Machesna Wilderness

The Machesna Wilderness is  19,760 acres. It ranges from an elevation of around 1,700 feet to over 4800 feet. It has pines and oaks, potreros and chapparral. From the ridgeline trails there are  expansive views of California Valley and the Carrizo Plains, to the Sierra Nevada. To the south and west mountain range after mountain range marches to the horizon.

There are two trailheads, on on the north near Queen Bee Campground off an OHV trail (motorcycles frequent this wilderness, if you see one within the wilderness, try to get a license number or green sticker number and report them to the Forest Service).  Mountain bikes also are prohibited in wilderness areas, if you are a mountain biker, you have lots of places to ride, respect the wilderness and don't ride your bike in it.

The other trailhead is at American Canyon campground  behind a locked gate at the Avenales Ranch. The road and campground is open during deer season, and there are equestrian and hiker groups that use the camp with permission of the owners.

High on the ridge, a cold and windy April day, the wind this day was gusting to about 60 mph.  I waited for the relative calm of this stand of oaks before I took my first photo.

Further along  Machesna Ridge enroute to the Coyote Hole trail. Elevation is about 4,000 feet.

The green of the grass and trees counterpoints the dark clouds of the oncoming storm.

Ancient oaks along the trail

Bill, looking like a medieval knight bundled against the icy wind, and Nancy, just plain cold.

One of the headwaters of the Salinas River.

A steep, loose, and treacherous section of  the Coyote Hole trail.  We took pity on our horses and led them down.

The saddle at the Wilderness Boundary. Beyond is a steep 800 foot decline.

Below lies a mix of National Forest and private ranch land.

We are moving facing south, beyond the valley lies the main ridge of the Santa Lucia Range.

Garcia Mountain lies off to the west.

Grass, sage and oaks

A man and his mule

Saddling up after lunch.

And a great barbecue follows a great day of riding.

It is hard to beat grilled meat!

Page 2 of Machesna Wilderness.

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