created by bicycle motocross
This trail starts from the Ballantine Cabin and has a lasso shape, meaning you'll end up where you start. To reach the start of this trail it is about 4.1 mile hike from the Ballantine TH. Based on trail conditions I believe this trail was created and "maintained" by BMX bikes. That being said it is still a very navigable trail and provides an excellent opportunity to get deeper into the Matazal wilderness without having to trek "through it."
The trail itself has no history, but the cabin from which it originates should have some history... I just don't know what that may be. I encourage anyone with that knowledge to add onto to this description. There are a couple of corrals in the vicinity and an old road that leads to the cabin, so this was a residence for someone at some point.
As I said the hike starts from the Ballantine Cabin which is about 4.1 miles from the Ballantine TH. Just to the east of the cabin there is an obvious ungated entrance to the enclosure with a road heading off to the north. At this entrance there is also a trail heading off to the east. This is the beginning of the Ballantine Loop Trail. The trail heads in an eastward direction, crossing a couple of dry washes gradually gaining altitude in short spurts. At 0.7 miles the trail passes an old cement water trough. At this point the trail starts to curve in an east northeast direction. At about 1.1 miles the trail splits to form a lasso. You can go either direction and you'll end up back at this point. Going in a counterclockwise direction (south) you'll immediately do a short steep climb, involving a couple of switchbacks. During this climb the trail is noticeably eroded, becoming channel-like. This is in large part because of the BMX bikes that have used this trail in the past. This unfortunately is a noted feature for much of this trail where elevation change is occurring. (The flatter section are not bad at all). After this initial climb you'll be faced with a series of undulating hills as the trail turns from the south to the east and eventually to the north. During the initial part of this arc, I kept thinking that this trail might eventually tie into the Ballantine Trail. Alas, as the trail gradually arced to the north I realized that this was not to be. At around 4.5 miles (this is guesstimate, as I did not note this on my Garmin) there is a steep decline that is badly eroded. The section that is truly bad is only 20 yards in total and I imagine that it will be rerouted as bikers create easier egresses. At the base of this hill there is a wash, that I suspect is dry most of the year, but at the time of this description was flowing nicely with water. The trail actually turn west and heads up the wash. This involved some berm walking and getting my feet a little wet. However, the trail quickly emerges from the wash and continues primarily in a northward direction, but it does start its curve to the west.
From this point on, the trail still does some up and downs, but there are more downs and ups. At this point, you are about 6 miles into the hike and the views are sweet! The views to the west and north are wide open and you realize how much you have climbed in the last 6 miles. And to the east you also seem to be tantalizingly close to Boulder Mountain Peak, (though I imagine there are probably several false summits between you and the true peak). As the trail descends it starts to turn south where it will reconnect to where the loop started. Just prior to reconnecting there will be a stream crossing. This was flowing quite nicely in mid April and seemed an ideal spot to break and enjoy the solitude. From here it is a little over a 1 mile trek back the way you came to the Ballantine Cabin.
There are no faculties anywhere along this trail and streams are most likely seasonal. Come prepared.