Tony's Ranch is closed to visitors as directed by the United States Army Corp of Engineers.Pure unadulterated pleasure. "I really can't say anything negative about it." This is what I'd classify as really great "date hike".
Haunted Canyon trail has both a lower and an upper trailhead connected by a dirt road. We went from the lower to the upper then rode our mountain bikes (pre positioned) back down the hill to finish.
The hike starts from a parking area just south of the metal bridge heading south on an old jeep trail along the creek. When you get to an old corral
its time to turn west on the trail. As the trail follows the creek through Haunted Canyon
, the serenity and beauty make you totally unaware of the steady gradual climb. There are a couple spots where you actually have to cross fallen log bridges
to follow the trail. The trail is easy to follow with the exception of one spot. The canyon narrows at one point to two vertical rock walls. If there is water in the creek your choices are to either take of the shoes and wade or climb up to the right. This is tricky - don't climb up too high looking for an open route back down into the canyon - there isn't one. Just sheer cliff as far as you care to keep trying. Climb only about twelve feet then look closely for a spot where you can boulder back down next to some small pines.
Continue through the woods
and you'll come to the intersection of Haunted Canyon trail as it turns north and a trail that continues straight for another half mile to Tony Cabin
which is a wonderful spot for lunch. The cabin is very interesting as some campers store extra supplies here and there is a sign-in log inside
. This is an extraordinarily beautiful little setting and please do your part to keep it that way.
To find Haunted Can. trail north, just return from the cabin but bear to your left. You will depart the creek on a rather strenuous climb which just adds a nice little conditioning aspect to the trip. As you pass the intersection with Paradise trail you will come to a surprising old cattle pond
on the side of the hill. Not far after that you reach the top at close to 5000' and begin a descent to the upper trailhead.
This section seems a little bland after having become accustomed to the earlier beauty. I'm convinced that the "ultimate hike" would be Haunted Canyon to Paradise trail finishing at Miles trailhead. I did Paradise the week before and it was classic to say the least. Unless you happen to be a Lance Armstrong clone, the climb from Miles would most likely preclude the mountain bike aspect and you'd have to do a car shuttle. But on the other hand you could do it the other direction making it a mostly downhill hike if you wanted to ratchet up the pleasure meter even further for that significant other hiker.
One point I'd like to make. Apparently Magma Mining Co. wants to mine that area up to the Wilderness Area boundary. This would take basically all that portion of the trail up to the cabin and as described above that would include the entire "canyon" area and all the beauty. This would be a crime and please do your part to voice an opinion in this matter whenever possible.