A Press Democrat Blog


A blog about Bay Area hiking…. mostly

New Year, new hikes, new blogger

I am a fan of healthy New Year celebrations, hiking through the Redwoods, cross-country skiing in the Adirondacks, sweating out holiday cheer in a Bikram yoga class. This year we headed up to Mendocino County to explore the headlands and check out the sand dunes I had heard so much of. The air was crisp and the sky was clear, as we settled into a cozy campsite at Van Damme State Park. Since it is winter, you can easily pull… Read More »

No more Trailhead

After six years of blog posts and more than 100 hikes around the North Bay, the Trailhead blog is over. I’m moving out of the area so my hiking will now happen somewhere else, but it was fun to so actively explore the hills, mountains, trails, streams and open spaces of the entire Bay Area. And it was fun to share some of my experiences through words and images to with you. Your comments over the year were often interesting… Read More »

A foggy coolness at Bodega Head, of course

While the temperature was into the 90s in inland Sonoma County, it was 61 degrees at Bodega Head on Sunday. And the place was packed with others also escaping the heat. We hiked the usual loops to the north and south of the parking lot and were far from alone at any point. Fog was thick, but the views were still epic as always. Barking sea lions swimming and sunning provided some entertainment too. I’ve been out to the cliffside… Read More »

Hiking from beach to beach along the Sonoma Coast

  I can’t say that I know how Blind Beach got its name (although I suspect it’s not that big or interesting of a mystery), but Goat Rock Beach is clear enough as the massive stone expanse that is Goat Rock is directly in view of the beach. It had been a while since I had been out on the Sonoma Coast Trail for a decent hike, so a very hot day inland proved to be a smart choice to… Read More »

Fog and wildflowers and Pomo Canyon

It gets overlooked by Point Reyes, but a terrific coastal-view hike right here in our backyard is the trek up and down into Pomo Canyon. Having not been out there in a while, I took advantage of a brilliantly sunny and warm day to head to the beach. Park at the large (and free) parking lot at Shell Beach where there are facilities, ocean views and maps. And then walk across Highway 1 and head upward. It’s a steep climb… Read More »

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 »