Post-Flash Flood trail conditions: Agua Dulce to NW of Lake Hughes

Sections:
November 2nd, 2015
By: Chris Quinn

I hiked the 40 miles from Agua Dulce to where the PCT tread resumes NW of Lake Hughes right after the Flash Flood (which occurred 15 Oct 15). Here’s the summary:

Section Agua Dulce to the Bouquet Reservoir Canyon Rd: Not bad at all. What little damage exists is easily jumped over or walked around. Though there is some mild drainage ruts across the trail, this section should NOT be your maintenance emphasis before the 2016 Thru-hikers start.

Section San Francisquito Rd to PCT Mile 505. The majority of this is a “road hike” due to the Powerhouse Fire detour. While the Elizabeth/Lake Hughes road was initially closed while they cleared mud that was over 5 feet deep in places, they let me walk through. The hike up Road 7N23 to join the trail was in good (and driveable) shape, and the trail NW-bound from there was really nice. Minimal impact on trail tread.

HOWEVER, the section in the middle of these two (from Bouquet Canyon to San Francisquito Rd) has got some SERIOUS issues. It’s OK until you get a mile south of that pair of high-tension power lines (about 2 miles north of Bouquet Canyon Rd). Here, the 4-foot wide tread is high on both sides, thus forcing the floodwaters down the middle of the tread. In places, the trenching is 12-18 inches deep. This continues on/off until reaching /Road 6N09. Northbound from there, the problem switches to an almost complete covering of the trail tread by uphill dirt/silt. The tread is completely filled. Since this section is 99% left (dowhhill) sloped, You are now forced to walk on a 10-degree left-sloped trail “tread”. If your shoes haven’t been giving you blisters yet, they most likely will — because the left sides are always slanted below the right. The majority (60%) of the retaining walls on the left (downhill) side of the trail are still in place, but most are damaged. Another 20% are buckled, and barely holding the trail in place. The other 20% are visible but given way, or entirely washed away. Some good news? The nice wide wood footbridge a mile NW of 6N09 is completely intact — AND the large rocks accompanied by the BSA Troop 415 Post a mile before San Francisquito Rd are still intact (even though the huge hornet nests in the rocks above there are disturbed — and the hornet swarms can be heard (and seen) from 10 yds away)! If there’s ANY way to work on this section of trail before the 2016 season starts, I would strongly encourage it.