, to be quite honest, the whole section up at Orosco Ridge on the Orozco Truck Trail is a rather boring part of the hike. I wouldn’t do this part again. It’s just trotting along on the old dirt road, and there is absolutely zero shade. It may be okay on overcast days, but for us it was clear blue skies and even though we started early, by the time we were up at the ridge the sun was beating down. Without the constant breeze that kept us cool, this wouldn’t have been any joy at all. Later in Spring or even in Summer, I wouldn’t recommend the hike in its entirety at all.
Last not least, here are some impressions from the hike:
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*) this is also the old Orozco Ridge target shooting area (closed since 2002 or 2003, thankfully). Thousands of old shotgun shells still litter the trail. Too bad all the very responsible recreational shooters didn’t clean up after themselves. Multiple signs also warn of high lead concentrations in the area. 😦