Distance – 3 miles Difficulty – Easy
The upper Manzana Trail leads 6 miles to Manzana Narrows where it connects with the White Ledge Trail and is an important thoroughfare for back packers heading into the San Rafael Wilderness. Backpackers will find the hiking relatively easy, with only one major uphill climb to get you up onto the eastern flanks of Hurricane Deck. Just five miles upstream is Manzana Camp, at six miles you’ll reach Manzana Narrows – which is popular because of the narrow canyon and deep pool at the edge of camp – and once you are over the crest of the Deck, a series of camps that take you into the heart of the wilderness.
For a refreshing day hike to introduce yourself to the upper Manzana, just 3 miles you’ll find a side canyon coming in from the right that is just about the right length for kids to make and still have a lot of fun. About a quarter mile up Fish Creek you’ll find a series of pools that are perfect for a dip and if you want to explore further, the canyon has lots to offer when the water is flowing. Not too far upstream from the pools the canyon steepens and turns into a series of cascading falls.
A mile upstream there is a small camp on the left side of the creek tucked under an old oak that provides an opportunity for a kid’s first backpack trip since it isn’t too far from the car. The camp is at the base of a major side canyon that comes in from the left called Lost Valley. The route up this valley was originally developed in the 1930s as a road leading over the Deck into the upper Sisquoc but fortunately for backcountry lovers the construction was halted when it became apparent that the road would endanger a CA condor nesting and bathing site.
Though erosion has erased much of the roads evidence, backpackers use the trail as a loop route up into the Hurricane Deck Country where you can reach White Ledge Camp and loop back down the Manzana. Unfortunately, last year’s Zaca Fire didn’t burn out the overgrown portions of the trail, so travel along the Deck to White Ledge still remains a difficult effort.