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Loma Prieta Lumber \ Forest of Nisene Marks Hike

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Loma Prieta Lumber \ Forest of Nisene Marks Hike

Postby Andrew Brandon » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:24 pm

This past Saturday a group of friends and I took a hike up Bridge Creek Trail in the Forest of Nisene Marks state park. This particular trail follows the route of the standard and 30" gauge tracks of the Loma Prieta Lumber Company. We were able to drive up the main road to the Porter Family Picnic Area where the gate was closed. From here we had a short walk (0.6mi) over the well kept former standard gauge (Southern Pacific) right of way to the site of Molino. The site of Molino is noted as a fork in the road where the spur to the mill at Loma Prieta left the mainline. The mainline at this point becomes the Loma Prieta Grade trail and continues on to Porter Gulch where the standard gauge and 30" gauge split.

Along the trail there are many remains. Just beyond the spur at Molino, the site of the log dump is quite obvious, the timbers are still in place at the site. Ties can be found regularly along the trail including dual gauge ties. Around the site of Porter House (home of Warren Porter, former secretary for the Loma Prieta Lumber Company) the grade was formerly the old trail that has been closed (up the the trestle site) and has been replaced with a new trail that gains elevation before looping across Big Tree Gulch and returning to the grade. The next stretch of grade is quite narrow and evidence of former cribbing work to support the right of way are in evidence along it. At several places the trail diverts around former trestle locations and I observed no trestles in place below the crossing of Bridge Creek.

Remains of the log dump north of Molino.

Looking south from the Porter House sign. A second branch left the line near here to switchback up the other side of the ridge. Note the tie still embedded in the grade.

Upon reaching Bridge Creek the trail leaves the mainline because of heavy erosion, it was not until the return trip that I spotted the grade and the first trestle still in place. The trail takes a detoured route above the railroad's crossing of the river and winds above it until you reach the site of "Bridge Creek". I suspect this is a camp of some sort, but it seemed too small to be the site of Camp 4. The sign marking the location offers no explanation of what had been there.

Since our goal was Maple Falls at the end of the trail, we continued on and shortly found a long trestle that was still in place. The center poles of the trestle were still intact and a couple of daring members of our party walked across the top with little effort. On the north end a series of ties washed down the slope only to have the trail built over them, here we found a single spike, still embedded in a buried tie. The head of this tiny spike was barely the size of my thumb. The trail at this point diverges from the remaining right of way and quickly departs downward to the creek bed and Maple Falls. At the end of our journey, we discovered Maple Falls was nothing more than a depressing "trickle" down the rock face, another victim of the drought.

Northern end of the trestle near Camp 4.

I've posted several more pictures from the trip in the Image Gallery, they will be part of the eventual Google Earth map.
Andrew Brandon - PacificNG Webmaster
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Andrew Brandon
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