Monday, April 21, 2014

60 Hikes in 60 Miles in 60 Weeks: Week Thirty-four
Joseph D. Grant County Park

Up on the ridge at Grant, on Canada de Pala Trail

What it's like:
I think of this hike as a table -- straight up, across, then straight down. It's not really super steep, but you do need to be in decent physical shape to tackle this 7.4 mile loop on the high slopes of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose.

Why now:
Although a bit of rain is expected this week, the end of April usually spells the end of green grass in the bay area. Get hiking at Grant while the hills are still verdant; look for big patches of California poppy, blue-eyed grass, lupines, and many more wildflowers.

If you can't make it this week:
My cut-off date for Grant is mid-May. As the bay area temperatures soar this grassland bakes to a crisp and the park's cows make the trails very dusty. Grant is lovely in late winter, when the big old valley oaks stand leafless above tidy fresh green grass.

Insider tip:
If you are capable of stretching this hike a bit, instead of returning to the trailhead via Yerba Buena, continue across Mount Hamilton Road on Canada de Pala Trail, then take Hotel Trail back to the trailhead.

Grant is hike number 43 in 60 Hikes in 60 Miles: San Francisco (third edition)Read about this hike on BAHiker.

Alternate choice:
Happy birthday John Muir! The naturalist and conservationist spent more than 30 years at his ranch outside Martinez. On this his birthday week hike 2.3 miles at Mount Wanda on trails Muir strolled with his daughters, where colorful flowers bloom in grassland beneath graceful oaks.

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