May 31, 2009

Zion National Park - Weeping Rock

We had already done two hikes this day, Emerald Pools and Hidden Canyon so we decided to finish the day off with a very, very, very short hike to Weeping Rock. It's really more of a self guided nature trail. Surprisingly, it starts at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop. After climbing for just a quarter of a mile, we got to enjoy the shade of the hanging gardens at Weeping Rock. After a long day of hiking, the water coming off the rock felt great.

Zion National Park - Hidden Canyon Trail

Hidden Canyon trail is a moderate 3 mile roundtrip hike that climbs 850'. Take the park shuttle to the Weeping Rock stop. The trailhead is to the right. There is another trailhead to the left that takes you to Weeping Rock. Most of the trail is exposed, with very few shaded areas. We noticed the trail climbing early on. The footing on this hike was difficult in some places as part of it takes you onto slickrock and cliff edges but in some areas chains provided handholds. Halfway through the hike we came across the opening to hidden canyon and a shaded area. We explored a little further on as the canyon narrowed, then turned around and took a break in the shade. The cliff edges were good practice for Angels Landing. Don't do this hike if you are afraid of heights.

Zion National Park - Emerald Pools Trail

This is one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park. The name of the pools comes from the algae that keeps them a green color. Take the shuttle to the Zion Lodge stop. The start of the trail is to the right of the lodge, near the white recylcing bins. You can hike to Lower Emerald Pool which is an easy 1.5 mile roundtrip hike with an elevation gain of 69', include Middle Emerald Pool which is 2 miles roundrip with an elevation gain of 120' or include Upper Emerald Pool which is a 3 mile roundtrip moderate trail with an elevation gain of 400'. We included all three in our hike and took Kayenta Trail back to the Grotto. The trail to Lower Emerald Pool is fairly shaded and includes a waterfall and hanging garden. We stopped here to take pictures and enjoy the mist in the air. The trail to Middle and Upper Emerald Pools is mostly exposed and can get fairly hot in the summer. There are shaded areas and rocks to rest on at Upper Emerald Pool. We stopped to take a break here and saw a butterfly that let us take its picture. Although you might be tempted, don't wade or swim in the pools, it's not allowed due to a bacteria growing in the algae. On the way back, we took Kayenta Trail back to the Grotto. The Kayenta Trail provides some great views of the canyon and the river below.

Waterfall/Hanging Gardens

Upper Emerald Pool


View from Kayenta Trail

May 18, 2009

Samuel Taylor Hike

We went camping over the weekend at Samuel Taylor State Park. It's in the north bay between San Rafael and Olema on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. We did 2 hikes Pioneer Tree Trail and Barnabe Peak.

Barnabe Peak: This is a 7mile moderate hike to Barnabe Peak. Parking is on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. directly across from Devils Gulch Horse Camp. Plenty of parking there for about 15 cars. Cross the road and head up the trail towards Devils Gulch Horse camp. Take the trail that veers to the right towards the creek. You cross a small bridge and turn left. This begins Bills Trail. Bills Trail is a 3.7mile steady climb with lots of turns and switchbacks. Along the way you will see a junction for Stairstep Falls. This is a detour of a little less then a mile. You might as well check it out. What time of year will determine how much water there is. Bills Trail eventually hits Barnabe Fire Road. You turn left and head toward Barnabe Peak. Your shade is now gone as are the lush surroundings of Bills Trail. The climb is also noticeably steeper. A Marin County Fire Lookout sits atop the peak. From the peak you get views over Samuel Taylor, and can see Mt Tam and a glimpse of Point Reyes to the west. You descend back down Barnabe Fire Road the way you came. At a junction you stay towards the right and continue on down Gravesite Fire Road. This will take you back to the small bridge at the start of Bills Trail. Cross the bridge towards Devils Gulch and head back down to your car.

View from Barnabe Peak

Pioneer Tree Trail: This is a 2.7 mile loop with only about 200' of elevation. You park at the far end of the day use picnic area inside Samuel Taylor. Cross the bridge and turn left and you will see the trailhead sign on the right side. This is an easy hike thats it total shade. About half way you will come to the Pioneer Tree itself. At 2.2miles you will come to the Cross Marin Trail bikepath, head to the left which will take you back to where your started. Along this part back you'll be strolling along and looking down on to lagunitas creek.

Along the Pioneer Tree Trail

Related Links
Samuel Taylor State Park Website

May 17, 2009

Samuel Taylor Camping

We camped at Samuel Taylor State Park for 2 nights over the weekend. Samuel Taylor is almost 3000 acres in Marin County. Its located on Sir Francis Drake Blvd between San Rafael and Olema. There are two campgrounds Creekside and Orchard Hill. Creekside is tent only. Orchard hill is tent and can accomodate small rvs. Each site has the usual table, locker, fire pit and BBQ. Restrooms with showers that are coin op nearby. The campgrounds are close enough to the road that you can hear cars driving by on Sir Francis Drake. No camp store inside the park so you'll have to venture out for ice or anything else. Lots of hiking in the area. And its a great place to bring your bikes to. Reservations for the high season can be made at the Reserve America website

Related Links
Samuel Taylor State Park Website
Reserve America

May 9, 2009

Sunol Regional Hike

We went hiking today at Sunol Regional Wilderness. Its right off 680 in, you guessed it, Sunol, CA. We did a 5.2mile partial loop hike. Total elevation for the hike is around 1200'. The hike starts at the .72mile marker trailhead on Welch Creek Rd. Theres parking for only about 5 or 6 cars. Be aware you actually need to go to the main gate by the visitor center to purchase a parking permit to put on your dash first. We hiked the Maguire Peaks Loop Trail with a detour to the actual peak, which provides great views towards Pleasanton and the South Bay. You are looking right down on San Antonio Reservoir and can even get a glimpse of Calaveras Reservoir. The grasses just barely still have some green to them. But that will be gone within the next couple weeks. And the weather was perfect, especially since this hike provides very little shade.

Related Links
Sunol Regional Wilderness