La Honda Creek Hike


La Honda Creek

03.15.12

From the issue Hue Got It

Fond of La Honda

Like hunting for a pot of gold, organizing a hike through La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve can be riddled with challenges: applying for a hiking permit, a password-protected gate, unmarked trails…. Luckily, La Honda Creek's treasures far outweigh the fuss of gaining access to its 5,759 acres of pristine open space in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Apply for your permit at least two days in advance and lace up your boots for a 3-mile (round-trip) majestic loop through working ranch land, loping green hills, and pine and redwood forests. The hike ambles downhill through tall waving grasslands before ascending a ridge that juxtaposes views of Russian Ridge's distant meadows and La Honda's thick forests. At the crest, set your eyes on panoramic views sweeping from Black Mountain to the East Bay Hills, plus get a glimpse of San Gregorio State Beach and the Pacific unfurling beyond the sea of spring foliage. It'll probably be just you and the redwoods on the return journey, including one colossal old-growth beauty that towers over the others. Lucky leprechauns always find their hidden treasure.

BONUS: Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is offering a 3-mile guided walk, "Green, Green Hills of La Honda," this Sunday, March 18. Reservations are required.

Apply for a permit to La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve through their website. From Skyline Blvd. (Hwy. 35), turn west onto Bear Gulch Rd. (Bear Gulch Rd. is 2.3 miles north of Woodside Rd. (Hwy. 84) and 3.3 miles south of Kings Mountain Rd.) Proceed .6-mile down Bear Gulch Rd. and turn left onto Allen Rd. Drive 1.1 miles to the gate. Use the password provided in the permit to unlock the gate. Park in the gravel area next to the "Parking by Permit Only" sign but disregard the two trailheads that begin in the parking zone. Instead, follow the private road on foot and choose the trailhead that begins nearest to the dilapidated barn on the right. Open from dawn to half hour after sunset. No dogs, bikes, or bathrooms.

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