Practice Trail Finding Skills
This trail can best be described as a difficult easy hike. It's the East end of the Coffee Flat trail, which can also be accessed from Peralta Trailhead via the Dutchman Trail. There is a description of it under Dripping Springs from Peralta.
I say difficult because you spend half your time looking for a trail. You start off at the gate. It is bolted shut, so you have to climb over the gate itself. Once over the top, you descend rapidly into Fraser Canyon via the ranch access road, and the JF Ranch area. When you finally hit bottom you are at JF Ranch. This is still a working ranch, and private property, so I didn't go nose around too much. Plus, I have a fear of cows, so I stayed as far away as I could from them critters.
Along the fence line is the actual trail head for Coffee Flat. Go through the barb wire gate there and follow the fence line till the fence runs out. Here is where the games begin. You will go into the wash and cross in and out of it numerous times. You have to look for cairns, but if you don't see any right away after dumping into the wash, just follow the wash. If you ever lose the trail, just follow the wash. You can walk in the wash, as I did for many lengths. Remember, The Wash is The Way! There is one section that follows what was a wagon train road back before I was born, a real long time ago. Here is the one and only place where the trail leaves the wash and rises up significantly.
You will go through lots of Cat claw, You will encounter Prickly Pear Gauntlets. You will see many strange things. I was expecting to run into Bilbo, Frodo and perhaps, Gandalf.
After about 3.5 miles, you'll get to an area where there are a dozen or so Willows in the middle of the wash. This is Whetstone Springs. There was water here as you can tell by the photo, but the cattle had fouled it so badly, I don't even think it could be filtered.
Soon you will reach the intersection with the Red Tanks Trail # 107. You are pretty much there at Dripping Springs. There wasn't much dripping going on when I was there. Across from where the springs allegedly drip, there are a couple of caves up in the canyon wall.
I basically looked around and had lunch before heading back. There's an Arby's there (just kidding). It was very very remote out there and I was all alone. I was thinking about this right at the time the alien spacecraft landed and....oops, did I say that? Not really, friends and neighbors. I'm just kidding. But it was a perfect setting for something like that to happen. But no space aliens this trip, darn it all....
You just follow the same "trail" back to where you came from.
NOTE: One thing about hiking on range land where cattle are present. The cattle tend to make their own trails. As long as folks keep the wash in sight, they'll be okay. There aren't cairns in some palces and you get confused.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.