Buzzard’s Roost @ Big Basin State Park – covey park

My first hike of 2018! I can’t believe it’s taken me until March to do my first hike. I was training for the Santa Cruz 1/2 marathon roughly 4 days a week so didn’t really need the exercise. But boy was it nice to get back out into the woods. After the Forest of Nicene Marks State Park, Big Basin State Park is kind of my home park. It takes about 45 minutes to get there from Santa Cruz because the road is narrow and windy. But there’s some gorgeous hiking there, so it’s worth it.

I got there early because the parking lot fills up quickly on the weekends, even in March. It was incredibly cold so I was glad I had my sweater, I should have had gloves and a hat too. But I knew I’d warm up, the hike was all uphill. I checked in at the ranger station. I love that they give you a form to leave on your car dash that tells them where you are and when you left in case something happens.

The hike up to Buzzard’s Roost starts by going through a lovely little campground area and across the creek and then up up up along a narrow trail. The views into the woods are lovely along the way. I saw a few redwoods and as I hiked higher there were more bushes and switchbacks.  The elevation goes from 1000 feet to 2150 feet at the peak!

There are a couple of rocks that require using your hands to scramble up. When I reached the near top, there was a huge sheer rock face that could be tricky if it were a wet day, but it was sunny and dry. There were a few other people wandering around at the top, but I found a nice shady spot to enjoy the view and have a snack. I took some photos, rested, and then headed back down. The hike took about 2 1/2

hours. It was worth the uphill to see the view and enjoy the sun at the top. I was able to see as far as the ocean, though it looked foggy in that directions. The mountains around the peak were covered with trees. Big Basin is very green year round. The moisture and shade created by the redwoods keeps it green, I’ve seen moss growing even in summer and fall when it’s normally dry at other parks nearby.

I can’t wait to head back to Big Basin and do the Meteor trail hike. I’m still hoping to see those lilies that grow along the creek that are unique to Big Basin. I think that may be a little later in the springtime.  Also on the agenda for hiking is to scope out the trail camp that is about 2 miles from Waddell Beach near the ocean part of Big Basin.  The area is called Rancho del Oso, but those camps don’t open until May.  My adventurous mom has requested an overnight backpacking trip so I’m looking into that location for her.  The reservation system seems very organized and the sites have toilets and lockers to keep your food.  Fancy!

Has anyone stayed at any of the back country trail camps in Big Basin?  Also, does anyone have experience renting equipment from UCSC or somewhere else in Santa Cruz?

Trail names: Redwood Loop, Blooms Creek, Pine Mountain

Approximate distance: 5 mi

Start/end: Ranger station

Mummy Mountain – Pix in Parks Challenge – covey park

I thought it would be appropriate to visit Mummy Mountain at Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch today, because yesterday was Halloween.  It is part of the Pix in Parks challenge.  I only have 6 weeks left to finish the Magnificent 7 hikes, so I’m giving it my best shot!

Mummy Mountain turns out to be a beautiful location and surprisingly is near some of my other hikes this summer.  I passed Mount Madonna park and drove along the road towards Henry Coe State Park.  Who knew there were so many lovely parks nearby?!

I’m always a little cautious when I go to a new park, especially during the week.  I kept my pepper spray handy and used my Spot like I always do.  I first passed 2 lovely women who assured me that I was on the right track and then a single woman passed me on my way up Mummy Mountain while I was taking photos.  Towards the end of my hike I passed 2 more women on my way down the mountain.  There were quite a few signs about mountain lions which seemed strange to me, but this is their territory and hunting grounds.  There were also a few cows with calves on the property.  I love that there were so many girls out there today!

The views were incredible, especially near the top of the mountain.  I was able to see the reservoir in the distance.  There were hills to the east, and to the west, I was looking down upon Gilroy.  It’s still so strange to me that it smells like garlic whenever I drive through.  I also remember taking my kids to the Gilroy Gardens when they were little and taking my daughter to the Gilroy outlets when she was a teenager.

This hike was beautiful and I realize that there is a huge section of the park that I did not get to see, so I will be sure to return at some point.  Possibly, I will return in the springtime as I noticed that there was a Bay Area Ridge trail marker and I am hoping to continue those hikes in the springtime!

Start/End: Mendoza Ranch entrance parking lot

Trails: Coyote Ridge, Mendoza trails

Mileage: 3.7mi

Why is this is called Mummy Mountain?  Has anyone seen mummies there?

Mount Madonna – Pix in Parks Challenge  – covey park

I love the Pix in Parks challenge, this is my third one!  There are 7 new parks for me to explore in Santa Clara county with recommended hikes.  I am able to access all of these parks from my home in Santa Cruz, CA.  Mount Madonna County Park is in Watsonville and I drove south on highway 1 and then along 152 to get there.  My favorite things about hiking are exploring new trails, parks, and towns.  It was really fun to drive up into the hills behind Watsonville.  Especially, since it has been so many years since I’ve been in that part of California.  We are so lucky to live here because we have the oceans, the mountains, the redwoods, the beaches, and the cliffs.  I could go on and on.

Mt. Madonna is a gorgeous little county park up in the hills and there are views to die for.  It has a lot of camp sites, and it makes me want to go back for that reason alone.  I checked in with the park kiosk to get directions to my starting point, and the parking lot turned out to be off the main road and free.  Luckily, I beat the rush because I was there early.  The parking lot is on highway 152 and was pretty easy to find.  There is a special lot for horse trailers and though there weren’t any when I arrived, there were plenty of beautiful horses as I headed back to my car.

I started my hike on Merry-Go-Round trail even though it was steep and I climbed all the way to the top of the hill.  It’s interesting to see how the landscape changes in the autumn months.  I saw a lot of dry grasses on the first part of the hike and also there were lovely views of the hills and valleys.  When I reached the first trail intersection, old mine trail, I decided to follow it to see where it would lead.  There was a pretty view of the valley and a small peaceful lake in the distance.

I continued on my hike along Tie Camp trail which led me through redwood forests and lovely cool paths.  Somehow, I missed Tie Camp viewpoint and ended up on Ridge trail.  I took a selfie there because I did not want to backtrack.  The hike back down to the parking lot was sunny and warm and I passed quite a few more hikers along the way.  I am very excited to go back to Mount Madonna soon.  I may even plan an overnight at one of the campsites!

Start/end: Sprig Recreation Area parking lot on highway 152

Trails: Merry-Go-Round, Tie Camp, Ridge trails

Mileage: 3.8 mi (not including old mine trail) 3 pix in parks finished!  Only 4 to go!  Is anyone out there with me?!