Switzer Falls, Bear Canyon Trail Camp, 7.26 miles RT, 1,450 +/-, March 9, 2018

Our destination today was Switzer Falls with the option to continue on to Bear Canyon Trail Camp.  This was such a fun hike with a lot going on!  The hike to Switzer Falls starts off at the Switzer Picnic Area and follows the beautiful Arroyo Seco.  The canyon is shaded by oak and alder trees, and the wildflowers were beginning to bloom.  The trail eventually climbs out of the canyon and takes you up onto a sheer cliff where you can look across to see the ruins of an old chapel which was once part of a wilderness resort called Switzer-land.  Next, you’ll drop back down into the canyon and follow some switchbacks to a junction with the trail to Switzer Falls and the Bear Canyon Trail.  We hiked over to the falls first.  There was no one there today, so we sat for a while, had a snack and enjoyed the sounds of rushing water.  After the short break we made our way along the Bear Canyon Trail.  This trail was definitely not as well maintained as the trail we had been on previously; however, it was definitely passable.  We had to do some boulder hopping, route finding and navigating up and over downed trees.  There were a lot of stream crossings on this trip.  I counted 58 total there and back.  It was an obstacle course for sure, but that’s what made it so fun!  We passed by many fish pools and small cascades.  I couldn't help myself.  I just had to stop, take off my hiking boots and go wading in one of the pools.  The water was cold, but refreshing.  Eventually we reached the backcountry Bear Canyon Trail Camp.  This campground is very remote.  It has some picnic tables and wood burning stoves but not much else.  We sat for a bit and enjoyed the peace and quiet before heading back the way we came.  We didn’t see a single soul until we reached the junction with the falls.  Just the way I like it!  It was another beautiful day well spent!  

 The beginning of the hike takes you through Switzer Trail Camp along the Arroyo Seco.  It's really beautiful.  I can see why it's so popular on the weekends.

The beginning of the hike takes you through Switzer Trail Camp along the Arroyo Seco.  It's really beautiful.  I can see why it's so popular on the weekends.

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 This paved section eventually turns into a nice single track trail.

This paved section eventually turns into a nice single track trail.

 Following along the stream.

Following along the stream.

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 Climbing up out of the canyon.

Climbing up out of the canyon.

 Starting to get some views.

Starting to get some views.

 Looking over at what was once a beautiful chapel, part of Switzer-Land.

Looking over at what was once a beautiful chapel, part of Switzer-Land.

 You can still see the foundation.

You can still see the foundation.

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 There's a straight drop down right into Bear Canyon.  Luckily the trail is pretty wide.  The views are wonderful.

There's a straight drop down right into Bear Canyon.  Luckily the trail is pretty wide.  The views are wonderful.

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 Heading down now into the canyon.

Heading down now into the canyon.

 Arriving at Switzer Falls.  No one here today at all.

Arriving at Switzer Falls.  No one here today at all.

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 After the falls, we took the Bear Canyon Trail to Bear Canyon Trail Camp.

After the falls, we took the Bear Canyon Trail to Bear Canyon Trail Camp.

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 There were many pools of water and cascading falls along the way.

There were many pools of water and cascading falls along the way.

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 The wildflowers have started to bloom.  This is periwinkle.  I saw a quite a few butterflies enjoying them.

The wildflowers have started to bloom.  This is periwinkle.  I saw a quite a few butterflies enjoying them.

 Bush Poppy.

Bush Poppy.

 This is the junction where the streams intersect.

This is the junction where the streams intersect.

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 I think these flowers are called milkmaids.

I think these flowers are called milkmaids.

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 Now the trail began to get a bit more rugged.

Now the trail began to get a bit more rugged.

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 Made it to the Bear Canyon Trail Camp.

Made it to the Bear Canyon Trail Camp.

 We took a nice break here.  It was very peaceful.  No one around except the birds and the trees.

We took a nice break here.  It was very peaceful.  No one around except the birds and the trees.

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 I think this is stinging nettle.  I could be wrong.  Whatever it is, don't step on it!

I think this is stinging nettle.  I could be wrong.  Whatever it is, don't step on it!

 Heading back.

Heading back.

 More stream crossings.  I counted a total of 58 through the whole hike.

More stream crossings.  I counted a total of 58 through the whole hike.

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 Some parts of the trail looked like this.  It wasn't hard to navigate though.

Some parts of the trail looked like this.  It wasn't hard to navigate though.

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 Like an obstacle course.  I definitely was not bored.  It was a lot of fun!

Like an obstacle course.  I definitely was not bored.  It was a lot of fun!

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 Ceanothus aka California LIlac.

Ceanothus aka California LIlac.

 Climbing back up on the way back.

Climbing back up on the way back.

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 Almost back to the Switzer Picnic Area.

Almost back to the Switzer Picnic Area.

 This Acorn Woodpecker was quite busy!

This Acorn Woodpecker was quite busy!