Thursday, June 7, 2007

Portola Redwoods Park - Peters Creek Loop

UPDATE 10 Jan 2007 - This park has been targeted to be closed due to State budget cuts. Enjoy it while you can! story on the park closures, click here

Portola Redwoods State Park offers a number or short and long hikes. This state park has a number of camp sites and group areas, so its mainly populated with Campers -- rather than day visitors.

A couple precautions about this park:

Bring Pants - while most of this hike is in the redwoods, there are a number of areas where the brush has overgrown the trail. You can avoid ticks and scrapes by wearing pants.
Bring lots of water, food - since this is a 13 mile hike, you should bring ample water and food. There is no public water near the trail.
Drive carefully (with lots of gas) - Alpine and Portola State Park Roads are VERY narrow and multiple points can not fit two cars. The nearest gas station is about 20 mins away.

After paying at the main Park Office, you continue crossing a bridge and park near the trailhead.
Hike Route: Old Lone Tree -> Slate Creek Trail -> Bear Creek Trail/Peters Creek -> Peters Creek Loop

The Lone Tree trail starts right off the main park road and is well marked.

Turn Left on the Slate Creek Trail (to Trail Camp) and continue up a steep (but short) hillside.

The Slate Creek Trail is a very nice trail -- well marked and maintained. Near the top of the hill it will meet with the Summit Trail (which was closed on the day I was there).

At 1000 ft elevation you will reach the Trail Camp area. There are six campsites located in this area. Some trail books suggest having lunch at this point, but to be honest there is really nothing there other than some trash containers and a storage locker.

There is a very cautionary sign located at the start of the Bear Creek Trail. At this point the Bear Creek trail is a very wide and gentle logging trail, but soon it turns into a much different kind of trail experience.

About midway between the Trail Camp and Peters Creek the trail becomes fairly narrow and very overgrown. The weeds and brush on the day I was there were over my head.

After reaching the summit the trail starts downhill quickly, there is ONE point where you have a great view of the nearby mountains. Other than this spot, there are no views -- but the Redwoods provide a very scenic experience.

After a very quick down hill trek, you reach Bear creek and cross a small footbridge.

Bears Creek trail leads to the Peters Creek Loop, you can turn right or left at this point. This is the best part of the hike, so enjoy it! There are no bridges across Peters Creek, but there are enough rocks to make it without getting wet.

The hike back up from the Creek is not to be under estimated. It is fairly steep, but once you climb out of the creek area you have a gentle downhill hike back to the trailhead.

I have mixed feelings about this hike. On the good side, its a good long hike that has a nice creek payoff. On the not so good side, there are no views and the trail is fairly overgrown in parts. I did this hike on a Thursday morning starting at 6am and never saw a single person in the park or on the 13 mile hike.

On weekends, this park is probably fairly busy and the trails will have hikers and campers.

All in all, not a bad hike -- but not my favorite.

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Area - Peters Creek Loop
Trail - Slate Creek, Bear Creek, Peters Creek Loop (Trail Map)
Length - 13 miles Out and Back- Easy Hike (Moderate uphill return)
Trail - Old logging roads, single track trails -- well marked, somewhat overgrown.
Dogs - None - not allowed
Bikes - None - not allowed
View - none, other than redwood trees
Getting There - Google Map From Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd), take Alpine Road West, continue on Portola State Park road to the Park. This is a VERY narrow and somewhat dangerous road.
Fee- $6 self-pay at the Park Office for Day Use Parking
Weather - Since this trail is all shade, its good year round -- including hot summers
Other Trails - there are other trails in the park and nearby County Park.