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Wild Recovery
San Jose, California
September 20, 2014
Sam MacDonald County Park
San Mateo County
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The Place

Sam MacDonald County Park
September 20, 2014
10:00am

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Much of the park is very steep, running from 400 ft. along Alpine Creek to over 1300 ft. at the highest point on Towne Ridge. In the lower elevations along moist ravines, many fern varieties are to be found, including the graceful five finger fern, sword fern, lady fern, gold back fern, polypody and woodwardia ferns. Also to be found along the moister slopes in great abundance are trillium, redwood violet, red clintonia and wild strawberry. In the more shady areas, carpets of redwood sorrel cover the redwood floor, and during the spring rainy season beautiful mosses and curious mushroom shapes appear throughout the park.

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Trees common to the redwood forest include the coastal redwood, Douglas-fir, various varieties of oak and California bay trees. Trees found on the edge of the redwood forest in drier areas include madrone, California buckeye, and big leaf maple. The drier open areas abound in the springtime with a colorful display of beautiful wildflowers. Some of the prevalent types include sticky monkey flower, wood rose, sun cup and California poppy.

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Walking the Walk

Start at the south edge of the parking lot, near the picnic area. A large park sign indicates the mileage to several prominent destinations. Towne Trail. After about 300 feet, the trail reaches Pescadero Road. Carefully cross the pavement and rejoin Towne Trail on the other side. The trail widens to fire road width, and begins to climb somewhat steeply. At 0.28 mile, Big Tree Trail breaks off to the left at a signed junction. Bear left onto Big Tree Trail. The narrow hiking only path winds uphill then rejoins the fire road. Turn left. The two run together for a short stretch, then Big Tree departs again, this time for good, on the left at a signed junction. Bear left. Big Tree Trail begins a steep descent. At 0.72 mile, turn right on Heritage Grove Trail. Heritage Grove Trail crosses a creek and soon after reaches a signed junction at 2.43 miles. Turn right and remain on Heritage Grove Trail, toward Hikers' Hut. The trail winds uphill. Just past a gate and stile, the trail steps out into a pretty meadow rimmed with Douglas fir. A few steps later, at 2.75 miles, Heritage Grove Trail ends at a signed junction with Towne Trail. Turn left, but instead of the fire road, take the slight but obvious trail that heads back into the woods. The path winds uphill, passes a massive multi-limbed Douglas fir then reaches Hikers' Hut at 2.86 miles. If it is not in use, the meeting will be at hikerís hut, if it is in use, a spot just up the hill will be used. Continue uphill on a path that dumps onto a wide dirt fire road, and keep climbing uphill. At 3.04 miles, the fire road ends at an unsigned junction and viewpoint. At elevation 1316 feet, there are unobstructed views of the forested ridges to the south. Turn around, bear left and head downhill on the fire road. At 3.16 miles, you'll reach an unsigned junction with Towne Trail. Turn right. At 3.44 miles, you'll reach a previously encountered junction with Heritage Grove Trail. Continue straight on Towne Trail. At 3.87 miles, Brook Loop Trail feeds into Towne Trail from the left. Continue straight on Towne Trail. After a slight descent, you'll pass through/around a gate, and reach the junction with Horse Camp at 4.10 miles. Turn left, and then a few steps later, turn right at a signed junction, to "McDonald Ranger Station." head downhill Stay on the fire road as you pass two previously encountered junctions with Big Tree Trail, then retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Level: 2.5       Miles: 4.8       Elevation: 750 ft       Host: Sonya M.

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Directions

From Interstate 280 in San Mateo County, exit Woodside Road/CA 84 (exit #25). Drive west on CA 84 (bear right onto La Honda Road at the junction with Portola Road) about 6 miles, to the junction with CA 35 (Skyline Boulevard). Continue straight on La Honda Road/84, about 6.5 miles, to the easy-to-miss junction with Pescadero Road. Turn left. Drive about 1 mile south on Pescadero Road, and bear right at the junction with Alpine Road. Continue about 0.5 mile on Pescadero Road, to the park entrance on the right (drive slowly, as the entrance is undersigned).

Parking

Parking is $6 (cash only)

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Know Before You Go:

NO DOGS ALLOWED


Wild Recovery Meetings | What to Wear & Bring | Trail Maps/ Park Info | Contact Us
What is Wild Recovery? | NA Online Resources | Business & Documents