Sunday, April 29, 2007

Portola Valley - Toyon Trail

This trail starts across Alpine Road from the Hamms Gulch Trail. It shares the same parking lot -- however it is a very different trail from those in the Windy Hill Open Space

The trailhead has a sign which describes the trails, usage, etc. There were no maps, so I suggest having a good book (
Peninsula Trails by Jean Rusmore - Wilderness Press) or printing out the Map of Portola Valley Trails before starting your hike. There are numerous trails within the area, many connecting (and reconnecting) with other trails along the way -- so it can be a bit confusing without a map for first timers

My hike started up the Toyon Trail (single track trail), which is almost all in shade all the way to the intersection of the Lake Trail. The trail is for hiking only, there are several boards and logs that act as water diversions and prevents bikes from using the trail. Note- this trail complex is very popular with joggers/runners since its only for hiking and is shaded.

The Trail crosses a couple seasonal creeks. One of the crossings involves a narrow cut log with a rope to assist you across.

There are a few places where you break out of the shade and can view the gulch with Corte Madera creek running at the bottom. Early in the morning on a Winter/Spring day, you hear lots of water running and birds.

At the end of the Toyon Trail is two very small lakes. This one was covered with Algee, with a lone duck enjoying the day.

On the return trip, I opted to go via the Old Spanish Trail, Arroyo and Bay Laurel trails. This trails are on the east side of the Coal Mine Ridge and are much closer to the annoying McMansions of the Blue Oaks development. Within the Coal Mine Ridge area there a couple different benches and even swings for the kids.

The Old Spanish Trail is nice, but often has views of the over-sized houses nearby.

One highlight of the Arroyo trail is it opens to a nice meadow that is full of wildflowers during the spring.

Overall, not the most exciting trail. But this would be a good trail for kids or not serious hikers.

More Photos

View Larger Map

Area - Portola Valley
Trail - Toyon Trail (Town Trail Map)
Length - Approx. 4 miles roundtrip - Very Easy Hike (limited uphill, but very easy)
Trail - Up and Back-style or Loop -- depending if you take other trails. Dirt Trail that is well marked and maintained, can get muddy after rain storms.
Dogs - Not allowed
Bikes - Not allowed
View - Not really any
Getting There - Google Map Take 280 to Alpine Road Exit, head West toward Portola Valley. The parking lot is before Willowbrook Road.
Fee- None, free parking
Weather - Can be cool -- lots of shade, great for a sunny hot day.
Other Trails - there are other trails nearby in the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve