Sunday, April 22, 2007

Four C Trail Tips

You carried that?!
-Me to group of novice hikers.

When hiking twenty miles you really have no need for a big Colman lantern, three cases of water, a case of chicken noodle soup, and one of those flashlights with the big, square lantern batteries. On the other hand, some sleeping bags are a good idea when the weather is supposed to get down into the 40'sF. Oh yeah, you should also have some clue on how to make a fire. Here's a tip, large peices of wet wood aren't going to catch fire from a match...

Well, the three hiker we met at the Walnut Creek Campsite hadn't figured these things out and being twelve miles from anywhere, were understandably not in the mood to speak much.

The Four C Trail is a really easy trail to hike, with one issue. You need to supply your own water. The ponds and streams aren't safe to drink from even if you boil it. The water is contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and even filtering doesn't pull those out. In an immergency you'd probably be okay, but guzzeling liters of it is a bad idea. To hike the trail in cool weather you probably still need at least four liters of water along to drink and cook. More if you need to wash dishes. Now, that's a lot of weight to haul up and down hills. Luckily it is really easy to stash bottles of water along your path. The Four C Trail crosses several roads that connect the different trailheads so as you just stop the car, hop out and cache water near the trail/road intersection.
Road Crossings: CR 511-3, FS 526, FS 512, NF 517, CR 1175, Big Slough Wilderness Road, CR 1170, FS 536, HW 227, FS 521-E

If you want to stash water halfway (near the Walnut Creek Campsite) leave your water just off FS 511-2. It's about 1/2 mile from the campsite. See Map

I wish we had known that. It would have made a great hike into a fantastic hike. Oh well.

We started hiking from the north end and it took about four hours to get to the Walnut Creek campsite. This did include losing the trail twice. The first time the trail was following a logging road then takes a sharp right turn into the woods after crossing a bridge. The white trail blaze was gone so we continued walking to the end of the logging road. Grrr. Backtracking eventually got us back of track. A similar thing happened the second time. Several blazes were removed which lead us to wander some until we stumbled across a bridge on the trail. Basically, keep an eye on the map/gps.

Mosquitoes were fairly active but the cool weather helped with that. You'll definately want to bring bug spray. Also, this area is know for it's heavy tick population. Make sure you spray your legs and do regular tick checks (make sure all cameras are put away during these tick checks!!!!).

There are two dedicated primative campsites along the trail. The bigger is the Walnut Creek site and the smaller is Pond Camp. Both have several tent pads (dirt areas marked off with logs) and a fire pit. The Walnut Creek Campsite also has a large, wooden hut for people. Warning, the hut is infested with mice due to people leaving food behind. There were also several pots and pans left by previous visitors. The fire circle is ringed in metal and has a steel grate covering half the pit. Wood is plentiful but it will need to be cut/split. The circle also had several logs around it for sitting, which was nice. This campsite also has a relatively nice, clean outhouse, which, suprisingly, was wheelchair accessible...

We didn't look at Pond Camp as people were already there but supposedly it also has a good firepit and several tent pads, but no outhouse.

Even though Walnut Creek campsite is halfway along the trail, the hiking times of the two legs is very different. For some reason the south leg took us over seven hours, the last hour being on an ugly gravel path through the day-visitor section of the park. There were a lot of pretty parts to the south trail but Clark and I both felt the north section was nicer. I reccomend you start on the south end and walk north. I think you have a much better walk by getting the ugly part out of the way right at the start.

As for wildlife, we did see several snakes, assorted mice, tadpoles, froms, snapping turtles, leaf-cutter ants, and the skeletons of many armadillos. We heard plenty of coyotes yipping/howling once the sun went down and the wild sounds of them chasing a deer near the camp. We also hear plenty of birdsong and the rast-tat-tat of woodpeckers. Plenty of feral pig tracks and wallows but no actual pigs. Overall, we've seen more big wildlife on the edges of our neighborhood.

Okay, now for more pictures.

Me, somewhere very nice.

Me, along the Neches River.

Clark at the Walnut Creek campsite shelter.

Big trees.

Boardwalk through the Big Slough Wilderness.

A snake.

Another snake.


Logging road.

Adventure! Excitement! Exploration!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice trip report. I have backpacked this trail a number of times and always enjoy it. I was curious, where exactly was the picture of you along the Neches River taken? How far along the trail is this and how far off the trail is it located?
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