Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New hikes


Here are the three latest:

















Stanford Dish


















Crockett Hills


More new hikes soon!

Monday, April 14, 2014

60 Hikes in 60 Miles in 60 Weeks: Week Thirty-three
Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

Rocky Ridge in spring

What it's like:
4.6 mile loop up and along a rolling rock-studded grassy ridge west of Danville.

Why now:
Las Trampas sings in spring -- lovely flowers and not too hot.

If you can't make it this week:
Too hot in summer, but autumn is pleasant. Avoid during the wettest months because trails get mucked up by the cows.

Insider tip:
Bollinger Creek divides Las Trampas into two different plant communities. If you prefer chaparral to grassland, explore the eastern part of the wilderness, on trails up and down Las Trampas Ridge.

Las Trampas is hike number 25 in 60 Hikes in 60 Miles: San Francisco (third edition)Read about this hike on BAHiker.

Alternate choice:
Crane Creek is a tiny oasis on the eastern outskirts of Rohnert Park. Lose yourself in a landscape of grassland, graceful oaks, and a burbling stream, on this easy 1.1 mile hike.

Post your comments and experiences here or on the BAHiker Facebook page.

Monday, April 7, 2014

60 Hikes in 60 Miles in 60 Weeks: Week Thirty-two
Briones Regional Park

View of lovely hills from Old Briones Road Trail

What it's like:
4.3 miles up, over, and down glorious rolling grassy hills near Walnut Creek.

Why now:
Flower displays peak in April before grass towers over and obstructs big patches of California poppy, creamcups, and lupines.

If you can't make it this week:
Often really muddy in winter due to cattle traffic. Pleasant in autumn, especially the colorful foliage on Black Oak Trail.

Insider tip:
Briones is a large park with several staging areas, but Bear Creek provides the most parking as well as a few charming picnic sites (with grills and tables) near the trailhead.

Briones is hike number 22 in 60 Hikes in 60 Miles: San Francisco (third edition)Read about this hike on BAHiker.

Alternate choice:
Calero County Park trails lead uphill from the shore of their namesake reservoir, southwest of San Jose. This is a remote and often lonely place, where wildflowers are plentiful in spring (you may see some rare ones in the serpentine soil part of the park).  Spend a few hours exploring Calero on this 5.1 mile loop, or make a full day out of it by continuing deeper into the hills. Most trails here are old ranch roads with moderate grades -- check the park map for some ideas.

Post your comments and experiences here or on the BAHiker Facebook page.

Monday, March 31, 2014

60 Hikes in 60 Miles in 60 Weeks: Week Thirty-one
Steep Ravine-Matt Davis Loop

Steep Ravine ladder

What it's like:
7.3 miles of pure hiking bliss, traveling through deep lush woods and verdant grassland on the west slope of Mount Tamalpais.

Why now:
It doesn't get better than now. With recent rains (and a bit more coming this week) the creeks and waterfalls are rushing and the grass is green. Look for wildflowers in the woods and grassland throughout the hike.

If you can't make it this week:
Not as much fun in the dry months -- try for April or May at the latest. This loop is very popular and crowded in the summer.

Insider tip:
You can start this hike at Stinson Beach or Pantoll and hike the loop in either direction. I prefer to start at Stinson and get the climbing done first, but parking is much easier at Pantoll. (The book uses Pantoll as the trailhead; BAHiker describes the Stinson option.) If you start at Pantoll consider packing light and stopping for lunch in Stinson.

Steep Ravine-Matt Davis Loop is hike number 8 in 60 Hikes in 60 Miles: San Francisco (third edition)Read about this hike on BAHiker.

Alternate choice:
El Sereno Open Space Preserve is a little known destination west of Los Gatos. Hikes here (like this 6 mile out and back) offer beautiful views -- enjoy flower spotting in the chaparral and grassland during spring.

Post your comments and experiences here or on the BAHiker Facebook page.

Monday, March 24, 2014

60 Hikes in 60 Miles in 60 Weeks: Week 30
Mission Peak

Spotting scope at the top of Mission Peak
What it's like:
This is a serious, sustained climb to the top of Mission Peak, near Fremont. Although the out and back trek is less than 6 miles, it's the kind of hike you brag about the next day at work (then again, for a taste of humility, you will likely see people hiking here on their daily constitution or run).

Why now:
Get to the peak before the weather is hot!

If you can't make it this week:
Trails do get muddy during the rainy season (I once fell into a cow sinkhole on Horse Heaven Trail and nearly lost my boot) but views are generally best on clear winter days. My favorite time to visit is early spring; by June the grass is already dry and since there is little shade this becomes a hot hike.

Insider tip:
You can reduce the elevation challenge (but increase the total distance) by starting this hike at Ohlone College, where the elevation is more than 100 feet higher than at the at Stanford Avenue trailhead.  Read about the parking options for Ohlone here, and consult the EBRPD map to alter the hike I describe in my book and webpage.

Mission Peak is hike number 27 in 60 Hikes in 60 Miles: San Francisco (third edition)Read about this hike on BAHiker.

Alternate choice:
Sonoma County's Helen Putnam Regional Park is a small preserve on the outskirts of Petaluma. The trails here wind through lovely mixed woods and grassland. Hike this 3 mile gentle loop this month to enjoy spring wildflowers throughout.

Post your comments and experiences here or on the BAHiker Facebook page.

Monday, March 17, 2014

60 Hikes in 60 Miles in 60 Weeks: Week Twenty-nine
China Camp State Park

Single track Bay View Trail at China Camp State Park

What it's like:
Although China Camp is just miles from US101 and San Rafael, this 7.3 mile hike is a peaceful journey through woods and grassland at the edge of San Pablo Bay.

Why now:
Rains have created an Irish-spring sparkle throughout the flower-dotted woods and grassland.

If you can't make it this week:
Since China Camp is heavily used by cyclists, trails are often very muddy after storms. Much of this hike is shaded, so it is a great choice in summer and autumn. Wildflowers peak from late winter to early spring.

Insider tip:
I just checked Reserve America -- there are many campsites available this week in China Camp's beautiful walk-in campground. This hike literally begins and ends at the campground -- can you imagine a better commute?

China Camp is hike number 3 in 60 Hikes in 60 Miles: San Francisco (third edition)Read about this hike on BAHiker.

Alternate choice:
Explore Pearson-Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto on this 3.7 mile loop, an easy excursion up and down soft rolling hills studded with valley oaks. Lovely wildflowers now through early summer!

Post your comments and experiences here or on the BAHiker Facebook page.

Monday, March 10, 2014

60 Hikes in 60 Miles in 60 Weeks: Week Twenty-eight
Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve

Blue Oak Trail at Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve

What it's like:
2.5 miles of scenic mixed woods, pockets of chaparral, and grassland, near Redwood City.

Why now:
Late winter flowers thrive in these lovely woods and manzanita is blossoming in the chaparral.

If you can't make it this week:
Pulgas is small but diverse, so it's fun to hike here year round (although I tend to stay away when the temperatures soar above 70).

Insider tip:
Extend this hike 1.3 miles by substituting Dusky-footed Woodrat Trail for Polly Geraci. This option offers more elevation change as well as longer stretches of woods and chaparral. Pulgas is very canine-friendly -- if your dog likes to romp, there is an off-leash dog area on Hassler Trail.

Pulgas is hike number 47 in 60 Hikes in 60 Miles: San Francisco (third edition)Read about this hike on BAHiker.

Alternate choice:
When March weather is lovely and warm, my thoughts lead to camping. If you are so inclined, consider a quick weekend getaway to Del Valle Regional Park, near Livermore. There are several options for hikes through oak-studded grassy hills surrounding a reservoir -- here is my favorite.

Post your comments and experiences here or on the BAHiker Facebook page.