2.4.1 – 15 September 2012: Mountain Biking Through Pescadero Creek County Park / Portola State Park

Riding Old Haul Road From Pescadero Creek Park To Portola Park And Back

Read about our mountain bike rides

This weekend, Marian and I did our first Mountain Biking of 2012, as ridiculous as that sounds.  Because we had trained so long and so hard with our Surly touring bikes, we set aside riding dirt trails.  We picked an old ride, Pescadero Creek County Park / Portola State Park, located near the small hamlet of Loma Mar.  While it feels like it is far up the Peninsula from San Jose, it is actually South West of town.

Pescadero Creek County Park / Portola State Park are located about an hour’s driving time from our home in San Jose

 The ride is not overly technical, using an old logging road running along a ridge, and across three water sheds.  Including one missed turn, our total ride was about 13.8 miles, and we climbed a little less than 1300 feet.  We rode through a heavy forest of redwoods, with very broken terrain around us.  I reconnected with my first true love of biking, to be one with nature, meeting only three hikers, a ranger in a truck, and two cyclists.  What a marvelous escape from the current events which have made me unsubscribe from much of Facebook.

The Old Haul Road links the two parks. A State Ranger drove by, apparently making a morning sweep to see if anyone needed assistance.

The Old Haul Road connects Pescadero Creek County Park with Portola State Park.  Were Redtrees Properties (whoever they are) permit hiker / biker access across their lands, one could connect to Long Ridge, Saratoga Gap, and Stevens Creek Parks.

A simple sign announces the Trail Head.

The trailhead is separated from Wuir Road by a simple gate.  There is no fee for parking, and no facilities.  Nor, I think, is there camping.  The simple facilities of the park are a welcome change to the world.

Marian, geared up and ready to ride the trail. What a contrast to touring.

Riding to the end of the Old Haul Road, one takes a left, down a steep fire road, and comes to the headquarters of Portola State Park.  Even on the 15th of September, there were many campers.  Children and adults were strolling about, or riding their bikes in the time we were there.

As we road toward Portola State Park, I wondered if the park had escaped the budget ax, and would be open to visitors. Happily, it is still staffed.

The Park Headquarters is a spacious great room.  Displays teach the willing about the wonders of the fragile redwoods.  Marian talked to a Ranger, who said the free maps now cost $2.00, a reminder of the changing times.

Reading the displays, I was struck by the description of Steel Head Trout. I learned they are born, fresh water fish, and when they enter the ocean, they change color to grey, to camouflage themselves from other predators. They sometimes return to their spawning grounds up to three times.

On display was a cut of a redwood, felled in the 1970’s, I think.  According to a ring count, this tree sprouted about 1425.  Most of the trees we saw were, obviously, far smaller than this tree.  But, in another 500 years, some of them will be as large as this one was.

The tree from which this came was over 500 years old when it was felled. Even as I acknowledged this with reverence, some part of me wondered how many times the rings were counted before the experts arrived at a final answer.

The fire road from Portola State Park to the Old Haul Road was extremely steep in the last 200 yards.  I have pushed my bike up less steep hills than this.

The connector road from Portola State Park to Old Haul Road is a wickedly steep fire road which is almost impossible to ride. The slope was so steep that my rear tire was losing traction, and my front tire was coming off the ground. So, I walked.

Some logger with a sense of humor carved a face in the stump of this tree, after felling it.  It reminded me of the carvings in front of the hotel in Lincoln City.

When I noticed the face, my impression of the logger was that he might be a Native American, or perhaps, a Gary Larson look-alike.

Riding the Old Haul Road, I found my center again, at peace with myself, and filled with the joy of God’s wondrous creation.

The joy and peace I feel riding in a forest remind me I am home again.

Read about our ride around Moffett Federal Airfield

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Filed under Cycle Touring, Travel

Let us know what you thought, we'd love to know. Thanks - Pat and Marian

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