The Ladybug Trail is a low-elevation foothill trail that leads to some campsites and a small outlier section of the Homer’s Nose sequoia grove. It’s mainly an off-season hike since the trail is usually too hot in summer. In spring the trail features a large roaring river, wildflowers, and ladybugs, but at other times of year the scenery is less interesting.
Most hikers go only as far as Ladybug Camp (1.7 miles), where masses of ladybugs can sometimes be seen. A maintained trail continues from there to a small cluster of sequoias at 3 miles. An unmaintained trail continues for 2 more miles to the outskirts of the South Fork Grove.
There’s poison oak along the trail and I’ve picked up ticks here, so long and maybe permethrin-treated pants would make the hike easier. Still, a lot of people wear shorts on the trail.
Here’s the trailhead location in Google Maps.
Start from the small parking area at the end of South Fork Road. The trail starts out wide and well-used, climbing through oak woodland above a sizable river. The woodland at the beginning of the trail is unusually lush, with large trees. As the trail starts to climb, it gets narrower and the trees get smaller.
The trail passes Ladybug Camp, an unmarked patch of flat ground off to the right. Soon after there’s a junction with a trail to Whiskey Log Camp. A short spur trail leads straight ahead to an open rock face next to the river.
The trail to Whiskey Log Camp is much narrower and fainter than the Ladybug Trail, but it’s still easy to follow and free of obstacles. It climbs through an attractive grass-covered hillside for a while before diving into forest. The forest is noticably drier-looking than it was at the beginning of the trail.
The trail descends slightly into a little ravine where Cedar Creek flows. Tucked into the ravine is a small outlier section of the Homer’s Nose grove, with about half a dozen medium-sized sequoias and a few more small sequoias. The cool, shady grove is surprisingly lush and leafy, much more so than any of the surrounding forest.
Both the recommended hike and the maintained trail end at this grove. However, an unmaintained trail continues for two more miles. I don’t recommend it because there’s a dangerous washout a quarter mile past the sequoia grove, at a point where the trail is cut into a steep hillside. It’s unfortunate because after this short stretch there really aren’t any other obstacles for the next two miles. On the other hand, there really isn’t any especially interesting scenery, either.
Hikers who take their chances with the washout will reach Whiskeylog Camp, an unmarked flat area next to the trail. After the camp the trail becomes very faint. In fact it’s almost invisible for the first few yards after the camp, but it’s still there and is reasonably easy to follow. There are some small fallen logs across the trail but they are easily stepped over. The trail peters out after passing through Trail’s End Camp. A single sequoia can be found just after the camp, but otherwise there’s no sign of the South Fork Grove; the trail is on a hot and dry south-facing slope, where few sequoias can be found.
© 2014 David Baselt