August 30, 2008

Pinnacles Hike

We've been wanting to go to Pinnacles National Monument for a while to do some hiking and we finally had a day to head out there. Once in the park we drove past the campground and visitor center and followed the signs to Bear Gulch. We parked at Bear Gulch Day Use Area near the nature center and headed out on the trail. The trailhead to the Condor Gulch Trail is just across from the restrooms. It was early in the day when we started our hike but it did not take long for things to really warm up on the exposed trail. As we hiked up the 1.7 mile stretch of the trail to the Condor Gulch Overlook we got some great views of the pinnacle formations. We stopped here for a short break before heading on to the steeper High Peaks Trail. The trail quickly narrows and as it climbs there are handrails to assist you and keep you from falling. Thankfully this area is much more shaded than Condor Gulch Trail so we were able to explore the pinnacles much more comfortably. As we descended back towards the parking area we had the option to take the detour to the Bear Gulch Cave and explore a series of cool, deep passageways that are completely dark for several sections. Unfortunately we forgot our head lamps and had to skip out on this adventure this time. Once down to level ground we followed the Moses Spring Trail back to our car. The entire hike was 5.3 miles long with an elevation change of 1300 feet. It was a great hike, would do it again (maybe even bring the headlamps next time).

August 16, 2008

Calaveras Big Trees Hike - South Grove

Hiked the South Grove at Calaveras Big Trees. This is about a 5 mile hike with about 560' in elevation gain. The trailhead is located about 8 miles inside the park. You can pickup an interpretive trail guide pamphlet at the trailhead, the visitor center or print it off the net beforehand. The first part of the trail is when you do your climbing, until you reach the South Grove trail. The South Grove Trail makes a loop through the grove with a side trail that leads .5 miles to the Agassiz Tree. The Agassiz Tree is 250 feet tall with a diameter of 25 feet. It is ranked among the ten largest Sierra redwoods. You will also pass the Palace Tree, which in the 1970's was named after the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

Interpretive Trail Guide
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Our North Grove Hiking
Our Calaveras Camping

August 15, 2008

Calaveras Big Trees Hike - North Grove

The North Grove Trail at Calaveras is a beautiful 1.5mile loop. More of a walk then a hike. It is located near the visitor center at the entrance to the park. You can purchase a guide pamphlet for the trail either at the visitor center or start of the trail. The pamphlet has information corresponding to the 26 trail markers found along the trail. The Trail starts at The Big Stump, which is what remains of the Discovery Tree. The tree had a diameter of 25 feet and was cut down in 1853. As you continue on the trail you will see amazingly large redwood trees that will have you constantly peering up at them. This is a great trail that takes very little time to complete, of course depending on how many pictures you take.

Calaveras Camping

We camped 2 nights at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The park is 4 miles northeast of Arnold on Highway 4. There are 2 campgrounds with a total of 129 campsites for tents or RV's up to 30 feet long. All campsites have the usual fire ring and picnic table with flush toilets and coin op showers nearby. The North Grove campground has 74 campsites. This campground is closer to the entrance of the park, the visitor center and the North Grove trail. The downside is that you are extremely close to Highway 4 which can add a lot of noise. On this trip we elected to stay at the quieter Oak Hollow campground. Oak Hollow has 55 campsites and is located further into the park, maybe 3 miles from the entrance. The surroundings make it a beautiful place to camp. My one annoyance is that whenever we cooked the yellowjackets would appear and go after the food. For supplies like ice you'll have to leave the park and head to Arnold. We actually went all the way back to Angels Camp and did some walking around to the little shops.

Calaveras State Park Website

August 2, 2008

Round Valley Hike

In an attempt to stay close to home we headed over to Round Valley Regional Preserve in Brentwood. We grabbed all the info from the BA Hiker website. This hike is a 4.1mile loop with 900 feet in elevation change, which we completed in about 2 hours. The parking lot for the trailhead is huge, but there was only a couple cars in the lot. The hike starts on the Miwok Trail which is a multi-use fire road. After about a mile we turned left onto Hardy Canyon Trail. Hardy canyon is a narrower trail open to hikers and horses. This is where the trails climbs uphill a bit. Where the trail peaks we had a chance to stop for a rest and chat with some equestrians. The views were similar of many east bay hikes, brown grassy hills and a view of Mount Diablo in the distance. The day was starting to heat up so we continued along to finish the hike. This is not the place to be in the middle of the day during the summer heat.

Round Valley Website
BA Hiker Info