Holcomb Creek Trail Carnage
This Article was originally published on my old Jeepin website in 2007
Last weekend a group of us did the infamous Holcomb Creek Trail and had a blast doing it. There were six vehicles in our group, which was led by Scott in his antler adorned camo Toyota, and followed by his brother-in-law Steve in his red YJ. I followed Steve in my TJ, and behind me was my co-worker Shannon in his almost stock Cherokee. Behind Shannon was Sara in her stock Rubicon. She was a stranger to the group, but a welcome addition. As always, Angela was manning the tail gun.
Most of us had friends and family along for the ride. I brought my wife Nora and my dad Matt (or Pops as Angela put it). It made my list of top 10 runs for its scenic beauty, technical challenge, and overall fun.
To get to the trailhead we took Green Valley Lake Road to 3N16. Holcomb Creek is 3N93. The start of the trail is a nasty and intimidating stretch of television sized boulders. This section lasts for about 200 feet and serves to weed out most 4x4 SUVs and trucks. When we had arrived, a well built TJ was limping back down the hill with a broken axle. This didn’t bode well for those of us with stock vehicles. In spite of that, our entire group clambered through it with nary a problem, although it was necessary to stack rocks on a few occasions.
The trail runs parallel to Holcomb Creek and the Pacific Crest Trail. For the most part it consists of easy and moderate sections of hillside road in and amongst trees and boulders. It climbs 1000’ in about 6 miles. To keep it interesting there are sections of rutted out switchbacks, road-leaning-toward-the-cliff sections and water crossings.
Around lunchtime we arrived at a nice area with some shade trees and flat areas for parking. All of us opted to attempt a short steep rock obstacle. Getting up and over it was a little scary, especially for Angela who nearly flipped her jeep over backwards. Luckily, we have some excellent pictures of it. After lunch, I attempted to climb an extremely steep section of rock, and nearly rolled my jeep as well. Luckily, I hooked up my winch to a tree prior to trying it. As my jeep began to roll off the rock, the cable tightened, and prevented carnage. I was able to get up the rock thanks only to the winch.
By this time we had gotten to know each other well enough and were having a good time spotting, bickering on the CBs and keeping an eye out for each other. We approached the second rock garden with apprehension, for it looked even harder than the first. Fortunately, it was downhill.
We reasoned that Shannon, with his longer and lower non-locked Cherokee would have the most trouble here. With some spotting, rock stacking, and excellent driving he was able to make it through this stretch with no problems. That is unless you count the big dent in the bottom of his uni-body frame. There was a funny instance where my wife Nora was driving and my dad and I were both spotting. He was telling her to go right, and I was telling her to go left. Thank god she followed my advice! Just after finishing this tricky section, Angela came within 3-degrees of rolling her jeep over on the driver’s side. I gasped at the sight of it. She screamed and then laughed as the jeep began to right itself.
Soon after the second rock garden is a vicious hill climb with powdery dirt and dangerous tippy sections where each of us slid sideways. Shannon got stuck in some powder and needed to be strapped out. After climbing the hill we all dropped down the other side. There were moguls to test wheel articulation but fortunately, no problems.
The last challenge was a section of road where Scott came close to rolling his truck into the creek. The rear end of his truck slid off the road and he came close to pitching over. He wisely suggested that we all take a bypass route, and we did.