Leo Carrillo State ParkLocate the trailhead.
I decided to finish off the day with a drive down the Mulholland Highway and a short benchmark search in Leo Carrillo. The trails make a loop around a small peak by the ocean and a spur climbs it from the north. The benchmark is on the top of this same peak, so it should not be hard to find. Leo Carrillo also requires a $12 day use fee to park in the lot, but a single payment covers all the state parks for the same day. Free parking can be had on the far side of the Pacific Coast Highway. I decided to start along the Willow Creek Trail, since I have not hiked that one before. It follows along above the highway which has quite a bit more traffic than Mulholland before turning up a canyon and starting to lose the traffic noise. It is still quite warm even by the ocean and with the wind blowing nicely. Both windsurfers and kite boarders are out today and even windsurfers are kicking up big wakes.
|Windsurfing seems to have been replaced by kite boarding, but there are plenty out today.|
|A few of the more ordinary surfers are out too, but there does not seem to be much surf.|
|One last windsurfer coming in with the dark.|
The show of windsurfers is quite short lived with the sun already down. As the trail climbs, it seems to get into a lot of cactus, but they never threaten. I catch the rump of a small deer for a second as it flees my approach. It is the only other thing on the trail in the gathering dusk.
|Gathering gloom in the view east along the highway.|
The trail climbs more rapidly as it gets into the canyon, then takes a few switchbacks just before joining the Nicolas Flat Trail. I turn back on it and in a few steps, there is the spur up to the top of the peak. Clambering over the top, there is a surprise waiting. The shrimp boats were hidden by the land below but are out in force. Generally white, often tinged blue or green, they glow out on the water intensely. Just over the top, the benchmark that is my goal is set in a projecting block of concrete. A battered disk set by the county surveyor in 1948.
|County surveyor disk, much the worse for the wear.|
|Shrimp boats with bright lights to attract the shrimp. They cluster all in one area.|
Having found my goal, it is time to follow the trail back down, this time taking Nicolas Flat Trail. This drops down in view of the campground. Surprisingly, campfires are burning in a few spots. Those are currently forbidden in most places including the other state park I was in today.
©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 16 September 2014