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Hiking the Creepy Willow Creek Trail, Big Sur, California

The Willow Creek Trail is so remote it is not in the AllTrails catalog. It is so remote that the front desk at Treebones did not know about it, yet they are both on Los Burros road. Instead of turning right for Treebones, take a left for 2.4 miles on a washboard dirt road and park at a bend before a split to the left.

A sign on the road to the Willow Creek Trail.
Rough and narrow. The trail head is 2.4 miles on a washboard road.

Also known as the creepy Willow Trail, it traverses through the heart of the haunted Los Burros mining district. Ghost stories have been written about a 300-foot tunnel with a mysteriously sealed entrance, visions of mountain men wearing dark jackets, sagging hats, and beards that hid their faces, the disappearance of first claim miners, the sightings of a wolf-like creature, and the sound of aged automobiles that are never seen.

A tree growing across a trail.
Spooky branches. The creepy Willow Trail traverses the haunted Los Berros mining district.

A short distance down the trail is the chilling sight of a wrecked car that arrived with no clear path to explain how it got there, along with two car seats in good condition that are scattered in the leaves up and down the trail.

A wrecked car in the forest.
Wrecked. How did this wrecked car get here?

At 1 mile, the trail forks to the left at a sign that says “respect the hobbit” onto a single downhill track. This is the path to the original Hobbit Mine cabin, where placer gold claims produced abundant but low-quality prospects in the early 1900s. Today the claim belongs to a guy in Nipomo for a $30 annual fee paid to the BLM.

Jars on a tree.
Jar job. The “Hobbit Mine” claim papers are in the jars.

Along the trail are ancient ferns, jagged-leafed toyons, fragrant bay leaf trees, three-leaf redwood sorrels, and the bitter red berries of pink honeysuckles. A nonvenomous Racer snake might slither across the trail as you arrive at the first dry creek crossing. Small dig outs dot the trail where pigs have rutted about.

Honeysuckle berries on a vine.
Try some. The bitter Pink honeysuckle grow along the trail.

At about 1.6 miles, there is another trail split. To the left is a short branch that leads down to the refreshing 59 F creek. At about 2.3 miles, just past the Hobbit claim, nestled between some giant redwoods, is a well-established campsite. The trail ends at 2.5 miles, with bits of trail beyond that running into lots of poison oak.

A creek.
Refreshing. The water temperature was 59 F.

Throughout the hike, the Stellar jay mimics the sounds of birds, squirrels, cats, and dogs… and maybe the clang of an old automobile or the moans of a miner behind the entrance of a sealed claim.

Looking up at a group of redwood trees.
Historical. The tall redwoods have seen it all.

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Hi. We are Paul and Cindy, two biologists, fit and over 50, who enjoy exploring, photographing, and blogging about our outdoor travel. Our journey is to find outdoor activities that are away from crowds, kind to nature, and authentic. We carry backpacks, stay in clean accommodations, and feel that good food is as important as good friends.

The African savanna with three acacia trees.
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