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Tafoni Trail

El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve

El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve Links:

May 9th, 2004

2.1 miles
415 vertical feet
Total Time: 1:37

Rating: 6/10

Directions: Take 280 south to Woodside. Take the Highway 84 exit west. Climb up 84 to Skyline, and make a right onto Skyline. Follow it for several miles to Skeggs Point, a large paved parking lot with a stone wall, just 1/4 mile past the "Vista Point" sign. Alternatively, you can take Kings Mountain Road or Highway 92 up to Skyline and turn left, but then you would have to make a U-turn somewhere past Skeggs Point.   View Driving Map

This was the first hike I did with baby Nathan on my back. Apparently some babies hate being stuck in a pack, but Nathan took to it readily. Now nearly 8 months old, he spent much of the first half of the hike looking out the right side (throwing off my center of gravity, of course), looking at the forest. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

When you park at Skeggs Point, you'll undoubtedly see lots of mountain bikers getting ready to hit the trails. After getting ready ourselves, we walked down the hill (making a right out of the parking lot), then shortly (after about 50 yards) walked across the street to the trailhead. There's a sign here with a stack of maps.

We started off on the Tafoni Trail. The trail goes up and down, up and down, but not really steep or very far up or down. The trail is a wide dirt road, almost completely shaded, with redwoods and fir trees to the towering above. Nothing really stands out here, but it's a pleasant enough stroll through a forest. Also, there were plenty of purple irises along the trail.

After a mile, we reached a trail intersection with the Fir Trail. We continued along the Tafoni Trail here, then shortly turned right onto the hiker-only trail down to the sandstone formations. Here, I was a bit taken aback to find out that the area is under restoration. I had been here in 1999 and it was open for hikers. But now a fence and signs prevent hikers from walking through the area. Instead, the trail dead-ends at a observation deck where you can view some of the remaining formations close-up. It didn't seem quite as impressive as when I had visited 5 years ago.

Sandstone formations

After a short break at the observation deck, Nathan encouraged us to start our return trip, during which he slept most of the way. After heading back up the trail and retracing our steps on the Tafoni Trail to the intersection, we took the right fork onto the Fir Trail. This trail is flatter and a bit shorter than the Tafoni Trail. The scenery is similar to the Tafoni Trail, but with a few unshaded patches and fewer redwood trees. There was also a chilly wind coming through in the late afternoon. Remember that you are over 2000 feet above sea level, so it is generally a few degrees cooler up here.

The last few yards of the trail are paved, and soon enough we were back at the trailhead, crossing Skyline and back at Skeggs Point. All in all, a somewhat anti-climatic hike considering my previous experience at the sandstone formations, but a pleasant enough hike through the forest.

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