A Short Steep Hike to the top of Mission Peak

Happy New Year!

I took advantage of a bonus day off to hike to the top of Mission Peak. We had previously done a long hike from Ed R. Levin County Park to the top of Monument Peak, but this a shorter – but very steep! – hike to the top of Mission Peak. This hike is described in it’s entirety on the Bay Area Hiker website here.

2015.12.31 Endomondo Data

Yup, just over 2000ft elevation gain over 3 miles, then back down again. You can find a trail map here.

The view is pretty wonderful.

Mission Peak Panorama

…and we got to see the Christmas tree:

#xmasonthepeak

We took some Christmas dinner leftovers with us – have pie, will hike.

Pie on Mission Peak

The weather was pretty great for it, nice and cool, but sunny and clear. The main trail was in good condition, but Horse Heaven was a little muddy….

Muddy Horse Heaven

…and we manage to escape being maimed by the cows.

Cows @ Horse Heaven

Very important.

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Almaden Quicksilver County Park, with added Mine action.

Classes finished last week until the start of the spring semester, so I now have Mondays off!

Hurrah!

I celebrated by heading out for a hike with the Midweek Hikers Meetup group, for a hike posted as 7.7 miles and 1000ft elevation…..

Lies.

2015.12.21 Endomondo Data

Although, this was not entirely intentional. Seasonal trail closures are in effect in Almaden due to the wet and muddy conditions, and so the original route via Randol trail had to be changed.

Starting at the Mockingbird Hill Lane Entrance, we took Virl O. Norton Trail > Hacienda Trail > Capehorn Pass Trail > Mine Hill Trail > Mine Hill Trail > Mine Hill Trail > Mine Hill Trail > Mine Hill Trail > there and back again on the San Cristobal Mine Trail to have a look at the San Cristobal Mine shaft tunnel

San Cristobal Mine Tunnel

You can walk a short way into the tunnel, then it is blocked off for safety, but you can see a little way inside:

San Cristobal Mine Tunnel

We then continued back on Mine Hill Trail > Mine Hill Trail > Prospect #3 Trail > Prospect #3 Trail > New Almaden Trail > there and back again on the Buena Vista Trail to the Buena Vista Shaft > New Almaden Trail > New Almaden Trail back to Mockingbird Hill Lane.

Our usual spot for a view across to Mount Umunhum was somewhat obscured by the rainy weather!

Rainy Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Actually a good day for a hike! There was intermittent drizzle, but not fully raining.

Black Friday at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

This year, much like every year, we avoided the black friday crowds – I just don’t get it – and joined REI by deciding to #optoutside. We took the opportunity to visit a park that we hadn’t been to before, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton, CA.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

It really isn’t far away, but we just hadn’t visited it before now, and it was a wonderful day out among the redwoods. (It also features a steam railway….. we are definitely going to try that out sometime!)

2015.11.28 Endomondo Data

Route: Pipeline Road > right on River Trail > left on Eagle Creek Trail > left on Pine Trail > right on Graham Hill Trail > right on Pine Trail > straight on Pine Trail > Observation Deck > right on to Ridge Fire Road > right on Pipeline Road. You can find the trail map here.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: Lunch at the Observation Deck

We packed some Thanksgiving leftovers (nut roast pie), and stopped for half an hour for lunch on top of the observation deck. From this vantage point, you can see the sea over the tops of the trees, and on a clear day, like we had, all the way to Monterey and beyond to Big Sur:

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: to the Sea

The weather had cooled off, so was ideal hiking weather, even in the middle of the day, complete with clear blue skies as far as the eye could see.

Wonderful.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

..and when a fallen tree blocks your path, time to find a new path around these obstacles, such it is in hiking as well as life…

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: Fallen Tree

I am thankful for good health, friends and family. I am not thankful for Black Friday sales. They can go take a hike.

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.