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A Press Democrat Blog

Trailhead

A blog about Bay Area hiking…. mostly

The great climb and views in Lucas Valley

The single best moment of last weekend’s hike came as I hit the Big Ridge at the top of the trail. I had finished a series of long, pensive switchbacks when I emerged into a clearing and could see the entire world. Well, at least the San Francisco skyline, several bridges, Mounts Diablo, St. Helena and Tam, and, much closer, the lush expansiveness of Lucas Valley. I don’t have enough jaw-dropping moments in my life, but this was one of… Read More »

Finding quiet and noise at Tubbs Island

Sometimes, the solitude of a place can be unexpected. On my first visit to the Lower Tubbs Island Trail, I was curious about how a wildlife refuge can exist there. For one, the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge is bordered by two major roadways, a large water body and an active auto racing facility. But heading out on the trail, I found complete silence at first. This trail, nearly 8 miles, is a peaceful oasis. No wonder the bird-watching… Read More »

Fog on and off at Tomales Point in Point Reyes

[imagebrowser id=85] Why is hiking through fog so captivating? For me, I wonder what’s ahead, even if it’s a trail I’ve been on many times. I also know that as my elevation and terrain changes, I may literally rise into and out of the mist. The coolness and moisture in the air are invigorating too. I haven’t hiked yet in England or Ireland but I do plan to someday, and I picture those places as being fog-shrouded moors and hillsides.… Read More »

Wintertime at Lake Sonoma

[imagebrowser id=84] The last time I tried to go out to Lake Sonoma, the place was hostage to the federal government shutdown and it was locked up. Not that the trails weren’t generally accessible but the whole place had the feel of an abandoned ghost town. The shutdown effects still linger as hundreds of campsites as well as many trailheads and parking lots remain closed, and the visitor center is only open Thursdays through Sundays for limited hours, aided by… Read More »

Dry and dusty atop Bald Mountain

Since rain seems imminent here for the first time in a few years (or so they say…), I’m posting a blog about an extremely dry hike that highlighted the drought we’re experiencing. Consider it a rain dance of sorts. The destination was the 2,729-feet-high summit of Bald Mountain, one of the peaks within Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Since it’s been 70+ and sunny in recent weeks, it’s a great time to do the hike. Our loop took us nearly seven… Read More »

Marking the Full Beaver Moon

If you haven’t done a moonlight hike recently (or ever), this weekend offers a chance to bask in a Full Beaver Moon. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the November full moon, also called a Full Frost Moon, or a Frosty Moon, is an opportune time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze. Otherwise, there won’t be a sufficient supply of furs to last through the winter. That version has its roots in the colonial American days when gathering… Read More »

Blackberry Trail and two Gulches

A few random and recent  hikes to share. While both were short, they had their moments, scenic or otherwise, which is kind of the point of hiking too. Pinnacle and Shorttail Gulches, Bodega Bay It’s an almost 2-mile loop that goes to the coast, follows it for a brief distance and then returns inland. On the way out and back, you walk down into and alongside a gulch. Nothing stupendous, but within a few minutes of the parking lot at… Read More »

Never easy, but worth the view

Is there a better view in Sonoma Valley than 2,100 feet up sitting atop Gunsight Rock? It’s the very first hike I did when I moved here five years ago, and I was woefully, naively and painfully unaware of what I was doing. That trip went up via Adobe Canyon Road on the way to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. For my anniversary this week of my arrival on the Left Coast, I thought it would be fun to head up… Read More »

Windy as ever at Bodega Head

[imagebrowser id=83] It was 95 degrees last weekend at home so a coastal trip seemed like a good idea. With not a lot of time but a desire to be cool and see the open water, I went to Bodega Head. Hadn’t been there in years and figured it would be a change. Strong winds and 55 degrees made for a cool outing. The hiking isn’t an all-day affair, but there’s a three-mile-long trail that is monumentally scenic with virtually… Read More »

Taylor Mountain, aka Sonoma County’s newest park, is open

[imagebrowser id=29] So Taylor Mountain Regional Park has been open for all of three months. It came into public ownership quite a while earlier but it has taken some time and money to develop some trails, a parking area, and the other minimal trappings of a public-access county park. The 1,100-acre open space and nature preserve is a fairly small park in terms of trails. You can circumnavigate the park in a couple of hours and still be leisurely as… Read More »

Arch Rock at Point Reyes

[imagebrowser id=47] Here comes the annual spate of trips to Point Reyes and elsewhere along the coast, following the plan of finding good hikes that are don’t leave me dripping with sweat. I’ll be back in my usual haunts and the challenging peaks of Mount Diablo and Calistoga in the winter, but now it’s time to transition to cooler spots. I was with a relative hiking newcomer this weekend who hadn’t experienced much of Point Reyes. Where to start? The… Read More »

Willow Creek to Pomo Canyon to Shell Beach

[imagebrowser id=82] After approximately 200 hikes in the past four years, I get very excited at the prospect of a new one, especially one right here in Sonoma County. Sometimes a new hike can be a combination of some well-known hikes stitched together a different way, or can include a new segment tacked on to an existing one. My setting last weekend was a point-to-point hike taking me from Willow Creek, located at Duncans Mills, all the way to the… Read More »