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101 Hikes in Northern California: Exploring Mountains, Valleys, and Seashore

101 Hikes in Northern California: Exploring Mountains, Valleys, and Seashore

by Matt Heid

Paperback(Third Edition)

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This is the ultimate guide to the best of Northern California’s incredible natural diversity.

The soaring granite of the High Sierra, crashing surf of the Pacific, volcanic landscape of the Modoc Plateau, ecological richness of the Klamath Mountains, magnificent redwoods of the North Coast, spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay Area—all are detailed in these pages.

Author Matt Heid has selected 101 of the region’s best hikes, from 1-mile family strolls to challenging 22-mile treks, to give you as many options as possible. Covering the entire northern two-thirds of the state, including Big Sur and the southern Sierra Nevada, this book spans a much greater area than other similar guidebooks. What’s more, the third edition opens up several new realms, with 18 entirely new trips and expanded coverage of the Sierra Nevada and North Coast regions.

Each hike includes total distance, elevation gain and loss, hiking time, highlights, difficulty rating, backpacking possibilities, an updated map, and a full route description, and indicates whether dogs are allowed.

Using this book, you’ll discover these gems:

  • the largest contiguous old-growth redwood forest in the world (Hike 43)
  • a herd of Roosevelt elk roaming a remote beach (Hike 49)
  • astonishing views of Half Dome and much of Yosemite (Hike 87)
  • gnarled, sculpted bristlecone pines that are more than 4000 years old (Hike 95)
  • an active glacier below a serrated ridge of 14,000-foot peaks (Hike 96)

From Big Sur to Point Reyes, the Golden Gate Bridge to the Lost Coast, Sequoia National Park to the Modoc Plateau, and beyond, be INSPIRED to explore the natural splendor of Northern California.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780899977812
Publisher: Wilderness Press
Publication date: 07/21/2015
Series: 101 Hikes
Edition description: Third Edition
Pages: 376
Sales rank: 727,498
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Matt Heid is the author of “One Night Wilderness: San Francisco Bay Area” and “AMC’s Best Backpacking Trips in New England,” and is a contributor to “Backpacking California.” He holds a degree in earth and planetary science from Harvard University and stays busy pursuing a passion for outdoor writing and wilderness adventure in Northern California and New England. He currently lives in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

San Andreas Fault

Highlights The San Andreas Fault and fossils on a forgotten beach
Distance 3.5 miles one-way
Total Elevation Gain/Loss 50'/50'
Hiking Time 2–3 hours
Recommended Map USGS 7.5-min. San Francisco South
Best Times September–May
Agency Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Difficulty *

After covering 500 miles overland, the San Andreas Fault dives northwest from the bluffs of Daly City into the Pacific Ocean. North of this tectonic landmark, a beach of surprising seclusion runs for more than 3 miles below cliffs of mud, sand, and fossils.

Approximately 2 million years ago, the geography of the Bay Area differed radically. The Point Reyes Peninsula sat directly west of today’s Golden Gate, partially enclosing a shallow basin between itself and the mainland. Sediments poured in from the surrounding landmasses, filling the basin with thick layers of sand, mud, and gravel. In all, a deep reservoir of sediment more than a mile thick was deposited. Layers formed during periods of shallow water include thick beds of fossils—crushed shells make up the bulk of the material, but entire preserved sand dollars and clams can also be found. Within the past 300,000 years, changing geometry along the San Andreas Fault lifted the entire basin and tilted its beds gently north to expose it as today’s Merced Formation. A small piece of the northern basin remained attached to the southeast corner of the Point Reyes Peninsula as it was wrenched into its current position; it is now exposed in the bluffs east of Bolinas, as explained by Ted Konigsmark in Geologic Trips.

The Hike follows the beach north from Mussel Rock in north Pacifica to Fort Funston in San Francisco. This trip can become dangerous during high tides, when big waves can wash to the base of the bluffs and suck people out to sea. Do not venture onto the beach if you see waves reaching the bluffs. No tide tables are posted at the trailhead—check in advance. The hike can be made into a round-trip by returning along the beach to the trailhead. Otherwise, car arrangements must be worked out for the return to Pacifica. For those unable to do the full hike, the general flavor and experience of the locale can be had in a short 1-mile round-trip from the trailhead. While the hike can be done year-round, fog is thick in the summer and makes for a cold, low-visibility day at the beach. Crowds are light compared to other area beaches. No water is available at the trailhead.

To Reach the Trailhead From San Francisco, follow Hwy. 1 south, take the first Pacifica exit at Manor Dr., and turn right on Palmetto Dr. Go 0.8 mile and turn left on Westline Dr. Bear left toward the Mussel Rock Transfer Station (the dump), keep left again as the road forks right to the dump, and park in the large lot at the road’s end. To reach Fort Funston, take Skyline Dr. (Hwy. 35) 4 miles north from Hwy. 1 in north Pacifica—the parking lot is on the left. Approaching Fort Funston from San Francisco, follow Skyline Dr. 0.8 mile south of the Great Hwy.

Description From the parking lot by Mussel Rock, walk through the opening in the fence and descend along roads leading down toward the beach. Looking above you to the west, notice the loose, unconsolidated slopes along the bluffs—the result of many landslides. The bluffs above the landslide area recede at a rate of up to 3 feet per year, undercutting houses that should never have been built or purchased in the first place. The edges of the landslide mark the rough boundaries of the San Andreas Fault Zone, an area approximately a half mile wide. The loose slopes mask any actual fault trace in the hillside, but it is definitely there—the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake had its epicenter immediately inland from this location.

Walking north on the beach, notice the northward tilt of the layers in the bluffs. Deposited sequentially, these layers represent a chronology of the former basin environment; they become progressively younger as you go north. Fossil beds can be identified by the white, linear exposures of crushed shells contained in a matrix of mudstone. The views north include most of the Marin coast, and Point Bonita (Hike 28) can be picked out across the Golden Gate on clear days. Fort Funston can be identified near the northern end of the bluffs as they drop in elevation. Turning south, Montara Mountain (Hike 23) forms the skyline closest to the sea, plunging into the ocean at landmark Pedro Point.

Continuing north, you pass the deep gash that Woods Gulch makes in the bluffs. Because saturated slopes increase the risk of landslides and accelerate erosion, draining this threatened area is an attempt to slow the imminent destruction of its cliffside homes. The number of people increases as you approach the path that leads up to the viewing platform and parking lot at Fort Funston. A former military reservation developed at the turn of the century, Fort Funston is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It’s a popular site for hang gliders and parasailors between March and October, when strong west winds rise over the blufftop.

Nearest Visitor Center The Pacifica Chamber of Commerce runs an excellent visitor center in partnership with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Near the south end of Pacifica at 225 Rockaway Beach, it’s open Monday–Friday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. year-round, and 11 a.m.– 3 p.m. on weekends in summer. For information call 650-355-4122.

Nearest Campground Francis Beach Campground, 650-726-8819, is open year-round at the south end of Half Moon Bay State Beach, just west of Hwy. 1 on Kelly Ave.; the turnoff is 0.3 mile south of Hwy. 92 (52 sites, $35–$50 depending on site). Reservations are essential in summer and for weekends year-round; visit or call 800-444-7275.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Overview Map vi

Preface xi

Overview of Hikes xii

Using This Book 1

Safety, Gear, and the Wilderness Ethic 5

Where Should I Go Hiking? 13

The Central Coast, Bay Area, and Coast Ranges 19

1 Upper Salmon Creek Falls: Silver Peak Wilderness 20

2 Vicente Flat: Ventana Wilderness 23

3 Cone Peak: Ventana Wilderness 26

4 Ewoldsen Trail: Julian Pfeiffer Burns State Park 29

5 Molera Beach: Andrew Molera State Park 32

6 Pine Valley: Ventana Wilderness 35

7 High Peaks Trail: Pinnacles national Park 39

8 Fremont Peak: Fremont Peak State Park 42

9 Coit Lake: Henry W. Coe State Park 44

10 Coyote Greek: Henry W. Coe State Park 48

11 Sunol Backpack Area: Sunol Regional Wilderness 51

12 Coyote Hills: Coyote Hills Regional Park 55

13 Bob Walker Ridge: Morgan Territory Regional Preserve 57

14 Mount Diablo: Mount Diablo State Park 61

15 Eagle Peak: Mount Diablo State Park 64

16 Cosumnes River: Cosumnes River Preserve 66

17 Wildcat Peak: Tilden Regional Park 69

18 Little Butano Creek Canyon: Butano State Park 72

19 Castle Rock: Castle Rock State Park 74

20 Berry Creek Falls: Big Basin Redwoods State Park 78

21 Purisima Creek: Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve 81

22 Devil's Slide: San Mateo County Parks 84

23 Montara Mountain: San Pedro Valley Country Park 87

24 San Andreas Fault: Golden Gate National Recreation Area 90

25 San Bruno Mountain: San Bruno Mountain State and County Park 93

26 San Francisco's Pacific Shore: Golden Gate National R 95

27 Golden Gate Bridge: Golden Gate National Recreation Area 100

28 Point Bonita: Golden Gate National Recreation Area 103

29 Gerbode Valley: Golden Gate National Recreation 105

30 Ring Mountain: Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve 108

31 Mount Tamalpais: Mount Tamalpais State Park 111

32 Martin Griffin Preserve: Audubon Canyon Ranch 114

33 Alamere Falls: Point Reyes National Seashore 117

34 Sky and Coast Trails: Point Reyes National Seashore 121

35 Tomales Point: Reyes National Seashore 125

36 Table Rock: Robert Louis Stevenson Sate Park 128

37 East Austin Creek: Austin Creek State Recreation Area 130

38 Cache Creek: Cache Creek Wildernes 134

39 Bodega Dunes: Sonoma Coast State Beach 137

40 Fort Ross and Sonoma's Lost Coast: Fort Ross State Historic Park 139

41 Manchester Beach: Manchester State Park 144

42 Ferm Canyon: Van Damme State Park 148

The North Coast and Klamath Muntains 152

43 Humboldt Redwoods: Humboldt Redwoods State Park 153

44 North Yolla Bolly Mountain: Yolla Bolly Wilderness 157

45 Lost Coast Trail: Sinkyone Wilderness State Park 161

46 Big Flat: King Range Wilderness and National Conservation Area 166

47 King Peak: King Range Wilderness and national Conservation Area 170

48 Punta Gorda Lighthouse: King Range Wilderness and National Conservation Area 173

49 Prairie creek Redwoods: Prairie Creek Redwoods National and State Parks 177

50 Klamath River Mouth: Redwood National Park 181

51 Damnation Creek: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park 183

52 Boy Scout Tree Trail: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park 185

53 Hogan Lake: Russian Wilderness 189

54 Canyon Creek Lakes: Trinity Alps Wilderness 192

55 Marble Rim: Marble Mountain Wilderness 197

56 Castle Dome: Castle Crags State Park 202

57 Heart Lake: Shasta-Trinity National Forest 205

58 Mount Eddy: Shasta-Trinity National Forest 207

Shasta and the Modoc Plateau 210

59 Hidden Valley: Mount Shasta Wilderness 211

60 Sheepy Ridge: Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge 214

61 Schonchine Butte: Lava Beds National Monument 216

62 Valentine Cave: lava Beds National Monument|o218

63 Glass Mountain: Modoc National Forest 220

64 Patterson Lake: South Warner Wilderness 223

65 Burney Falls: McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park 226

66 Magee Peak: Thousand Lakes Wilderness 228

67 Chaos Crags: Lassen Volcanic National Park 230

68 Brokeoff Mountain: Lassen Volcanic National Park 232

69 Devils Kitchen: Lassen Volcanic National Park 235

70 Big Chico Creek: Bidwell Park 237

The Sierra Nevada 240

71 Feather Falls: Plumas National Forest 241

72 Sierra Buttes: Tahoe National Forest 244

73 South Yuba River: South Yuba Wild and Scenic Recreation Area 246

74 Rubicon River: Eldorado Nation Forest 250

75 Island Lake: Tahoe National Forest 252

76 Mount Tallac: Desolation Wilderness 256

77 Lake Tahoe: D. L. Bliss and Emerald Bay State Parks 259

78 Calaveras Big Trees: Calaveras Big Trees State Park 262

79 Grouse Lake: Mokelumne Wilderness 265

80 Mokelumne River: Mokelumne Wilderness 268

81 Hiram Peak: Carson-Iceberg Wilderness 272

82 Deadman Lake: Emigrant Wilderness 275

83 Green Creek: Hoover Wilderness 277

84 Mono Lake: Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve 281

85 Nevada and Vernal Falls: Yosemite National Park 284

86 Half Dome: Yosemite National Park 290

87 Sentinel Dome and Taft Point: Yosemite National Park 293

88 Clouds Rest: Yosemite National Park 296

89 Ireland Lake: Yosemite National Park 299

90 Mariposa Grove: Yosemite National Park 304

91 Ediza Lake: Ansel Adams Wilderness 307

92 Balloon Dome: Ansel Adams Wildernesss 311

93 Kaiser Peak: Kaiser Wilderness 314

94 Little Lakes Valley: John Muir Wilderness 317

95 Methuselah Grove: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest 321

96 Palisade Glacier: John Muir Wilderness 323

97 Ycca Point: Sequoia National Forest 328

98 Redwood Canyon: Kings Canyon National Park 330

99 Pear Lake: Sequoia National Park 334

100 Moro Rock: Sequoia National Park 337

101 Sawtooth Peak: Sequoia National Park 339

Appendix 1 Hikes by Theme 344

Appendix 2 Selected Sources and Recommended Reading 348

Index 351

About the Author 360

Customer Reviews