The Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature

1-DSC_6358The weeks photo was taken at the Pinnacle National Park in California.  These crazy looking rock formations are visible all over the park.  I took this shot from the High Peaks Trail on the way to Hawkins Peak.

From the Pinnacles National Park site page:

Pinnacles National Park, located near the San Andreas Fault along the boundary of the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate, is an excellent example of tectonic plate movement. The Pinnacles Rocks are believed to be part of the Neenach Volcano that occurred 23 million years ago near present-day Lancaster, California, some 195 miles (314 km) southeast. The giant San Andreas Fault split the volcano and the Pacific Plate crept north, carrying the Pinnacles. The work of water and wind on these erodible volcanic rocks has formed the unusual rock structures seen today.

A great place to hike, with several challenging trails.  The forces of nature are evident from most of the high trails in the park.  If you are traveling in California, I would strongly encourage you to make a stop at the Pinnacles National Park.

Both of these pictures are taken from the picturesque, but challenging, High Peaks Trail:


Where are you hiking this weekend?

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

Forces of Nature

The Thursday Picture – Lunch Time View at the Pinnacles NP


The Thursday Picture – Lunch Time View at Pinnacles National Park in California.

No special camera tricks.  No tripod used.  No “selfie stick”.

I just found a shady part of the High Peaks Loop trail, sat down on a big old piece of an ancient volcano, and ate lunch.  Did I mention that I had a pretty good view from my lunch spot?

I am looking forward to my next trip to Pinnacles National Park.

Where are you hiking this weekend?  I was able to get a permit to hike in La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve this weekend!

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

Find Your Park – Rosie the Riveter


This weekend, in Celebration of National Parks Week, ALL National Parks are free!


That’s right, America’s Best Idea….all free.  I took these pictures at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond, California.  This was the site of one of America’s most productive ship yards during WWII.


You can Find Your Park right here. A Joint effort by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation.


So, which National Park will you visit this weekend?

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

Hike No. 7 – March 10, 2013 – Coyote Peak Trails / Santa Teresa County Park

At the end of Hike No. 6, I noticed that the Calero Trail ended just a short distance, maybe 300 feet, from Santa Teresa County Park and the many trails located in this 1,600+ acre park.

The trailhead at the Fortini Rd. park entrance, in San Jose’s Almaden Valley, is well marked and offers two trails.  Grab a map from the trailhead information sign and bear left to enter the Stile Ranch Trail.  The trail climbs steeply for 300 feet of switchbacks.  There were quite a few California Golden poppys scattered on both sides of the trail.

Wildflowers are starting to bloom! Stile Ranch Trail, Santa Teresa County Park

While doing some research the night before my trek, I discovered that this trail and the Mine Trail in Santa Teresa County Park are part of the National Park Service’s Juan Batista de Anza National Historic Trail!  Read here for more information on this historic trail and the Spanish explorer it is named after:

After a little over 1 1/2 miles, bear right and continue on the Mine Trail. Keeping in mind that my goal was to climb to the top of Coyote Peak, I continued on the Mine Trail (another 1/2 mile), past a corral at the Pueblo Day Use Area, on to the junction with the Hidden Springs Trail (another 1/2 mile) and then on to the Ohlone Trail for a mile.  All of these trails are fairly flat…no more than 50 – 100 feet of elevation gain.  At the junction with the Coyote Peak Trail bear right and start climbing.  This section of the trail climbs about 800 feet in a little over a mile.  The view from the top is well worth the climb.  Check out the view west from Coyote Peak towards the Almaden Valley:

View of Rocky Ridge and Almaden Valley from Coyote Peak

There are several benches to rest, grab some water, and enjoy the view from the peak.  I continued west down the Coyote Peak trail until it reached another junction with the Rocky Ridge Trail…This trail is 2 miles of serpentine rocks and wildflowers…with amazing views!

Rocky Ridge Trail, Santa Teresa County Park, Hike No. 7

The hike through Big Oak Valley and down back to the Mine Trail was postcard perfect:

View down Big Oak Valley, Santa Teresa County Park, Hike No. 7

As I continued on the Mine Trail and then the Fortini Trail to the trail head, I promised myself I would return to Santa Teresa County Park in the future.

I’d rate this 8.0 mile hike as moderate. Approx. 1,100 feet elevation gain…So, there are enough steep sections to make this a good workout.  The wildflowers are abundant…and, just starting to bloom.  I probably saw 35 mountain bikers, 15 hikers, and 6 horses on my 3 hour hike.  Every one I came across was friendly and used proper trail etiquette!  The views of Almaden Valley, Big Oak Valley, the Diablo Range, and, in the distance, downtown San Jose were spectacular.  Not a lot of shade…so bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water.  Get a Map to follow my rambling route…Trails: Stile Ranch > Mine > Hidden Springs > Coyote Peak > Rocky Ridge > Fortini

That’s 7 hikes and  43.9 miles…33 hikes and 156.1 miles to go!