It can’t be an epic adventure every week (and given my proclivities for safe, easily accessible nearby trails, my adventurers aren’t all that adventurous anyway). This week it was a few hours at Portola Redwoods State Park with Mike Wimble and a few of the FOMFOK regulars (Kathy had to stay at home this week, alas). On the right day, a few hours with familiar faces on mildly strenuous trails is the equal of any 15-mile marathon day.

Sunday was one of those days. Sunny and warm in the valley, breezy and cool at Portola Redwoods. We also hiked some previously unhiked trails at the state park and decided this is a place whose charms become more evident only after multiple visits. It ain’t no Big Basin, which is apparent on the first visit; each time I go, I see more reasons why that’s a good thing.

The route was uncomplicated: Headquarters to Iverson Trail to Coyote Ridge Trail, returning on the Tarwater Loop Trail and taking the Pomponio Creek Trail back to the HQ. Six or so miles with a few hundred feet of ascent and a similar descent. The Tarwater/Pomponio section is actually in Pescadero Creek County Park, a locale where I’m planning further explorations. The Tarwater trail goes through a range of mixed forest — a smattering of old growth redwood, lots of new growth redwood, the ever-present Douglas fir and some madrone/oak/manzanita scrub thrown in for good measure. A lovely walk, and all downhill.

OK, let’s look at some pictures:

Mike is off

Mike sets off up the Coyote Ridge Trail — wiping fresh spider webs off his face the whole way. Either these spiders are remarkably industrious, or we were the first hikers on the trail. Coyote Ridge has a roughed-up look about it, but as you hike higher along the ridge, vistas of the nearby mountains upon up …. this is a rare treat at Portola, where the trails wend through thick forest that is nice to walk through, but a bit lacking in the vista department,

Nice ferns

Excellent greenery along the way.

Shiny leaves

The flash reveals bits of fuzz and moisture on leaves along the trail.

Tree canopy

Standard-issue tree-canopy shot.

Consulting the map

Mike, Peggy and Donna consult the map near the junction of Coyote Ridge Trail and Upper Coyote Ridge Trail. The former heads back down into the park, the latter goes up to the Tarwater Trail intersection. We opt for more climbing because we’ve gone barely a mile and haven’t endured nearly enough punishment yet.

Impressive snag

You know me and my thing for dead trees….

Admiring the view

Sometime you post the picture of the vista, sometimes you post the picture of people enjoying the vista.

A bee

A bee on the hunt on a thistle, along the Pomponio Trail.

Mike minds the gap

Mike minds the gap.