A hike of the future
Upper Bear Creek Redwoods
Neil Wiley
As part of the master plan process for our two local open space preserves, Midpeninsula Open Space offered tours of areas previously off-limits during May and June. Although they attracted surprisingly few people, the tours gave us an opportunity to discover new local trails. What could be better than walking a trail for the first time, a trail that others havenít experienced. Itís not exactly like being Gaspar de Portola, but you could call us explorers. After all, the trails were new to us.

Although the area of Bear Creek Redwoods Preserve west of Bear Creek Road has been closed to the public, even by permit, it has a lot to offer: relatively easy grades on well maintained logging roads, a few large old growth redwoods, shady mixed forest with wide diversity in trees and smaller plants, some small but lovely waterfalls on Webb Creek, and occasional views across Lexington Reservoir toward Mt. Thayer. Not bad when you consider that we saw all this on one trail only a few miles and a few hours long.

On our tour, we parked at the main gate parking lot (BC04), and then were carpooled up to gate BC09 across the road from the lake at Presentation Center. Although this saved us some uphill walking, future hikers may not have it so easy. They may have to cross over Bear Creek from the main parking area, enter gate BC05, then walk up a slow grade until the road turns south. From this point, the road follows the contour lines with little change in grade.

On our tour from gate BC09, we headed uphill a relatively short distance to a wide and substantial bridge intersecting Webb Creek and many little waterfalls. We continued north along a wide dirt road through mixed forest and occasional grassy meadows. We enjoyed the shade of large trees, saw a unique root formation, visited two large old growth redwoods, listened to the complex songs of winter wrens, tasted minerís lettuce, and smelled the mint of hedge nettle. Our trail ended, too soon, at gate BC05. We crossed Bear Creek Road, and walked a short way down to the parking area at gate BC04.

From Midpen maps, it appears that several other trails parallel the one we hiked. It looks like at least one could form a loop, eliminating some backtracking or the need for parking cars at each end of the trail. Hopefully, Midpen will give us the opportunity for further exploration.

If you would like more information, visit www.openspace.org. And if you would like to see these trails open to the public, write Ana Ruiz, project planner, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, 330 Distel Circle, Los Altos, California 94022, email masterplan@openspace.org, or call 650-691-1200.


(c) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 mountain network news All rights reserved.