18 February 2013

Wallace Creek

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Locate the trail head.

This is one of the generally short established hikes in the monument. The attraction of Wallace Creek is not in its picturesque nature but in what it shows about our environment. The creek crosses the San Andreas Fault and when the fault slips, the upper and lower sections of the creek move apart. The hike starts at a small lot beside the road where brochures discussing the fault movement and how this creek shows it are available. A short walk brings one to the upper section of the creek and the fault.

trail to Wallace Creek from the road
The short trail from the parking area to where Wallace Creek crosses the San Andreas Fault.


At the creek, spurs head out to various points of interest. One goes up the hill for an overview of how the fault changes the creek. Another heads northwest along the fault to the lower section of the creek for another view of it. A third heads southeast along the fault to other creek beds that are also being changed by the action of the fault.

upper section of Wallace Creek
Looking upstream over the system that flows into this channel of Wallace Creek.

offset in Wallace Creek formed by the San Andreas Fault shifting
The fault drags the lower section of the creek northward causing a greater jog with each earthquake. Water that once flowed directly across the fault now has to flow along the fault for 430 feet before it can continue along the old course. A dip in the distance is an older outlet that was abandoned.

another much smaller creek with a smaller jog in it, salt is being kicked up by wind in the distance
Another creek that isn't very deep, but still shows a small jog in its route as it crosses the San Andreas Fault. In the distance, more salt from Soda Lake is getting kicked up by the growing wind.

hints of the location of the San Andreas Fault to the southeast
Looking to the southeast, there are hints of where the San Andreas Fault passes.

After the spur of trail up the hill to overlook the offset in the creek, use trail continues for quite some distance along the side of the creek up into the Temblor Range above. I did not continue very far along this route, so cannot say exactly how far it stretches.

trail following along above the creek
Well established use trail that continues above the branches of Wallace Creek.

©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 23 Feb 2013

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