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.

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  1. Randy

    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. Kevin

    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. Calipidder Listing Owner

    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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