Hiking down the Camino Real to Los Dolores Apaté Mission (by ‘ashek’)

Here are the notes and photos from ‘ashek’ upon his return from hiking down the mountain to the 9th California mission, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Apaté (founded in 1721). Received on Feb. 19, 2014:

We went, we saw, and we were a bit disappointed :(

The trail off the road that leads down is very hard to find, in fact it was just bushwhacking and following cattle trails until we got to the edge and then picked up the trail down at just before the lookout.

The lookout is nice, the trail down is in decent shape, but even a burro would have to be dismounted to make the grade up or down (its loose, steep, and handbuilt.. well done to whoever did it back a few centuries ago).

The disappointment is with the development.
The google earth image has a rough track going from the ranch by the sea, to the crescent shaped palm grove and the ruins. In reality, its a two track road going around the ruins, and past it, at which point it turns into an irrigation trench which goes quite a ways up the hill to the head of the spring.

To top it off, the whole place is fenced off and gated. Pretty new development too, looks like in the last two years or so. There is some remnants of the old irrigation canal (above ground, lined with white stones) still visible, but the fencing and recent work has taken away from the ambiance of the place ;)

There are some of the mission, some of the lookouts, old aqueduct, climb down, and some of the ruins and gates. No road has been built through. Looks like the only way to get down into that valley is just west of Los Burros, or the camino real way, which you gave the GPS info for. That part was handbuilt, and I’d image burros do it with no load as its super steep. Whatever they brought in to do the work came from the beach.

I’m not really going to write a trip report, because we spent all of 20 mins down below. The whole there and back was about 6 hours though from our campsite (we had two kids with us, so it was done at their pace). Can be done as a day trip tho if you camp there, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

It looks like the fence was put up to keep people out of the area we got to, ie, they don’t expect foot traffic from the cliff side, they expect it from the water side. I didn’t get a lot of shots of the dug up drainage ditch :( If you want to piece together an FYI using my info and pics that’s fine, no credit necessary (as most of the info you seem to have provided).

Oh, also the note about the other mission (La Pasión) being a pig farm, i’d say its more likely a goat farm, haven’t seen any pigs, but saw lots of Goats. And La Presa itself seems to be billing itself as the mission, rather than the GPS location near the pig farm. La Presa seems to be more of an oasis with a modern church, so they could just mean that. Anyways, thanks for the info!
email coming with pics.