Thursday, November 17, 2011

West Ridge Trail: Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park

Thursday, November 17th.

I'll confess. My fat fingers deleted my lovely original post. So this is Even Better, I'm sure.

I could walk for hours. Many more hours than I have or care to use. Cronan Ranch is large.

I stuck to the western edge today.

Since this is former ranch land, it is pretty open. I wonder how another 25 years of not being grazed will change this park? Looking outside of the park at hills that are still being grazed, the hills are much greener. I imagine the cattle eat most of the scrub that would obscure the green grass. Or maybe they stomp it flat.

The trails here are well used, sometimes pounded into fine red dust, as wide as a car's treads, other times lumpy singletrack decorated with horse droppings.

Oh yeah. That's right.

So much for all the "please clean up after your horses" signs. I did see one set shoveling manure in the parking lot. Hurrah.

The West Ridge Trail climbs up from very near the parking lot. You get to watch your car get smaller and smaller and smaller, until eventually the parking lot looks like this.

On a previous trip, my friend and I detoured to the West Ravine Trail, which is right next to current cow pasture. Today I could hear a cowbell clanging away.

You think you are at the top of a hill, and you see more hill ahead.

But the views are worth it.

This is a true multi-use trail: bikes, equestrians, and even other crazy midweek walkers.

Sometimes it is hard to grasp the scale of the landscape in the foothills, especially when you can see range after range of hills, disappearing into the haze.

People provide a useful perspective. Can you find the person in the photo below?

Here's a closeup. Look for the little black dot on the road, nearly in the center of the picture.

If you get tired of views and hills, take a break at one of several well-placed picnic tables.

 Stop looking around and look down and you might see one of these fellows. A Gopher snake, I think. I also saw an Oak Titmouse, but was not quick enough to get a picture.

I'll return to Cronan Ranch several times this winter and early spring, to show off more of the many miles of trails here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

An hour on the South Fork Trail

Saturday, November 12th

Red dirt and scrub.
Scrub and red dirt.
Red dirt.
Red dirt (did I say that already?)

I'm not terribly impressed by this trail. I think it would be a pretty good workout on a bike or a trail run: an exercise trail.

I figure I went about 3 miles total today.

I started at the Skunk Hollow area on Salmon Falls Road.

It was closed to cars and locked so the Folsom Lake SRA lost out my day-use fee today. Stupid decision on their part. I had planned to pay. Three other cars pulled up there and turned around. I assume at least 1/2 of those had planned to pay as well.

At least the bathrooms were unlocked. I parked instead on the other side of the bridge, in the improvised dirt lot (free).

The dumpster was full right to the top and someone had hopeful ideas about recycling.

The trailhead is at the far end of the parking lot.

This trail has been touted as part of the effort to create a 25 mile multiuse trail. This plaque along the trail implies that equesterians may use this trail (and the trail system farther along, at Cronan and Magnolia Ranch trailheads, are certainly widely used by the horse folks).

However, there is this sign at the trailhead.

If I had a horse, I'd be mighty confused and a little irked.

My other beef with this trail is the total lack of legal camping spots along the trail. Why on earth have a 25 mile trail and no where to camp? Yes, this trail is on several BLM land parcels, but these particular parcels are part of a limited impact area. No camping. No fires.

Alright. Enough ranting.

After the locked parking lot and contradictory trail signs, it is time to climb up and up and up a series of nicely laid out switchbacks.

The bridge beyond which I parked gets smaller every time I look back.

Sometimes a view back will show me some of the trail.

I encountered a couple sets of joggers, one other set of walkers, and two sets of mountain bikers.

The switchbacks up stop eventually, giving you a brief view of the other side of the ridge. I stopped about here and turned around.


One of the few shade-giving trees on this section.

Yep. That's the river. waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down there.

Rockslide section near trailhead.

I wore a lighter (wool) shirt today. I sweated some but not too badly.

My hiking poles are invaluable on downhill sections. I sort of lean forward and charge down hill, poles thumping away in front.

I did not bother to fog-proof my glasses. Mistake.
I fogged them up but good. And I had also neglected to bring my bandana. Fingers don't work so great wiping off condensation.

Well. Despite my whinging and whining I'm glad I got outside today.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monte Vista trailhead: Folsom Lake SRA

Monday, November 7th

There are lots and lots of trails in the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. I don't know that most of them are named.

But this one is.

Well. Most of it is. I'm creating a loop out of a private road and a two named trails.

Park in a dirt area along Salmon Falls Road, outside of El Dorado Hills, California.

Find the parking area by looking for this sign.

38.747778 x -121.059771

You can dive right into the woods from the parking area and take the loop clockwise,

Sign at upper parking lot trailhead. You might recognize New York Creek from a previous post.
 or you can do what I did today and head down a paved private road

to the (permanently?) closed Old Salmon Falls area (lower trailhead), take the Brown's Ravine Trail, eventually hook up with the Monte Vista trail to where you parked your car.

From the parking area near the river, you wend your way along a hillside, going up up up, watching the South Fork American River get smaller and smaller until you can have a birds eye view of how high or low the water is.

Today it is sort of middling low. Super low and those white buoys in the distance reveal an old bridge.  And there is considerable more mud visible around the edges of the river.

I had the trail completely to myself. Not a horse or hiker to be seen. I did see some boats on the river, fishing?

Eventually, the two trails meet up.

 This is where you do a wide U turn and head away from the lake on the Monte Vista Trail back to the official trailhead.

Picnic area near upper trailhead

South Fork American River winding towards Folsom Lake

Old road bed


Trail through pines!
Mystery weed.
Mystery weed close up. Parts are still green.

Trailwork, anyone?

For today's hike I decided to wear the pack I use for backpacking (Molly Mac Pack). I brought a first aid kit, a light, a wool cap, a rain coat and pants, and my camera.

I tried carrying my water bottle on a shoulder strap. It was great, although it did wiggle around some as I walked, leading to a bit of "swish slosh swish slosh swish slosh".

I wore my wide-brimmed Tilley hat, a midweight wool shirt (Ibex) and an old pair of lightweight zipleg nylon hiking pants (Columbia).

I used the shoes I use all the time for hiking and backpacking, a pair of Inov8 Roclite trailshoes. 295 I think. I have new insoles which are quite nice so far (Orthaheel Active).

Today's walk was just over 2 miles. A nice break on a weekday afternoon.

Topo maps would be a scrap of Pilot Hill and another scrap of Clarksville.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New York Creek Nature Trail

Monday, November 1st

You can read all about the New York Creek Trail here, but why don't I tell you about it instead?

This is a short trail. About 3 miles round trip, stuffed in among housing developments in El Dorado Hills, California.

New York Creek eventually winds northwards, becoming a tributary of the South Fork American River/Folsom Lake (it is hard to tell the difference sometimes). The trail does not go that far.

It is an easy trail, with one section with weird little pointy rock slabs exposed by erosion and many many feet and paws on the trail.

The dog and I went about 2 miles. She is an old dog and I hate to see her limping when she overdoes it. And I hate to see me limping (breaking in new insoles in my hiking shoes).

Obligatory purty pitchers

Unpromising beginning of the trail
That's more like it!
Yes, we do have fall here.
Oak galls, not oranges in an oak

New York Creek

When folks put plastic seasonal wreathes on their doors, this is what they are trying to capture.
Awwww! Maxine has a fan!