Duration: 2-3 days
Distance, elevation gain/loss:
one way to Purple Pond: 5.6 miles, +1040/-1160 feet
Trailhead: Dowdy Ranch, 7 miles on dirt road from hwy 152
Permits/fees: Backpacking permit and parking fees required; register at visitor center when open or self-register for Mustang Zone (Purple Pond)
• Camping near picturesque pond
• Lovely North Fork Pacheco Creek with deep swimming holes in spring and early summer
• Abundant wildlife - deer, wild pigs, coyotes, red-tail hawks, coots, blackbirds, bunnies, turtles, frogs
• Spectacular ridge-top views along Dutch’s Trail
• Optional day hike to Mustang Peak • Optional cross-country day hike to Kingbird Pond
• Some trails may be obscured by brush and tall grass
Elevation - one way
Take Mack's Corral and North Fork trails towards Tie Down Trail.
Kaiser Aetna Road is a shorter alternative, but it can be dusty, with little shade and no water.
Continue on Tie Down Trail to Yellow Jacket Trail, past the Yellow Jacket Pond. Turn right at the junction with Dutch’s Trail. The trail crosses a tributary of Coon Creek and ascends steadily through chaparral, offering fine views of Burra-Burra.
On the way back, retrace your steps or take Dutch’s Trail, bypassing Yellow Jacket Pond. This section of Dutch’s Trail is rarely used but easy to follow. It climbs up to a minor ridge with scattered oaks and finally joins Tie Down Trail.
Sturla Dowdy spring on Mack’s Corral Trail (1/2 mile from visitor center) is a welcomed site on the way up on a hot summer day.
Camping by Purple Pond
An open area just past Purple Pond, where most people camp, has enough flat ground for maybe one tent only.
Better sites can be found on the ridge nearby, just past the pond. Where trail turns left, go right and follow the use trail.
The first site is near a large oak tree. More good sites follow.
Day hike to Mustang Peak
From Purple Pond, continue north on Dutch’s Trail. In 1.4 miles turn east onto County Line Road, and continue for 1.7 miles to Mustang Peak.
Day hike to Kingbird Pond
Try an easy cross-country route to descend to Orestimba Creek Road.
At the north end of Dutch’s Trail at County Line Road, look for barb wire fence right across the road. Follow the fence along minor ridge, and it will lead you all the way down to Orestimba Creek Road.