[out of 5]
|For:||Overgrown, exposed to the sun, long, with places where the trail is hard to find, but not steep|
Diane at Indian Creek Swimming hole
I suggest Indian Creek be hiked on a gorgeous spring day after the rains have made the flowers bloom. Then enjoy walking through carpets of happy little yellow flowers and a late afternoon skinny dip in the most inviting pool, complete with a champagne bubble Jacuzzi and a lap pool current to swim against.
Indian Creek Trail is a very long trail with one end near Mono campground and the other near Bluff Camp, which is a Forest Service Station accessible only by foot, unless you're a ranger with free range to drive anywhere in the back country you want. The trail description is for a level 15 mile round trip day hike. Since the trail is so very overgrown, and you'll have to wade through some poison oak, push your way through a lot of brush, and cross innumerable creek crossings, it is optional to do the whole entire thing. Just turn around when you get tired. The only reason to do the whole thing is that the further upstream you go the prettier it gets.
This hike starts at Mono and requires over an hour drive from Santa Barbara on a dreadful, dirt road. But that pool and the flowers in springtime make it worthwhile.
The hike also begins kind of dismally in some rather harshly arid conditions, but the further upstream you go, the prettier it gets. This is also way back country, making this trail a great portal to a serious, multi-day back pack trip. Don't let all these words deter you; I'm just letting you know what you're in for!
The hike described here is a 14 mile day hike.
You will need an Adventure Pass to park your car in the area.
Indian Creek Trail Updates
Update trail conditions
Posted: June 9, 2013, 9:52 pm
On a related note, very dry up Mono Creek to the narrows as of 6/8/13. A few spots dotted along the way to filter water, but those probably won't last too much longer with the heat now.
Posted: June 4, 2013, 10:48 am
Stillman is golden.
Posted: May 27, 2013, 11:44 am
This guy was up there in April:
I don't know him, but his blog is always a great read.
Posted: May 24, 2013, 11:27 pm
Has anyone hiked it this year?
Posted: July 30, 2012, 3:08 pm
We did a couple of trips down Indian Creek trail, between January and May of 2012. The trail is easy to follow and open to Buckhorn Creek and on to the Meadows campsite. The trail is substantially overgrown from the Meadows to Indian Creek Camp. We did a backpacking trip out to Indian Creek campsite in May and were forced to wade in the water for the last couple of miles due to extremely heavy overgrowth of poison oak, thickets covering the trail at least 5 feet high.
At the time of our last trip, in May, there was substantial water flow throughout the stream up to the 2 stage waterfall above Indian Camp.
It is generally a nice hike, but if you are at all sensitive to poison oak I wouldn't suggest going beyond the meadows campsite.
In addition to Indian Creek Trail, we also took one unfortunate hike down Buckhorn Trail. This hike is likely much less popular due to access to the area, however if anyone is considering it, I wouldn't recommend going up to Buckhorn road from the creek.
The trail down from Buckhorn Rd. is extremely overgrown and has several trees down on the path, which are difficult to get around. In addition it is very difficult to follow the trail due to the level of overgrowth.
The trail that follows Buckhorn creek to where it joins Indian Creek, is slightly better. The trail is still difficult to follow in areas and requires wading through large patches of poison oak. The campsite at Lower Buckhorn is a little overgrown, and the picnic table is unfortunately no longer standing. I would recommend using the Meadows campsite instead of Lower Buckhorn if possible.
On a side note, Buckhorn has been dry in its upper reaches at least since April. It is likely dry farther down now, so I would be cautious in using it as a water source if you choose to explore it's upper reaches and tributaries.
Posted: February 26, 2011, 3:50 am
As part of a longer hike in earlier this month (see http://www.santabarbarahikes.com/community/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=847), I hiked Indian Canyon from Bluff Station through to Romero-Camuesa Road.
by: Cross Tie Walker
The stretch from Bluff down past Blue Jay, Poplar and Pens is passable, but there's one especially thick section of downed trees just upstream from Blue Jay (before the creek crossings begin). It's also thick with some treefall in the narrow section downstream from Blue Jay, but improves once en route to Poplar.
It's a rockhop from Pens to Indian Camp: long and -- with the water levels pretty healthy at the moment -- quite wet. Lots of cat and bear prints. Heavy on the PO (ugh).
From Indian Camp, the trail's in great shape. The upper section is well-flagged and the crossings easy spot en route to Meadow. From Meadow on it's great all the way out to the road.
Posted: June 19, 2010, 1:23 pm
Did a solo, two-nighter last weekend up to Indian Camp. Trail is fairly wide open, for Indian Creek standards, up to about a half mile or so past Meadow Camp. At that point the brush has started to creep over what is otherwise a wide cut trail. It is still easy to follow, though, just requires a little pushing through branches here and there. After that it's into the creek with sections of decent trail interspersed with creek boulder hopping.
Saw two rattlesnakes so keep your eyes peeled. Found a nice pile of garbage waiting for me at Meadow Camp. I collected it and kept it with me in case I found its owner so I could shove it up their. . .
Plenty of cool water still flowing fast all the way down the canyon. It was about 90-95 degrees, but hiking in the creek water kept me cool and I hardly broke a sweat hiking up from Indian Camp. A lot of wildlife out there and blooming flowers.
Posted: June 19, 2009, 11:04 am
Stayed at the meadow for two days memorial day weekend 2008. A late season rain squall occurred in the burned out upper drainage and quickly turned Indian Creek chocolate brown (I'm sure that's why there's no more trout). Had to hike over to buckhorn camp to get clean water.
Took a day hike up to perfect 10 and some extra curricular spelunking...fantastic. The numerous falls were amazing even when chocolate colored. Tons of bear evidence and the humboldt lilies were in full swing.
Posted: July 13, 2008, 4:22 pm
I hiked the Indian Creek trail as far as Meadow Camp by myself over Father's Day 2008, and have a few things to report.
by: Ranger Juan
There's a big black bear whose tracks are all over the trail, and who himself paid me a visit at my campsite just as I was finishing up dinner! I scared him off by banging pots and pans, and didn't see him again the rest of the trip. I definitely encourage hikers up there to keep their campsites scrupulously clean, and carry a bear canister if they've got one.
On my hike out, I saw big, fresh tracks that were unmistakably a mountain lion's. These, coupled with the bear encounter, and a terrifyingly close rattlesnake encounter, make me implore others to hike with a buddy. I love solo-hiking, but this trip, out in a remote part of the SB backcountry, has made me reconsider how prudent soloing is.
Other useful info: There's plenty of water still, although in the baking 95 degree heat, it might not last for much longer. No 10'' trout to report (see doug's post from 8/28/05.) The desolation of the Indian Creek area makes it a pretty special place; but know that from the end of the pavement on E. Camino Cielo, it's a 13 mi, ***50 minute*** drive to the trailhead over some pretty bumpy, dusty, tiring terrain (Diane already said this in her directions, but didn't indicate quite how long a drive this is!). Make sure your car is up to the task. (My VW Rabbit made it but wasn't happy.)
Don't let my report sound too discouraging though: Indian Creek's a great hike that I'll happily do again next spring--but with a buddy!
Posted: April 30, 2008, 2:49 pm
Since my last update a year and a half ago I have since participated in 2 trail maintenance projects put on by the Los Padres Forrest Association, to clear Indian Creek trail...
From Meadow Camp to Indian Camp is almost entirely clear. We have just one small section 100 yards or so left. Late this summer the CCC is slated to clearing the trail from the end of Camusa Road to the Buckhorn trail. So this should be a smooth easy hike the entire way.
Lots of water out there. The fire did not touch the lower part of the Cyn, but the upper part was mostly burned.