My Wilder Ranch column will appear (if there are no publishing glitches) in the Mercury News on June 5, and the one after that will be June 15 — at which time I’ll be obligated to start writing about places where hiking in the heat is less of an issue. Usually that means coastline and redwoods.
What I need:
- Must be a park (rather than, say, a regional trail) because, for now at least, the columns are written as reviews of individual parks.
- Must have enough trail choices to have “easy, moderate and hard” hike suggestions.
- Must be reasonable driving distance from San Jose (less than an hour, basically — I know this rules out a lot of the North and East Bay but I’ve gotta think about who signs the checks).
- Can’t be a place I’ve already reviewed.
These are the places I covered last summer:
- Angel Island State Park
- Big Basin Redwoods State Park
- Butano State Park
- Castle Rock State Park
- Portola Redwoods State Park
- Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
- Sanborn-Skyline County Park
- Wunderlich County Park
So, let me have ’em. This’ll be a challenge because I’ve covered all my favorite parks in the past year. But there’s always time to find new ones.
This is a tough assignment Tom. One hike maybe would be more of a city hike. I did one last year with the Stanford Outing Club where we hiked across the Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Mason and then we split into two groups. One group found a trail that climbed up into the hills and came back down somewhere around Sausalito (for the hard part) and the other group ( I was in) hiked directly down into Sausalito, skipping the hill hike. We all met up again in Sausalito and coffee and ice cream and then caught the ferry back to the city where we had dinner. Lots of calories there defeating the benefits of the hike but it was sure a nice day out.
Oh, and I guess that hike breaks the must be a park rule but it did have nice cool ocean breezes!
Hm, you’ve done a lot of the good ones, and the others that come to mind are > 1 hr drive. Ano Nuevo? Cowell Redwoods? Forest of Nisene Marks (that’s a great place to escape the heat).
I don’t know if any of these meet all of your requirements, but how about these:
Pescadero Creek Country Park
Sam MacDonald County Park
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Murray Ranch State Park
China Camp State Park
Steve, those are good suggestions, thanks.
What Steve said! I discovered Pescadero Creek Country Park only recently and can’t wait to go back there. And you’ll no doubt remember Fall Creek at Henry Cowell – our first hike together.
Also consider Montara Mountain from its trailhead in San Pedro Valley County Park. In contrast to the coast side, this trail alternates between single track and fire road, and is much more lush with flowering vegetation right now. The views are singularly staggering, and the grade is never so challenging that most folks couldn’t do it.
Huddart County Park? Might be too similar to Wunderlich though …
Kevin: thanks for Huddart, that was one I was trying to remember.
Russ: I’m tempted on Fall Creek but I’m also tempted *not* because it’s not all that well-known and it’d be kinda cool to keep it that way.
Montara is another one I’ve been meaning to check out.
Ha! I’ll have to agree about Fall Creek. Feel free to delete that part! 🙂
Another possibility is El Corte Madera OSP. Just be sure to mention that the park is popular with bikers. You have to be very alert for bikes that come flying down the trails. Uphill they can barely overtake the hikers, but downhills are often breakneck.
If you do a writeup on Pescadero Creek, you may want to make sure to include a mention of the hikers hut. You have to be a Sierra Club member to get reservations though.
Los Trancos is an easy hike, and very pretty with views. Lots of tree cover.
Ano Neuvo SP has a really easy way to hike to Chalk Mountain. But you have to drive 2 miles up a rock dirt road. Lower section has lots of tree cover and a great viewpoint. Docent led short hikes to see sea lions.
I second Sam McDonald…… trees, trees, trees….
Pogonip has great easy trails and lots of shade…..
Also UCSC has many great easy trails
Randy: UCSC is a great idea.
Coyote Hills Regionl Park?
Tom: A good suggestion, except Coyote Hills was my very first column. Not sure I’ve ever been there in the summer.
I really think you ought to reconsider the one hour limit on driving. I drive down to the East and North Bay parks from Sacramento all the time. The closest park to me is Briones at about 75 minutes. So I *never* drive less than an hour to go hiking.
Hmmm, would the Skyline to Sea trail work since it passes through a couple parks?? I am actually hiking this one Memorial Weekend. Also, what about that crazy Marin Headlands/Mt. Tam hike I emailed you about? I have since figured out how to do it.
Carl: The hour drive limit was something of an intellectual exercise to make sure I wasn’t missing places that would be of interest to South Bay hikers … I write the column for the San Jose paper so its readers come first, though actually our owner owns every Bay Area paper except the San Francisco Chronicle so the column could run in any of them.
Speaking of Briones, that’s one I have to write about, but I suspect it’ll have to wait till next spring for the wildflowers.
Tom, I’m all over my favorite two close-by parks – Calero County Park and Almaden Quicksilver County Park. If I had to choose one, it would probably be Calero since it is less overrun than Almaden – though your editors might have a different point of view.
There are a ton of varied hikes at Calero, ranging from the 10 minute round trip to the pond (great place to watch the birds), to trips that travel through wonderful oak and grassland for a couple hours, and culminating in long and high loops that can take the better part of a day.
It can get hot there, so I’d recommend this as a great place for morning hikes, especially on days when the temperature doesn’t get up into the 90s or 100s. It can also be a great spot for quick evening hike in the summer.
How about Long Ridge Open Space Preserve? Peter’s Creek Trail -> Long Ridge Trail -> Long Ridge Road -> Peter’s Creek Trail. Most of the walk is in shade, but when you do get out in the open you get a stunning view of Big Basin and the Pacific. One of my favorite 5 miles hikes along Skyline.
Dave, Jordan: I’ve already written about those three too …
Eventually I’ll have to start writing individual hike profiles but for now we’re doing park profiles. We’ve done a couple dozen so far so by this time next year the pool will be really small.
As the resident East Bay Regional Park District shill, my favorite escape from Livermore’s heat is Redwood Regional Park, starting at the Skyline Gate entrance on Oakland’s Skyline Blvd.
Take the East Ridge Trail, walk on the wide, dog friendly trail until you reach Prince Rd. Prince drops you into Redwood Canyon, where you can make the return part of the loop back to the parking lot alongside a nice creek and beneath 2nd and 3rd growth redwoods. I take refuge there anytime it gets past 102 in L’more. It may be slightly more than an hour, but maybe not. There are many, many trails, including the Skyline Regional Trail which runs N – S through the park and beyond. 4wheelbob gives it two wheels UP!
Just another thought… since San Jose’s Alum Rock Park has so much history and is so close to the city, I wonder if there might be a story or two there? Sorry, but I can’t help you much with the hiking possibilities – I have hiked there but it was quite awhile ago.
Dan: I’ve already done Alum Rock, too. Gets pretty hot there in the summer, too.
Pillar Point in Princeton-by-the-Sea is fantastic – only really one option for a hike, though, but you can walk as little as you like, or up to ~6 miles if you go from the trailhead to Moss Beach Distillery and back again. Stienstra wrote it up a few months back.
I second Montara Mountain – it’s a wonderful hike.
If you hadn’t ruled out regional trails, I’d suggest the Mountain View and Palo Alto baylands trails.
Sweeney Ridge in Daly City is pretty nice, and takes you to the site where Portola first saw the SF Bay.