The lower Indian drainage is almost level and winds through scenic sandstone and shale formations and very pretty riparian vegetation and eventually into the Dick Smith Wilderness. There are numerous pools and the fishing is rumored to be great. Lower Buckhorn Camp is 4 miles from the trailhead.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Points of Interests: Canyons, Creeks, Swimming Holes, Backcountry Camp, Out & Back
User Types: Hikers, Equestrians, Mountain Bikers, Dog Walker, Trail Runners
Locations: Upper Santa Ynez River
Download Directions: Download PDF Map Directions
You may want to bring bikes along to ride up to the trailhead. That saves quite a bit of of hiking and provides more time in Indian Canyon.
Just the name—Indian Creek—has a wonderful sound. In the upper end of the drainage, deep in the heart of the Dick Smith Wilderness, hidden on a side creek, are a series of caves with some of the most impressive rock art designs to be found in the backcountry. I’m sure the name stems from the days when Chumash Indians must have frequented this rock art site.
The creek is worthy of a name in itself. It is almost level, and thus makes for an easy walk, with lots of meanders that create small little meadows and elbows that hide deep pools. It is a lovely place to go.
The trailhead tells little of what lies ahead. It is just a small, open parking lot on the edge of the chaparral. The first quarter mile is up the left side of the creek to a small debris dam (a great pool for the end of the hike). You can either walk across it (it is narrow) or take off your shoes and wade through the pool. In fifty yards you cross back again.
You’ll notice that you are still on a jeep road at this point. Follow this for .3 miles up over one short but very steep hill and then another .2 miles to a trail intersection on the left. This is fairly obvious. It is a short cut that saves you 300-400 yards. Go over a small hill and down to the creek. Cross it, and look for the main trail just on the other side of the creek.
Should you miss the short cut, just continue on the road, which goes around a bend, eventually coming back to the trail. At the point where the jeep road crosses to the right side of the creek, look for the trail. It is on the left and follows the creek. The jeep road veers to the right and begins to climb steeply up the mountainside. Do not take this route.
Beyond this you will have no trouble following the trail along Indian Creek. It is a wonderful hike and worthy of a full day. Lower Buckhorn Camp is 4 miles and the trail up this side canyon provides a very picturesque way to extend your hike a bit.