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Portola Redwoods 2014

Portola Redwoods State Park

June 21st, 2014

5.7 miles
1080 vertical feet
Total Time: 3:02

Starting elevation
361 feet
Max elevation
1034 feet

Rating: 6/10

Directions: From Palo Alto, take Page Mill Road west up to Skyline Boulevard. Continue straight, descending on Alpine Road. At the Y-intersection, keep left on the road toward Portola Redwoods State Park. Follow the road all the way into the park. We started the hike from the Circle group campground, though you can start near the visitor's center without too much trouble.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

A large group of us started out from the Circle group campsite around 11am. After walking out onto the park road and turning left, we almost immediately turned right onto the trail toward the Old Tree. The trail starts climbing into the forest, shortly passing the Slate Creek Trail on the left. We passed through a grove of redwoods with a bench in the middle. After about a half mile, we reached the Old Tree, a 297 foot tall redwood that measures 12 feet in diameter.

Old Tree

The trail dead-ends at the Old Tree, so we backtracked down the trail and then turned right onto the Slate Creek Trail. This narrow trail immediately climbs steeply, but after a short climb levels off. After about a quarter mile from the junction, we turned right to stay on the Slate Creek Trail toward Trail Camp. It's mostly uphill (though fairly gradual) from there as it winds its way through the forest. We would not go all the way to Trail Camp, which is a place for backpackers to spend the night. Instead, we stopped where the trail intersects with the Summit Trail.

Looking up at redwood grove

The forest opens up a bit near the Summit Trail intersection. There's a nice long log here perfect to sit down for a picnic lunch, which we did. After lunch we headed down the Summit Trail. It has a little tiny climb near the start, but after that it's pretty much all downhill (though never that steep) down toward the park road.

Descending the Summit Trail

About 3.5 miles into our hike we reached the paved park road. We could have turned right here and taken a shortcut back to our campground in about a half mile. Instead we turned left onto the road, passed some buildings, crossed a footbridge over Pescadero Creek, then shortly reached the Iverson Cabin Site. There's really not much left here - just a sign and some scraps of wood on the forest floor. Apparently it had lasted for a while but what was left of the cabin (built in the 1860's) succumbed to the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

We turned right onto the Iverson Trail, briefly touched the wide dirt Old Haul Road, but then immediately turned right to continue on the Iverson Trail. This part of the hike we had done back in 2011. We followed the trail downhill slightly until we reached Tiptoe Falls. Or rather, what was left of it in June after a dry winter. What was left was about the same amount of water as a couple leaky faucets spilling into a tiny pool of water.

Tiptoe Falls (or where the falls would be)

Base of redwoods

From the falls we followed the signs back to the main area (the trail signs actually say "Main Area". Along the way we crossed Pescadero Creek over a footbridge. Though low, it was still pretty. Soon enough we found ourselves back near the visitor's center, and then back at our campground.

Pescadero Creek

Pescadero Creek

Pescadero Creek

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