San Rafael Wilderness
An excellent camp located in a large meadow along the Sisquoc River. Formerly a cowboy, cattle and hunting camp, it is a situated in one of the more remte parts of the San Rafael Wilderness.
Elevation: Google Earth says the elevation is 1,630'.
Distances: Miller Camp is 1.75 miles downstream from Abel Camp and 2.88 miles upstream from Mormon Camp.
Facilities: Though there used to be a corral when I first visited in the 1970s and was probably used for rounding up some of the small number of cattle that were once allowed to graze along the lower Manzana and Sisquoc watersheds, it is gone now. There is a metal grate but no table or other amenities now.
Miller Camp is probably what you'd think of if you tried to come up with a description of the perfect cowboy camp. The meadow is situated in a gentle bend in the river and is really big, perhaps an acre or more in size. There is an openeness to the camp area and the sycamore and oak trees in the area provide both shade and a sense of peacefulness to the area. Though the corral is gone there is enough open space to string a portable battery-powered fence to keep the horses and the mules in camp.
Just about halfway downstream from Miller Camp you'll come across Wellman Mesa, one of the largest and most open meadowns in the backcountry. On the downstream side of the Mesa there is a small oxbow where the Willman family made its homestead. In the 1970s when I'd pass by I could almost sense their presence. The foundation and part of the chimney are tucked against the side of the Mesa and in the oxbow there was a scattering of homestead implements: a rusting frying pan with a hole in the bottom and grass growing up through it, sheet metal siding, old plows and wheels and other rusting reminders of the homestead days. Most of this is gone now but the chimeny is still there and if you look hard enough you can find the Herman Willman gravesite marked by a ring of rocks.
Jim Blakley Notes
SRH6 Bald MountainElevation: 1640 ft.
This was the short time homestead used by the Miller family. The owners oisquoc Ranch built a very strong corral an attempted to capture the wild cattle living on the Hurricane Deck. The cattle had escaped years before from the homesteaders living along the Sisquoc River. The venture was not a success so they ended up shooting the cattle as they could not capture them. There used to be a depression in the ground that was a cellar hole to keep provisions cool. After a short time, the Miller family starved out because of drought and gave up the homestead. A creek that runs from the Sisquoc up the north side of the Hurricane Deck was named for them. At one time there were 2 grated stoves. Water available from the creek.
Bob Burtness Notes
Administration: Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia District Access: 17 miles from the trailhead at Nira Camp via the Manzana(30W 13) and Sisquoc River (30W 12) trails.
U.S. Forest Service map coordinates: 1- 15
Topographical map: Bald Mountain
Elevation: 1,600 feet (490 meters)
Terrain: meadowVegetation: oak woodland
Tables: IStoves: 2 (grated)
Water: Sisquoc River
Historical Highlights: This site was homesteaded for a short time by the Miller family for whom the adjacent side canyon was also named. The Sisquoc Ranch built the corral in the 1930's to hold wild cattle that lived on Hurricane Deck. The project, however, was not successful, and the cattle were eventually shot because they were too wild to be caught.