Out and about from a adult and up
November 6, 2014 - Picnic Time
In this, a final installment of Fresh Tracks’ three-month scrutiny of a strong redwoods of Northern California – a troika of trees, if we will – I’m seeking that we do something both counter-intuitive and, perhaps, impossible.
I wish we to avert your gawk from a immeasurable and commanding arboristic specimens during a Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz. Don’t worry; a trees will still be there when we get behind from a trek we’re recommending, that runs along a San Lorenzo River and afterwards adult into sprouting foothills where pines and oaks and other class dominate, and a astonishing turf and strong gorges competence warn you.
And here’s a bonus: You’ll shun a crowds, that group to a paved 0.8-mile Redwood Grove Loop Trail and a adjacent Roaring Camp Railroads.
Why specifically eschew a noble sentinels for that a state is famous?
Because it’s not always about height, people. Maybe it’s since we am plumb challenged, yet maybe we should decider a beauty by factors other than perfect size. This idea initial took base when we visited Muir Woods on Mount Tamalpais for September’s Fresh Tracks and sprouted into a full-blown faith when we ventured to Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Arnold for October’s trek.
So since not bend out, as it were, and go where a locals step when they aren’t holding out-of-town guest to Grove Loop for gawking?
This will take some will power, since a trailhead during Cowell Park is situated nearby a parking lot where Grove Loop-seeking tourists start their wander by a soaring lumber. You will literally spin divided from that steer and conduct right of a present emporium and follow a pointer for a River Trail. That’s a start of a 5.5-mile lollipop-style loop that rambles by a riparian lushness surrounding a San Lorenzo waters, climbs to a tip indicate in a park (an 800-foot ascent) and plunges we down into a poetic fill with footbridges over gurgling Eagle Creek before streamer we behind to a riverside.
And it’s not as if you’re going to be totally deprived of redwood examination on a trek that includes a River, Eagle Creek, Pine, Powder Mill and Rincon trails. There are name specimens you’ll confront along a way, including some felled redwoods. But it’s time to give some other flora a star turn.
Trees you’ll see, with varying degrees of regularity: maple, tanoak, live oak, bay, hazelnut, madrone, ponderosa pine, knobcone pine, sycamore and even a Douglas fir or two.
Foliage, depending on a season, includes: manzanita, chaparral, redwood sorrel, yerba buena, yerba santa, monkeyflower, lupine, huckleberry, chinquapin …
Need we go on?
It’s a lot to ogle and enjoy, even if we couldn’t tell poppy from chamise, as we transport along on trails that are usually as different in terms of topography.
Your mood will be carried as we start a trip. Any fear that a drought competence have emptied a San Lorenzo River and rendered indecisive a several swimming holes along a track valid unfounded. The stream still flows. Not a strong torrent, mind you, and a silt bars and beaches are some-more conspicuous than in prior years. But there’s adequate H2O to wade and merriment if a day is comfortable enough. The periodic footbridges have not been rendered superfluous.
The River Trail, that encompasses a initial mile of a route, is a single-track route that runs together to a paved Pipeline Road (heading to a regard rug during a peak). But it’s distant adequate divided from a cement that we don’t feel encumbered. No cars transport on Pipeline; it’s mostly taken adult by towering bikers and hikers who maybe wish surer balance than a duff and dirt.
As we walk down a river, redwoods give approach to fluffy tanoaks and maple trees with leaves a distance of hubcaps. You’ll pass underneath a steer stand where, depending on schedules, you’re probable to see – and hear – a traveller trains from Roaring Camp clattered by. A few hundred yards over a trestle, with a sands of Cable Car Beach on your right, comes a initial junction.
Veer left, uphill, on a Eagle Creek Trail. Almost immediately, it’s as if you’ve been ecstatic to another ecosystem entirely. Gone is a cold shadiness of a redwood timberland and a lushness of riparian area. Now, as we climb, a woods will gradually thin, a trees spaced detached transposed by chaparral and other dumpy brush. This is a heavily trafficked equestrian route. How can we tell? The horses like to leave gifts for those on feet to dodge; plus, their leg prints puncture low into a loose, powdery loam. Trail builders maybe suspicion they were doing users a preference by inserting some wooden stairs on a uphill, but, actually, it throws off a stroke of your steps.
In any event, a balance gets some-more severe once we make a right spin onto a Pine Trail where, as a name implies, ponderosa and knobcone pines hail you. You’ll also be greeted by a beach. Yes, a beach. Well, sand, anyway. It’s a tough toil over some single- and double-track trails of pristine sand.
By a time you’re finished irreverence during a increasing effort, you’ll eventually start wondering since a trails are so sandy. Nearing a peak, where a regard rug juts out, a state park informational pointer with a pretension “The Sandhills Treasure” gives a answer:
“The silt underneath your feet was once partial of an ancient sea floor. More than 10 million years ago, this area was underneath a immeasurable ocean. How do we know this? Scientists have found fossils of shark teeth, silt dollars, and other justification of a sea animals that once lived here.”
The pointer goes on to explain that a supposed “Sandhills” are so singular that they start usually in Santa Cruz County and underline such oddities as a Santa Cruz kangaroo rat, Santa Cruz wallflower, Ben Lomand buckwheat and a Mount Hermon Jun Beetle. It also clues we in to listen for a “cackling calls” of a Acorn Woodpecker, in a ponderosa pines. Alas, a trees were wordless on a morning we visited.
I did notice, though, that swaths of a area around a regard building – a views from a height widen to a ocean, if a haze isn’t too thick, by a approach – seemed a bit charred. we disturbed that a summer of wildfires had destroyed a acreage, as in so many other areas. But other accessible sign, patrician “Fire’s Return to a Santa Cruz Chaparral,” explained that a blackened spots are partial of a tranquil bake devise by state parks officials. The reason: “Without fire, a irreplaceable plants and animals found here are disappearing.” (The fires, wisely, are set during a winter, according to a sign.)
You can get so held adult in reading about a landscape and peering during a setting that we competence forget you’ve got a small reduction than half a trek left to cover. You could stay a small longer and sup during a cruise list on a regard deck. But, eventually, you’ll have to make your approach behind to a river.
It’s roughly all downhill, and not as sandy, on a Pine and a Powder Mill Fire Road for a subsequent mile. When we strech a T-junction, go right on unmarked Pipeline Road. Soon, you’ll strech … pavement.
Bane of route blazing yet it is, we contingency conduct downhill on Pipeline for somewhat reduction than a mile. If we stay to a shoulders, we can trod on mulched leaves to assistance extent a pulsation on your joints. About median down a hill, there’s a dais on an disremember with a unconditional perspective of a sea framed by sprouting hills. It’s value a stop.
An even prettier steer comes after we make a left spin on a Rincon Fire Road and walk 0.3 of a mile, initial adult and afterwards down. On a circuitous descent, we see and hear a rushing Eagle Creek down below. Soon after channel a footbridge, you’re behind on a River Trail streamer toward your automobile – and a star attraction, a redwood groves.
Yes, I’m giving we accede now to ogle a Cowell’s redwoods as prolonged and lustily as we like. Just remember, though: Those oaks and pines and madrones, they can dawn immeasurable in your consciousness, too.
Call The Bee’s Sam McManis, (916) 321-1145. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcManis.
HENRY COWELL REDWOODS STATE PARK
Trail Length: 5.5 miles
Elevation gain: 773 feet
Directions to trailhead: From Sacramento, Take Interstate 80 to I-680 over a Benecia Bridge and by Contra Costa. After a Sunol Grade, spin right on a Mission Boulevard exit (the second Mission exit; demeanour for I-880 sign). Take Mission to I-880, that turns into Highway 17 in a Santa Cruz Mountains. Take a Mount Hermon Road exit. Go right on Graham Hill Road, afterwards a discerning left on Highway 9. The opening to a park will be on a left. Follow highway to a categorical parking lot.
Route: From a pointer observant “To River Trail” to a right of a bathrooms and present shop, follow a River Trail about a mile underneath a steer trestle. Veer left, ascending on a sealed Eagle Creek Trail. Follow Eagle Creek a mile and go right on a Pine Trail for 0.6 of a mile. Cross a glow highway during a regard rug and continue down on a Pine Trail 0.4 miles to a Powder Mill Fire Road, where you’ll go right. After 0.3 of a mile, spin right during a T-junction onto Pipeline Road (paved). Go a mile and make a left onto a mud Rincon Fire Road. Travel 0.3 of a mile and curve right behind onto a River Trail. Go about a mile behind to a trailhead.
Difficulty: Moderate. There’s climbing after withdrawal a River Trail.
Exposure: Mostly shady, solely for a tip of a Pine Trail during a regard deck.
Toilets: At trailhead/visitors center.
Water: At trailhead.
Entrance fee: $10 to park.
Probability of removing lost: Slim. Well-marked trails.
Will there be blood? Mostly a soothing and forgiving surface, yet some roots and rocks.
Note: Mountain bikes authorised usually on certain glow roads and a paved Pipeline Road.