Having had not only my usual early-morning latte and breaktime cup of coffee, but also an on-my-way-out-the-door iced mocha, I was well-caffeinated and full of energy upon leaving my shift at Peet’s. So yesterday I embarked on that rarity, the full-length afternoon hike, through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
It was a beautiful day for a hike. I started out walking through the Redwood Grove Trail, which features a self-guided tour and is wheelchair accessible. There were lots of families walking through here, taking photos and being amazed at the giant old-growth redwoods.
I soon left this loop, and the crowds, and took the River Trail to the Eagle Trail. I liked these burned tree stumps on the Eagle Trail. The first reminds me of a dragon:
The second reminds me of a horned owl:
The older trees in the park are around 1400 – 1800 years old. Here’s a beauty, though the composite photo still doesn’t do justice to its height or breadth:
Streams chuckled alongside the path, the breeze stirred the treetops, birds sang unseen; I was thoroughly enjoying myself. My goal was the observation tower at the highest point in the park, so the trail steadily rose, and the trees soon began to thin out
and pretty soon I reached chapparal.
A right turn onto the Pine Trail produced views out to surrounding mountains, and gave a hint to the ongoing danger of forest fires in the area.
The trail up here had turned very sandy. This area had once been ocean floor, and the wind and dry weather have kept much vegetation from growing, and hence any soil from developing. It made for fairly hard going; in some places, the sand was several inches deep. Imagine climbing a mountain and walking on the beach at the same time! You might be able to see from this picture that the tips of my hiking sticks are well buried, and how dusty my boots are.
Or get some idea of the sandiness of the trail:
I soon reached the observation tower — which, I’m a bit disappointed to report, was not a tower at all but simply a viewing platform. But still, the views were excellent.
There were many horses on the trail; I encountered four different groups of riders. You can just see a smudge of ocean fog in the distance. At this point, some cool air would have been appreciated! The temperature at the summit was much different from that in the redwood forest.
They had the cleverest device at the platform: a water fountain for horses! The horse nuzzles his (or her) nose against the lever, and voila! water! It keeps the water fresh, and the horses happy. Maybe this is old hat to horsefolk, but I thought this was the cat’s meow.
After leaving the viewing platform/observation tower, I soon re-entered the redwood forest. Such nice shade, and such rich greens.
I soon reached the River Trail, and closed the loop I had started two hours earlier. An apple on the banks of the San Lorenzo River was my reward for a hike well done.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
The park is located in Felton, CA. Besides hiking trails, the park also features a campground and picnic area. While many people leave their cars outside the park and walk in, I would strongly encourage all park-goers to support California’s state parks and pay the day-use fee. It is a small amount to pay to keep the state’s natural beauty safe and accessible to all.