200 - Borden Creek Trail
This must be the most heavily accessed
trail in the Wilderness. It is convenient to two trailheads, not too long, and
the scenery can be spectacular - Borden Creek on one side, bluffs and hemlock
forest on the other, and a number of waterfalls thrown in for good measure.
The only drawback is this little tunnel towards the northern end.
The southern end of the trail is at the
Sipsey Trailhead and the northern
end at the Borden Trailhead.
The Sipsey end imposes a $3 day use fee but
it is easier to park; a comfort station (more like a high tech outhouse) is
provided. In favor of the northern end is the proximity to campsites but the
parking can get crowded, especially on weekends.
The trail has a fair amount of ups and downs though none particularly steep.
A feeder stream needs to be crossed about half way. This usually can be jumped
and there is a tree log bridge for when it cannot.
When approaching from the south, about a half mile from the northern end the
trail appears to vanish into a cleft in the bluff. Though generally referred
to as the "Fat Man Squeeze" or as
the "cave", this is actually a
small L-shaped tunnel and not quite as scary as it may appear. It is only about
ten yards long and once you turn the "L", you see the light at the other
When approaching from the northern side, the cave is that dark hole in
the rocks after you cross under the waterfall.
A more serious consideration is that the cave is only about half a yard
wide. All but the smallest will need to walk sideways and packs will generally
have to be removed and carried. It is also dark and tends to be wet.
For those who would rather not deal with the cave (or those who simply are too
large to fit, don't laugh), there are two options, neither very good. You can
possibly just go around it by walking in the creek. The banks are kind of steep
and the water may be high so that may not work. Alternatively, you could climb
over the rock that forms the roof of the cave. There are some roots to hold on
to but this is pretty dangerous, especially for going down when you cannot see
where your feet are.
The best bet is to just squeeze through the cave.
As a curiosity and probably as a result of its popularity, in the southern
section the trail splits
in numerous places into little mini-loops with one path heading down by the
water and the other heading up the bluff.
So you can take the high road or take the low road.
In most cases, these alternative routes rejoin after a short distance though
once in awhile, you will find yourself stranded - but always in a delightfully
There are numerous campsites of various sizes. In the nice weather, the trail
is popular for sunbathing on the rocks in and by the creek. In general, the
water is too shallow for swimming but certainly deep enough to splash
around and cool off. In the springtime particularly, the wildflowers are quite
attractive with some unusual varieties if you look hard enough.
West Borden Creek Trail
Easy - Moderate.
This is not
one of the officially numbered Forest Service trails but is well-trodden to say
the least. It provides a pleasant walk, campsites, and access to trail
209 - Sipsey River without having to get your feet wet.
From the north, start from the
Borden Trailhead, cross the
bridge, turn left, and follow the creek. After about two miles, the trail ends
at the eastern terminus of trail 209 at the Sipsey.
one of the main uses of this trail is to connect with 209 when the fording of
Borden Creek is not an option.
As does its eastern cousin, this side provides ample opportunities for camping,
viewing wildflowers in season, sunbathing and splashing in the creek. The
hiking is easier on this side but expect some downed trees and other such
obstacles, the consequence of the trail not being "official" and hence not
maintained. The path can be muddy in spots too depending on the rain.
Perhaps an interesting difference between the two sides of the trail is that the
route on the eastern side was consciously laid out whereas the western side just
sort of happened as people walked along next to the creek. The eastern route is
constantly resetting your focus; you have the creek in
front of you, then are directed up into the forest, to the bluff, and then back
down again. Both sides feature the same scenery of course, but it is presented
more interestingly to the east side hiker.