Sykes Hot Springs

The shortest route to Sykes Hot Springs is a 10 mile trek along the Pine Ridge Trail. The springs are deep in the Ventana Wilderness, but a visit to Sykes is not much of a wilderness experience at all. On any given weekend, dozens (if not hundreds) of people are out on this trail with Sykes as their destination. Continue reading “Sykes Hot Springs”

Yosemite’s North Rim

In the Footsteps of John Muir [Part II]

John Muir described two single day Yosemite hikes in Chapter 12 of his book The Yosemite. The chapter is titled “How Best to Spend One’s Yosemite Time.” By today’s standards, these hikes are very difficult – about 20 miles with around 5000-ft of elevation gain.  We followed his advice and completed the first recommended hike back in October 2013.  It was probably the hardest day hike we’ve ever done.  We were game for the second one. Muir’s second single day hike takes you up Yosemite Falls to Eagle Peak, over to the top of El Capitan, then back down to the Valley via the (now abandonned) Old Big Oak Flat Road Trail (OBOFRT).  Continue reading “Yosemite’s North Rim”

Point Reyes – Mount Wittenberg, Glen Camp & Arch Rock

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Point Reyes National Seashore offers a vast network of hiking trails, four backcounty campgrounds, and plenty of opportunity to get outside.  It’s possible to bike, ride a horse, trail run, or kayak all around this area.   On this particular trip, we hiked to the highest point in the area (not worth it), camped at one of the four backcountry campgrounds, and visited the very popular Arch Rock.  We hiked approximately 16 miles (9 miles on Day 1 and 7 miles on Day 2).  We spent most of the weekend in dense forest – no sweeping ocean views.  It was not what I expected but it turned out to be a relaxing weekend with beautiful scenery. Continue reading “Point Reyes – Mount Wittenberg, Glen Camp & Arch Rock”

Mt Tamalpais via the Steep Ravine Trail

If you wanted to, you could drive almost to the top of Mt. Tamalpias. But if you want to really climb Mt. Tam, then start from the ocean. This hike leaves from Stinson Beach and climbs the Steep Ravine trail up to East Peak, then loops back on the north side. The grand total is over 16 miles, and a few thousand feet of elevation gain.

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Basics:  This hike climbs from Stinson Beach to the East Peak of Mt Tamalpais.  It’s a long one – we hiked it as a loop totaling over 16 miles round trip.  We reached the top via the Steep Ravine Trail, Matt Davis Trail and Old Railroad Grade road.  We returned on the International Trail, Northside Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail and Matt Davis Trail (among others).  Mt Tam has an amazingly large and well developed network of trails and roads.  There are many options.  Everything is well-signed, but unless you know where you are going, bring a map! Continue reading “Mt Tamalpais via the Steep Ravine Trail”

Four Mile Trail, Sentinel Dome, Panorama Trail, Liberty Cap and Mist Trail… In One Day

In John Muir’s book The Yosemite, there is a chapter near the end entitled “How Best to Spend One’s Yosemite Time”. This post focuses on the first listed single day excursion – the quintessential day hike in Yosemite. It’s about 20 miles total, with about 6,500 feet of elevation gain – longer and more difficult than a round trip up Half Dome.

In the Footsteps of John Muir [Part I]

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In John Muir’s book The Yosemite, there is a chapter near the end entitled “How Best to Spend One’s Yosemite Time”. The chapter describes several hikes, just as a modern blog would. He describes two single day excursions, two 2-day excursions, a 3-day excursion, and a grand several week excursion (not the JMT). This post focuses on the first listed single day excursion – the quintessential day hike in Yosemite. It’s about 20 miles total, with about 6,500 feet of elevation gain – longer and more difficult than a round trip up Half Dome. Continue reading “Four Mile Trail, Sentinel Dome, Panorama Trail, Liberty Cap and Mist Trail… In One Day”

Shepherd Pass and Mount Tyndall

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Back in 2010 when we hiked the John Muir Trail, we took a one day detour to the base of Mount Tyndall with hopes of climbing it. In the morning, we scrambled about halfway up the North Rib before deciding to turn back. I think we didn’t climb the mountain for several reasons: we didn’t do any research and weren’t sure of the route, we still had many miles yet to go (with limited food), we had no helmets (the rocks were very loose), and it was freezing cold which gave us a late start on the climb.  Perhaps I’m just making excuses, but it just didn’t seem like a good idea at the time.  Unfortunately, our failure to summit bothered us until we finally decided to return and finish what we started. Continue reading “Shepherd Pass and Mount Tyndall”

Hines Peak from Middle Lion

Basics: Hines Peak from Lion Canyon is about 20 miles round trip.  It’s a long hike, but the views from the top of this peak are epic and worth the crazy hike.  Hines Peak is the highest point in the Topatopa Range.  Do not attempt this hike on a hot summer day – the Los Padres can be brutal.

There are at least four different approaches to climbing Hines Peak. The easiest?  Contact the Forest Service to get the gate code for the dirt road leaving Rose Valley, then drive to the end of Nordhoff Ridge Road (4wd required) and begin the hike from there.  The easy hike is around 7 miles roundtrip.  Alternatively, Hines Peak can be reached from Sisar Canyon (20 miles round trip), Middle Lion (20 miles round trip) , Rose Valley (20 miles round trip), or from the Sespe River trail (multi-day trip).  We opted for the 20 mile hike from Middle Lion Campground.  Sisar Canyon seems to be the most common approach – the Sierra Club HPS page has a pretty good description. Continue reading “Hines Peak from Middle Lion”

Backpacking Sespe Hot Springs

Basics: Sespe Hot Springs is located deep in the Sespe Wilderness. There are three possible access points for reaching the springs, but all require either a ridiculously difficult day hike or a strenuous multi-day trip. The Ojai Ranger District has a useful PDF describing the various trails.  We chose to hike from Piedra Blanca (Rose Valley).  Some of the other access points are only open seasonally.  From Rose Valley, it’s a 16 mile trek to the hot springs.  The best time to visit the area is in the late fall, winter, or early spring, though after a large rainstorm, the multiple creek crossings could be difficult.  Summer can be crazy hot in this area.  Sespe Creek has some great swimming holes, but a 16 mile trek to the hot springs might be a bit much when it’s 100 degrees outside. Continue reading “Backpacking Sespe Hot Springs”

Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs

Basics: This scenic 20+ mile (roundtrip) hike follows Sespe Creek through one of Southern California’s most interesting and rugged wilderness areas. At the end of this long hike is a 100-degree hot spring- great for soaking in after the trek. There are numerous campsites near Willett Hot Springs. There are also many great camping opportunities along Sespe Creek – making this an ideal backpacking trip for anyone who is unsure about how far they feel like hiking. This wilderness is great in spring, summer or late fall. Summer is hot, but may be okay as long as the Sespe still has water in it. Continue reading “Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs”