The Thursday Picture – Eschscholzia californica


Eschscholzia californica – Or, as residents of the Golden State call it, the California Golden Poppy. It’s our state flower.

It’s golden petals close at night, and open each day. It grows wild here in Northern California. This one, the star of this post, was growing along the Bay Area Ridge Trail in the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. What I like about our California Golden Poppy is that it is an annual that always comes back each spring. No matter how tough the winter, how strong the wind and rain, how the intense the rays of the sun, the California Golden Poppy always opens up each day. I took a lot of pictures of Golden Poppies on this hike. I was looking to get the “Sunset” magazine cover shot of our state flower. But, I chose this picture because this Golden Poppy is not perfect…you can see faint streaks of discoloration and the pedals are slightly worn. But, it’s an authentic part of the real, natural beauty to be found all around us. You just have to open your eyes and look.

Links: – I devour this magazine every month. Pick one up if you’ve never read one!

Where are you hiking this weekend?

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

Hike No. 19 – Rancho San Antonio OSP – Lower Trails

Lower Meadow Trail shadows the creek Hike 19For Hike Number 19, I would return to one of my favorite places to hike in the Bay Area, the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve / Rancho San Antonio County Park.  The OSP and County work together on these adjacent areas to provide miles of interconnected trails that cross mini ecosystems such as grasslands and coast live oak woodlands

The Mid Peninsula Open Space District manages over 2,300 acres of park land here.  As with all of the OSP’s, they do a very good job of keeping the trails maintained, providing up to date information signs, and bathroom facilities at the trailheads!  This OSP is very popular and located adjacent to the cities of Cupertino and Los Altos.  If you want to hike here on the weekend, arrive early.  I usually park in one of the upper parking lots…which is what I did on this day.Rancho San Antonio Upper Parking Lot Hike 19Rancho San Antonio Road Trail Heading up to the Hills Hike 19There is a very short (2/10 mile) segment of maintenance road that you must travel to get to the Hill Trail.

Hill  Trail up and over dry grasslands Hike 19Climb up about 300 feet for 1/2 mile through dry grasslands to get to our first trail junction.  Take the Coyote Trail to the right! The Coyote Trail travels through shady live oak woodlands for about 1 mile.  

Coyote / PG&E Trail transition from grasslands to coast live oak hike 19Coyote trail winds down into a Oak covered canyon  Hike 19

Coyote Trail HIke 19
Coyote Trail Hike 19

Poison Oak on both sides of the Coyote Trail Hike 19

There is a lot of Poison Oak on the hillsides…so, stay on the trail…unless you have an “itch” to explore!

Farm Bypass Trail Coyote Trail junction Hike 19

The Farm Bypass Trail / Coyote Trail Junction is a good example of the many interconnected trails here…well maintained and good signage!Farm Bypass Trail very shady!  Hike 19Farm Bypass Trail – 1/3 of mile of shady oak forest!  Cross this bridge, a maintenance road, and then stay to your left to join the Lower Meadow Trail. 

Farm Bypass Trail bridge connection to Lower Meadow Trail Hike 19Stay to the left Hikers!

Lower Meadow Trail shadows the creek Hike 19

Stay to the right hikers and runners!  Lower Meadow Trail Hike 19

Permanente Creek Trail Huge California Bay Tree Hike 19

The Lower Meadow Trail ends and the Permanente Creek Trail begins.  The creek will be on your left and a large grassy meadow will be on your right.  There is a large California Bay Tree along the Permanente Creek Trail that guards the entrance to a large grassy meadow.  This meadow was once the location of St. Joseph’s College which was destroyed in the Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989.  Site of St. Joseph's College destroyed in Loma Prieta Earthquake 1989 Hike 19My 3 mile loop ended as I crossed this bridge over Permanente Creek and entered the large lower parking lot.  Another great day hiking!Bridge over Permanente Creek and lower parking lots Hike 19

Trail Details

Mileage: 3.0 miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain/Loss: 600 feet

I would rate this 3.0 mile hike as easy.  The trails themselves are moderately hilly at the start of your hike, a mix of both sun and shade, and well maintained.  Trails: Hill / Coyote / Farm Bypass / Lower Meadow / Permanente Creek. 

I always enjoy my hiking here at Rancho San Antonio OSP.  There are enough varied trails to give you a varied experience.   Well, that’s 19 hikes and 103 miles!  21 hikes and 97 miles to go.  Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.

Hike No 14 – St. Joseph’s Hill OSP – Jones/Novitiate/Brothers/Manzanita/Serpentine

Located just a short hop from downtown Los Gatos, California, St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve is one of the smaller OSP’s of the Mid Peninsula Regional Open Space District  The trail head is located adjacent to Lexington Reservoir’s parking area just south of the dam above the town of Los Gatos.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the Los Gatos Creek Trail – which travels through Los Gatos and San Jose, can be taken up past the dam and  to St. Joseph’s Hill OSP.  Because St. Joseph’s Hill is located so close to Los Gatos and San Jose, this trail is heavily used by hikers, runner’s and mountain bikers.  Although on the day I hiked, I didn’t really have any problems with trail traffic. Of course, our local critters are also “users” of the Santa Cruz Mountains!.  DSC_3040

The Jones Trail, which is fairly steep for the first half mile, follows a historic stagecoach road.  Prior to this being a stagecoach road, the Spanish Mission founders used this same trail which, it has been discovered, is based on a route that the Ohlone Native people used to cross from the Sierra Azul mountains into the Santa Clara Valley. DSC_3042

The Jesuit’s Catholic Order founded a winery on St. Joseph’s Hill in 1888.  The road to the winery is now known as the Novitiate Trail.  It is this Novitiate Trail which breaks up the hill off of the Jones Trail.  Traveling through a large grove of Eucalyptus trees, this trail is 8-10 feet wide and is mostly in the shade.  Several other trails wind over the sides of St. Joseph’s hill.

DSC_3049I took the Brother’s Bypass, which is out in the open across some hills that were vineyards long ago, and winds up to the summit of St, Joseph’s hill.  There is quite a view from the top of this 1,250′ foot hill of downtown Los Gatos and south San Jose.DSC_3126   

Although the native grasses have really started to turn from their bright greens to the golden browns, I was surprised to see many wildflowers still blooming along several spots along the trail.  DSC_3045I wonder how long I will be seeing these bright flowers throughout the summer months?

After I rested a bit at the summit and watched a few Air National Guard planes approach Moffett Field, , I wandered back down the hill along the Manzanita Trail, DSC_3149and ran into some of the very friendly MROSD Park Rangers (Becky and John) who were setting up a speed trap for mountain bikes!  Apparently, this OSP has a problem with Mountain Bikers being a little too enthusiastic on their way down the hill!

Becky and John were great ambassadors of the MROSD – answering my questions about the other preserves and even taking my “Hike No 14” picture!St Josephs Hill OSP Hike No 14

That’s 14 hikes and 84.4 miles!  26 hikes and 115.6 miles to go.  I want to thank Becky and John, and all of the MROSD Park Rangers and District Staff for taking great care of our Open Space Preserves so that everyone in the South Bay can enjoy them.  Until next time, if you are looking for me, I’m over the hill.