Mt Hollywood: Hiking Above Griffith Observatory and Downtown LA

While there is no shortage of great hikes in Griffith Park, it is hard to beat the 2.5-mile round trip hike to summit of Mt Hollywood. The trail is gradual, but will still get your blood pumping. Along the way, you will see some of the best views the city has to offer of the Hollywood Sign, Downtown LA, and Griffith Observatory. Be sure to add this hike to you list, here is all the information.

mt-hollywood-10

Details

  • 2.5 miles round trip from Griffith Observatory
  • 500 feet of elevation
  • Parking can be hard to come by and can add to the distance

Getting There

The most popular way to hike this mountain is from the parking lot for Griffith Observatory. Parking here is difficult on the weekends though and I would recommend coming early or coming on a weekday for the best chance of getting parking. If you plan to arrive around 2 PM on a weekday and stay at the observatory till later it is usually not too hard to find a good spot.

The Hike

mt-hollywood-1

The hike to Mt Hollywood leaves from the back of the observatory parking lot, right near the tree dedicated to George Harrison of the Beatles. There is a sign with a map that shows you points of interest, and I would recommend taking a cell phone picture of it even though the trail is easy to follow.

mt-hollywood-2

Heading out you will be walking through a shaded patch of trees for about 250 feet until you make it the first point of interest, the Berlin Forest.

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This forest was planted to commemorate Los Angeles and Berlin being sister cities. It is a nice small area, but there isn’t much to actually see. There is a bench here with impressive views of the city and the Hollywood Sign though.

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Continuing on you will start down the hill to a small bridge which takes you to the main trail.

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The trail from here continues its gradual incline as you wind around the hills with better and better views of the Hollywood Sign.

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As you round the last hill there is a bench area set up by Tiffany Co that provides rest and great Hollywood Sign view.

mt-hollywood-9

The next section is where most of the uphill is as you will climb the dirt road for about a quarter of a mile. This elevation gives you great views back at the observatory behind you.

mt-hollywood-11

When you get to the split you can go left which is a more direct route to the summit or right to see Dante’s View before heading to the summit.

mt-hollywood-12

I prefer heading to the right personally. This trail is more of the same with a large dirt road that leads you on.

mt-hollywood-13

Dantes View is a small shaded area with lots of benches you can sit on and a nice overlook of LA, Griffith Observatory, and the Greek Theater.

mt-hollywood-14

After taking it in, you will round the bend and make the last push to the summit.

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Don’t forget to look down from here though as you can see Bee Rock (above) and the parking lot for the old LA Zoo.

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As you approach the summit you will see the flag flying in the wind, picnic benches to relax at and fantastic views all around.

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I came up here for sunset and was shocked by how amazing it was as a viewing location. You could see all the way to the ocean from up here.

mt-hollywood-22

There were dozens of people enjoying the sunset with me so it felt like a very safe place.

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After taking lots of pictures and watching the sun go past the horizon, I pulled out my flashlight and headed back down.

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Be sure to go to the Griffith Observatory if you come on a weekday for sunset. You can look through the telescope there at night and it is a lot of fun.

mt-hollywood-25

Here is a short video that shows you the hike.

Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments if you go.

Mt Hollywood: Hiking Above Griffith Observatory and Downtown LA

While there is no shortage of great hikes in Griffith Park, it is hard to beat the 2.5-mile round trip hike to summit of Mt Hollywood. The trail is gradual, but will still get your blood pumping. Along the way, you will see some of the best views the city has to offer of the Hollywood Sign, Downtown LA, and Griffith Observatory. Be sure to add this hike to you list, here is all the information.

mt-hollywood-10

Details

  • 2.5 miles round trip from Griffith Observatory
  • 500 feet of elevation
  • Parking can be hard to come by and can add to the distance

Getting There

The most popular way to hike this mountain is from the parking lot for Griffith Observatory. Parking here is difficult on the weekends though and I would recommend coming early or coming on a weekday for the best chance of getting parking. If you plan to arrive around 2 PM on a weekday and stay at the observatory till later it is usually not too hard to find a good spot.

The Hike

mt-hollywood-1

The hike to Mt Hollywood leaves from the back of the observatory parking lot, right near the tree dedicated to George Harrison of the Beatles. There is a sign with a map that shows you points of interest, and I would recommend taking a cell phone picture of it even though the trail is easy to follow.

mt-hollywood-2

Heading out you will be walking through a shaded patch of trees for about 250 feet until you make it the first point of interest, the Berlin Forest.

mt-hollywood-3

This forest was planted to commemorate Los Angeles and Berlin being sister cities. It is a nice small area, but there isn’t much to actually see. There is a bench here with impressive views of the city and the Hollywood Sign though.

mt-hollywood-4

Continuing on you will start down the hill to a small bridge which takes you to the main trail.

mt-hollywood-5

The trail from here continues its gradual incline as you wind around the hills with better and better views of the Hollywood Sign.

mt-hollywood-6

As you round the last hill there is a bench area set up by Tiffany Co that provides rest and great Hollywood Sign view.

mt-hollywood-9

The next section is where most of the uphill is as you will climb the dirt road for about a quarter of a mile. This elevation gives you great views back at the observatory behind you.

mt-hollywood-11

When you get to the split you can go left which is a more direct route to the summit or right to see Dante’s View before heading to the summit.

mt-hollywood-12

I prefer heading to the right personally. This trail is more of the same with a large dirt road that leads you on.

mt-hollywood-13

Dantes View is a small shaded area with lots of benches you can sit on and a nice overlook of LA, Griffith Observatory, and the Greek Theater.

mt-hollywood-14

After taking it in, you will round the bend and make the last push to the summit.

mt-hollywood-20

Don’t forget to look down from here though as you can see Bee Rock (above) and the parking lot for the old LA Zoo.

mt-hollywood-18

As you approach the summit you will see the flag flying in the wind, picnic benches to relax at and fantastic views all around.

mt-hollywood-21

I came up here for sunset and was shocked by how amazing it was as a viewing location. You could see all the way to the ocean from up here.

mt-hollywood-22

There were dozens of people enjoying the sunset with me so it felt like a very safe place.

mt-hollywood-23

After taking lots of pictures and watching the sun go past the horizon, I pulled out my flashlight and headed back down.

mt-hollywood-24

Be sure to go to the Griffith Observatory if you come on a weekday for sunset. You can look through the telescope there at night and it is a lot of fun.

mt-hollywood-25

Here is a short video that shows you the hike.

Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments if you go.

Take an Epic Adventure! Join the 2017 Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge

Register for the 2017 Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge

Registration for the 2017 Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge is now open! We’ve extended early bird pricing through January 31st, and thanks to your feedback, made great improvements for our third annual challenge.

What is the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge?

The Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge is an annual hiking challenge with six strenuous hikes up six great Southern California mountains: Mt Wilson, Cucamonga Peak, Mt San Antonio–aka Mt Baldy, San Bernardino Peak, Mt San Jacinto and the tallest peak in SoCal, San Gorgonio Peak. These aren’t the six tallest peaks in SoCal, but they are notable peaks. The hikes are beautiful, but also challenging, taking a full day for most people. After the snow melts, these peaks are all hike-able with no mountaineering required. Registration helps support Big City Mountaineers–a non-profit that works to give under-served inner-city youth a chance to experience big outdoor adventure.

2017 marks the third year for the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge, and we are stoked to see so many people fired up about getting outdoors. We hope you are one of them. Check out the #SixPackOfPeaks posts on Instagram for a hint of what’s in store for our 2017 Challengers.

Ready to sign-up? Check out the registration options and sign-up now

Here’s an overview of the changes for 2017

  • The window for hiking the six peaks will be January 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017. This is a month shorter than last year, so plan your hikes accordingly!
  • The Six-Pack of Peaks Celebration (check out the photos from this year) will be held on Saturday, October 7th – mark your calendars now!
  • All registered finishers get free admission to the party with their RSVP.  Guests and other challengers are encouraged to join us and will be able purchase tickets.
  • New fundraising options for Big City Mountaineers! We’re changing up the fundraising format, so you can join the team and Summit for Someone. You can get your very own fundraising page and set your own fundraising goal. Your friends and family can make donations and get a tax deduction as well. Last year we raised $10,000 for BCM. With your help, this year we’re going to double that!
  • Challengers registered at the Explorer and Trailblazer levels will get a welcome packet* that includes a sticker pack and the 2017 Six-Pack of Peaks patch. Trailblazers also get the new 100% organic cotton 2017 Six-Pack of Peaks t-shirt in either men’s or women’s style. No coupons to redeem–it’s part of the registration process.
  • If you register at the Starter level there are no physical goodies included. You can order stickers, patches, shirts and more in the shop.
  • Big improvements are coming to the hike logs, making them easier to share, like and comment.

We had a lot of requests for tank tops, long sleeve tees and even hoodies. We will have those available in the shop early in 2017. If you prefer these to the short sleeved tees included at the Trailblazer level, you should probably register at the Explorer Level, which doesn’t include a shirt. Then you can order whatever style of shirt you want separately. Of course, if you do want the really nice short sleeve tees we’ve put together for 2017 (and who wouldn’t!?), the Trailblazer registration is your best value.

Hiking Clubs, Groups and Teams

Many people find that the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge is more fun with a group. We encourage hiking clubs, hiking groups or even a team of close friends to sign-up and hike together. If you are leading a hiking group, club or team and taking on the 2017 challenge, send us an email at [email protected] and let us know.

Sponsorship Opportunities

We have epic partnership opportunities for businesses who want to support the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge. The Challenge grew from just 175 challengers in 2015 to 1,002 in 2016, and the community is still growing. And unlike most outdoor “events” this one runs for nine full months. Interested? Learn more.

*Welcome packets will ship beginning the first week of January 2017. 

Looking for Adventure? Sign-up for the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge!

The post Take an Epic Adventure! Join the 2017 Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge appeared first on SoCal Hiker.

Vignette Pizzeria in Sebastopol: Fantastic Wood Fired Pizza

Located in the outdoor shopping area known as The Barlow in Sebastopol, Vignette Pizzeria is a big foodie standout for me in terms of quality and unique preparation for something as ordinary as pizza. The menu here is created by Chef Mark Hopper, who worked under famed Chef Thomas Keller (French Laundry) and the work shines through in the curation / preparation of these fantastic pizzas. Here is all the information so you can check it out yourself, but I highly recommend you add it to your list.

vignette-pizzeria-10

Details

  • Cost: $15-$20
  • Location: 6750 McKinley St, Sebastopol, CA 95472
  • Recommendation: The Red Eye Pizza and the Peperoni Cruschi

Getting There

Vignette Pizzeria is right in the middle of The Barlow, across the street from Crooked Goat Brewery. It is hard to miss as you drive into the complex and there is parking along the street.

The Restaurant

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Vignette Pizzeria is in an industrial building with lots of metal tones, an authentic Italian pizza oven in the middle and walls that roll up to let the fresh air in.

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I loved being able to sit at the tables inside but still have the breeze blowing through while we ate.

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Chef Mark was there when we went and he was very friendly, telling us all about the pizzas and what he was trying to do with the spot. I loved talking with him as you quickly saw his passion for creating amazing food.

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Here is what we ordered:

Peperoni Cruschi

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Flash fried sweet peppers that form a makeshift chip and are light and crunchy. The flavor is a little bitter and a little sweet, and it is topped with sea salt and olive oil. It sounds strange, but it’s exceptional. In its basic form, it is like a sweet and smokey pepper potato chip. It might seem strange to you but I would recommend going out of your comfort zone and giving it a try, my wife and I finished the whole bowl.

Broccoli and Burrata Pizza

vignette-pizzeria-7

This is a fantastic pizza that is light yet full of flavor. The Burrata is smooth and creamy while adding to the taste without overpowering it. The flavor of the black olives and the broccoli come through well and add the fresh kick to the pizza. The dough is the standout here though as it is never frozen, hand tossed and cooked to perfection.

The Red Eye

vignette-pizzeria-6

I honestly don’t know how this pizza could be better. It is probably one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. Forgoing the traditional sauce, this pizza has an egg base with two kinds of cheese on top. Once cooked, prosciutto is added, and a chili oil pesto sauce is on the side. The sauce is spicy, but it’s a great addition to the dish in moderation. The light eggs, salty prosciutto, and the savory sauce are a perfect combination.

Vignette Pizzeria is what most other pizza places should aspire to be. I was incredibly impressed with my meal from beginning to end, and when I am in the area again, I won’t hesitate to visit this great little spot. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments.

Monti’s Rotisserie & Bar Restaurant in Santa Rosa

Monti’s Rotisserie & Bar Restaurant in Santa Rosa has become a local favorite over the years with their unique rotisserie style preparation to their food. Each day there is a different meat slowly roasting on the spit in the middle of the restaurant. This style is not one you often see and because of that, it has become a go too for carnivores in Sonoma County. Tucked away in the main shopping center for the town of Santa Rosa, Monti’s is a great place for a nice meal, here is all the information.

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Details

  • Cost: $20-30
  • Location: 714 Village Ct, Santa Rosa, CA 95405
  • Recommendation: Arctic Char (fish), the meat of the day or the Calamari.

Getting There

After getting on Highway 12 East from Highway 101, you will take it till it ends and then turn left on Famers Ln. The shopping center that Monti’s is in is on the corner of Farmers Ln and Sonoma Ave. After parking, you will walk through the shopping center to get to Monti’s. It is located on the corner, right next to a large metal bear.

The Restaurant

The restaurant itself is open and inviting with a very warm feel to it. I appreciated that the dining area was large so that you were able to have a more private meal while at the restaurant. Be sure to walk by the fire and see the meat rotating on the spit inside when you come.

montis-1

The menu itself has a crazy amount of options to choose from that run the gauntlet between many styles of food. I was not sure where to go, so our waitress made some recommendations for us that gave us a taste of many of the different styles they had. I went on a night where the meat roasting was goat, and that is not something I enjoy, so here is what I ordered instead.

Crab Deviled Eggs

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Loaded with crab which adds a unique taste to the typical dish. It was good, but I was not as blown away as I expected to be.

Calamari

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I was told this is the best in town and it seems like true claim to me. The calamari was fresh and had an excellent crispy crust. It came with a lemon aioli and a few peppers on top to eat as well. This is a good sharing appetizer for the table. They even deep fried lemon slices in the mix with the calamari and it was fun tart taste to go with the fried food.

Crab and Cauliflower Brandade

montis-4

I would describe this dish as a rich and delicious cheese / crab sauce that is full of flavor. It comes out hot and is served with baguette. The subtle cauliflower helps to mellow the richness of the cheese, which lets the delicate crab flavor come out. You can tell the crab is fresh and that is what pushes the dish over the edge. Both my wife and I were impressed.

Artic Char

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Prepared medium rare, the fish is flaky and practically melts in your mouth. It is pan roasted so the skin has a nice char to it and served with a fantastic side of honey ginger carrots. The fish sits on a bed of quinoa flavored with mint and butter to finish off the dish. I shared it with my wife and it was a really good entree. The fish itself is a mix between a trout and a salmon but it leans more towards salmon to me.

Brussels Sprouts

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Served with chorizo, pearl onions, apples and blue cheese, it is a Brussels sprout dish with a lot going on. I really liked getting a little bit of everything in a bite as the sweet, spicy and savory created a huge flavor. It is different than most ways I have seen brussels sprouts prepared but in a good way.

Overall, this was a nice, relaxed meal in Santa Rosa. I can see why Monti’s has became such a popular spot in the city now, and I recommend you give it a try if you are in the area. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Disclosure: This meal was provided free of charge, all opinions are my own.

Hiking to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Hiking to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Giant old-growth redwood trees, lush forest, babbling creeks and beautiful waterfalls–there is plenty to love about this nearly 11 mile loop hike to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park, and features the largest stand of coastal redwoods south of San Francisco. These are tall trees–some more than 300 feet tall and 50 feet in circumference–and they date back 1,000 to 2,500 years old.

Trail Details
Distance: 11 miles
Time: 5-6 hours
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous
Elevation gain: 2,364 ft
Dogs: No
When to go: Year-round
Trailhead Directions
Big Basin Redwoods State Park itself is only 65 miles south of San Francisco, but the windy roads you must take to reach the park make it seem much further. It has been on my radar for a long while, and I finally paid a visit on a recent road trip. It was well worth the drive.

Berry Creek Falls is actually a series of four waterfalls deep in the park. This route will take you down a section of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail to the Berry Creek Falls Trail, then return via the higher Sunset Trail to complete the loop. You’ll start and finish at the park headquarters.

From the parking area, I took the Redwood Loop Trail past the amphitheater and took the bridge over Opal Creek, where it joins the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.

Heading to the Skyline to Sea Trail

On the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, the trail climbs about 400 feet to Middle Ridge Road−a dirt fire road. The trail crosses the road and from here nearly all the way to Berry Creek Falls it’s all downhill. Of course means that you’ll be doing a lot of climbing to get back. Be sure you save some energy for the return trip!

Skyline to the Sea Trailhead sign Looking at the trail through the redwoods Low clearance on the Skyline to Sea trail

The basin is lush, with mossy trees, soaring redwoods,  ferns and clover carpeting the forest floor.

Lush redwood forest

It had rained the previous night, and moisture clung to every leaf. The trail itself was in great condition, though there were a few slick patches where trekking poles would have been handy.

As the trail descended the canyon along Kelly Creek, I spied a variety of flora and fauna, including my first sighting of a banana slug in the wild!

Banana slugs are brilliant yellow and rather large slugs that are quite common in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In fact, the lowly banana slug is the official mascot of US Santa Cruz. On this hike, I ended up counting twenty-four banana slugs in total.

A newt on the Skyline to Sea Trail I saw 24 banana slugs on this loop to Berry Falls Mushrooms growing on an overhanging branch

Given the lush foliage, it’s easy to imagine how quickly these trails could be lost if they weren’t maintained. Fortunately, that’s not a problem. The trail is easy to follow with great tread, well marked signage and steep sections like this cut with steps to curb erosion.

Steps down to the seasonal Kelly Creek crossing

Four miles into the hike I reached the double bridge over Waddell Creek. These are considered seasonal bridges that are removed when the creek runs high, but there was no issue for me at the end of October.

This bridge is removed when Waddell Creek swells in winter storms

Another 100 yards further and the trail reaches a junction with the Berry Creek Falls Trail toward the right. I took it, and was soon rewarded with an amazing view of the biggest of the falls on Berry Creek.

Berry Creek Falls

There is a great viewing deck near the base of this waterfall, with benches that make a perfect spot for a break. I chatted with the first two hikers I had seen on this Monday morning−a pair of backpackers that had spent the night up the trail at Sunset Camp. We swapped hello’s and shared a bit about our respective adventures, and I continued up the trail.

The Berry Creek Falls Trail is a real gem, with a series of beautiful and different waterfalls as you ascend. The trail climbs about 500 feet in a mile, finally terminating at the junction to Sunset Camp and the Sunset Trail−the final trail in this loop.

Looking down on the deck from the trail near the top of Berry Creek Falls Berry Creek The next tier up Berry Creek These steps remind me a bit of the Mist Trail in Yosemite The steps climb right beside the cascade Bottom of a multi-tiered waterfall on Berry Creek

Junction to Sunset Camp

The Sunset Trail is 5.3 miles of rollercoaster trail; lots of up and down. It runs well above the canyons in sections, giving you views out over the redwoods.

Views above the redwoods on the Sunset Trail

Along the way you’ll pass junctions with the Timm’s Creek Trail and a connector with the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail before finally crossing the Middle Ridge Road and the final descent to finish the loop.

Timms Creek Trail junction Wood bridge over Timms Creek Sleepy Timms Creek Hiking the Sunset Trail

Take your time as you walk through these ancient groves. Think about the centuries of history they have lived through. You and I and the others who have passed these trees through the millennia are connected through this shared experience.

The Walter W. Boardman Grove Skyline to the Sea Trailhead Model of the park in the museum

Back at the trailhead, stop by the museum for a look at the history and the research that continues at the park. Be sure to check out the intricate wood model of the park that shows the topology and the distribution of the various kinds of trees in the park.

Skyline to the Sea/Sunset Trail Map and Elevation Profile

Download

Berry Creek Falls Tips

  • The bridge crossing Waddell Creek is removed when the creek is running high. Check with the ranger for current conditions. You can call the park to check before you go at (831) 338-8860.
  • Hike this loop in a clockwise direction (as described) for the best views.
  • The trail can be slippery. Wear trail shoes with good traction.
  • There is a $10 per car day use fee, but no permits are required for day hikes. You will be given a slip of paper to note your planned route and time of return and leave on your car dashboard. Fill it out. The day before I hiked this, a mother and her two young children got lost in the park. They huddled under a redwood in the rain until (fortunately) the rangers found them.
  • You can also backpack this loop, camping overnight at Sunset Camp (near the midpoint). Permits are required.

More Big Basin Redwoods State Park Resources

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Weather Forecast

Today Wednesday Thursday Friday
It is forcast to be Clear at 12:00 PM PST on November 29, 2016
Clear
59°/41°
It is forcast to be Mostly Cloudy at 12:00 PM PST on November 30, 2016
Mostly Cloudy
61°/42°
It is forcast to be Clear at 12:00 PM PST on December 01, 2016
Clear
60°/40°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 12:00 PM PST on December 02, 2016
Partly Cloudy
62°/41°

Hike to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park

I hiked this trail solo on October 31, 2016. 

 

The post Hiking to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park appeared first on SoCal Hiker.

Hiking to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Hiking to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Giant old-growth redwood trees, lush forest, babbling creeks and beautiful waterfalls–there is plenty to love about this nearly 11 mile loop hike to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park, and features the largest stand of coastal redwoods south of San Francisco. These are tall trees–some more than 300 feet tall and 50 feet in circumference–and they date back 1,000 to 2,500 years old.

Trail Details
Distance: 11 miles
Time: 5-6 hours
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous
Elevation gain: 2,364 ft
Dogs: No
When to go: Year-round
Trailhead Directions
Big Basin Redwoods State Park itself is only 65 miles south of San Francisco, but the windy roads you must take to reach the park make it seem much further. It has been on my radar for a long while, and I finally paid a visit on a recent road trip. It was well worth the drive.

Berry Creek Falls is actually a series of four waterfalls deep in the park. This route will take you down a section of the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail to the Berry Creek Falls Trail, then return via the higher Sunset Trail to complete the loop. You’ll start and finish at the park headquarters.

From the parking area, I took the Redwood Loop Trail past the amphitheater and took the bridge over Opal Creek, where it joins the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.

Heading to the Skyline to Sea Trail

On the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, the trail climbs about 400 feet to Middle Ridge Road−a dirt fire road. The trail crosses the road and from here nearly all the way to Berry Creek Falls it’s all downhill. Of course means that you’ll be doing a lot of climbing to get back. Be sure you save some energy for the return trip!

Skyline to the Sea Trailhead sign Looking at the trail through the redwoods Low clearance on the Skyline to Sea trail

The basin is lush, with mossy trees, soaring redwoods,  ferns and clover carpeting the forest floor.

Lush redwood forest

It had rained the previous night, and moisture clung to every leaf. The trail itself was in great condition, though there were a few slick patches where trekking poles would have been handy.

As the trail descended the canyon along Kelly Creek, I spied a variety of flora and fauna, including my first sighting of a banana slug in the wild!

Banana slugs are brilliant yellow and rather large slugs that are quite common in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In fact, the lowly banana slug is the official mascot of US Santa Cruz. On this hike, I ended up counting twenty-four banana slugs in total.

A newt on the Skyline to Sea Trail I saw 24 banana slugs on this loop to Berry Falls Mushrooms growing on an overhanging branch

Given the lush foliage, it’s easy to imagine how quickly these trails could be lost if they weren’t maintained. Fortunately, that’s not a problem. The trail is easy to follow with great tread, well marked signage and steep sections like this cut with steps to curb erosion.

Steps down to the seasonal Kelly Creek crossing

Four miles into the hike I reached the double bridge over Waddell Creek. These are considered seasonal bridges that are removed when the creek runs high, but there was no issue for me at the end of October.

This bridge is removed when Waddell Creek swells in winter storms

Another 100 yards further and the trail reaches a junction with the Berry Creek Falls Trail toward the right. I took it, and was soon rewarded with an amazing view of the biggest of the falls on Berry Creek.

Berry Creek Falls

There is a great viewing deck near the base of this waterfall, with benches that make a perfect spot for a break. I chatted with the first two hikers I had seen on this Monday morning−a pair of backpackers that had spent the night up the trail at Sunset Camp. We swapped hello’s and shared a bit about our respective adventures, and I continued up the trail.

The Berry Creek Falls Trail is a real gem, with a series of beautiful and different waterfalls as you ascend. The trail climbs about 500 feet in a mile, finally terminating at the junction to Sunset Camp and the Sunset Trail−the final trail in this loop.

Looking down on the deck from the trail near the top of Berry Creek Falls Berry Creek The next tier up Berry Creek These steps remind me a bit of the Mist Trail in Yosemite The steps climb right beside the cascade Bottom of a multi-tiered waterfall on Berry Creek

Junction to Sunset Camp

The Sunset Trail is 5.3 miles of rollercoaster trail; lots of up and down. It runs well above the canyons in sections, giving you views out over the redwoods.

Views above the redwoods on the Sunset Trail

Along the way you’ll pass junctions with the Timm’s Creek Trail and a connector with the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail before finally crossing the Middle Ridge Road and the final descent to finish the loop.

Timms Creek Trail junction Wood bridge over Timms Creek Sleepy Timms Creek Hiking the Sunset Trail

Take your time as you walk through these ancient groves. Think about the centuries of history they have lived through. You and I and the others who have passed these trees through the millennia are connected through this shared experience.

The Walter W. Boardman Grove Skyline to the Sea Trailhead Model of the park in the museum

Back at the trailhead, stop by the museum for a look at the history and the research that continues at the park. Be sure to check out the intricate wood model of the park that shows the topology and the distribution of the various kinds of trees in the park.

Skyline to the Sea/Sunset Trail Map and Elevation Profile

Download

Berry Creek Falls Tips

  • The bridge crossing Waddell Creek is removed when the creek is running high. Check with the ranger for current conditions. You can call the park to check before you go at (831) 338-8860.
  • Hike this loop in a clockwise direction (as described) for the best views.
  • The trail can be slippery. Wear trail shoes with good traction.
  • There is a $10 per car day use fee, but no permits are required for day hikes. You will be given a slip of paper to note your planned route and time of return and leave on your car dashboard. Fill it out. The day before I hiked this, a mother and her two young children got lost in the park. They huddled under a redwood in the rain until (fortunately) the rangers found them.
  • You can also backpack this loop, camping overnight at Sunset Camp (near the midpoint). Permits are required.

More Big Basin Redwoods State Park Resources

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Weather Forecast

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It is forcast to be Clear at 12:00 PM PST on November 29, 2016
Clear
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It is forcast to be Mostly Cloudy at 12:00 PM PST on November 30, 2016
Mostly Cloudy
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It is forcast to be Clear at 12:00 PM PST on December 01, 2016
Clear
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It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 12:00 PM PST on December 02, 2016
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Hike to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park

I hiked this trail solo on October 31, 2016. 

 

The post Hiking to Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin Redwoods State Park appeared first on SoCal Hiker.

Belly Left Coast Kitchen & Taproom in Santa Rosa

While staying in Santa Rosa, there is no shortage of great places to eat at, but if you are looking for a fun atmosphere with good, upscale pub food then look no further then Belly Left Coast Kitchen.  At only a few blocks from Russian River Brewery, you can come over here for dinner then head there for a drink. Here is all the information so you can check it out for yourself.

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Details:

  • Cost: $10 – $20
  • Location: 523 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
  • Recommendations: Cheese board, fish tacos

Getting There

After getting off Highway 101 at 3rd St, you will make your way up to B St and then onto 4th St. The restaurant is on 4th St on the left after you turn. There is parking along the street and in a few lots around the downtown.

The Restaurant

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Belly consists of one large dining room with overflow tables on the patio. During the warm summer months, the front of the restaurant can open up so that the fresh air flows through as well. It is well lit with lots of wood tones, and there are a bunch of TV’s with whatever game you want to watch on them.

The food runs the gauntlet between pub standards like fish tacos to fine dining staples like cheese and charcuterie boards. It was overwhelming with all of the good options they had, here is what we ordered.

Burrata Cheese Board

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This is one of those dishes that comes out and everyone around you is jealous of what you got. It has three meats and three cheeses which makes it a perfect dish to share.  There is also an olive tapenade and a few different mustards to mix in with the cheese and meat. The cheeses ours came with were particularly good. The two goat cheeses (the highlight was the blueberry goat cheese) were a great addition to the smooth Burrata. This is a lot of food so you want a couple people to help you with it.

Pork Belly

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This dish has a generous portion of perfectly cooked pork belly. It is smothered in hoisin sauce which is a great sweet addition to the salty meat. The pork belly is so thick you have to cut it with a knife, and it is served grilled veggies around the side. I especially liked the Brussels Spouts.

Surf and Turf Fish Tacos

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The tacos have a fresh and tender mahi mahi, served with bacon and a crunchy mango salsa. The tortilla itself is grilled to an almost crunch and it is the perfect holder for the fish. Add to that the guacamole bacon, and the salsa and you have a really good taco. This was one of the highlights of the meal and I highly recommend it.

Dessert

We tried all three desserts, and here is what we thought of them.

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Butterfinger S’more

Super rich but increadibly tasty. The marshmallows are baked in the oven till they grow then brunt on top. Add to that crushed butterfinger, chocolate and caramel on top and it is one decadent dessert. They serve it with graham cracker on the side so you can dip it in. Spun caramel is stuck on the top to complete the dish.

Creme Brulee

A nice, light Creme brulee with a lot of flavor and not too rich. They put a few pieces of fruit on top which is a fresh addition. I’m not a huge Creme brulee fan but I liked it here.

Gingersnap Pumpkin Mousse

This mouse tastes like a deconstructed pumpkin pie. It is light and airy with a great pumpkin flavor and light ginger. I was not a huge fan because I am not much of a pumpkin person but my wife devoured it.

Overall, Belly is a great spot for a meal in Santa Rosa. I was impressed with the food and the service from our server Lincoln. Be sure to check it out if you are in the area and let me know what you think in the comments.

Bistro 29: French Inspried Food at one of Santa Rosa’s Best Restaurants

As far as fine dining goes in Santa Rosa, it is hard to beat the amazing Bistro 29. Located right in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa, this upscale French-inspired eatery has a quaint, warm atmosphere and it serves fantastic food ranging from mussels and buckwheat crepes to pork belly and scallops. Be sure to grab a reservation next time you are in the area and read all about it below.

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Details

  • Cost: $20-$30
  • Location: 620 5th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
  • Recommendations: Mussels, Sticky Fig Cake

Getting There

Bistro 29 is located on 5th St in downtown Santa Rosa. It is only a few blocks from the famous Russian River Brewery, and there is parking along the street and in designated parking lots for the downtown businesses.

The Restaurant

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The restaurant itself is relatively easy to walk by as it blends in with the surrounding buildings. There is a large window though that lets you peak into the main dining area and marvel at the dishes. The small one room building seats about 15 parties and we got a seat next to the window after making a reservation.

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The menu has a lot of options, and it can be a little overwhelming when you first sit down. Our waitress was great providing recommendations, letting us know when we ordered too much and helping pair wines with the dishes we selected. It was an excellent experience from start to finish.

Here is what we got:

Mussels

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The mussels here are prepared four different ways, and they are always trying to think of more. I chose the Pernod cream way which came with a shallots garlic and cream sauce. The portion of mussels was very generous, and it was flavored well. The sauce is savory and the light garlic and shallots swimming in it continue to flavor it as you eat. The garbanzo bean Panisse Frites on top were a standout as well, as they were almost like a homemade crouton or a high-class French Fry which was fantastic. This is a great appetizer for two people to share, it has a ton of flavor without being too filling.

Wild Arugula and Fig Salad

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A fantastic salad that gets better as you eat it. The fresh arugula pairs well with the strong blue cheese and the sweet fig. It’s a nice way to start the meal as the flavors have than out and compliment each other. I love when a salad starts the meal on a high note as this one did.

Pork Belly

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It’s hard to beat pork belly for me, and this dish was no exception. The pork belly practically melts in your mouth as you eat it. It is not prepared the typical way, which is a more seared selection of meat, this is more of a pot roast style, and it is fantastic. It is served on a bed of roasted pumpkins and local figs which add a unique taste to the meat. I especially like the way they prepared the pumpkin as it is much different than I would expeted and it accentuates the savory and salty meat well.

Seafood a la Armoricaine

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This dish features seared scallops with clams, calamari, and prawns cooked in a lobster cognac sauce with potatoes and caramelized cauliflower. The sauce is sweet, and it pairs well with the seafood. It is more of a reduction then the stew type sauce you would expect with this dish. The potatoes and cauliflower are a nice little break from the seafood, and it helps to neutralize the palette as you continue to eat. Often a stew dish like this is not prepared in a way that lets you taste the individual differences between the seafood as you eat but this was not the case for this one. My wife was very happy with her choice.

Sticky Fig Toffee Cake

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Light and airy cake with a toffee sauce and fig compote on top. I love fig already, so I was in love with this. It’s sweet but not rich like chocolate cake is. It was the perfect way to end a fantastic meal, especially when you used the cake to soak up the decadent caramel sauce.

All in all Bistro 29 is probably the best meal I had in Santa Rosa, make sure it’s on your list and let me know what you think in the comments.

Disclosure: This meal was provided for me, but all opinions are my own.