15 January 2017

Redwood Loop

Arcata Community Forest

Just outside Arcata is a second growth redwood forest and made it to being one of the 1000 "best hikes" in my old California Hiking book. Redwood Park is one of a few trailheads with public parking. Interconnected trails around the forest allow numerous loops of many sizes. It can also be a good place to get lost, so it is a good idea to pay a bit of attention to where you are going. There is a map at the trailhead and trail numbers are marked at junctions.

signs at the start of trail #1
Starting off trail #1 at the park.

trail among the trees
The trail gets quickly deep into the tall trees.

From the start, the only sensible thing seems to be to take off up the trail. There is a nice creek flowing beside the trail and the trail itself is nicely built. A bit of rough gravel keeps it from becoming a muddy mess where rain is common enough.

creek crossings
Bridges to cross the creek when crossing comes up.

large stump
The biggest trees around are stumps, but some of the new trees are starting to challenge them.

plenty of green
Plenty of ferns under the redwoods.

sunlight through the trees
Very little sunlight gets down through the trees.

Some of the trails are actually roads and #9 is one of those as I come up to it. Even the old hiking book warns of kamikaze bikers on the trails that allow them. There are none today, though.

coming upon the road
A nice big road after the bit of trail I was on.

tall cottonwoods or alders
Not all the trees are redwoods. Other try to reach sunlight.

flowers of a current
It is hard to find the flowers at the moment, but there are some.

After a while on the road, I am a bit tired of it and hoping for a smaller trail. The road splits into two and off on the side is a trail that looks a little bit rogue, but I go for it. It is an odd twisting thing that is clearly popular with the bikes.

bike through tree
And finding a bike through tree stump is fun, too.

looking up
They really are some very tall trees.

There are some particularly dark spots within the forest where, even though it is sunny, it is very hard to figure out where the sun actually is in the sky. It takes away one usually good input for direction.

more and more forest
More forest to wander through.

The Ridge Trail looks good, but turning down it does no good. There is a section in the middle that is planned, but not built. It is like a road until a sign that says it is still to be constructed. The green closes in behind the sign. So I turn back and continue up.

fungus among us
Mushroom shelves built along a log.

Turning down a trail, it quickly becomes very steep. The route up was easy and gradual, but this has big steps held by slick, wet wood rounds. It gets steeper, then ducks under a log and drops into a creek with a step so high, the thin log above becomes a helpful hand hold.

Decaying and steep trail.

tall, big stump with other plants
The big stumps of broken trees become planters for the understory.

It improves a bit as I wind my way back downward, then drops into more that are more like roads. There are more people on the trails now, and sometimes I take a corner based on which way a noisy group of people go.

tule growing
Seeds starting up a little too early in their pod.

thin trees
A stand of generally thin trees.

There is a creek and I wander along beside it for a while.

flowing water
Following the water down some more.

mushrooms by the side
Admiring some more mushrooms.

This is not the same creek as the one I started next to. It is making a way down to Humboldt State University instead of the park. There are more and more use trails as I get closer to the college and I start to work back to the park instead of that way. There is a disc golf course along the way and it is quite crowded today. It still seems to be a common area people walk, though. I am happy when I get back into more defined trails. It quickly drops out onto the road a short way down from the main parking area.

camels carved into redwood
Carvings in a redwood stump beside the road.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 21 January 2017

13 January 2017

Dry Creek and Half a Canoe and Bummer Peak

Lake Sonoma

Lake Sonoma is actually a reservoir and has a $5 day use fee that is covered by an America the Beautiful pass. The iron rangers have been under attack, so this needs to be paid at the Visitor Center below the dam rather than at the parking areas. They warned me that the trails were "muddy in places" and since the next visitor asked how full the lake was, I heard that the lake is well over capacity at the moment. They are more likely to have a copy of the rough trail maps, too. I picked out a loop of interconnecting trails around Rockpile Road and initially went to start at Lone Rock until finding that I could not pay my fee. On my return, I decided not to drive up quite so far and start at Little Flat instead. It is usually best not to start at the high point anyway. The parking is a thick gravel lot that takes the rain. The trail is well signed and heads off into the trees. I take in the view of the lake at the side of the lot then follow along into the trees which seem to be generally madrones with moss covered oaks and bays thrown in.

trailhead sign
Starting out into the madrone forest.

The trails are generally labeled, but there also seem to be a number of older trails. Some of these seem to be steeper versions of the current trail system and some seem to be abandoned trails. There is an unused trail directly below me as I start and soon my trail splits without a sign. I am expecting a junction, so take the right. This is followed by another junction without a sign, but again there should be one and I take the left. This goes into a pleasant little climb until suddenly I am at the road, which is not where I wanted to be. Meanwhile, the map in my hand is more of an impression of the trails than an accurate map. It is still helpful.

thick moss fur
The oaks and bays have largely indistinguishable bark since it is covered over with a very long green fur of moss.

white mushroom
A few interesting mushrooms are found along the way, too.

little creek
Even the smallest creeks are flowing nicely today.

Back down and splashing through the creeks, I keep wandering downward noticing that the second junction should have been the first junction, as marked by little slapsticks, and the trail I followed is extra although clearly more than just a shortcut trail. Down at the bottom, trail is unmarked again, but this time without extra bits. From here, I am wandering a rolling trail near the lake which is not all that visible.

short and wide waterfall
The creeks have a few little waterfalls.

lake and dam through madrones
Peeking through the madrones at the lake and dam.

stringy fungus, not a mushroom
The fungus comes in some more interesting types than mushrooms and parts of lichen, too.

There are some old trails down to the lake as I go. Again, they were clearly built on purpose, not just use trails, but seem to have been abandoned. Redwoods add into the mix of trees. These also do not let much moss grow upon them. The trail is a bit more work than expected of something just traveling along the side of a lake.

drowning redwoods
These redwoods are probably a bit unhappy with the current level of the lake.

bridge and trail
It really is some very nice trail and generally not muddy.

blue flowers
Some irises, although getting a touch old, because there is always something flowering.

Marked trail heads up to Grey Pine, another parking area, along the way. My trail starts climbing away from the lake. Here, the trail shows some erosion problems and actually does have some of the muddy spots I was warned about. It passes some more abandoned trail climbing upward before splitting where I am not expecting it. I eventually go right reasoning that a log ahead would not have needed to be cut if that was not the correct trail. This bit of trail is marked by pink ribbons, which I have not seen before, and seems rather unused. It comes within 20 feet of the other trail as they both climb and that one looks so much more like what I have been traveling that I cross over to take it up. It takes me past an archery range, which is unexpected, and stops at Lone Rock, which is where I expect to be eventually.

water through many bushes and trees
Another section of lake is almost visible through the brush and trees.

oaks without leaves in fur
There are some live oaks, but many are deciduous like these in their green moss fur.

thick tortured manzanita truck
A tortured and burned manzanita trunk. Higher up, there are some manzanita too.

black salamander with bright red underside
A salamander strolls across the trail after an initial tumble down it showing off that bright underside.

nearby hills
Getting high enough for a little look at the surrounding hills.

older madrone
Older madrones can have a rougher bark as well, but still resist much of the moss.

Across the parking lot, the trail starts again along the side of the road, then crosses to the Half a Canoe Loop. I take a diversion up and around on the Boar Scat Loop before traveling back along Half a Canoe, which seems to be an old service road. The Boar Scat Loop has a few views and a silly sign trying to justify the name of the trail. The sign with the story seems an odd addition, but may raise a smile for some who pass by.

grassy hillside
Into grassy hills with scattered live oaks. Something looking more like goats than anything else is grazing at the top.

distant views
High above the road, I can see the distant mountains.

Lake Sonoma
And there is a lake peeking out of the trees down there.

live oak supporting life
A big old live oak supports moss on its trunk and lichen on its branches.

A picnic table at the top as the little loop rejoins the big loop is a nice stop for snacks and drawing.

Warm Springs Creek, once
The south branch of the lake. It is visibly muddy from the storm inflow.

I take the Half a Canoe Trail shortly before breaking off onto Outcrop Trail for an even larger loop toward Madrone Point, then back again along Cove Trail. Part of this is along service road, which is not the most pleasant trail surface. It does have some oddities along it.

wild hogs running off
The local wild boars run off from some of their diggings.

oaks on the trail
Following the trail through a hill side of young oaks.

moss and mushrooms
Rot can be beautiful.

This trail crosses some larger creeks without the bridges seen on the north side trails, although not really much of a problem. There are campers out on Madrone Point, one of a few camps in the area that can be used on a walk in or boat in basis.

more water
The cove that Cove Trail travels near.

black slug
More wildlife along the way.

Half a Canoe Trail drops down toward the lake, then down into the lake. It seems the information I overheard is more important than the warning I was given. None of the mud has tried to stop me in my path, but lake on trail seems like a bigger problem. As usual, I am already hiking too long to get back before dark, so turning back and returning the other direction is not attractive. There is a small trail up the side and along the grasses instead, so I go for that.

drowning trail
The end of Half a Canoe for today, but surely if one just follows the shore around, the other end will be easy to find. The entire trail looks like an old road.

trail dropping into the lake on the far side of an inlet
There it is, the other side of the trail as it drops into the lake after a long, flat section.

The traverse is simple at first, but the hillside does become quite steep. The trail I am following actually looks like more pig trail. As a curve around another inlet of the lake, it becomes obvious why the trail would chose to find a way lower down. A sharp sided ravine makes a difficult obstacle and the hillside is still quite steep. I am not the first to try this and I can see a couple successful trails. It takes quite a bit of care to pick my way along the one I think I can best travel. With a bit of luck, it works out and I can travel a progressively easier hillside to the trail again for the climb up Bummer Peak.

lake views
There are more views of the lake on this part, but it is a southerly slope.

I clearly played for too long on the bridge in the morning and it is getting a bit dark as I get to the top of the trail, but I still have to hit the minor peak. There is less trail up it, but another salamander, this time black with some white spots, at the top. For the return, I can take more Half a Canoe directly along the ridge line or the North Slope Trail around the edge before catching Bummer Trail down the side and back to my parking. The North Slope Trail makes sense in the moment, but it is perfectly flat. The warning about mud applies almost entirely to those spots of trail that are flat. This one is all mud.

spots in a tree
Another salamander, this one hiding away in a tree.

The trail down off the mountain is easy enough to find. It winds downward through some of the bigger trees in the area before splitting to go off to the boat ramp or up to the road. I go for the road and follow it down to the parking as the shortest way in the dark. Also as the safer way, but the mud on the edge of the road makes it doubtful I got that. It is very slick in spots.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 20 January 2017