Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

+-Calendar for sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!


Upper Smokey Creek

  • 25 Replies
  • 14626 Views
*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 993
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Upper Smokey Creek
« on: December 27, 2006, 11:16:55 AM »
How difficult is it to hike down Smokey Creek trail from Dodson trail by staying in the Smokey Creek drainage instead of exiting wash on the trail, jumping over to the next wash and re-entering Smokey Creek further downstream?

I'm assuming there may be some pouroffs that need to be navigated especially around the 4200 foot contour with the creek. Any advice would be appreciated.

*

Offline TheWildWestGuy

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1342
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2006, 06:55:31 PM »
That's a good question,  I have read that there is a 30' pouroff that you can't get around if you stay in the drainage but I suspect you actually could get around it if you were willing to take the chance of a near-fatal or fatal fall.   If your heading South from Dodson Trail Junction you will pass 2 silted in dams, the 2nd one being much larger than the first.  Then you will go up and around a big pour-off (be sure to backtrack up the dry wash below the pour-off, the cliffs are very interesting), then you will go across the drainage and up a small ridge and down a long gentle slope through the dry "basin" of the Sierra Quemadas.   When you approach the south side of this basin you will enter into the blackrock and find the first flowing spring, continue downstream and bust through at least one overgrown thicket.  Keep a close eye on the right side of the drainage when going downstream as the trail suddenly jogs out of the drainage to avoid the pour-off and it is marked with a wooden signpost and cairns but if you are not careful you can walk right past it.   The cut-off takes you around the flank of the drainage and into a feeder drainage to Smokey Creek where you will pass a small (20-30') pouroff with a decent size cottonwood tree.  Then you are back again into the blackrock canyon and eventually merge downdip with the main Smokey Creek drainage.   When I was in this area a few years ago I became suddenly fearful of Mtn Lion attack (I was solo as usual but 3 days on the trail) and felt like I was being stalked and watched.  I am convinced to this day that I subconciously smelled the Lion and that it was indeed present in this drainage.  I even stopped and set up an ambush point to attack the lion that was stalking me but only managed to scare myself even worse and ended up having to give myself a "time out" to clear my head of the thought of dropping my pack and running for Mule Ears (which I would not have made it to before dark).  
I know this doesn't exactly answer your question since I have never been to the pour-off itself (it's on my life list of places to go) but thought I would share what little I know about this area.   The section of the Smokey Creek Trail and numerous drainages between the "basin" and the "Mtn Front" on the South Side is well watered with numerous springs and tinajas and studded with a few tree clusters.  It is remote, interesting, and confusing (at least to me)... TWWG

*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 993
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2006, 10:31:08 PM »
Thanks, I've hiked the Smokey Creek trail from Dodson to Mule Ears before and hiked through the black rock canyon several times. I'm interested coming down the Smokey Creek trail from Dodson but staying in the wash instead of exiting for the drainage basin west of Smokey Creek.

There are two arms of Smokey Creek and another option would be to hike  the western portion of Smokey Creek that you cross coming up the Dodson trail from Blue Creek. That would be where the corral is. Since I'm coming in from the east along the Dodson trail I'm more interested in the eastern drainage.

*

Offline Drifter

  • Coyote
  • *
  • 188
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2007, 10:44:51 AM »
The first time I did the Smoky from Dotson I missed the cutoff to the east and stayed in the drainage.  There were several small pouroffs but none that could not be slid down. The problem I realized (solo) that I probably could not have climbed back up a few of them if I had come to a dead end.  That was scary until  I got down to the junction where the trail reenters the creek.  I also could have used a short rope to let down my pack and haul it back up if I had to backtrack.  Be careful
If you climb mountains, no explanation is necessary, if you don't , no explanation is possible.

*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 993
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2007, 06:11:30 PM »
Thanks Drifter, that's good to know. While I won't be solo we're going to add rope to our gear.

*

Offline TheWildWestGuy

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1342
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2007, 06:55:29 PM »
Thanks Drifter, that's good to know.  I always seem to be a bit confused in this part of the trail.  Seems like the topo's don't agree with my Google Earth images and neither agree with Parent's Book.   Seems like there are more drainages and springs than what are marked and I always seem to think I have gone further than I actually have.   Interesting area - kind of a natural maze and certainly one of the more remote and isolated areas of the park (at least those with flowing springs).   If you think of the Quemada's as everything below the S. Rim, West of Dodson, North of the River Road, and East of Ross Maxwell, there is a whole lot of territory here that contains numerous unnamed spring-fed drainages, secret arroyo's, and some of the most quiet and silent places left in Texas.   There are not too many places left on Earth where one can look off in any direction for miles and see no sign of mankind, no paved roads, no lights at night, no buildings, no cell phone towers, no strip malls, no traffic, nothing but nature for as far as the eye can see....TWWG

*

BigBendHiker

  • Guest
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2007, 07:17:56 PM »
Quote from: "TheWildWestGuy"
There are not too many places left on Earth where one can look off in any direction for miles and see no sign of mankind, no paved roads, no lights at night, no buildings, no cell phone towers, no strip malls, no traffic, nothing but nature for as far as the eye can see....TWWG


I like that, TWWG.  That paragraph sums up Big Bend quite well.  Thus, our attraction to the area.


BBH

*

Offline billh

  • Coyote
  • *
  • 188
    • Wilderness in the City
smokey creek
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2007, 08:34:28 AM »
It's been a while, busy year, sent a kid off to college, and my 15 year old is in a rock and roll band, so not much hiking.

We hiked this a year ago. Started in the Basin, hiked up to the South Rim, then down Blue Creek, where we picked up Cached water, then hiked Dodson to the Smokey Creek Trail and out to Mule Ears, where we had left our car. Great hike. Saw not a single person on the smokey creek part of the hike. Springs were running in several places. This was in February. The USGS is wrong, as others have pointed out. The usgs shows that the trail leaves the drainage shortly after you enter the drainage, from the canyons, It does not. It's maybe a mile down stream from there, but it was clearly marked with a huge cairn, not sure if that cairn survives flash floods, but it was really big. It's a bit of a climb up some switch backs over a pass and then down to Mule Ears Spring. This is a terrific hike. I owe WWG big time, his trail descriptions were spot on! He even pointed out the usgs was wrong, but I forgot, and we wandered around a bit looking for the trail out to Mule Ears. doh.

bill

*

Offline homerboy2u

  • The Chipewa Cris tribe,Canada:
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 5103
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2007, 09:30:06 AM »
Hey Bill H...good to have you back. It has been a while, i?m sure busy lioke hell with kiddo in college and the other banging away in high scholl.

 Don?t go to far off.

Homero
Stay thirsty, my friends.

*

Offline TheWildWestGuy

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1342
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2007, 07:06:50 PM »
Robert your question sparked me to explore this area last week when I was in the Bend.   Hope it's not too late.

The short answer is YES you can hike from the corral along the Dodson down the West arm of smokey creek through the canyon and intersect the Smokey Creek Trail.   This is actually a significant shortcut and time saver and you will not need any ropes or climbing gear.
Now the details:
For those of you just tuning in:   The Dodson runs E-W and the Smokey Creek Trail runs N-S but only follows Smokey Creek for part of it's route and climbs up and out of the drainage to the East before running North to join the Dodson.   I was in this area last week and followed the wash from the Picacho Peak (5917') over to the West where the drainage that starts near the corral joins the main Smokey Creek Drainage South of Point 4731'.   At this drainage junction there was water flowing from the North and a few strands of barbed wire still crossing the creek.  I hiked only a few hundred yards up this drainage but it looked like easy arroyo-type hiking.  Several cairns mark the intersection.   Hiking downstream to the South the water continued intermittently and I crossed 2 small drops of slickrock but both were only 6-8' high and sloping gentle enough to slide down with no problem.  A few Mexican Buckeye tree's are growing in the canyon and I went down about 1/2 mile to where it started to open up to confirm that you could get all the way through without ropes.   I think the original trail probably followed a route that horses could take so this short-cut route was never officially a trail.   Unfortunately I had to backtrack out and break camp (which was in the big "bowl" in Upper Smokey Creek) but I am confident you could do this all as a through-hike and re-intersect the trail due north of Pt 4685' (Sugarloaf Mtn).  Overall this route probably saves 2-3 miles and takes you through some scenic and little-visited portions of the Park.  There was plenty of water and flowing springs in all of the Smokey Creek drainages and the springs were flowing for 1/4-1/2 mile downstream from their sources creating  continuous flowing creeklets in most of the major drainages... TWWG

*

Offline mule ears

  • Global Moderator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4265
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2007, 02:46:43 PM »
Has anyone ever walked the drainage that runs just east of Goat Mountain?  It runs into Smoky Creek just north of the junction with the Mule Ears trail and looks like an interesting possible route to the Wilson ranch at Blue Creek.  The crux looks to be the tight area just west of points 4358 and 3875 were a spring is marked.  I am thinking of using it as connector from Mule Ears spring to Blue Creek canyon this winter.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

*

Offline Robert

  • Golden Eagle
  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 993
  • He who limps is still walking. - Stanislaw J. Lec
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2007, 04:18:38 PM »
We had planned to check that route out this past January instead of hiking out to the Mule Ears trailhead as we might normally do. But after spending 12 hours in the rain we cut our hike short. Of course by the time we got back to the parking lot at Blue Creek the skies had cleared up. I do want to go back and check it out.

*

Offline TheWildWestGuy

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1342
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2007, 06:36:55 PM »
I have it Placemarked in Google Earth and hope to try it on this Falls trip.  I have been in the drainage South of the marked springs about 1-2 miles from the Smokey Creek Trail (where it makes a sharp Eastward bend) but I doubled back before reaching the Mtn front.   Now I have a better plan - hike up and through this drainage, find the Smokey Creek Trail take it to the wooden junction sign in the unnamed drainage East of Sugarloaf Mtn and then follow this drainage down to Smokey Spring and back to Mule Ears.  Probably will do this as an overnighter with a basecamp somewhere near water in the vicinity of Sugarloaf Mtn (Peak 4685').
Sounds like a great cross country/combo trip... TWWG

*

Offline BIBEARCH

  • Coyote
  • *
  • 218
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2007, 12:14:11 PM »
Quote from: "mule ears"
Has anyone ever walked the drainage that runs just east of Goat Mountain?  It runs into Smoky Creek just north of the junction with the Mule Ears trail and looks like an interesting possible route to the Wilson ranch at Blue Creek.  The crux looks to be the tight area just west of points 4358 and 3875 were a spring is marked.  I am thinking of using it as connector from Mule Ears spring to Blue Creek canyon this winter.


Most of the passes through this part of the country were routes taken by cowboys and goat herders. They stayed up on the slopes above the canyon floor though. This route has a nice set of ledges at Mesa Bonita Spring (marked "Spring" on the map) that you will need to skirt around. There's another spring (Goat Mountain Spring) upstream of Mesa Bonita. Some of it's a little brushy & thorny but generally hikeable.
The opinion expressed above is my own and not that of the National Park Service or the Federal government.

"Government of the people, by the people, for the people . . . people hey, that's us!"? - Swami Beyondananda

*

Offline Hayduke

  • Coyote
  • *
  • 155
Upper Smokey Creek
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2007, 09:28:19 PM »
Quote from: "BIBEARCH"
This route has a nice set of ledges at Mesa Bonita Spring (marked "Spring" on the map) that you will need to skirt around.


What does Mesa Bonita refer to? One of the nearby hills?

 


©COPYRIGHT NOTICE

All photographs and content posted by members are to be considered copyrighted by their respective owners and may not be used for any purposes, commercial or otherwise, without permission.

+-Calendar For Sale

 2019 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments