Hike 10

Another after work jaunt, and new to me spot – Mount Burdell. The website blurb has this to say: “Marin County’s largest open space preserve, Mount Burdell rises to a 1500 feet summit with panoramic views.” AND! The world’s best bik’n buddy was visiting and had agreed to join in the on foot adventure. Woohoo!

The park has several trailheads, we only went to one, but they all look to be similar neighborhood access points, rather than a single large parking lot type of a deal. Easier/cheaper in some ways, and it’s cool to have open space so accessible – that people can just go out their front door and BOOM there they are! Although I always wonder how much folks actually take advantage, and hopefully there aren’t conflicts between people who live in the neighborhood and “outside” users. The spot we started at actually had several places to park that weren’t in front of someone’s house, which was nice.

I had looked around a bit online, but ended up just downloading the map from the Parks website and planning my own route. The usual criteria – loop, if possible, and covering as much trail as possible without repeating. Ohand favoring trail over fire roads.

We were quickly out of the neighborhood and gaining elevation, getting views to the south. The route wound over open hillsides and through more forested sections. We encountered grazing cattle, and in several spots had to go through gates.

In several places we saw large piles of rocks, indeed, the trail we took up to the top of the ridge was called Old Quarry. It was quite steep, giving me a sense of accomplishment and relief. It wasn’t a single definitive peak sort of experience, but there were nice views both to the south and out to the north west. We tried to figure out where some of the west county roads we’ve ridden on were in the landscape, but didn’t feel like we had much success with that.

We took a different way down, seeing a cyclist we’d seen earlier – doing loops of his own. As the sun sank toward the horizon we started to get the magic hour light, which then deepened to twilight. I didn’t read a trail sign right, or somehow missed a turn, so we didn’t do exactly what I’d looked at doing on the map, but we didn’t get lost, and got back to the van before it was completely dark. Super fun having company, and *woot woot* I’m to double digits on the count! We didn’t get to all of the park, so I’m open to the possibility of going back some time. And/or checking it out by bike.

more pictures

3/12/2021, 5.9 miles


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Hike 09

This hike was back to my usual stomping grounds – Annadel! Through Spring Lake Park, and up Spring Creek Trail to Lake Ilsanjo. The morning sun sparkling through the trees was just splendid, and there were some surprising puddles. From the Lake I looped back around on Live Oak and Cobblestone Trails.

There were some different wildflowers in bloom from what I had seen on the last couple of hikes, and some brand new green growth in the burned areas. In one of the meadow areas I saw movement – two animals running toward each other, then running together back to a third. I didn’t have binoculars, but they looked canine. Perhaps two pups and a mother? Later I heard vocalizations that sounded coyote-ish. Yay the natures!

a few more pictures

3/6/2021, 8.4 miles

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Hike 07

This was an after work jaunt in Marin, starting from behind Dominican College. I kinda think of it as China Camp, although that park may actually only be on the east side of the ridge, but it schmears into some other park/open space that I’m not sure what the name(s) is/are.

Anyway, I started out up the fire road, but soon was intruiged by a trail that looked to also head toward the ridge. Probably not official, but quite well established. It wound around a bit and popped out at a somewhat abandoned looking antenna facility. My original plan had been to head northish on the ridge and make my way down the next knuckle coming off the ridge, but I ended up going the other direction, first on a fire road I’d not been on before, and then into a network of what are probably “social” trails. In spots they were quite narrow and steep – I was having a hard time imagining riding bikes on them, but I’m guessing people do. Fortunately I didn’t encounter any riders, as it could have been problematic to avoid occupying the same space.

So, the high alert made for some bonus excitement, along with the steepness, and not being entirely certain where I was – although the Google Maps did show the trails I was on. But, since it was pretty much all new to me I wasn’t exactly sure what the distance would be, well and the elevation of it took some time, so I was close to getting full darked on by the time I was back to my vehicle.

However, it was fun seeing new to me trails, and there were some wild flowers blooming, and then a flock of birds (maybe parrots? I’m not exactly sure why I say that, I didn’t actually see them, but they sounded possibly parrot-y) with settling down for the evening chortling as I passed through the last bit of trees before the parking lot. And, when I looked at the elevation profile for the hike, it was a capital M! How fun is that?!

more pictures

2/19/2021, 5.3 miles

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Hike 08

Doh! I’m out of order AGAIN! Yeah, yeah, that check my notes thing, but I was really thinking this was #7. Oh well, I’m going to go ahead and post it to have something to check off the list!

It was an after work jaunt up (and back down) Big Rock Ridge, north of San Rafael. The trail goes up from the north side of Lucas Valley Road. Much of it is exposed – so, for me anyway, not one to do mid-day in the middle of summer, but it was entirely pleasant when I did it. And, there are spots where it ducks through some trees. New growth was popping out, and the hillsides were pretty green. I also saw a shooting star! (the flower kind) The openness gives splendid views to Mount Tam, the Bay and San Francisco.

There were a few other folks out on foot, and some on bicycles as well. One cyclist seemed to be doing repeats, as I saw him several times – headed downhill then uphill then downhill… There was also a couple – couldn’t quite tell if it was a date ride. I caught up to them on the uphill when they were stopped to rest. I figured they would catch up to me, but they never came past me, so they must have decided they’d had half as much fun as they wanted to and headed back down the hill.

Near the ridgeline, the trail connects to a fire road. I was debating heading back down at that point, as it seemed a plausible turn around, but there were antenna towers a bit further along the ridge, and somehow that seemed like more of a destination, so I continued on. Which, I’m glad I did – after a bit of rollering along the ridge top, views to the north and east opened out before me! Wow! It looked like there were some ways to get down to Novato, although I’m not sure how many of them are actually legal to the general public. Looking at the map later, I did see that the fire road continued on to the east and one had several options for getting down into Marinwood or back to Lucas Valley Road. And, there was great cell signal, go figure!

As I was enjoying the view, a fellow motored up from the Marinwood side on an e-bike. I have mixed feelings about these. On the fire road there was more than enough space for both of us, but the assist to go faster does definitely smallerize the world.

Heading back downhill I noticed the wind more. In some spots it felt as if I leaned just right I’d be able to take flight… wouldn’t that be cool?! The sun sinking in the west brushed the sky with a warm glow, then twilight started to fall. With a little hustle I was able to get back to my car before full dark. And hey, the Big Rock has lights on it!

more pictures

2/23/2021, 7.2 miles

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Hike 05

Whoops! I thought I’d written this one up, so went on and wrote up number 6, but see what happens when I rely on my memory and don’t check the notes… Anyway, yes, number 5 did happen, and here’s the report!

It was another Spring Lake-Annadel adventure. Going there is easy, and although it’s not really New To Me, I still haven’t covered everything in The Park on foot. I did mostly the usual way through Spring Lake from Summerfield Road, but then hooked around the swimming lagoon to check out the Nature Trail and head up to Annadel from there. I came out at a trail junction I’d seen when riding my bike in from Violetti Road – OH! that’s where that goes!!! Fun to fill in a bit of the map.

In Annadel I looped through the section that had been closed due to the Glass Fire – Cobblestone and Orchard Trails. There was visible impact, but also signs of regrowth. Rock piles from a former quarry were quite visible – although that also might have been due to the slower pace of being on foot.

It was another lovely, quiet morning!

more pictures

2/6/2021, 8.1 miles

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Hike 06

For these hikes, I was back up in the woods with Eric. And there was SNOW!!! So neither of them was super long, but with the snow bonus and combining them, I’m going to count it as a Hike. (Who’s making the rules here, anyway?!)

The first one was directly from the cabin, so mostly in unbroken snow (OK, OK, I was mostly following Eric) – so we were on snowshoes. Which, it’s just like walking, right?! So why was I getting a little winded? Well yeah, there’s some extra work to move the snowshoes, and get in and out if you squish down in the snow. And oh yeah a bit of altitude too.

The thing I noticed most was the noise. I’m used to walking being pretty quiet, and I was thinking it would be a nice peaceful walk through the snow covered stillness, but … not so much. Anyway, we rambled around the neighborhood – it was nice to be out, and the woods in the snow were quite lovely.

The second half was down on Graniteville and Moores Flat Roads. After some fresh snow had fallen Eric drove the road to keep his tracks passable. There were other vehicle tracks on the other roads, so we just walked in them, sans snowshoes, first down to the spring on Graniteville Road, and then until we felt like it was time to turn around on Moores Flat Road. We weren’t dealing with the resistance and noise of snowshoeing, which I had a new appreciation for, and we had the roads to ourselves, so it was quite pleasant.

2/12 and 2/14/2021 ~3 miles total


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Hike 04

For this hike I decided to go a little further afield, and visit Sugarloaf Park, where I’ve cycled, and visited the Observatory, but not yet hiked. Oh, or maybe I have hiked, but long enough ago and I don’t quite remember, so it would be pretty much new to me.

Alas, I was running a little late – meaning to be there at what I thought was the opening time of 0700, but arriving about 15 minutes later. However, the gate was not open. And the parking area before the gate was blocked off, as that area of the park is still closed from last year’s fires. I waited a few minutes, but as more cars arrived and the gate still did not open I decided to redirect, and went over to the Lawndale trailhead of Trione-Annadel State Park.

Even on a bike, Lawndale feels like “the other side” of the Park, and a bit of a commitment to get to, so I figured that it would probably be pretty quiet at this time of the morning. There was one other vehicle in the parking lot, with several mountain bikers that seemed like they were getting ready for a ride. I kept expecting them to come past me, but they never did.

In fact the entire time I was in the Park, all the way up Lawndale, past Ledson Marsh, and back down Schultz Trail, I did not see anyone else!!! It was super duper amazing, and totally made me forget my disappointment and slight annoyance at not getting in at Sugarloaf.

Besides having the trails to myself, noteworthy on this hike were dramatical skies, passing through areas burned in the 2017 fires, fungi and other delightful trailside nature details. Most excellent!

more pictures

1/30/2021, 7.0 miles

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Hike 03

Besides expanding my outdoor activity type portfolio, I also want to check out new to me and/or revisit places to recreate that I haven’t been to in a while. The first new to me place I got to was Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, north of Santa Rosa. Although I’d ridden by the park entrances on Faught Road, I’d never been inside. Well, not past the bathroom at the main parking lot anyway.

For this hike I actually parked at the smaller, undeveloped south access. The opener was uphill, with the initial stretch being quite wide – maybe even enough for two cars across – and smooth gravel. Whoa! This is Some Park! However, the surface soon reverted to more like native soil, although it did seem somewhat improved, and the width also reduced to about a single vehicle width fire road type feeling.

There were beautiful oaks, manzanita in bloom, and, as I gained elevation, views over the Santa Rosa plain, which was still partially shrouded with bits of morning mist. Beautiful!

According to the park’s website, it is 850 acres with 8 miles of trails. “A looped trail system offers moderately difficult hiking on unpaved trails and allows hikers to create routes of varying lengths and intensity.” However, I could not devise a route to cover all of the trails without what started to seem like a slightly silly amount of retracing. So I settled on one that covered most of the park, with most of the spots where I reused trails going the opposite direction.

As the day progressed I saw more folks on the trails, and others making their own loops, as I saw them more than once. For the most part people were masked, and considerate about passing, but I’m glad I got an early start.

Besides the views, I particularly enjoyed the Canyon and Creekside trails, which are actually singletrack trails. It’s still a directed experience, in that you are following an established trail, but it feels a little closer to nature. The wider fire road trails felt very mediated – “Nature Lite” – but it’s great that it’s still open space, and that it is getting used. There seemed to be a pretty good variety of people out enjoying the day.

more pictures

1/23/2021, 9.5 miles

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Hike 02

Since I was up in the woods with Eric for the weekend, I roped him into the hike thing. After some discussion about what makes a hike a hike he came up with a route around the neighborhood that was fiveish miles, and traversed some tracks he had explored and wanted to show me, as well as some that would be new to both of us.

Although he’d had snow, a stretch of unseasonable warmth had melted it all into mud. The day before we’d driven down the hill for a bike ride in drier conditions. The warmth had continued, so things were less muddy, and being on foot made it easier to avoid the spots that were still wet.

We headed out his road, crossed Graniteville Road, and onto a track to the spring that he’d explored on the bike, but was new to me. It was one of those was probably a logging road at some point, but is getting grown over. A vehicle would still fit down most of it if you didn’t mind scraping through tree branches, but it didn’t look like anyone has done so recently. There were a few small patches of snow here and there.

From the spring we took another logging road that had been recently cut or improved – the first section was finished with gravel! We continued on to part that neither of us had been on before. Maybe because we were going downhill, or that there only seemed to be the one way to go, we somehow missed what had been a turn on Eric’s planned route, and found ourselves at a dead end. Or at least at the end of the obvious road.

Eric could tell if we continued to follow the creek and “just went thataway” we would come out at a known road and be able to get back on our route and get home. So we decided to try it out. Which required some bushwhacking. *OK, this is DEFINITELY a hike now! It was one of those things like riding on doubletrack, where the one you are not in always looks smoother/easier, but then you change course, and no… it’s really not. Oh! that sorta looks like a trail… ah, not so much… but it really wasn’t too far, and soon we popped out on the bottom of a recent clear cut, and short spur road that took us to Moores Flat Road. Back on the map! Even though we’d ridden bikes on Moores Flat Road I’d never really noticed this little road, maybe because it was on a downhill. Fun to fill in a piece of the map.

We continued up Moores Flat Road, back to Graniteville Road, and then did a bit more cross country to get off the “main” road – even though we hadn’t seen anyone else the entire time we’d been out – then were back on the originally planned route taking the “back way” to return to Eric’s cabin. Good times!

Thank you to Eric for being a good sport, joining in for a hike and sharing his beautiful neighborhood.

1/17/21, 6.2 miles

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Hike 01

The objective for this hike was to check out Steve’s S Trail, which is I think the sole hiking only trail in Trione-Annadel State Park. As such, in all the time I’ve lived in Sonoma County and been in The Park, I’d never been on it. My go to mode is mountain biking, and the few times I’d been hiking had mostly kept to the western edge.

I got an early start, catching a waning crescent moon in the dawn sky. I passed through slivers of Howarth (Santa Rosa City) and Spring Lake (Sonoma County) Parks on my way to Annadel. The boat launch poked a frosted finger into the mists rising off of Spring Lake.

I went up Rough Go trail, which I tend to avoid on the bike, due to its chunkiness. Especially in the up direction it’s not so much fun. Much more manageable on foot, and nice to see a bit of The Park I don’t usually.

Eventually I ended up at Lake Ilsanjo, having not encountered anyone else since I’d entered Annadel. That was pretty sweet. It was still frosty! I enjoyed a snack stop, and headed over to Steve’s S trail.

The trail turned out to be a mostly narrow ribbon that wended its way through lovely conifer forest. Much of the way underfoot was that springy thick carpet of needles that is so pleasant to walk on. Unmarked by cycle tracks. Which I sort of hated to notice and comment on.

It came out on Richardson fire road, which I followed down to the parking lot – alas, I was not parked there. I was kind ready to be done, but still needed to get back to my vehicle.

I hadn’t actually set out a route before hand, so just went what seemed like would be the shortest/easiest way back on the paved road, and then mostly retracing my steps through Spring Lake and Howarth Parks. Whoops, I’d ended up going 10.8 miles. No wonder I’d been ready to be done!

Anyway, it was a beautiful day, and great to experience some new to me trails! And see The Park in a different way.

1/9/2021, 10.8 miles

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