Garcia Mountain Wilderness

Located in the Los Padres National Forest in California.

Natural scenic beauty abounds in the Garcia Wilderness, which was established in 1992. The area encompasses rugged chaparral-covered mountainsides, meadows, grass lands, and lush creek-side vegetation. This 14,100-acre wilderness includes a tremendous variety of plant communities and wildlife. Springtime reveals a vibrant display of colorful wildflowers. The wilderness is located between the Santa Lucia and Machesna Wilderness areas. The Garcia Wilderness will supply you with solitude and an abundance of outstanding panoramic views.

There are two designated campsites in the Garcia Wilderness.

Buckeye: Situated in a dense oak forest, this site contains a single fire ring.

Balm of Gilead: In the northeastern portion of the wilderness, this site contains a single fire ring.

Special caution must be exercised when using National Forest lands. Trails may be adjacent to private property. Please be respectful of all no-trespassing signs and all private property.

Caldwell Mesa Trail: An 11-mile moderately strenuous hike through a great variety of terrain. There is a 1,320-foot change in elevation within 2 miles as you proceed up Pine Ridge to get to the Mesa. The trail traverses a landscape that includes peaceful meadows to steep, rugged and rocky terrain.

Avenales Trail: A 4-mile trail from Stony Creek at the junction of the Caldwell Mesa Trail. This trail travels in a northeasterly direction over Garcia Mountain to the Salinas River and historic Avenales Station. The trail may be accessed from either the High Mountain Road or Stony Creek locations. The trail ends on private properly on its eastern section.

Sellars Portrero Trail: A five-mile trail that joins the Caldwell Mesa trail 6 miles north of the Stony Creek Campground. The trail travels east beyond Balm of Gilead Campground and ends on private property one mile past the camp. This trail may be reached from the High Mountain or Stony Creek locations.

Trail Access

Caldwell Mesa Trail: Take Grand Avenue east from Arroyo Grande to Huasna Road, which turns into Arroyo Seco Road. Turn right. Follow Arroyo Seco Road east to the locked gate. Parking is available near the gate. Park here and follow the trail and road to Stony Creek Campground. Please stay on the trail and road until you reach Stony Creek Campground and the wilderness boundary, as you will be crossing private property. This trail can also be reached from High Mountain Road. Follow Lopez Drive from Arroyo Grande to High Mountain Road. Turn right. Travel 8 miles on High Mountain Road until you reach the Trout Creek trailhead. The Trout Creek trail intersects with the Caldwell Mesa Trail. Please note that the first two miles of Trout Creek Trail are located on private property.

Sellars PortreroTrail: Access this trail from the Pozo/Arroyo Grande Road on Trout Creek. There is a limited parking area.

Avenales Trail: Travel northwest downstream from Stony Creek Camp 2 miles. The trail to Caldwell Mesa heads west and the Avenales Trail heads north. The Avenlales Trail terminates at the historical Avenales Station. This station is unmanned and no camping facilities are available. Private property requires you to backtrack on this trail.

For further information contact: Santa Lucia Ranger District, Los Padres National Forest

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 18 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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