August 23, 2009

Sequoia National Park - Tokopah Falls

While camping in Sequoia we did a hike with the family to Tokopah Falls. The trail starts right by the bridge in the Lodgepole Campground, just a short walk from the campsite. The day was overcast, a nice break from the heat of late August. The trail was rocky at first but as the climb leveled the path was smoother. We followed the Kaweah River for a while then began moving away from it into the valley with great landscape around us. It got rockier and steeper as we got closer to the falls, with lots of loose rock. After 1.7 miles we reached Tokopah Falls which was really more of a trickle at this point in the summer. The granite walls around us were a spectacular sight and I could only imagine how beautiful this must be in early summer.

August 22, 2009

Sequoia National Park - Moro Rock

While camping at Sequoia National Park, we decided to check out Moro Rock. From the Lodgepole campground we took the main shuttle to the Giant Forest Museum, where you have to transfer to a smaller shuttle to get to Moro Rock. The road to Moro Rock from the museum is a very narrow 1.5miles, and there is very limited parking there for cars. So make it easy on yourself and take the shuttle. Moro Rock is a granite dome which tops out at an elevation of 6,725ft. The trail to the top is only .25miles but you climb up nearly 400 steps. Most of the trail has railing for safety. On our particular day the trail was packed with what seemed like a constant stream of people. The pay off is an amazing 360 degree view from the top.

Looking up at the Moro Rock Trail

A very busy place

Top of Moro Rock

View from Moro Rock

August 21, 2009

Sequoia National Park - Lodgepole Campground

We are back from 3 nights camping at the Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Park. Lodgepole, and all of Sequoia can be reached from either Fresno via Highway 180 or from Visalia via Highway 198. If your driving an RV, beware that there is a 16 mile section if coming from Visalia that the maximum vehicle length is 22 feet, so you should enter the park from Highway 180. Lodgepole campground has around 200 campsites for RV's or tents. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring, with flush toilets nearby. The campground is large and spread out. The 151-214 loop seemed very crowded to us. We were staying in the 1-22 loop, in which the campsites were more spread out, but it was mostly RV's in the loop. Sites 69-144 are tent only and there are a few really nice sites right along the river. Despite the size of the campground it was amazingly quiet most of the time. And I admit I loved being able to run over to the market and grab some ice cream for dessert.
Right next to the campground is the Lodgepole visitor center and market for last minute groceries and gifts. In the same building as the market there is a snack bar with pizza and hot dogs, and a deli that also sold ice cream, a laundromat and the showers. Showers are coin-op and require $3 which gets you 10 minutes. Showers are open 8am to 8pm, but are closed from 1pm to 3pm for cleaning. We usually headed to the showers around 4pm and there was a line every time.
There is a nature center in the middle of the campground. From there or the front of the visitor center you can jump on the Sequoia Shuttle. The Shuttle takes you to the Sherman Tree, Wuksachi Lodge and Giant Forest Museum. At the museum you can transfer to a smaller shuttle and visit Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow.
Down by the bridge inside the campground is a trailhead that leads into the Sequoia backcountry and the trailhead for Tokopah Falls. Tokopah Falls is 1.7mile hike from the campground. Unfortunetly at this time a year the falls was more of a trickle. But there was still just enough water under the bridge in the campground to hop in to cool off.

General Sherman Tree

Sequoia Shuttle

Our daily visitors

August 9, 2009

New Brighton Camping

We just got back from 2 nights of camping at New Brighton State Beach. New Brighton is located in Capitola just south of Santa Cruz. Just take the New Brighton/Park Ave exit off of Highway 1. New Brighton is located atop a bluff right on the coast. There is a path that you walk down to reach the beach. The campground has 111 developed campsites for tents or RV's up to 36' in length. Ten of the campsites have partial hookups. And a different nine campsites are considered premium campsites. The premium sites are located along the edge of the bluff, these have a view of the ocean and the shortest walk to the beach. The premiums have an added fee to them. All the sites have the standard picnic table and fire ring. Flush toilets and coin-op showers in each loop, 25cents get you 2 minutes. Some sites are limited on shade. We really liked New Brighton. Its a nice clean campground right next to the beach. Will probably return next summer.

We also enjoyed how close it is to Capitola and Santa Cruz. On Saturday we actually grabbed our bikes and headed out. First stop was Capitola where we parked the bikes and checked out all the little shops. We then biked to downtown Santa Cruz, where we strolled around some of the stores and checked out an art festival they were having. We then headed down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The boardwalk hasn't changed much over the years and was extremely crowded. After eating at the Boardwalk we headed back to the campground. The Santa Cruz area is very bike friendly, with bike lanes or bike paths everywhere.

New Brighton Beach. Trail on the left of pic leads up to the campground.

August 8, 2009

Wilder Ranch Hike

Wilder Ranch State Park comprises 7,000 acres in Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, go north on Highway 1 and turn left about a mile past Western Dr. The park has 34 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. There is an interpretive center and park store. There is a fee for day use. If your camping at New Brighton which is nearby, the entrance fee is waived. Wilder is apparently very popular with mountain bikers, but on our visit we came to hike. We parked in the main lot past the entrance and took Old Cove Landing Trail towards the ocean. The trail travels along the top of the bluff following the coastline. The views of the ocean and the cliffs were amazing. The trail goes about 1.7 miles. You can then continue on the Ohlone Bluff trail all the way to 4 mile beach.

Related Links
Wilder Ranch Website
Santa Cruz State Parks

August 1, 2009

Tilden Bike Ride

It was a Saturday morning and we wanted to get outdoors. We decided to grab the bikes and go for a ride. We headed out to Tilden Regional Park which is above the Berkeley Hills. On this day we took Highway 24 to Camino Pablo, to Wildcat Canyon Rd. This route takes you right to Inspiration Point where we were starting our ride. You can reach Tilden from several different entrances depending on where your coming from. At Inspiration Point there is a large paved parking lot, no entrance or parking fees. Right off the parking lot is the start of the Nimitz Way Trail. The paved trail will take you north along the ridge of Tilden. This trail is used by walkers, hikers, bikers, and runners. Weather was perfect for the ride but be aware this trail takes you along a ridge so it does get windy. The pavement lasts 4miles, where we stopped to take a break and enjoy the scenery. We had great views towards the bay and of San Pablo Reservoir. We continued on another half mile on dirt before turning around. The trail does continue into Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, but we would save that for another day.

Inspiration Point

Start of the Nimitz Way Trail

Nimitz Way Trail

Nimitz Way Trail

View towards the bay

View of San Pablo Reservoir