Sunday, March 18, 2007

El Corte De Madera Creek - North

It made me nervous to go to this Hike since I knew it would be a "foggy" day up on Skyline. After the drive up Highway 84, I reached Skyline at about 7:20 and the fog was quickly rolling back.

For this hike you park at the Vista Point (which was almost full at 9:45am when I returned). You walk a short distance north on the highway, and the Trail Head is located on the left. The Trailhead is well marked and has a the typical Mid-Pen. Open Space Maps and signage. I chose to start on the Tafoni Trail and do the northern loop ending up on the El Corte de Madera Creek Trail.


One warning for this hike, there are a ton of trail options, but most are Down and back Up types of trails. The hike back up is not bad, but its always nice to end with a downhill.

Still this hike was great with a number of views along the way. However most of the trail is under the trees and is mostly in cool shade.

The Trail is very wide on the Tafoni trail.



Although it was nice day, it was very foggy along the coast. There is a "Vista Point" along Fir Trail, which I am sure is nice on a clear day. But today it was socked in.


Along the trail there are very limited views, most of the views are of the trees and the light coming through.



The other place of interest off the Tafoni Trail is the Sandstone formation. This is well marked and no bikes are allowed. At first you reach a sign with some history, but keep going left of the trail down to the oberseravation deck. This will allow you to get up close and personal (but dont touch!) with the Sandstone. Its a very cool feature of this very forest filled hike.


When the Tafoni Trail ends, I turned right on to the El Corte de Madera Creek Trail to head back up to the trailhead. You may notice you are still decending down in elevation and yes -- there will be a BIG uphill at the end -- but its not till the very end, which is ok.

You cross the creek a couple times, including this well built bridge. After crossing the bridge you start the trek back up the hill toward Skyline Blvd (Highway 35).

The trail goes now widens and is a bit steep. After the trek up you wind up connecting with the Tafoni Trail again and make a left back to the trailhead.

While I only ran into a group (of two) bikers, some of these trails seem well suited for Mountain Biking. Keep an eye out for them as the trail gets steep (downhill) and there are a couple blind curves on some parts of the trail.

All in all an OK hike in the forest. The Sandstone and the Vista Point (on a clear day) make this a good hike overall.

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Basics:
Area - Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District - El Corte De Madera Creek
Trail - Tafoni and ElCorte de Madera Creek Trails (Trail Map)
Length - 3.3 miles - Moderate Hike (some steep parts)
Trail - Loop-style, dirt trail, few stops along the way. Very well marked and maintained. No roads to cross.
Dogs - Not allowed
Bikes - Yes, on most main trails
View - Maybe one point - Vista Point (on the nearby Fir Trail)
Getting There - Google Map Take 84 up to SkyLine and turn right on Highway 35, Park at the Skeggs Vista Point.
Fee- None, free parking
Weather - If you can see Fog, bring a jacket -- otherwise you might want to pack a sweater for cool mornings. It was foggy when I was there and the trees "dripped" water from the Foggy night before -- nothing too wet.
Other Trails - there are TONS of trails within this park. Trail map at the Trailhead, but bring a printout if you want to explore the other trails.

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