Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sacramento River Headwaters - Mt. Shasta City Park - Mt. Shasta, CA

The headwaters of the Upper Sacramento River are located at the base of Spring Hill in the Mt. Shasta City Park. You can park within about 200' of the spring. The park has had some recent restoration work in the area of the spring. The hillside has been stabilized with some large boulders and a paved area ajasent to the spring allows visitors to check out the spring without causing erosion. The headwaters spring is a popular place for people to fill drinking water jugs, I filled up a water bottle and the Shasta snow melt spring was crisp, cold and refreshing. There is a park with a playground and restrooms about 200' away. This would make for a nice place to stop for lunch when traveling I5.

If you are going to be in this area and you are in need of some outdoor gear or to arrange a guided trip in the Shasta area, check out the newly (5/25/12) opened McCloud Outdoors & Gear Exchange.

The most northern watershed part of the Sacramento is in Southern Oregon in the Goose Lake area. From there the Pit River drains the Modoc Plateau and joins the Sacramento as the eastern tributary of Shasta Lake.The Pit river actually contributes 4 times as much water (about 4,000 CSF) than the Upper Sacramento.

The park is located at the northern end of the City of Mt. Shasta, take N. Mt. Shasta Blvd. to Nixon Rd and make the first Right into the park. Note there is NO swimming or wadding in the headwaters!

View Sacramento River Headwaters - Mt. Shasta City Park in a larger map

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Exploring Nor Cal - Mobile Page For Your Smartphone

        Check out the new mobile version of this site with your smartphone or tablet PC. The mobile format displays a cleaner and faster loading version of Exploring NorCal. Occasionally some posts will not convert to mobile view perfectly, its usually the pictures that may not align as they where intended to but it's really not that big of a deal. I know the full web site can take a long time to load especially over the cell phone data networks. The mobile view should make it much faster to load while out and about or if you want to double check directions on the way to one of the destinations. I hope this change helps you find your adventure. For quick access to just scan this QR Code with your phones 2D barcode app.

iPhone Scanner by AT&T on iTunes

Android Scanner - Android Market

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Castle Lake - Shasta-Trinity National Forest

  Castle Lake is located within the Shasta Trinity National Forest. It is accessible by car on a paved road. Recreation includes a primitive campground 1/4 miles downstream of the lake. Other activities include swimming, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and ice fishing. Hiking trails begin here can take you above the Castle lake to Heart Lake and Little Castle Lake or to the Mount Bradley Ridge. The Pacific Crest Trail also runs near by and is accessible via a spur trail from Heart Lake. Unfortunately my visit was limited to visiting the lake and taking a few pictures. The water was crystal clear and much of the lake was still covered in 2" of ice. A long California winter has made for very late spring conditions in 2011. The weather at 5574' was in the 80's, some children splashed around near the shore where the water was surprisingly warm. There was still patches of 2-3' deep snow in the shadows that made for some nice snowballs. This is a great place for a number of adventures to begin and I hope to be back. Castle lake can also make for a nice quiet and beautiful rest stop if your traveling on I5, it is only about 10 miles from 5 and an easy way to check out a high country snow melt lake.

If you are going to be in this area and in need of some outdoor gear or to arrange a guided trip, check out the newly (5/25/12) opened McCloud Outdoors & Gear Exchange.

View Castle Lake in a larger map

Friday, June 24, 2011

ABA BMX - Rusty Bowl - Ukiah, CA

        ABA BMX racing has become my family pastime and sport for about 2 years now. Our home track is the Rusty Bowl in Ukiah, CA. BMX racing is an exciting year round family fun sport. Riders are split into groups based on age and proficiency. Unlike other sports you ability to participate is not contingent on how many practices you make. Additionally no one sits on the bench in BMX, if you sign up to race you get to race. BMX (or Bicycle Motocross) racing made its Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Right now it is one of the fastest growing sports with tracks all across the US and Canada.

        Generally most BMX tracks will hold two race days per week and one or more practice days per week as well. Throughout the year most tracks will hold larger meets with specialized races usually worth extra points for the riders who participate. These races encourage riders to travel to different tracks and race people from all over. Last weekend the Rusty Bowl BMX track hosted a 3 day race weekend. Friday's race was the Race for Life, a fundraiser where the participants collect donations for research and treatment of Leukemia and Lymphoma. In addition to the donations collected a portion of the race entry fee is donated as well. Last weekend the racers raised over $1,900. Many tracks across the county hold a Race for Life raising money for this great cause. On Saturday was a State Champion Series Qualifier race, this race series allows racers to qualify and participate in the State Champion Race (California is split in to Northern and Southern). On Sunday the Rusty Bowl held a Double Points race, a bonus race for the riders to earn extra district points.

        This past weekend at the Rusty Bowl was fun and exciting, and was all made possible by the volunteers who keep this sport alive. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who makes BMX possible both at the Rusty Bowl and at all the other ABA tracks across the country. If you have not been to a BMX race you should check it out. It is a fun and exciting sport and there is racing for ALL age groups from 5 and under and up.

For more information on BMX check out some of the links below

Official ABA BMX Page

Rusty Bowl BMX Track Page     

Rusty Bowl Facebook

Also here is my little racers page

View ENC Master Map in a larger map

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bothe - Napa Valley State Park

Bothe - Napa Valley State Park is located off Hwy 29 half way between Calistoga and St. Helena in Napa County. Bothe attracts a wide verity of visitors due the range of activates available. Camping, both RV (camper 31’, trailer 24’ max length) and tent is available year round. The only other camping available in the Napa Valley is at the Fairgrounds in Napa and in Calistoga, but both of those spots are barren RV parking spaces. If you want to be in the outdoors or do some family camping head to Bothe. The camp sites at Bothe are mostly covered by an Oak, Madrone and Redwood canopy and have the usual camp site amenities, fire ring, picnic table, water, etc. For the summer in Bothe the park offers a swimming pool for a small fee. This is especially great on the 90-100° days that are common in the Napa Valley.

If you’re a hiker Bothe has a few different options for you. First and most popular you can hike up Ritchey Canyon along Ritchey Creek. Ritchey Canyon is a second generation fern covered Redwood forest. Most of this canyon was harvested in 1850’s making these trees relatively young for Redwoods. You can see further evidence of past lumber harvest by how the trees are clustered together. At many points in the forest the trees have grown in a circular pattern, many of the current trees sprouted from the roots of the old growth.

There are two trails that lead up the canyon, start off on the Redwood Trail on the south side. Ritchey Canyon trail is a dirt road and slightly less scenic. The Redwood Trail will lead you along the creek; this is a very easy hike with only about 400’ of elevation gain. When the Redwood Trail ends rejoin the Ritchey Canyon trail for about in about .25 miles you will arrive at a small spring feed cascade. Spring waters bubble out of the earth above forming a small stream that falls down a steep rocky slope and into Ritchey Creek. You can continue on Ritchey Canyon Trail for about another mile before coming to the park boundary. You can make up your own route there are 12 possible loops you can create by combining different trail segments.

If you are looking for a slightly more strenuous hike try hiking up to Coyote Point, 1170’. It’s about an 800’ elevation gain over about 2miles. The view from Coyote point is somewhat obstructed by the forest canopy, you should be able to see Sterling Vineyards Winery and a partial view of the valley floor.  Another trail at Bothe is the History Trail that leads from Bothe to neighboring Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park. Bale Mill is an 1846 wheat and corn, stone mill. The mill is still operated for demonstrations and seasonal events.

Mountain bikes are allowed on parts of different trails. If you’re a hard core mountain biker keep driving to Calistoga and check out Mt. St. Helena or Oat Hill Mine Rd but if you’re a camper and you brought your bike it would be a nice easy activity. In addition to mountain bikes, horseback riding is also allowed on some trails. Make sure to check the park map for which activity is allowed on which trail. Many of the trails change allowed activities at trail junctions.

Bothe SP has a lot to offer here is a quick rundown of everything;

50 camping sites
9 walk-in tent sites
Group campsite
Redwood, Oak, Madrone Forest
10 miles of trails, 12 different loops for Hiking, Horse Riding, Mountain Biking
50 picnic tables with BBQ and water
Improved restrooms with showers
Educational Visitors Center
Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park

Bothe - Napa Valley state park has a lot of history, you can read more about it in the resources below

View ENC Master Map in a larger map

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pt. Arena Lighthouse & Stornetta Public Lands

        The Point Arena Lighthouse and Stornetta Public Lands are located along the Mendocino county coast about 3 hours north of San Francisco. The Lighthouse is dramatically perched on a narrow peninsula flanked by 60' cliffs. The Pacific Ocean pounds away relentlessly below. A steady chilly wind blows in threatening to blow my hat out to sea. The fog has pulled back from the coast about half of a mile although a slight haze still hugs the cost line. A group of harbor seals lay out in the sun on a rock just off shore. The colors change intermittently as clouds pass by the sun. One moment a dull gray is cast over the area, as the clouds pass brilliant colors spring to life. The ocean lights up with greens and blues, shades of red emerge along the sea cliffs, purples and yellows stand out in the vegetative ground cover. Just an average spring day on California's North Coast.

        The Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers operate the 115' lighthouse. For a small donation you can make the climb up the spiral stair case to the top. Once at the top you can walk around the lighthouse on an exterior balcony or climb a narrow, almost vertical stair case to the lens room. In the lens room you will have a magnificent 360° view. Looking northeast you will see Manchester State Beach, west jagged rocks protruding into the sea, south southeast  the coast line of Stornetta Public lands, and east green rolling coastal hills. You can see all of this without making the climb up the lighthouse although the view from the top will give you an unmatched panoramic view. The Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers also operate a small museum and gift shop and on-site lodging.

       The land outside of the gates of the lighthouse is the Stornetta Public lands.This area has been turned over to the Bureau of Land Management. Currently the BLM is reviewing how best to manage this area but in the interim it is open for hiking although there are no real developed trails. Lighthouse Road is a county road and parking is permitted at any of the road side pull-outs. About one mile from Highway 1 on lighthouse road is a good place to park. From there you can walk south along the bluffs toward Sea Lion Rocks a small island that is sometimes accessible during low tide. I am currently recovering from an injury so I did not get to explore the area as much as i would have liked to. I understand that if you keep walking south past Sea Lion Rocks there is a small stream waterfall into the ocean. I'll have to come back and check that out.

        About half a mile north of Lighthouse Road on Highway 1 is Miner Hole Road. Miner Hole Road is a dirt road that is very overgrown it is riddled with potholes and ruts, you will need a vehicle with some clearance to drive down it. As you drive down Miner Hole you will see the Garcia River estuary on your right. At the end of the road you can park and make your way down to the river. I came across three men who where in the river fly fishing, it looked like a pretty good spot.

       The coastal land north of the Garcia River is a mix of BLM, Manchester State Beach and the private land of the Stornetta dairy farm. This map from BLM shows the break down. I didn't make it over to the state beach but I understand there is year round camping available. Other attractions of the state park include beach access, fishing in Brush and Alder creek, a verity of coastal flowers as well as being the northern most point of the San Andreas fault on land.

        This area is not what most people think of when you say California coast. This area is dramatic, waves pounding the 60' cliffs, jagged rocks, wind and fog. Theses are not the beaches of "Baywatch", its much more beautiful (except for the lack of girls in bikinis). If your driving Highway 1 Pt. Arena Lighthouse and Stornetta Public lands is pretty much a mandatory stop. So check it out, use caution near the cliffs and on the rocks and enjoy.

View Pt. Arena Lighthouse & Stornetta Public Lands in a larger map

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Feature - Search Posts Via Map

        Introducing a new search feature to this page, Search Via Map. Just click on the banner link above or the picture to the right to search for posts via a Google map. Clicking on the marker brings up a link to the related post. Only nine so far but more are in the works.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mossbrae Falls - Sacramento River - Dunsmuir, CA

Attention Information on access has changed see below. 

Mossbrae Falls is located on the Sacramento River in Dunsmuir, CA. The falls are unique as they appear out of the side of a hill and stretch for about 200'. Mossbrae Falls is not officially in any park or public land, in fact to reach the falls you technically have to trespass on railroad property. Now I do not endorse trespassing and caution strongly against walking along active railroad tracks but currently that is the only way to reach the falls. I have read that both the Town and the Railroad are aware of people using the tracks to access the falls and are working on an official less dangerous trail, but as of today it has not been completed.
Dunsmuir is located about 40 miles north Lake Shasta on I5 and about 7 miles south of Mt. Shasta. Additionally the McCloud falls are just 20 miles east on Highway 89.   To reach parking for the falls from Dunsmuir Ave turn onto Scarlet Rd. Scarlet is easy to miss if you are coming from the north. At the beginning of Scarlet Way is a stone and iron arch way, it looks like a private drive but it is a public road. Stay straight and cross the river, park in the dirt lot just across the tracks.

From the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce: As of 8/10/10: Mossbrae Falls Trail is CLOSED. Closure with Union Pacific to redirect Mossbrae Falls trail from Hedge Creek Falls. 
I just found this out 6/26/11, I will post new info ASAP.

I made a quick stop in this area in 6/11, at both the railroad trail head and the Hedge Creek trail head. The railroad parking area was blocked off. At the Hedge Creek trail head I saw no way other than brush crashing a deer trail across private property (not recommended). Anyone with info please comment below

Again, I must warn you of the dangers and legalities of walking the tracks. The Falls are about 1.2 miles north of the parking area. If you choose to walk along the tracks it is a long 1.2 miles walking along the loose rocks that line the tracks. For most of the way there is a trail of sorts, more of a packed pathway that has been made by people coming and going to the falls. About 200' or so before you reach a rail bridge there are a few trails down to the river, head down one to the bottom and take in magnificence of Mossbrae Falls.

The water springs from the side of the hill, it is first visible about 35' up and makes its way down along moss covered rocks and vegetation. The Falls are about 200' long, at spots the water free falls into the passing Sacramento River, in other spots the water simply just runs down the hill. It is located at a bend in the river and has a concave shape making the sound of the crashing water pretty intense. This is a popular spot I was here on weekday during summer and there where over 20 people visiting the falls. People where laid out on the rocks and wading into the cold snow melt river.

If you are going to be in this area and you are in need of some outdoor gear or to arrange a guided trip to other great locations in the Shasta area, check out the newly (5/25/12) opened McCloud Outdoors & Gear Exchange.

Mossbrae Falls is definitely worth visiting. It is a very beautiful and spiritual place my video camera can only give you an idea of what this place looks like, you defiantly have to see this in person to truly appreciate it. Hopefully an alternative path to the river will be available soon. There are a few additional resources below, be safe and enjoy your trip.

Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce article

View Mossbrae Falls in a larger map

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hull Mountain - Mendocino National Forest

        Hull Mountain is located on the boarder of Mendocino and Lake Counties in the Mendocino National Forest. Hull Mountain stands tall at 6,873', but despite it's stature it is not the tallest peak in either county, but it's close (Snow Mtn 7,056', Lake County and Anthony Peak 6,954 feet, Mendocino County). There are many recreational activities located in the immediate vicinity of Hull Mountain. Lake Pillsbury is an artificial lake located at the base of Hull. The lake was created in 1906 as part of a hydro-electric project that is now operated by PG&E. Activities and amenities around the lake include 4X4 OHV trails, camping, RV spots (not sure about size or hookups) cabins, hiking, fishing boat launches, docks, and a small store. On the south west below the dam is the start of the Eel River popular for kayaking. On the north end is a dirt runway used by small planed and hang gliders. I will do a full post on Lake Pillsbury another time.

        I have traveled to Hull on a few occasions to offroad or take the kids to the snow. I have tried to drive to the top on twice and been stopped by late season lingering snow as the road winds around to a north east aspect. Now, day-to-day I can see Hull off in the distance mocking me, laughing at me for my inability to stand upon its summit. I know Hull is not that tall of a mountain, its no Whitney or Shasta but it is the tallest I can see from my town and so far it has gotten the better of me. Although there is a road to Hull's summit it is not as simple as driving up Mt. Tamalpais or Diablo. Driving to Hull's summit takes about an hour and a half or more from highway 20 with most of it on dirt.

        The two most direct ways to reach Hull are both off of highway 20 using either Elk Mountain Road from Upper Lake or Potter Valley Road near Ukiah. My route takes me through Potter Valley it starts out the same as the route to Trout Creek Campground. Check out the map below for both routes, but first a quick disclaimer; always use caution and take a map when traveling in the back country. Make no mistake, despite the description above, this is a isolated area with limited to no cell phone service. 

        So today is February 1st, a time when making this trip would usually require parking at about 4,000' and continuing the climb on foot in the snow. Here is the the thing, although January and February are usually the wettest months in Northern California, it still California where some years we have we enjoy weeks of sunny 70 degree days. This is one of those years. So with this weather I've been keeping an eye on Hull and as far as I can see there is very little snow up there. Today will be the day I concur this mountain.

        I call up a friend and we head out in the Xterra. We travel through Potter Valley, along the Eel River, past Lake Pillsbury and start up Hull. The drive looks promising and I am encouraged as we climb past 4,000' with no snow in site. A few turns up and traces of the white stuff can be seen hiding in the shade. The road transitions from a south west aspect to a north east and there is patches of snow across the road. We are now at 5,600' and the snow is getting deep, at times requiring multiple runs to plow though it. Finally we find ourselves having to use the shovel to bust through a snow bank. We continue on for about 100 more yards only to make a turn and find 2-3' of snow covering the road from here to the top. Although it was unpredicted that the snow would be so low we came prepared, like I said today is the day I will stand upon the summit. We park at 5,700' and continue on foot for the next 2 miles with 1,200' of elevation gain. It's a tee shirt day with the sun beating down on us. As we approach the spur road to the summit the snow depth is over 5' but it is weathered and packed so we sink very little. The road becomes difficult to follow but the GPS keeps us on track. The winds rip around the back side of the summit (Wind Gap) and cause us to put our coats on. A short steep climb and we find a set of stairs leading to the foundation of an old fire lookout AKA the summit.

        The View from the summit is incredible. To the south I can see just a sliver of Clear Lake and can clearly make out Mt. St. Helena. As I turn to the south west I can see the city of Ukiah. Further to the south west and west I can see fog on the coast obscuring the view of the Pacific Ocean. About due west stands the peaks of Sanhedrin Mountain. Looking north west I can see some peaks around Round Valley/Covelo. Anthony Peak stands about due north. To the north east Mt. Lassen is easily identifiable. East I can see the hills around Chico and Paradise. As I turn to the south east I can see snow on mountains in the High Sierra toward Tahoe. Finally as I turn back toward the south I can see Mt. St. John and Snow Mountain. Needless to say the view is amazing.

        The view makes this is a really rewarding day trip. There is a hiking route to the summit that starts near the airstrip. If you plan on hiking or driving Hull be prepared for back county travel and have some kind of communications or contact plan. There are a few more resources below to help you plan and enjoy your trip.

PG&E Recreation Site Click on area #3 

Mendocino National Forest

View Hull Mountain in a larger map
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