Lost Valley and Castle Rock

Early morning fog line. Socked in on one side and cloudless blue skies on the other.

I spent ten hours wandering around up Lost Valley way and covered nearly 12 miles altogether winding and weaving around on and off trail here and there.

I rolled into Nira Campground early Tuesday morning and nobody was around. I smiled. I didn’t see a single person all day.

It was a chilly, blustery day without a cloud in the sky. I walked up Lost Valley Trail eventually making my way past twin oaks camp, and on up the switch back section of the old road cut and through the small potrero.

A stiff wind was howling across the land, as it often does, and in it I could feel the same timeless force jabbing at me that has been carving the area’s sandstone formations for eons.

The throaty cackle of ravens and the howl of wind across desolate stretches of chaparral and sandstone, that’s the sound I always appreciate when I’m up in that area. The problem with a day hike is that I get up the trail a good distance and just want to keep going.

The approach to so-called Castle Rock. There is another formation named on maps, Castle Rock, which is on lower Manzana Creek.

The grassy nook on top of Castle Rock with Hurricane Deck defining the skyline on the right.

A view of Hurricane Deck from Lost Valley Trail. Castle Rock is noted center frame with the small red dot.

Looking over the potrero toward Hurricane Deck in the distance.

Looking east from Lost Valley Trail.

The wind is scouring out these roundish little balls of stone from the larger sandstone bedrock formations. These naturally carved marble-like pellets have been eroded free from their lithic encasement and blown together by the hundreds in some places. Elsewhere they are still connected to the bedrock, some nearly freed and others just a bump starting to emerge.

These ones are still in the process of being carved free from the larger piece of stone.

Loose sandstone marbles blown together into the low spots of the formation.

Castle Rock noted by the red dot inside a circle, twin oaks camp noted by the red dot and the line of dashes is Lost Valley Trail.

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3 Responses to Lost Valley and Castle Rock

  1. Nico says:

    Glad to see the pine up on the top survived the Zaca Fire. I haven’t been back to Castle Rock since before the fire.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      At a time when so much of the backcountry still looks like a wasteland from the fire(s), it is indeed nice to see that pine tree still full and green standing on the rock up there almost like a flag above a war zone.

  2. tpl says:

    Just headed up around here, looks like the sandstone marbles are free now, pretty sure I recognize that zone.

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