Stony Creek Road Bypass Trail (Garcia Potrero Trail)
By Richard Waller for San Luis Obispo County Open Space and Trails Foundation.
August 14, 2013
Location: East of Arroyo Grande, CA, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Lucia Ranger District, Los Padres National Forest.
Purpose: To provide an alternative trail to the disputed Stony Creek
Road from near Agua Escondido Spring to Stony Creek within the Garcia
Wilderness. There are roughly 250,000 acres of National Forest Land
within San Luis Obispo County including 52,539 acres of Federal
designated wilderness within the Los Padres National Forest. Yet there
is no legal route between these northerly portions of the Santa Lucia
Ranger District to Highway 166, the San Rafael, Dick Smith, Matilija,
and Sespe Wildernesses.
There are four long range trail projects which require access through Stony Creek Road:
The Condor Trail which will run from near Lake Piru in Ventura County
to Bottchers Gap near Monterey County; http://www.condortrail.com
The Cuesta Sespe Equestrian Trail which will run from Cuesta Grade at
Hiway 101 to near Lake Piru;
The SloCrest Trail which will run from Morro Bay to the Carrizo Plain
National Monument; http://wanderingthewest.com/slocrest/slocrest.html
The Coast Range Trail which will run from the Pacific Crest Trail in
the Angeles National Forest to the Pacific Crest Trail in the Klamath
National Forest; http://wanderingthewest.com/crt/crt.html
The Stony Creek Road Bypass Trail (Garcia Potrero Trail) will allow
recreational access between the two halves of the District and
make the four long distance trails possible. In the event that the road
access issue is resolved and the road is opened for hikers, bicyclists
and equestrians the trail will allow a pleasant and scenic loop trip of
about 10 miles to be made from the trailhead at Agua Escondido Spring.
Scale/Use: Approximately 4.5 miles long, Hikers, Equestrians will be
able to travel the trail from Trailhead to Stony Creek trail junction
within the Garcia Wilderness. Bicyclists can use approximately 2 miles
of the trail to the wilderness boundary at Garcia Potrero.
Description: The trail will run from the existing public right of way
section of the Stony Creek road near Agua Escondido Spring at 35
degrees, 10.986N 120 degrees 13.812W in a roughly northwesterly
direction to the terminus at the junction with the existing Stony Creek
trail within the Garcia Wilderness at, 35 degrees 12.834N 120 degrees
The trail transits a pleasant oak grassland passing through two small
chaparral stands to the Avenales Observation Point Road. The trail
turns off this road down an existing OHV trail. ￼A few hundred feet
along the road is the site of the World War 2 Aircraft Observation
Point. Prior to radar a number of these high points in our area were
manned to watch for potential Japanese warplanes headed to the oil
fields in Kern County. The views from the lookout point are
expansive. A hitch rail and picnic table would be desirable here.
The trail descends the jeep trail and intersects an old use trail cut
through a dense chaparral thicket. This trail is reported to have been
used by the aircraft observers to reach water at Garcia Potrero, and is
The trail reaches Garcia Potrero and transits on public land south of
the private ranch land. There is an area of sandstone outcroppings here
with evidence of precontact habitation including mortar holes in the
rocks and pictographs.
The trail enters Garcia Wilderness in a very dense chaparral thicket
and turns north remaining in the wilderness to the ridge line
overlooking Stony Creek Canyon where it turns west descending the south
slope of the canyon to Stony Creek and the Stony Creek Trail, the
remnant of the road built by the CCC crew stationed at the Stony Creek
CCC camp, which is on the private land. The trail
ends at the Stony Creek Trail.￼
The trail will be built according to design standards in Equestrian Design Guidebook for Trails, Trailheads, and Campgrounds
USDA Forest Service
At a minimum, tread width of 18”, brush cleared 4 feet from center on each side and 8 foot of overhead clearance.
The first .6 miles are amenable to mechanical trail construction. The
following 1.5 miles need only brushing and minor tread work. The
final 2.4 miles will require heavy brushing and tread construction
including switchbacks on the 400 foot high relatively steep south slope
of Stony Creek Canyon. This work would be best done with an
experienced CCC trail crew.
Trail map description: The black line showing the new survey are highly
approximate and cannot be depended upon as accurate, except for corners
001 that monument was found and recorded on my GPS.
The trail will be approximately 4.5 miles.
Green line is required new construction of 3 miles.
Red line is existing trail requiring mostly brushing, some treadwork .5 miles.
Blue line is existing OHV trail requiring tread work .2 miles.
Black line is existing road requiring minimal tread work .8 miles.
The trail from Agua Escondido to Stony Creek has 1,167 feet of ascent and 1,285 feet of Descent.
The purple line is the existing, currently closed, Stony Creek Road.
In this time of severe budget constraints on the Forest Service it is
our goal to build this trail at little or no cost to the Forest
Service. Currently under the Non Motorized Committee we have an
effective partnership with San Luis Obispo County Open Space and Trails
Foundation, Backcountry Horsemen of California, Los Padres Unit,
Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers, Los Padres Forest Association
and The Condor Trail Association. We plan to use the resources of these
organizations as much as possible.
￼Additional Photos are at: Garcia Potrero Trail