Date: April 15, 2011
McNee Ranch State Park
This time, we set out to explore McNee Ranch State Park. This park is located near the Pacific ocean, and has some nice trails going up into the rugged coastal hills. The plan for the day was to hike to the North Peak (elev. 1898 feet/579 meters). As a nice bonus, our dog Lily could come with us (no dog restrictions in the park, yay!)
North Peak Access Road
The trail we took was actually a fire road going up into the hills, commonly known as “North Peak Access Road”. The road was a bit washed out at times due to recent rains, but at least there was no deep mud. There were a few leg-burning steep sections along the way, but it was manageable (especially with our tendency to stop every 5 minutes for a photo of something pretty). This time, the reasons to stop consisted of fantastic views of the Pacific coast and lots of spring wildflowers. We were dazzled by at least a dozen of totally new varieties that we had never seen before (which was extra impressive given our recent hike to Mount Diablo, where we had seen lots of different flower varieties as well).
We got a bit unlucky with the weather – the tops of the hills were completely covered with thick fog. We could see the trail and the vegetation around, but everything else was milky white. Great panoramic views were out of the question, but at least the fog gave our immediate surroundings a unique mysterious and almost magical character.
The North Peak turned out to be occupied by some human-made structures, which were making loud and annoying buzzing noises. The fog was still blocking all the views, so there was no reason to stay too long at the top. We made sure to find the highest point, and then started heading back. On the way back, the fog lifted somewhat, and we were able to see some views to the other side of the ridge.
There was a very nice beach right across from the place where we had parked, and this is where we headed after we got back from the trail. It was a very enjoyable experience to soak the hot and tired feet in the cool refreshing Pacific waters. Going to the beach is now officially my favorite thing to do after a hike.