Duration: 2 days
Distance, elevation gain/loss:
one way to Little Long Canyon Road: 8 miles, +200/-1500 feet
Trailhead: Park Headquarters, at the end of East Dunne Avenue
Permits/fees: Backpacking permit and parking fees required; register at visitor center when open or self-register for Blue Ridge Zone
• China hole - popular swimming hole
• The Narrows - scenic rocky canon of East Fork Coyote Creek. May be impassable in high water
• Solitude past Los Cruzeros, wildlife watching - deer, red-tail hawks, turtles, frogs, killdeer
• Camping in picturesque open valley by the creek
Elevation - one way
The first 1.8 miles on Corral and Forest trails are mostly shady, with a rich variety of flora - trees, shrubs and wildflowers in spring.
The Manzanita Point Road passes through oak-dotted grassland. Wild turkey are frequently seen near Manzanita Point.
The China Hole Trail gradually descends to a popular swimming hole of the same name. It is a good place to stop for lunch and a refreshing dip. A reliable water source at all but driest years.
Continue through The Narrows, a spectacular rocky canyon. There is no established trail, so simply follow the creek upstream.
The trail becomes re-established beyond Los Cruzeros, on the right side of the creek.
The Shafer Corral Trail joins on the left, marking the border of Western and Blue Ridge zones.
Continue an easy level walk in the wide valley, nestled between high forested ridges, until you find a campsite.
Use Cougar Trail to Poverty Flat Camps or Poverty Flat Road if you would like to avoid wading in the water through the Narrows during wet season.
Note that this option adds 600 feet of climb and descent to your hike.
The Narrows is a 1-mile long stretch of East Fork Coyote Creek between China Hole and Los Cruzeros without an established trail.
Expect uneven ground. In the wet season, wade in the water or climb over large rocks or push through the brush.
However, it is well worth the effort, since the scenery is spectacular, wildflowers bloom late into summer, and you may see frogs, garter snakes, turtles and killdeer.
Camping in Blue Ridge Zone
East of the junction of Shafer Corral and the Narrows (6.5 miles from trailhead), you may camp anywhere (no designated sites).
For the next 1.5 miles the valley is wide open, with plenty of flat ground to set up a camp.
The large meadow is surrounded by oaks. Just above the creek, where Bear Mountain and Little Long Canyon roads split is one one of the many good campsites available.
Little Long Canyon
With your camp set up, explore Little Long Canyon a charming and rarely visited canyon (1.5 miles to the park border).