Thursday, August 11

Tiptoe Falls in Portola Redwoods State Park – 120 park avenue

One of my hiking goals this year is to visit as many parks as I can to see waterfalls.  In the last few years, there has been so little rain that many of the waterfalls have not been flowing.  So, I decided to start out at a new park that I haven’t visited before.  Portola Redwoods State Park is in La Honda in the Santa Cruz mountains near Palo Alto.  The drive there was a bit tricky because highway 35 is partially closed due to winter storm damage so I had to take a different route to get there.  The storms over this past winter have affected many of the parks as well.  2 of the trails that I was planning to hike today were closed, so I had to modify my hikes.

One of the highlights of my hike was Tiptoe Falls.  I started at the visitor center and headed along the trail towards the falls.  The ranger told me that the trail was flooded with water and to hike along side, but it was tricky.  I did slip off the rocks and get my feet wet but it was a sunny warm day so my shoes dried out quickly.  The strange temporary bridges were also tricky, but I made it across those as well.  There were quite a few people along the way, the hike to the falls was clearly very

Beard Lichen


After seeing the falls, I hiked along Iverson trail.  I chose this hike from my 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles guidebook by Jane Huber.  I followed her map in the book to Pomponio trail to Bridge trail to Old Haul

Two-eyed Violet

Road trail.

Along the way, I found lots of beard lichen.  Lichen is an interesting symbiosis between algae and fungus, they need each other to survive.  I read that beard lichen can only survive in the cleanest mountain air.  I also saw two-eyed violets which are so small and lovely, it’s easy to overlook them.  If you check the back of the flower, the 2 upper petals are purple on the back!  There were also lots of huckleberry plants.  Huckleberries are like tiny blueberries, but they don’t ripen until autumn time.  I was most disappointed to not find any leopard lilies, maybe it’s too soon and I need to go back, they are supposed to bloom between May and July along the streams and trails.

And then I reached the signs saying the trail was closed due to sinkholes.  So, I turned around and backtracked to the visitor center with the plan of trying to hike my loop from the other direction as far I was able.

I decided to start by hiking up the Old Tree trail to see the giant redwood at the end of the trail.  It was spectacular and amazing and huge!  It is estimated to be 1200 years old.  My daypack is in the photo at the base of the tree for size reference so you can see how huge the tree is.  I hiked back to find that Slate Creek trail was also closed due to storm damage.  Hopefully, the park will be able to restore the trails and reopen them, and I will return in the future.  I will check off this hike in my book for now!

Start/end: Visitor center

Old Redwood

Trails: Sequoia Nature, Iverson, Pomponio, Bridge, Old Haul Road, Old Tree

Mileage: 7.4

Has anyone gone when the huckleberries are ripe?  Has anyone ever seen the leopard lilies in bloom?  Where are they?

Fairy Lanterns at Henry W Coe State Park – 120 park avenue

I learned that my new favorite flower, the globe lily, is often called a fairy lantern and I saw them again at Henry W Coe SP in Morgan Hill.  I’ve been wanting to hike there for years.  I heard from a friend how beautiful it is there and it’s in one of my favorite guide books, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles.

Henry W Coe SP is the largest state park in northern California.  I only did a short loop hike but the possibilities for hiking and backpacking are endless.  There is a visitor center and parking lot nearby so it feels very safe hiking from that location.  The ranger in the shop was very friendly and the shop has books, maps, and souvenirs.  I found a new guide book about California wildflowers that I’ve been desperately needing.

I began my hike on Corral trail which begins crossing a bridge and meanders downward with wildflowers all along the sides of the trail.

Henry W Coe Memorial

It was a bit cool and overcast, so perfect for hiking.  The trail intersects quite a few other trails in a large

Purple Owl’s Clover

field with views of mountains in the distance.  I turned next along Flat Frog trail which had every wildflower imaginable in bloom.  It took forever to do this section because I kept stopping over and over to photograph the flowers.  The fairy lanterns along the path were pinkish white and so delicate and beautiful.  I saw flowers in every color of the rainbow.  I also saw gorgeous manzanita trees along this trail as well.  A tiny black snake with a red belly startled me by slithering across the trail right where I would have stepped!  I stopped quite a few times to remove ticks from my pants, they must have jumped on when I brushed up against the grasses along the narrow trail.  There was quite a bit of poison oak as well, bright green this time of year, and very shiny.  Note to self: wear long pants when hiking this year.  At the end of this section of the hike, there was a small creek and I took the opportunity to put on my Dirty Girl gaiters to keep the ticks off my ankles and the pebbles out of my shoes.

Chinese Houses

I turned onto Hobbs Road trail which was wide and steep uphill, probably a fire trail.  The sun had come out at this point so it was getting warm.  At the top of the hill off to the left was the Henry W Coe memorial.  He was a rancher and his


daughter donated the land to be turned into a park.  I turned onto Monument trail and walked through a field with hundreds of purple irises.  The view from the field was amazing.  I could see the town down below and in the distance.  I backtracked a bit and continued further down the trail back to the visitor center.

There are so many good possibilities of things to do when I return.  I’d love to do a longer hike.  I’d also love to do an overnight backing trip if I can find someone to go with me.  It feels very safe there because the park is quite a distance from town and the presence of the ranger on-site.  There are a few campgrounds right near the

Elegant Clarkia

parking lot also.

Start/End: Henry W Coe SP visitor center

Trail names: Corral, Flat Frog, Hobbs Road, Monument

Mileage: 4.7

Has anyone ever backpacked there?  Are there more ticks at Henry W Coe SP than other locations or are there just more ticks everywhere this year?