Slate Creek
Slate Creek

I usually spend most of August on the trail in the Sierra, but I had a random unplanned weekend and decided to save some driving time and catch up on work at home. Well, I should have used it to catch up on busywork at home, but this cool summer day sure seemed like a nice time to hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

It is summer so I wanted to find a nice shaded place to hike. Naturally, any redwood park would qualify. Never one to choose the easy route, I decided to access the redwoods of Portola State Park from above, starting at the LR01 gate in Long Ridge Open Space preserve. The hike feels like a lot of downhill on the way in, but there are some stretches of climbing mixed in.

Once down at Slate Creek camp I turned down the Bear Creek Trail Loop, signed as ‘7 Miles round trip and very strenuous’. My GPS odometer had 4.25 miles at that point. When I got back to the sign the odometer was at 9.5 miles. So seven miles it is not. But strenuousness is a relative term. Compared to a lot of the hiking I do I found it pretty easy. However, the trail had recently been trimmed and it looks like it could get quite overgrown quite quickly – I bet by next spring it will be overgrown with poison oak and brambles again. Also, the last mile into the grove is a steep descent. Nothing unusual, but it would most definitely be a challenge for someone not used to that kind of trail.

>There is a nice loop through a redwood grove at the bottom – I soaked in the views while soaking my feet in the creek. I also found some beautiful late season wildflowers, including leopard lilies as big as my fist. I don’t usually hike this terrain in August, so there are a couple of flowers I found that I don’t know – I have some identification to do in my future.

The climb back from Portola to Long Ridge was long and hot, which I am not a fan of. Still, this was an excellent hike. I only saw people in the first and last mile at Long Ridge (mountain bikers) and a couple of people on the Bear Creek Trail loop. The scenery included views towards Monterey Bay from the ridge and deep first-growth redwood forest. I’m always looking for good strenuous dayhikes within a short drive of home, and this one is a great option. 15 miles with 4000 ft of gain – a great match for what I’m usually looking for.

  1. I was down in Peter’s Creek just the week before you were. I used the easy route this time ’cause I was hiking with my wife, but I have done this route several times. I was beginning to think I was the only one crazy enough to use it though. Your pinkish “to be id’d” looks like a Redwood Orchid (Epipactis helleborine). They very in color but most of them are pinkish. I saw a lot of them down there this year. The little blue one is California Harebell (Asyneuma prenanthoides). Hope I didn’t spoil your fun. Cheers. Your blog is great.

  2. Hi Calipidder, did you spend the night? Where? If you didn’t camp, can a one-night trip be cobbled together easily? With a water source near by? Just a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I can hike from Rancho San Antonio or Black Mtn or Long Ridge and make it to Pescadero, which is now something I’m itching to do. Many thanks! Kevin

  3. I did it as a day hike. But there is a campground down in Portola right where I turned down towards Peter’s Creek. Not sure of the reservation and water status there, but it’s within the boundaries of Portola State Park – hope this helps!

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