San Rafael Wilderness
A very nice camp located in the canyon section of the Manzana Narrows. Just under 8 miles from Nira. One of the most popular overnight spots for a two-day trip or first night on an extended trip.
Elevation: Google Earth says 3044'
Manzana Narrows always seems to have running water and within a few yards of the picnic table a beautiful waterfall and pool which makes this a very popular camp, especially with the Boy Scouts. The hike is varies between 7-8 miles depending on how much you stick to the riverbed trails or take the higher routes. At times after a large storm the river route may be washed out, leaving the high route as the way to go.
As Jim Blakley notes below, the camp a very appealing one, especially during the hotter months due to its location deep in the canyon and with the oak and alder cover. Because of the camp's popularity, I often bypass it in favor of the Alcove Camp or hanging valley a bit further up the trail. This allows you to save the Narrows for others and to get the climbing up onto the Deck done before making camp rather than doing it in the morning. The hanging valley above the 500' set of switchbacks that marks the start of the Hurricane Deck has incredible rock formations and really nice views.
11/25/14. A favorite destination for an overnight weekend backpacking trip. 7 miles from Nira trailhead. Lots of shade for a summer trip, but can get cold in the wintertime. The camp has 4 metal grated fire rings that mark the 4 campsites, three tables, one fire shovel and one McCleod. There is a toilet at the far end of the camp, accessible up a steep slope on the right side of the trail. Favorite day hikes can be taken up the switchbacks to Alcove Camp and Falls, or Big Cone Spruce Camp.
There is a new table that was packed in as part of an Eagle Scout Project. The old table remains but it is unsafe for sitting; makes for a great structure to use as a table for sorting gear and preparing a meal standing up. There is shovel and one fire ring with grate. Across the trail is another campsite with fire ring and grate.
Jim Blakley Notes
The camp is located in a narrow part of the canyon just before the Manzana/Sisquoc Trail 31W31.2 starts the steep, hot climb up to Hurricane Deck. Large oak and sycamore trees shade the camp located on a narrow terrace above the creek. At the camp is a small waterfall and a nice pool below it to take a dip in and cool off after the 6.5 mile hike up the creek. The cliffs on each side of the canyon are made up of sandstone and beds of shale. In the old days, there was good trout fishing in the pools in the narrows but, too many fishermen and dry weather has drastically reduced the size and quantity of trout now found in the creek. Water is available from the creek.
Bob Burtness Notes
Administration: Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia District
Access: 7 miles upstream from Nira Camp via the Manzana Trail (30W 13).
U.S. Forest Service map coordinates: 1-17
Topographical map: San Rafael Mountain Elevation: 2,960 feet (905 meters)
Terrain: narrow canyon
Vegetation: oak woodland, sycamore, alder Tables: I
Stoves: 4 (grated)Water: Manzana Creek (reliable at this point)
Firewood: yes (It may be scarce in the immediate area.) Toilets: I (pit)
Special features: There are some fine pools in the creek below this relatively heavily used camp.
Historical Highlights: One of three camps named, at least in part, after the canyon in which they are located, Manzana means "apple" in Spanish. It is reported that the area was named in the 1870's because of a large apple orchard there. On the other hand, perhaps it got its name from one of the flora growing there, such as the manzanita ("little apple" in Spanish) which bear small fruits every year. Don't eat one, though. One thing is certain, this camp is situated in a narrow part of the canyon, hence the term, "narrows."