While we didn’t love everything about our time in California, we did manage to find some hikes that we thoroughly enjoyed. One major thing we noticed was that very few California State Parks are dog friendly, so while it wasn’t impossible to find hiking it made it a little more difficult to find nice, long hikes that Snickers could partake in with us–parking lots constitute dog friendly park icons but we are talking about actual trails. That dog loves hiking maybe more than she loves Beth, but not Matt. She could never love anything more than she loves him.
Henry Cowell State Park
Our first couple of hikes were around the Santa Cruz area at Henry Cowell State Park and the Land of Medicine Buddha. You can see some pictures from them in Santa Cruz in pictures. Henry Cowell State Park was a major letdown. Before we went, we did our research and it said that there were dog-friendly trails and found one that looked to be about 5 miles of single-track trail. Unfortunately, when we got there there were signs everywhere indicating that no dogs were allowed on that trail. In fact, the only trails that were actually dog friendly were paved trails or service roads…oh and the one “trail” that was actually a runoff ditch on the side of the road. It did look like there were decent hiking trails around and the forest was beautiful with all the redwoods, but if you’re going with a dog we’d say skip it.
Land of Medicine Buddha
The Land of Medicine Buddha, despite it’s weird name, was much better. The land is privately-owned and they have all sorts of wellness retreats there. The best part was they were extremely dog friendly! One of the very few places we found in Santa Cruz that was. We went on a drizzly day, and there were surprisingly a lot of people (and dogs) who had the same idea. We did a 6 mile loop around the property, which wound its way along a creek and through new redwood growth with plenty of ups and down to get our heart rates up. We’d give this hike four muddy puppy paws!
Muir Beach to Rodeo Beach
While we were up in Napa we ventured to the coast and did our longest hike of the trip: 11 miles! We started at Muir Beach just north of San Francisco and made our way down the coast to Rodeo Beach. It was muddy, a bit rainy, and not crowded for most of it. The clouds and rain hindered our views a bit, but when the skies opened up we got some spectacular views of the mountains and coast. This trail kicked our butts. It was long, and it was up and down A LOT. We’re talking one whole mile uphill and one mile down. And it was an out and back so even though the downhills were nice, we knew we’d have to go right back up them. Needless to say we were tired and happy when we finished this one. We give this four muddy puppy paws and four exhausted human thumbs up.
Anthony Chabot Regional Park
Now it’s Matt’s turn! The dog and I took a backpacking trip to Anthony Chabot Regional Park, just East of Oakland, CA.
This was my last week before starting the new job, so I figured I had to take advantage of being out of work. I had originally planned to make the trek out to Lake Tahoe area to do some backcountry camping and hiking; however, when I made a call to the ranger station about permits I asked about the trail conditions and he said “they are not bad right now, only a foot of snow on most of it, but when you head up above 8,000 ft you will need snowshoes.” OMG, I thought, there is no way a foot of snow is “not bad”! I thanked him and decided I needed a non-snowy option.
I found Anthony Chabot a quick 1 hour drive from the southern side of San Jose. I wasn’t expecting much since it was listed as a regional park, and I was only able to do some car camping in marked spots. When I first entered the park I realized I was very wrong about my preconceived notions! The park is located on a high ridge about 20-30 miles East of Oakland, with some nice 3rd(??) growth redwoods.
During the week at the end of January there were very few people camping, so I had my pick of sites. The dog and I first set out, though, a few hours before dark for a full-pack hike around the park. We did about 4 miles that first afternoon, making a loop from the campsite–check out the Garmin Anthony Chabot- 4mi tracks. After the hike we (I!) set up the tent with the remaining daylight and got the firewood purchased at the camp entrance ready! I had only packed necessary provisions, which consisted of a rice and beans soup mix (thank you for the Xmas gift McClains!). However, since I was car camping, I wanted additional sustenance, so the dog and I went out to get s’mores, hot dogs, and beer! My beer of choice was a good camping beer, Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard Stout. The campfire wood was pretty wet, so it made a sorry fire for the most part, but it heated the hot dogs and I must have chowed down on half the pack before bed.
Snickers and I curled up under the same sleeping bag when we were both finally able to settle down–sorry, no pics!
The next morning we struck camp and went for a 8 mile hike around the remainder of the park with the full pack–it simulated backcountry camping. We covered a lot of ground and had some really grueling hills. Too bad my Garmin died, so I didn’t get the tracks for the second day. After that sweaty romp, we were both beat and ready to head back to San Jose, to my sister’s place, for a shower, a nap, and to pack for a San Francisco weekend and moving to Portland!