Ed R. Levin County Park to Monument Peak

After a few weeks break due to visiting relatives and busy schedules it was good to get back to hiking.

We decided to push ourselves to a slightly longer and more intense hike, so headed to Ed R. Levin County Park and aimed up towards Monument Peak.

This meant an early start since we were aiming for a reasonably long hike, and knew that shade wouldn’t be something we’d get much of here. Most of the parks in the east bay are exposed, with very little in the way of tree cover, meaning that it is best to hike in this area either in the early morning or the California “winter”.
We set off early enough to allow for a Peet’s stop of course, and still arrived at the park gates a few minutes prior to opening at 8AM.

You can download a .pdf of the park map here.
We entered the park through the Downing Road entrance driving past Sandy Lake to the parking lot at the far end which has facilities (useful after the aforementioned coffee stop).

15.10.04 Endomondo data
Starting out heading north on Calera Creek Trail, passing the Hang Glider Landing Zone, we were in for a slow and steady climb turning left onto Agua Caliente Trail as we passed through 1000ft.
We were treated to fairly decent views of the bay although it was a little hazy in the distance.

IMG_5319

After around 2 hours, 2 deer, a cow and a snake later we reached the Monument Peak Road Junction. Here you really are treated to some great views looking both westward to the valley, and east to more rolling hills.

IMG_2685

East Bay HIlls
Having decided up front that we wouldn’t make the extra few miles over to Mission Peak we headed south and started making our way back towards the Sierra Trail Junction, but not before taking the short 0.4 mile trek to the Monument Peak at 2,594ft.

Monument Peak
A couple more deer and another cow later we picked up the Agua Caliente Trail which would take us almost all the way back to the parking lot, with some good views of the Hang Gliders hitting their LZ.

Deer

We returned to the parking lot via the Tularcitos Trail.

It was a great hike to get the blood pumping while ascending those hills, and we finished our hike before the temperature rose too much.

Almaden Quicksilver County Park: Mockingbird Hill Lane Entrance

This morning we went on a nice short hike, after a few weekends of not much excitement. The last couple of weekends were all about trying to reduce some of the clutter in our apartment, playing games and eating brunch! My outdoor activity has been limited to jogs along the cycle trail, and cycling up to and around the bay.

Anyway… this morning:

2015.08.29 Endomondo Data

About 3.7 miles of slightly hilly hiking, we started off fairly early to avoid the heat of the daytime. Endomondo claims that the weather was dreary (!), but I can assure you that while the day started off a little cloudy, it was a regular old sunny blue sky day later on!

Almaden Quicksilver County Park

The route we took started from the Mockingbird Hill Lane entrance, which is a great one, plentiful in parking, and having restrooms with running water! We followed Hacienda Trail – straight over to continue on Hacienda Trail – right on Capehorn Pass Trail – right on Randol Trail – continue on Randol Trail – right to continue on Randol Trail (past the Buena Vista Shaft) – right on to Buena Vista Trail – right on to New Almaden Trail – then straight over to continue on New Almaden Trail to return to the Mockingbird Hill Lane Entrance. (see below)

Trail Map

You can download the full map of the park here.

This route takes you past the remains of the Buena Vista Shaft:

Almaden Quicksilver County Park: Buena Vista Shaft

Originally, when it was an operational mine shaft, a big red building was on top of these foundations, which was visible all the way down into San Jose. These days of course all that remains are the stone foundations and a load of metal, and the shaft itself is blocked off with a metal grid:

Almaden Quicksilver County Park: Buena Vista Shaft

Now, the only dangers are from rocks and the metal screws embedded in the foundations, and the occasional bit of Poison Oak.

Mallard Slough Trail

Last night after Andrew finished work, we took a quick cycle out on the Bay.

This cycle picks up from the same location as the Alviso Slough Trail, except instead of heading out on that trail, we cycled to the Mallard Slough Trail, a smaller trail to the east pictured in orange on the below map:

Alviso and Mallard Slough Trail

From the end of the Lower Guadalupe River Trail, turn right and follow Gold St-right on Catherine St-left/straight onto State St-right on Spreckles Ave-left on Grand Blvd and left again to stay on Grand Blvd and follow it across the train tracks and round to the car park and US Fish and Wildlife Service buildings by the bay.

Railroad Crossing

The Mallard Slough Trail is 3.3 miles in total, or you can cut across to the Alviso Slough Trail via a bridge over the railroad tracks, and take that trail back to the Alviso Marina County Park parking lot.

Mallard Slough Trail

It is a nice, well maintained trail, with vista points and information along the way.

2015.08.11 Endomondo Data

We decided to follow the Mallard Slough Trail, then cut across to the Alviso Slough Trail to go back to the Alviso Marina County Park parking lot, and then followed Hope St-left on Catherine St-right on El Dorado St-left on Moffat St-right on Gold St (the alternative to taking the Public Shore gravel path back across the tracks), and then we were back to the end of the Lower Guadalupe River Trail.

Mallard Slough Trail

Union Valley Bike Trail

Union Valley Reservoir

This weekend Andrew and I took a trip up to the Eldorado National Forest, and camped at Wench Creek Campground on the east shore of the Union Valley Reservoir. There was a big group of us heading up there for my friend’s boyfriend’s birthday, so we reserved Group Site 2, and it was pretty excellent.

Group site 2 includes space for 50 people, flushing toilets, a big camp fire ring with seating all around it, 3 fixed BBQ grills, plenty of tables…… generally is really well set up for a large get together with friends…..

Except no showers. It would be absolutely perfect with showers 😉

Another excellent thing about the campground is that the Union Valley Bike Trail runs along the bottom of the campground, so you can easily hop onto it and indulge in a little there-and-back-again cycle along the shore of the reservoir, and through the forest.

Union Valley Bike Trail

“If I fall… would you guys catch me?”

On Saturday morning we cycled from our group campground to the end of the trail at the main Wench Creek Campground, then followed the trail down to Jones Fork Campground, and back to our site.

2015.08.08 Endomondo Data

You can download the full map of the trail here.

Union Valley Bike Trail

The trail crosses a few creeks that feed into the reservoir, and should fill it with water…. obviously at the moment, much like the rest of California… it is somewhat dry:

Union Valley Reservoir
Union Valley Reservoir Union Valley Reservoir

 

All those sandy/muddy beaches should be covered in water. Alas, they are not.

It is a really pretty cycle, with some little hills, paved the entire way. It is mostly shaded by the forest, so stays pretty cool too.

 

Alviso Slough Trail

Yesterday morning I went out on my bicycle for a quick ride around the old salt ponds at Alviso:

Alviso Slough Trail

(You can download the full map here)

These ponds form part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge, that extends around most of the lower part of the bay.

The start of this ride is the northernmost end of the Lower Guadalupe River Trail, where it meets Gold Street. If you look across the road at this point, a gravel track leads across the railroad tracks to the public shore, a gravel trail that will take you to the Alviso Marina County Park parking lot.

Lower Guadalupe River Trail

 

(Note: you could also park at the Alviso Marina County Park parking lot, and start the cycle from there)

Be careful when crossing the tracks that you check for oncoming trains, but you can’t miss them…. they are kinda loud! It is an Amtrak line, so has limited train traffic.

Once at the Marina cycle through the parking lot towards the entrance, then out towards the trail.

The Alviso Slough Trail is 8.6 miles long, the added bit from the end of the Lower Guadalupe River Trail makes this ride 10.2 miles… or at least according to Endomondo:

15.08.04 Endomondo Data

 

I cycle to the end of the trail first, which adds almost another 7 miles total. It was slightly overcast yesterday, with a bit of a breeze, which can make the cycle a little more challenging, but overall it is a flat, gentle, and scenic cycle. It is also very exposed, so I wouldn’t recommend it on a hot day, but with a breeze it keeps you cool, and also keeps the bay stink from being too overpowering!

Alviso Slough Trail

On a clear day, you can see the hills and mountains all around the bay, and their reflection in the water.Alviso Slough Trail

 

Also, on a clear day if you look north, up the train lines, you can see some of the remains of Drawbridge, an old abandoned railroad station and ghost town, just hanging out there by the train tracks, and slowly sinking into the mud.

Alviso Slough Trail

Monday Morning Hike: Santa Teresa County Park

Another Mid-Week Hikers hike, this time we took a short hike in Santa Teresa County Park.

We met up at the intersection of Bernal Road and Heaton Moor Drive. There is no parking lot here, but a fairly large amount of street parking, so it is not necessary to pay the usual entrance fee.

The proposed route followed: Road- Ohlone Trail – Mine Trail – Norred Trail – Joice Trail – Vista Loop – Joice Trail – Bernal Hill Trail – Mine Trail – Ohlone Trail – Road.

15.08.03 Route

 

You can download the full park map here.

It was stated to be a ~4.5 mile round trip, my Endomondo data puts it to be 5.27 miles, but it does sometimes overestimate these things 🙂

15.08.03 Endomondo Data

 

The route was quite exposed with little shade, which on a hot day would make this somewhat more challenging, but this morning was a great morning for a hike!

Santa Teresa County Park

It was sunny but not too warm, with a very pleasant breeze coming off the bay, and you could see for a quite a way across San Jose.

We again saw some deer in the park, very tame:

Deer

Huddart Park and the Phleger Estate

Before I had a job, I would, as often as possible, head out hiking with the Mid-Week Hikers meetup group.

Group Photo

As the name suggests, it is a group of hikers that hike during the week, and I found it really useful to explore new parks and trails.

This is the link for this hike.

It was billed as a hike of 8.1 miles, with 1600ft of total ascent:

2015.07.31 Endomondo Data

 

As you can see, my endomondo tracking app disagrees.

It involved trails in both Huddart Park, and the Phleger Estate, with the Phleger Estate trails signposted really beautifully:

Phleger Estate

 

The hike started form the Zwierlein area in Huddart Park and followed the trails thus: Crystal Springs Trail; Spur Trail; Richards Road Trail; Miramontes Trail into Phleger Estate; Mount Redondo Trail; Lonely Trail back into Huddart Park (near Skyline Blvd); Richards Road Trail; Skyline Trail; lunch stop at restroom; Summit Springs Trail; Crystal Springs Trail; Dean Trail; Crystal Springs Trail.

I saw my first Banana Slugs! Two of them! They really are very yellow. I also saw this really cute bench:

Cute Bench

 

Thanks bench! Perhaps I will.

While it has been quite warm in the Bay this week, these two parks stay pretty cool as they are almost entirely in the shade of Redwood and Madrone trees. The trails were dry, dusty, and fairly uneven, with limited signage in some areas. Dry leaves covered the trails and meant it was quite crisp under foot.

Overall it was a great hike, but I think that the muscles in my legs will be aching tomorrow!

Morning Hike: Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Yesterday was my last day at work.

It was a happy day as it means that I now have one month off, then Orientation begins, and I get one step closer to being a qualified Clinical Laboratory Scientist.

To mark the occasion, instead of my friend Brooke and I doing our usual Insanity or random Keaira LaShae YouTube workout, we decided that three of us from our team would go for a walk in the Wildlife Refuge that was just near where we worked.

Trail Map

The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge actually covers quite a lot of the South Bay Marshland, including all the old salt ponds, where salt production used to occur, and in fact still does to a limited extent in the area near Fremont.

You can download a full trail map of this area, and also the area near Alviso here.

This was just a sightseeing walk rather than a hike, very low intensity and casual, we parked at the Visitor Center and took the Tidelands Trail to the top of the hill, where you can take a little extra stroll to an overlook to look out across the bay:

Vista towards the South

Vista towards the North

We then crossed the bridge over the Newark Slough, walked along the trail, and then back across the bridge.

All in all, it was only about 2 miles, and with only approximately 144ft ascent to the top of the hill, but it was surprisingly peaceful and picturesque, especially considering the proximity of the area to the Dumbarton Bridge, and that it was rush hour for everyone else.

Dumbarton Traffic

There are also a few interesting things to look at, such as an old duck hunting cabin, abandoned since the 60s/70s, but that still has the owner’s decoy ducks hung up inside:

Duck Hunting Cabin

… a nice picnic shelter, right over the marsh:

Picnic Shelter

…and there is also the slightly disgusting, but kind of interesting sight of water coming out from under the pump house:

Pump House Froth

Interesting, because dissolved proteins in the water cause the formation of froth as the water is aerated by the action of coming out of the pipe, apparently in much the same way as you whisk egg whites…….

Yuck.

Yet somehow quite hypnotic to watch.

We were really quite pleasantly surprised by how nice it was, but this might be in part because the Bay was not at all stinky that day, especially in comparison to usual!

Early Morning Mid-Week Hike: Rancho San Antonio

I have been a member of the Mid-Week Hikers group on Meetup.com since we moved to the Bay Area at the end of 2013. While unemployed and waiting for my work documents to come through, the group was great for getting me out of the house and exploring the area… and also for some adult human conversation.

(I would sometimes talk to my cats…. but they couldn’t answer. Or at least not in a language I could understand)

Today I had a bonus sort of day off work, as a VIP was visiting and we weren’t allowed in the building until after they had left, so I decided to join up with the hiking group and get outside!

Each week there seems to be an early hike starting at 7:30AM, at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino, varying in the route slightly.

2015.07.23 Endomondo Data

Above is the Endomondo data for this morning. The planned route was Parking Lot – crossover to Hill Tank Trail – Coyote Trail – Wildcat Loop Trail –  Upper Wildcat Loop Trail – Vista Point – High Meadow Trail – Low Meadow Trail – Permanente Creek Trail – Parking Lot.

The view from the Vista Point down towards the Bay was kinda misty/foggy, but you could just make out the hangars at Moffett Field:

Vista Vista

In the opposite direction it was blue skies, crispy grass, and trees:

Vista

It was a good route, not too steep, but with a reasonable overall descent and ascent. We took it at a brisk, but not super fast, pace as a few people had work and appointments to get back to, we also saw some deer on the hike, including this little group that had very little fear:

Deer!

Me? Well I then spent most of the rest of the day at Great America.

A good day 🙂

Portland Waterfront by Deuce Coupe

This past weekend Andrew and I went to Portland, OR for the weekend for our Anniversary.

Portland

In amongst drives along the Columbia River Gorge to Bonneville Dam, and a trip to Bob’s Red Mill for some fun ingredients, we also rented a Deuce Coupe from Kerr Bikes in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and took a short ride along the Waterfront Park Trail. They rent regular bikes, tandems, Surrey bikes and little go-karts style pedal bikes, with all proceeds going to charity.

15.07.12 Endomondo Data

The there-and-back-again route took us down to Marquam Bridge, then up to and across the Steel Bridge.

Portland - Steel Bridge

While on our way back across the bridge, a freight train came across…..

Portland - Steel Bridge

It was quite the vibration! I waved hello to the driver 🙂

The ride also crosses underneath the bridges of Hawthorne, Morrison and Burnside, and goes past the site of the Saturday Market, which despite the name, is also open on Sundays from March through Christmas Eve.

I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a little bit of low-key exercise by the river on a Sunday morning!