Off-Highway Vehicle Areas
Hollister Field Office
Clear Creek Off-Highway Vehicle Area
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Clear Creek Management Area
This area has serpentine soil which contains naturally occurring asbestos, creating a potential health hazard. The BLM does not encourage use in the asbestos portions of this area, particularly when the area is dry and dusty. Before visiting this area, please review the asbestos information page, or call the Hollister Field Office for information about the asbestos health risk.
Call the Clear Creek Management Area hotline for current road, weather, access and recreation conditions 24hours a day at (831) 630-5060.
The nearly seventy-six thousand acre Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) has had a long history of human use. Native Americans were the first to inhabit the Central Coast Ranges, including Clear Creek. Although there are few archaeological remains from the Indians lengthy occupation of Clear Creek, there is nonetheless widespread evidence of hunting and acorn collection in the oak woodlands of the Management Area.
Beginning in the mid-to-late AD 1800s, the area was extensively mined for cinnabar to process into liquid mercury, or “quicksilver.” The largest mine was New Idria, operating until early AD 1970s. Quicksilver was used to recover gold ore from stamp mills during the California Gold Rush. At one time (around AD 1905) President Teddy Roosevelt incorporated Clear Creek into the Monterey National Forest, and eventually over the years many miles of roads were added to the already extensive mining route network to support the timber industry. Names of roads such as "Sawmill Creek Road" or "Cinnabar Hill" recall these bygone days.
From the San Jose area, travel south on Highway 101 to Gilroy. Just past Gilroy, take the Highway 25 exit towards Hollister. Continue through town (Hwy. 25 runs through the town of Hollister) and head south for about 35 miles. You will pass by the Pinnacles National Monument. Turn left onto the Coalinga-Los Gatos Creek County road. Continue approximately 14 miles. At the BLM sign indicating the entrance to the Clear Creek Management Area, turn left. You will then be on the main road, Clear Creek Road, which is an unpaved road bisecting the Management Area. From Coalinga, take the Coalinga-Los Gatos Creek County Road to the turn-off to the Management Area, which will be a right-hand turn. From I-5, take the Panoche Road exit, and head west approximately 25 miles (the road turns to dirt within 2 miles of the highway, and turns back to pavement again after 14 miles). Continue on Panoche Road to the Idria Road, and left. This road will lead you to the north entrance of the Clear Creek Management Area. As of 9/97, there is a washout on this main road as you enter the Management Area. Travelers are advised to take a detour on the "Aurora Mine Road", which will bypass the washout.
Hobby gem and mineral collectors are drawn to the Clear Creek areas by the presence of over 150 semi-precious mineral and gemstones. One of the most highly mineralized areas in California, collectable minerals include serpentine, jadeite, cinnabar, tremolite, topazite, neptunite and benitoite. Some minerals such as benitoite are extremely rare, and the Clear Creek is practically the only place where they may be found. Look near rocky outcrops and stream channels for these minerals.
Several commericial gem collectors also maintain mining claims and work in the area. The only known commerical deposit of benitoite is found on a patented mining claim (private land) in the Clear Creek area. A beautiful mineral, benitoite is phosphorescent, and is prized almost as much as diamonds. The unique geology also attracts geology students and researchers from local and national universities.
Hunters find the non-serpentine areas of the Management Area most productive for hunting. In August, there is a surge of hunters, particularly into the Condon Peak, Spanish Lake, and Joaquin Ridge areas, for the opening of deer season. Wild pig hunters hunt here throughout the year, and small game hunters also enjoy some degree of success.
c) Hiking and Mountain Biking:
Hiking on San Benito Mountain
Hikers and mountain bikers are increasingly looking to the Clear Creek area for a rugged, remote outing. The San Benito Mountain Natural Area, for example, because of restricted vehicle use, and the areas to the east and north of Spanish Lake, offer better hiking and mountain biking opportunties.
Camping is permitted throughout the area, with the exception of the San Benito Mountain Natural Area, which is closed to camping. There are also some stream terraces in the Clear Creek canyon, which are closed to vehicle use and car camping, in order to protect rare plant habitat and occurrences. The six Staging Areas and the Oak Flat Campground are all open to camping and have dumpsters and pit toilets. There is no running or potable water in the area.
Even with the presence of dumpsters in some locations, we always appreciate you packing out your garbage, and leaving a clean campsite.
FY-2002/2003 STATE OHV GRANT
The Bureau of Land Management´s Hollister Field Office receives approximately $300,000 annually under a grant program administered by the State of California Parks and Recreation Department, Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Division. Recently the validity of the program was challenged by environmental groups. As a result of this challenge, new regulations have been drafted and have been approved. Further information and copies of the regulations may be found at State of California Department of Parks & Recreation .
There is generally a 3-year cycle for grant applications and approval. The HFO submitted the following 2002/2003 grant applications; Operations and Maintenance, Equipment, and Resource. All grants have been submitted and can be obtained at the State OHV site above. If you have questions please call George Hill at (831) 630-5036, or email him at George_Hill@ca.blm.gov
Publications available for sale- If you would like to order any of the items below, simply send a check or money order for the amount noted, made payable to the USDI - BLM, and tell us which item(s) you'd like. Remember to include a return address.
Hollister Information packet- Available for $4.00 this package includes an overview, including maps and information for all publicly accessible lands administered by the field office. There are maps for each of the individual areas, plus a large scale map. The large map shows the location of each of the individual areas as well as major roads and towns. In addition, phone numbers and addresses for other agencies in the area, information on current restrictions (for example shooting or fire restrictions), and other general information pertinent to this field office is included.
Surface Management Maps-Available for $4.00 each, these 1:100,000 scale maps show federal land status, cities, and main roads. We sell the maps covering this region, including the Coalinga, Mendota, Paso Robles, Point Sur and Cambria areas. Be aware that we have been involved in many land exchanges, and these maps are not up-to date. You can check land status with us at our Hollister Office, or if you have questions about the particular parcel, you can contact our Realty Specialist.
Wilderness Maps - These are available for $2, and show all lands designated as wilderness in California, including lands designated with the passage of the 1994 Desert Protection Act.
California Watchable Wildlife - recently reprinted and updated, this inter agency, full-color publication is available for $8 and shows good wildlife viewing spots throughout California. It gives directions and general information for travelers for each site, as well as an overview of the interesting characteristics of each designated watchable wildlife site.
State of California Wall Map - Available for $6 at the office, this map shows all the federal land status for the State. Gives a good overview of National Forest, BLM, National Park Service and Military holdings, but needs to be updated, as the last printed version dates from the 1980's. If you request this map through the mail, the cost is $10 to cover oversize mail charges.
Location and Patenting of Mining Claims and Mill Sites in California - A $10.00 handbook which explains the procedures for locating and /or patenting mining claims and sites. Last updated in 1996.
Publications available free-of-charge(You can order these by mail, phone call, e-mail , or in person):
• California Camping, Trails, and Recreation brochures;
• Copies of published environmental documents such as the Clear Creek EIS, Hollister Oil & Gas EIS, etc.;
• Brochures and publications which are intermittently or seasonally available , such as wildflower pamphlets, environmental education publications, special edition items (e.g. BLM's 50th anniversary items);
• Other items - if you have questions, give us a call, or e-mail us.
Source: BLM Web Site
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