Hurricane Deck Marathon
[out of 5]
|For:||Very long, sun exposure, insufficient water to complete the hike (bring extra), overgrown trail that is easy to lose.|
Hurricane Deck from Lost Valley Trail
Parts (not all) of this hike are shown on these two maps: West Manzana, and East Manzana.
The Hurricane Deck Marathon is a loop that circles from Nira, up the Portrero
Trail, across Hurricane Deck lengthwise, then meets up with Lost Valley
Trail, loops back to the Manzana trail and emerges at Nira Campground.
It is an inappropriate day hike at 24 miles, unless you want an extreme
Should you decide to camp and make it a two day hike, do not make a
fire. This place will set on fire like a blowtorch!
And don't forget to bring a few gallons of water for your camp. There
is no water on Hurricane Deck and there is only one source to refill your
water supply on the loop, 18 miles into it.
You can do this loop the other way, of course, beginning from the Lost
Valley Trail and heading toward Portrero Trail.
There has been much debate over which way is best. To start at the Potrero
Trail end you get all the steep uphill over with, then Lost Valley offers
a gradual descent that is gentler to the tired knees and feet after all
that work. You also get a water refill at about 18 miles, when you'll
really be needing and and your waterbottles are empty.
To start at the Lost Valley end, you have a gentler uphill, tiring you
out less. But your refill station for water comes before your bottles
are empty, at about the 5 miles mark. Unless you bring empty bottles to
fill up there, you may not have enough water, risking serious illness
from dehydration. You can stash water on Hurricane Deck a week in advance
if this concerns you.
Don't attempt this hike without significant hiking experience. Even
experienced hikers I know have been rescued by helicopters because of
extreme dehydration and getting lost! In fact, many of us now do this
hike twice - once to plant stashes of water the week before, and then
the following week we do the hike.
Total mileage is 18 to 24. The exact figure will be posted after May
You will need an Adventure
Pass to park at the trailhead.
Hurricane Deck (the entire thing) Updates
Update trail conditions
Posted: April 15, 2013, 12:09 pm
Weather was actually pretty nice, not too hot.
Skies were clear and the morning light breeze felt great towards the top. I went the Lost Valley access route, so I hit the deck in 3 hours 48 minutes. For an overnighter, this route would be great, but I did it in a dayhike, so my downhill kinda sucked!
I packed super light-- daypack, fleece top, spaceblanket, lightweight filter, mini Swiss Army,2 apples, 2 Slim Jims, and 1 liter of water, that's it.
Chilled out with a huge sleek Fox, it let me get very close and talk to it. Very cool. Saw the assorted reptiles and birds.
Stepped on a rattlesnake! Been hiking for decades, so I guess it was my time, but I felt a "squish" under my left boot heel, and then the snake went nuts rattling and getting out of the way. It happened so fast, but I am pretty sure we collided. It wasn't across the trail, but was probably cruising to cross the trail and we ran into each other. Luckily I wasn't bit. It would have been a long slog back to Nira. Just one of those backcountry things, snakes live there.
Anyway, I figure we have just a few weeks left before weather/water make this hike much more difficult.
Posted: March 19, 2013, 9:56 pm
I hiked the Deck from east to west 3/17/13. It occurred to me early on that this is more of a 'route' than a 'trail.' The only decent trail on this hike is for about 100 yards on either end. The rest is a faint track that involves lots of bushwhacking. I never lost the path for long, but had to keep looking for footprints and old cuts.
Have I mentioned before that the steel signs at the intersections include 7 miles of twilight zone between the Potrero & Lost Valley trails? The entire ridge is about 16 miles, as indicated on Bryan's map, not the 23 miles on the sign at White Ledge. But it's a full, tough day and shouldn't be attempted unless you are confident of your ability to keep a steady pace on mountainous terrain.
The west end of the trail is more overgrown than it's been the last few years. But it's getting used, so follow the footprints & flagging.
Posted: March 12, 2013, 11:00 am
Hiked this loop on Sunday 3/10-Monday 3/11/13. Camped in the meadow on top of the Hurricane Deck. Thanks to the Lopper for the trail trimming. Definitely made route finding easier in the badly brushy sections. However, we still had to do some crawling and there is still plenty of work to be done before this trail becomes passable without a substantial amount of bushwhacking. The recent work that was done on the Lost Valley Trail to the Hurricane Deck junction is great!
I carried 5 liters of water and would recommend that you bring at least 6 if you plan to camp on the deck. We had perfect weather conditions (relatively cool, clear and not too windy). If it's hot I would not recommend trying this hike unless you are in extremely good condition, have a lot of hiking and route finding experience and are well prepared. Even in ideal conditions you need some trail skills.
Our mileage from the gps was 19.7 for the loop, so it's a bit short of a "marathon" but you get extra bonus points for the difficulty!
Photos here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4417816935373.1073741827.1587371515&type=1
Posted: March 6, 2013, 10:37 am
We hiked up Portrero and crossed the west end of the deck down to the school. Some sections of the trail are a mess, especially the switchbacks on the deck on the far west end. Thank you to those that have done some flagging and brushing into the Sisquoc! It's going to be challenging after some more spring growth this year. Ticks seem to be fewer, but the poison oak is blooming, especially on the north slope into the Sisquoc.
Photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4379484697091.1073741825.1587371515&type=1
Posted: January 20, 2013, 10:40 pm
HD eastward to Lost Valley and back down Lost Valley.
Not quite sure how one would need a rope as mentioned previously. Sure, the trail is thin, but if you aren't willing to walk on sketchy trails, then don't go on the deck.
I cut open the overgrown sections from Big Bend to Lost Valley Junction. Still needs some more clean up but there are no sections requiring crawling anymore!
If everyone brought loppers on these trails, we could fix them up! Check out the Friskars Anvil Loppers at Ace Hardware. They weigh less than an iPhone, and do more good than a phone ever could on the deck!
Posted: April 25, 2012, 10:11 am
Yesterday I went from the School House to Nira via the Hurricane deck and potrero trails.
Potrero is in good shape. No washouts or other issues. Could use a little brushing.
Hurricane deck is pretty rough. I only lost the trail a few times but was able to follow the trend of the ridge and pick it up again. There is a bit of flagging that has been done in key places that was very helpful. It's amazing up there! The views, the setting, everything. I actually liked having to scout around for the trail a bit. Keeps you mentally engaged. Saw a fox, bobcat and a lone matilija poppy growing high up on the ridge.
If you want to check out this section of trail go for it now. The grass is green and the flowers are out.
Posted: March 3, 2012, 6:09 pm
Left Nira 8 AM, returned 3 PM. Counterclockwise loop: Nira, Potrero, W along deck, schoolhouse, cabin, back to Nira. Trail is in OK shape the entire way. In another year or two some sections of Hurricane Deck trail may be a little hard to find, but going counterclockwise means you go downhill through most of the "worst" sections and can see where to go pretty easily. Poison oak on section before schoolhouse is doing nicely(!)
Posted: January 31, 2012, 6:32 am
Jan 29 I hiked up the Deck using the Potrero Trail. At the top I hiked east to the second-highest point enjoying the views. Then back down the west end and was lucky enough to have Manzana Schoolhouse camp to myself. The trail on top of the Deck is generally a faint but well-trodden path that stays close to the edge of the cliff. Way down the west end it veers to right (north) through the brush and is narrow but easy enough to follow. When it finally leaves the ridge line in the oak trees and grass, it gently switches back down the steep slope and is criss-crossed by game trails.
It's a great overnighter from Nira to the Schoolhouse via the Deck and back up the Manzana. As stated previously, the counter-clockwise loop is advised. It's a tough hike and you'll be thinking of the luxuries of camp when you are still miles away, but don't lose your concentration!
Posted: November 27, 2011, 11:33 am
by: Bernard Mines
Hiked Hurricane Deck yesterday starting at Davy Brown. As a post Thanksgiving adventure with my friends Terry, Henk, and Angie. I told them this was a moderate difficulty for a long day hike.
Since everyone else was taking pictures, I just hauled my butt down to the School House all by myself. Ate an early lunch and took a nap. The others finally met me there. Trail was smooth sailing all the way down to the School House. I usually complain when I'm sold hiking shoes or boots with goretex as I figure its mostly unnecessary around here. Well today for a change I was very glad. I did not count the crossings but there must have been 20, and my feet were dry.
I wonder about that Mr. Wheaton the crazy religious wacko who started this community. Apparently he was the post master for a little while that is until they discovered he was illiterate. Odious enough so that his neighbors closed the road which finally drove him and his clan out of the area. Apparently back in the 19th C. they used to call all these odd religious types under the collective name of Mormon. Thus Mormon camp on the Sisquoc. I wonder if they practiced snake handling and speaking in tongues. Or like the mormons of that era murdering people passing buy that were not armed to the teeth and careful.
Anyhow from School house up was really nice as I remembered it. Its much more overgrown since the last time I hiked it. The ground kind of squishes under your feet as you compress it. Shady green with these amazing views as you get towards the top of the Sisquoc down below.
Eventually we get towards the sun exposed part. And start pushing thru. This time around was much tougher going than I remembered it last year. I think a big part of that was who I was hiking with. Everyone else was much faster than me so I was struggling to keep up. If I'd been by myself I would have set a slightly slower pace and it would not have been as tiring. That upper section is looking less and less like trail. I'm not sure I'd call it a trail exactly anymore. Not with all the growth on it, and the uncompressed tread. It reminds me of those trails like way way back that never get hiked anymore like the one going by Bill Farris. Its not that there is not a trail, but without maintenance it just sort of degenerates into this archaeological relic of a trail. In this case I'd say 80% is easily defined but you have to constantly push thru shrubs and that bushy post fire stuff. The chaparral is starting to grow back now so its tougher going, I got plenty of scrapes on my legs. I think what it is too is I'm in worse shape, so when you're climbing up those steep sections pushing thru the shrubs and branches its much harder than just hiking up a steep trail.
When we made it to the final hill near the intersection with the Potrero trail we took a break feeling really tired. But water and cheese can do amazing things for you. When we got up to do the rest of the trail it was really magic. We had this beautiful pink sunset and the sky turned violet, and as I looked over to that golden grassy hillside crowned in sage green chaparel growing on top, with a violet sky and bright pink contrails, it felt like I was in Marioland.
So we turned the corner and started heading down the Potrero trail eventually making it to the creek. I retreived my can of beer relaxing in the river and it went down very nicely. We made it to the cars at 7 PM. Where I shared pumpkin pie bars with everyone.
I'd say I was glad we had the extra 5 miles or so from the top to the cars, because otherwise it would have felt like a really difficult trail. But after walking out the last 5 miles it seemed easier.
I'd say the next time I hike this I'm going to do it the opposite direction. That way the up hill section is all on a fairly well maintained trail. That way you hike the deck going mostly downhill, so it will be much less tiring.
Posted: February 9, 2011, 8:21 am
Here are the tracks from the fastpack. You can download the GPX file from Garmin Connect.