Palo Alto to the Pacific

A 42 mile trek from the Palo Alto Baylands to Gazos Creek Beach on the Pacific

Day 3: Long Ridge Open Space Preserve - Portola Redwoods State Park

Long Ridge For this segment I talked Cindy into hiking with me and helping out with the car shuttle needed to finish this section. As I moved further and further from Palo Alto the logistics of getting on and off the trail were getting more complicated.

Long Ridge This section is nearly all downhill, so I knew the distance required from start to finish wouldn't be a problem. We dropped one car off at Portola Redwoods State Park and drove to the parking lot serving Upper Stevens Creek Park where I had finished last time. There are several access points to get back on the trail, and from the parking lot we had no trouble starting our trek.

Portola Redwoods State Park After a slight rise this trail reaches the first peak of the Palo Alto to Pacific route, an elevation of 2500 ft. From there it's a long downhill walk to Portola State Park. The trail is a fire road with beautiful views to the south. There is plenty of forest cover, so the walk is not hot or in the open. It was towards the end of this road that I saw a huge pair of antlers discarded on the road. I said to myself, "Who'd leave a pair like that there?" Then the big, magnificent buck that owned them stood up and walked away, antlers and all. We were clearly in his territory and disturbing his afternoon nap.

Portola Redwoods State Park As the road enters private property, a turn to the north, towards Slate Creek is required. The trail follows the creek for awhile and then branches off towards Park Headquarters. There is a trail camp for a possible overnight stay, and a side trip north to the Peter's Creek Loop.

Portola Redwoods State Park This section of trail is probably one of the most isolated ones on my trip. I don't remember seeing anyone for nearly the whole day. Only when we approached the State Park did we run into some hikers and backpackers.

We arrived at the Park and Cindy was happy that there were no more miles to do. I had promised her a six mile hike, but it ended up closer to nine start-to-finish.

Portola Redwoods State Park contains the first official public camping areas that one can use in completing this journey. Prior to that, there is really nothing available in the open space districts. However, from this Park to the end there are enough trail camps that one could complete the remaining mileage to the ocean without car shuttles or other arrangements.

Statistics for Day 3: 7.12 miles covered, 1850 ft. elevation loss, September 27th, 2003

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Updated 2005-04-08