Portrero Trail to Hurricane Deck
[out of 5]
|For:||Steep, rugged, remote.|
Meadow on Potrero Trail in spring
Portrero Trail is a challenging climb up to Hurricane Deck, where there
are amazing vistas of the rugged, remote back country wilderness. It is
very very hot in summer and the trail, after it begins climbing out of
the river bed, has no water at all and very limited shade. For this reason
it is best not to attempt this hike in summer, when temperatures can reach
into the 90s and 100s. In fact, it gets so hot on Hurricane Deck that
the rocks clink together when you walk on them like high-fired china dishes!
But don't be persuaded against Portrero Trail and Hurricane Deck. The
thrill of the sheer cliff vista point, the intense remoteness of the area,
and the lure of the name - Hurricane Deck - is what draws you back again
Portrero Trail hike follows the Manzana trail toward the schoolhouse,
then veers to the right to climb Hurricane Deck to a pleasant vista. The
total mileage is around 8 miles round trip.
You will need an Adventure
Pass to park at the trailhead.
Potrero Trail Updates
Update trail conditions
Posted: March 6, 2013, 10:49 am
Hiked this trail to the Hurricane Deck and overall it's in great shape! The bush poppies are starting to pop and some of the smaller wildflowers are starting to show. Should be great hiking until it gets too hot!
Posted: February 16, 2013, 7:20 pm
Took a quick hike from Manzana Trail, up Potrero Trail to Hurricane Deck today. Perfect weather. The trail is in good condition, overall. I saw evidence of fairly recent trimming, but there are still a few spots towards the top that could use some work. Saw a boy scout troop of about 15 at the cave as I was heading out at noon.
The hike was great, but I found a tick in me when I got home. Still worth it! Pics at the link (none of the tick):
@SiteAdmin: The link to this trail on the side bar reads "Potrero," but the heading on the trail description page itself reads "Portrero." Just a heads up.
Posted: April 25, 2012, 10:13 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.
If you want to check out this section of trail go for it now. The grass is green and the flowers are out.
Posted: November 16, 2011, 12:20 pm
Hiked up the Potrero Trail for a quick 1/2 day hike over the weekend. Manzana and Potrero trails are in excellent shape.
Some kind folks have created a log bridge across the Manzana at the Potrero Camp crossing, so no wet feet required at the moment.
No running water in any of the creeklets coming off the Deck at the moment. Just a little standing water in the some of the deeper depressions (tenajas) in the sandstone formations.
Lots of trash and evidence of use at some of the "secret" camps off the trail up near the Deck. If you pack it in, pack it out. Don't desecrate these special areas with your garbage. Despicable.
Posted: June 30, 2011, 6:01 pm
Just hiked the poterero trail to Hurricane deck. I noticed there has not been any updates recently.
Trail is still in great shape. As you get to the upper meadow, it is over grown but still easy to follow.
Lots of water still in the Potereo camp. Bring plenty of water if you do the climb. Its getting hot this time of year back there.
Awesome views of Castle rock.
Posted: December 31, 2009, 1:22 pm
Just hiked Potrero Trail yesterday in the light rain. Perfect temps for the uphill climb towards the deck.
The trail was still in great shape all the way to the meadow near the top... can't say what it was like any farther up since this was our turn-around.
Manzana trail was in excellent shape too. The creek had plenty of water and was looking good.
Posted: January 5, 2009, 11:13 pm
December 22, 2008
Potrero trail is in great shape, best I've seen it. Thanks go out to the Forest Service for organizing the troops.
Posted: March 31, 2008, 2:37 pm
We hiked the Potrero trail from Hurricane Deck down to Potrero camp. The lower half of Potrero trail is untouched by the fire. The upper half is almost completely devastated with the exception of the Oak meadow which is as pretty as ever. By devastated I mean that the trail where it traverses laterally is scary going and much of the area burned so hot that nothing survived, not even spring flowers. The little reliable water source near the Oak meadow is silted in. No water was available there.
Posted: April 1, 2007, 8:24 pm
Hiked the Potrero trail from the Manzana trailhead to Hurricane deck yesterday. The Potrero trail (from the Potrero back-country camp near the Manzana creek) is completely sun-exposed and there's absolutely no shade except for the little grassy patch just after 3 mi. from the start. So if you must do it on a sunny day - carry lots of water! The trail is quite overgrown at several locations, but can still be followed. The end-point is indistinct; the trail joins Hurricane Deck trail at about 4.6 miles, but to get really awesome 360 degree views of the back-country you have to continue past one or two crests to get to an exposed spot on a narrow ridge at around 6 miles. It's a really long day hike, but the wild, remote back-country experience and the oasis-in-the-desert grass meadow (the potrero) halfway there are what make this trail worth it. We saw a couple of rattlesnakes (one gave a loud rattle every time we went past it) and deer near Davy Brown campground on the return. I'd have liked to spend some more time on the meadow exploring the caves nearby but we couldn't.
Posted: November 26, 2006, 2:04 pm
Yesterday we, some of the Wednesday night crowd, hiked the Potrero trail in the backcountry. This is one of those kind of locals only trails. Its on the map but only a few intrepid hikers ever go on it. Just a quarter mile before you hit Nira camp there is a turn off parking area. This is where you'd park if you were going to hike down to the Manzana School house. So you hike down the Manzana trail about a mile until you reach Potrero Camp. If you continue down the river you'd reach Manzana School house in 5 miles or so. There is also the Hurricane Deck trail that runs parallel to the Manzana Trail but due north a couple miles. Hurricane Deck is this mountain range that lies between the Sisqoc River and the Manzana River. The Hurricane Deck trail runs for about 20 miles or so, along the ridge of hurricane deck. The ridgeline is at an elevation of 4-5000 feet, and the rivers are closer to 1000, so it is a fairly high mountain. This is one of those stunningly beautiful areas. One can access Hurricane Deck from several points. The Hidden Valley trail is one of them. The Potrero trail is another one of the access points.
From the Manzana river the trail rises steeply up the flank of a tributary creek. The trail eventually rises up to a ridge line and follows the ridge on up with a gain of about 3000 feet or so over about 3 miles, to eventually hit the top of the deck. We are not going quite that far. Instead we are heading to the rocks that are maybe 4-5ths of the way there.
The landscape is sort of hard to define. In general it has this sort of sun blasted Southern California look. By the creek are pines and small meadows intermixed with arctostpholis and chemise. Medusa grass seems to grow right along the trail. You have to watch your fingers or it will pierce the skin and the needle thin thorn will break off. As you rise up above the river the landscape turns into the sort of standard chaparral scrub. So you hike steeply up this trail, eventually you reach a few interesting large rocks near the top.
There is a sort of hidden meadow up here and oak trees. This is I think a continuation of the same strata of rock that forms Castle rock and the Condor Caves, only about 6 miles or so due West. And like the Condor Caves there are a few well known Chumash cave paintings out here.
So as we reach the meadow area the trail descends slightly and the area changes from that sort of sun blasted chaparral to a more sun dappled meadow with oaks and rocks. We go maybe 100 yards further before we have to hit a sort of hidden trail. Look sharp to your right. The hidden trail runs along this small dry drainage. You can look out a half-mile or so and see all these large rocks. The largest are the size of a small house. Watch the trail it goes up and down. Itís easy to get a little lost as the trail crosses several drainages, and the trail is also sort of overgrown. The first drainage crossing had us a little lost, as I followed the drainage down to what could not possibly be the correct way, it took us merely a minute or so before I turned around and headed back up the creek. The trail in fact crosses back over the creek but its sort of hard to spot. There are several small drainages that we cross as the trail meanders towards the rocks. Our real destination is not yet visible from the trail. We come over another low rise and from there you can see where we are going its a large flatish rock about 20 feet high or so and about the size of a large house. You know you're at the right place when you see the metal log box on a pole. So we have our lunch in the mouth of a small cave on this large rock. There are numerous caves to explore. Some of the best are little tiny caves.
I think Steve was a bit pleasantly surprised at our destination. Steve wanted to go to the backcountry and having not done too much hiking back here is more liable to choose a destination based on the images conjured up by the name. liked the lilt of the sound of "Fish Camp" on his lips. Having been there I find this camp site maybe one of the least desirable places to camp. (I remember one time a boy scout, wishing me an unenthusiastic good luck crossing the creek there are fish camp, this sort of heavy overloaded pack, like unenthusiasm will always remind me of fish camp) The caves are in fact where I wanted to go, but I sort of had to convince Steve that it was worth seeing. Steve sort of reluctantly agreed. But was more than pleasently surprised at the destination.
At about 3:15 or so we started back. The hike down was very peaceful and quiet. The bright sunlight losing some of its intensity, and the chill sort of nipping in the air as the shadows started to grow. We make it to Potrero camp at the intersection of the Potrero trail and the Manzana trail at about 4:40. The sunlight is rapidly fading, so I wish the rest of the crew a pleasant evening, they are camping but I've got dogs to feed and walk at home so I can not spend the night out here.
The walk along the trail above the river is just exactly perfect. As is very often the case when I walk this way I feel like my soul has been cleansed and I feel happy, alive and centered. I make it to the trailhead at exactly 5:04pm. This is perfect timing as the sun has already fallen behind the hills and it is dusk.
The drive back takes only an hour and ten minutes. The dogs are joyous at my return. I prepare a dinner of roast chicken with onions, mashed potatoes and corn. I have a couple beers, walk the dogs and eat an enjoyable dinner all by myself in the house. The smells of the roasting onions, and chicken combined with the chilly temperatures outside make it seem particularly cozy. I think of the boys out there at Potrero camp rolling around on the hard ground in their sleeping bags for warmth as I sit on the couch eating a delicious dinner, the dogs unsuccessfully begging at my feet. But I know too that if I was out there none of it would seem like hardship. Instead the challange to find comfort would seem like adventure. And the morning coffee out in the wilderness, even if its instant, is better then the best blue Mt. beans in town. As you sit warming youselves in the morning sunlight.