Friday, July 25, 2014

Upper Wills Canyon FT 9278), Hubble(Hubbell) Canyon( FT 9277) Loop- Lincoln National Forest

stream below Hubbell Spring
Wills Canyon

Upper Wills Canyon
Seamus and I did this hike on Thursday( July 24,2014). What a change a few weeks of much needed rain has made. We actually drove through puddles on our way to parking at the Upper Wills Canyon trailhead.When we got out, the air was cool and damp, and the green grass was heavy with dew. This was a much welcome contrast  to the sickly dry conditions we encountered when we hiked the Thousand Mile Canyon trail. We started off at a jaunty pace down the canyon, sometimes walking on the road, sometimes moving over to the cow trail to take advantage of the shade. Initially, things were far from scenic, unless you like seeing dozens and dozens of dead and downed trees. It seemed that on the drier north( south facing) side of the canyon ,  the majority of the evergreens were dead. This was  the scene in the upper end of Hubbell Canyon as well where cutting and clearing operations have begun,  resulting in several huge slash piles that have yet to be burnt.
Small waterfall in Wills Canyon
    Further down, we left that less than appealing scene behind and just enjoyed the breeze, the birds and vibrant green of the valley. Above  Mauldin Spring, the creek was not flowing, although I could tell there had been recent storm flow. Below the fenced- in spring area, it was a nice little stream where Seamus got in for a drink and a cool down. We now continued on  FT 9277 toward Hubbell Canyon as it curved around the hillside between the two drainages. It was a shady,cool forest through this section. It was also easy walking on a level trail, owing to the fact that we were on one of the many old railroad beds in this part of the Lincoln. We could even see some of the old ties( and in one spot, rails) poking up through the dirt. There were the remains of several old trestles as well.
Bridge over  Wills Canyon stream
  Further on, I could hear the sound of the water down in  Hubbell Canyon, so we went off trail , down the hillside for a look. This stream had a  good amount of water too. We picknicked under a sturdy fir, while a few feet away, the brook ignored its channel and flowed over grass along side an old fence.  I could see the remains of an old( 1930's vintage) car  nestled in among the wildflowers and butterflies from where I sat, and I thought about hopping the fence to photograph it, but never did.We explored the springs upstream and then made our way back up to the road, which  comes down into the canyon near the uppermost of the springs.  Here we met a lone, lazy old bull enjoying standing in the mud while munching the new growth of grass.  We saw a couple of different raptors and listened to the  ravens talking as we walked. The canyon narrowed a bit,  and we rested in the shade a couple of times.
 Small waterfall in Hubbell Canyon

Hubbell Canyon
Hubbell Canyon springs
The valley opened up again where FR 257 comes in from the south. It's also in this area where some maps may indicate a trail to north that returns to Wills Canyon. I had been planning on using it, instead of FR 64 to complete, my loop but I was well met about half way through my hike by a nice family( mom,dad,two kids and grandma ) who told me not to bother looking for it, because it isn't really there anymore. I had some suspicions earlier in Wills Canyon where there were signs indicating this trail's intersection, but all I could see was the trail I was on. This family was on foot by the way and I believe this is only the second time that I have encountered other hikers in the Sacramentos.  We all agreed it was beautiful place to hike on a weekday( take heed as I have mentioned before). Truth be told, I've been so careful about visits to the Sacramento District, that I've only encountered ATVs and mountain bikes a couple of time as well.
 We finally made it to the top of the canyon and began walking on the road. Seamus took an interest in the three deer that were walking along with us a hundred feet away in the woods. We took one small detour to an open promontory that had expansive views, before returning to our car. This was a long hike, probably close to 10 miles and when it was all over, I realized that I probably could have seen the best of it, Mauldin Spring, Hubbell Spring and the section in between, with a much shorter out and back hike starting from County Road D 18 then using Lower Wills Canyon Trail( FT 5008) and then the Hubble Canyon Trail ( FT 9277).Nevertheless, I enjoyed this walk immensely. The more than planned for exercise was just an added benefit.Note: Hubble is how it is spelled on the trail signs, however on maps it is spelled Hubbell, which is more likely the correct spelling).

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