Hike the Kelsey Spring/Hog Hill/Dorsey Spring Loop

Rate this Adventure Kelsey Spring Trailhead

This is a very long day hike or a pleasurable overnight in pristine Sycamore Wilderness. The route has great campsites and water sources with some views of upper Sycamore Canyon.

This hike starts at the Kelsey Spring Trailhead. Park at the end of Forest Service Road 538G. There is parking for about 6-7 cars. Just past the signage for the trail, which is also called Kelsey Winter Trail, there is a trail registration box. Be sure to sign in.

The trail descends steeply for the first half mile then eases up when you reach Kelsey Spring. The trail makes a sharp left and rolls through the forest, passing several very nice campsites until you reach Babe's Spring. This spring appeared to be flowing pretty good. There is a sign and wood cover protecting the spring.

After this point, you get your first glimpse of Sycamore Canyon, although, it is not that great. The trail exits the forest for a short time with better views. After about 2.8 miles, you reach the trail junction with the Dorsey Spring Trail. This is a good option for a shorter loop, hiking up Dorsey to the road and following 538G back to your car.

Pass the Dorsey Spring Trail and continue south through the forest. You'll exit the forest again at a large volcanic plug on the right and a line of vertical cliffs to the left. This area is fully exposed to the sun and can be very overgrown with stiff holly brush. The trail begins a steady descent into the forest and about another 2.8 miles from the Dorsey Spring Trail, you will reach the end of the Kelsey Spring Trail at the Winter Cabin Trail. This is a great place to camp for the night or continue for a long day hike finishing the loop with the Hog Hill Trail and the Dorsey Spring Trail. However, there is no water source at the Winter Cabin so be sure to fill up at Dorsey Spring as you pass by.

Begin the loop section of this hike by turning left at the Winter Cabin and hiking uphill. After a short distance, you'll see a sign for Hog Hill. Continuing uphill on the Hog Hill Trail, the trail begins to get difficult to find after about a half mile so the go is slow. Take your time and frequently check your position by map or GPS. The trail becomes easier to find after about a quarter mile and it's a gradual hike up to the trailhead and the junction with the Dorsey Spring Trail.

Turn left on the Dorsey Spring Trail. The starts off wide and eventually narrows as it descends toward Sycamore Canyon. It does get steep toward the end. I passed a Forest Service trail crew of about 10 rangers working on the trail. I thanked every one of them and continued. At the end of the trail is a sign post marking the intersection with the Kelsey Spring Trail. Just before this on the left is Dorsey Spring.

There is a very nice camping area to the right a little way down the trail from the spring. Practice LNT principles and know the current conditions and campfire restrictions. When I was there is was a "red flag" day meaning fire danger was very high and all campfires were prohibited.

Turn right onto the Kelsey Spring Trail and return to your car on this section of trail you hiked earlier.  The last half mile is very steep and if doing this hike as a day hike, it is a tough go.

NOTE: 4x4 vehicle required to reach trailhead! 

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Sturdy hiking shoes
  • GPS
  • Water filter system (backpackers)
  • Trekking poles
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RT Distance 13.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 2200 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Loop
Features
Forest
Scenic

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