Once buried like the tombs of the pharaohs under a thick blanket of chaparral, the remains of ancient civilization have been uncovered by the Station Fire.
I stumbled across this abandoned trail near Switzer's recently and came back on another trip to follow it a bit more. In some of the rocky sections you can tell this thing was built to last. Along the slopes and in drainages, it's a bit worse for wear, but generally navigable if you enjoy a thrash through the bushes. I guess this must have been the standard trail up canyon from Switzer's camp.
It contours along the slopes above the creek. At corners like this, the trail bed is pretty clear:
More typical trail conditions:
It's the trail cuts made into rock that are still quite visible:
Lots of washouts and sections like this to negotiate:
From the bottom of the white rock it traverses across this slope:
It goes into the side canyon, comes back out near the pines and wraps around the slope eventually towards another pair of pines:
On another visit, I got a look at some of the lower section. A closer view of the lower section as it traverses through the pines above the gorge:
Here's the trail below in the side canyon. Some old electrical lines can be seen draped across the canyon in front of the trees to the right as well. Any guesses on what they were?
Don't know what era those power lines are from, but there are pieces of the poles and such that have survived the fire in another location. Here's one that doesn't look too ancient:
Meanwhile, in the side canyon:
They started carving out more rock here:
Across a slope:
Built to last:
Ran out of time and had to turn back at a side drainage a little after this:
Be aware that the lower, rocky section of this old trail traverses above some big drops into the inner gorge so it's best not to try to take a shortcut straight down to the creek and the new trail if you don't know what's below you. Even the side canyons have significant falls and drops before reaching the stream bed. Be safe!
Wow! When you state "ancient civilizations" I assume ancient for California, right? Any silverware, and such?
I have heard of Switzer's falls my whole life, but never been there. Where would you suggest starting? I go trail running all the time, and can handle anything.......on a trail. I don't do climbing, or funny little unstable rocks with an eight mile drop.
Thanks for sharing that.
Thanks, Fortified, "ancient" was purely tongue in cheek. But for all intents and purposes, once the chaparral grows over something, stuff like this might as well be in the lost city of Atlantis. I didn't see any silverware, but did see some broken glass and rusted out tin cans.
The hike to the falls is great and one of the most popular hikes in the range. The main trail is no problem. I like to go there in the late afternoon or evening to avoid the morning crowds and actually get a parking spot right near the trailhead. (It's a bit like Chantry Flat in that the overflow parking situation can be a drag.) You can either go down canyon to the falls and beyond, or up canyon to Red Box and vicinity. The trail up to Red Box is uphill and parallels the highway, but a lot of it is a nice grade for running.
It's easy to forget how awesome the area is because of overuse, but there's a lot to see and explore around there. If you go beyond the falls and down into Bear Canyon, there's a surprisingly remote, backcountry feel to it. Have fun!
Maybe the trail from Switzer's Camp to the chapel?...
Thanks for the video. I didn't know that Switzer's had been in operation as late as the '50s. It seems like the power lines may have been a product of that era, and the hardware that remains looks like it could be from around then. Perhaps this trail was an old access road along the lines?
This trail is not immediately connected to the path to the chapel. It seems to run from the site of Switzer's camp northwards towards the picnic area/parking lot high along the eastern slopes of the canyon.
Does anybody know of any good written descriptions of the area from when the camp was in operation?