Portola Redwoods state park


Within the last six weeks or so, I have hiked all of the long routes in my repertoire of usual suspects, and I asked myself how to get in a long hike without repeating a recent route and without having to drive too far.

So I left the car at Saratoga gap and hiked down Ward road into Portola Redwoods state park. I almost always enter from this direction, if for no other reason than that it saves driving time. I was last here with Grace just over a year ago. We found an abandoned orchard and picked apples in the rain.

Portola is one of the prettiest of the redwood forests, unknown to the tourists, maybe not even to most of the locals. I have always liked the trail along Slate creek to the site of the old Page sawmill, which gave its name to the well-known Page Mill Road on the bay side of the ridge.

There is a spur trail to the Peters creek loop, which I attempted a number of years ago. At that time, it was overgrown with poison oak, waist and chest high, and there was simply no way to get through without severe consequences. So I gave up on it, and really never checked it out again.

This time, I thought I’d go have a look. If it was still inaccessible, I could always add on a few miles back up at the Skyline end of the hike.

Glad I did. It’s an old road for some distance, then it becomes single track. Lots of undergrowth, but I didn’t see much poison oak. Even so, I tried to avoid contact with the vegetation as much as possible. I won’t forget two really unpleasant weeks in January 2007, one of which was spent at the FSAN meeting in Vancouver, recovering from insufficient paranoia about naked vine stems.

The trail descends around 800 feet to a short loop that goes back and forth along Peters creek, crossing the creek several times. I said that Portola Redwoods state park was one of the prettiest, but this loop raises the bar even further. Really nice.

I have rarely been able to photograph a redwood forest in a way that does justice to its beauty, so I contented myself with photos of some of the interesting fungi. If you want to see the creek and the forest, go there :).

I thought this park, and especially the Peters creek loop, were pretty much unknown territory, but there were actually quite a few hikers out. Well, I don’t mind sharing, especially something as beautiful as this.

Back at the end of the former road, I noticed a junk car. It looked like something out of the 1920s or maybe 30s; I suppose that’s when this route stopped being just an ordinary road.

I have resented the junk cars I see along the trails that parallel the roads. It seemed really sleazy to dispose of a worthless car by just pushing it over the edge. But some of the junkers are too far from the road to have just been rolled over the edge. To get where they are, they must have started at high speed, or have moved under their own power, or both. So I started wondering. When there’s an accident and a car runs off the road, do you suppose the authorities just recover the bodies and the license plates and leave the cars where they are?

Although the junk is an eyesore, there may be mitigating circumstances.

Back out of the state park, much of the hike is in open country, and I watched the black weather moving in on me for upward of an hour before I finally stopped and put on my rain shell.

I had been thinking that the overgrown undergrowth would become prime tick territory in another month or two, once things warm up, but when I stripped for my shower, I found a good-sized tick on my wrist. See? I’m not paranoid – they really are out to get me! To fully acknowledge my paranoia, I also washed my hands and legs with Tecnu poison oak soap.

20.26 miles, 4365 feet of climb. A new trail, which is pretty unusual for me, for this area, hard work, and well worth it.

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Portola Redwoods state park”

  1. peter Says:

    so nice dave thank you


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: