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    Sunol/Ohlone Hike
    (Saturday, March 30, 2003 near Sunol, CA)

    See also my photo album from this hike.

    Sarah & I arrived at the parking lot at the end of Geary Rd., paid the $4 parking fee, and struggled to find a parking space - the lots were rather full on this lovely spring day! We found a spot near the Ohlone Fireroad, and hit the trail at around 12:30.

    Flowers on a hilly meadow We hiked along the parking lot for a quarter mile or so before finding the Indian Joe Creek Nature Trial, which we followed for a short distance, then turned left on the Indian Joe Creek Trial. This trail climbed steadily along Indian Joe Creek, past many beautiful green oak trees and flower-strewn meadows. Despite the crowded parking lot, there were few hikers here. Most were probably doing easier hikes out by the Little Yosemite area, I guess. After a half mile or so, the trail turned up, waaaay up. It was a very steep (but pretty!) climb past the Cave Rocks (a large rock formation that had too many people on it to explore this day) to the junction with Cave Rocks Road. We did a quick route-check and turned right.

    It looked like we were at the top of a ridge, so I figured it would be a rolling hike along Cave Rocks Road and said as much to two women who were hiking near us. It turned out I was lying - it was all uphill for the next Calaveras Reservoir from Cerro Este Overlook mile or so :) The views were splendid, with Maguire Peaks to the north, Mission, Alison, and Monument Peaks to the west, and wild, untamed wilderness to the south and east. There were many outcroppings of various wildflowers, especially California Poppies, Blue-Eyed Grass, and Checkerbloom (yes, I had to look up those second two when I got home). After a while of climbing, we came to the Cerro Este Overlook, which had even better views down into the Ohlone Wilderness than we'd had all along. We stayed here for a few, stretching and snacking, then we turned left (up) Cerro Este Road. Our guidebook suggested doing a short out-and-back hike up Cerro Este to hill 2038' so up we went.

    The trail climbed steadily, passing some lovely patches of poppies and skirting a hill. Sarah commented that this was "like hiking through a greeting card." We wondered if this hill was 2038' or if the one higher and farther up was. We decided to continue upwards and see what was in store (A very good decision in retrospect!). We got to the top of the next hill only to realize it was peak 2201', the highest point in the Sunol Regional Wilderness. There was a rocky outcropping to the west, and we hiked over to it to perch there.

    An outstanding outcropping of wildflowers on hill 2201' When we got to the outcropping, we were treated to a gigantic swath of varied wildflowers stretching far down the hillside! This was the best spot of wildflowers I've ever seen anywhere, and we marvelled at it for quite a while. I filled up the memory card in my camera and had to go through and delete some images to make room for more. Sarah counted at least 10 different types of flowers here! After we'd had our fill of the lovely views and flowers, we headed down Cerro Este Road. We met a hiker who looked unsure if he wanted to continue upwards and convinced him that yes, its very worth the effort! Before long, we were back at the Cerro Este Overlook, and continued down Cerro Este. The trail descended steeply, and we had to watch our footing as the surface was a bit on the loose side. We had lovely views into the Ohlone Wilderness as we dropped, eventually arriving at Camp Ohlone Road and the Little Yosemite area. There were indeed a lot of people here, climbing around on the pretty rocks in the Alameda Creek gorge. Sarah didn't like the vast quantities of poison oak nearby, and neither of us liked the crowd, so we didn't stay long there, and continued on the final 1 mile gentle descent on Camp Ohlone Road back toward the car. There were many different purple flowers lining the trail as we dropped to the parking lot, which we arrived at 4:45.

    This was easily the best wildflower hike I've ever done, and one of the prettiest overall. It feels very remote hiking in the Sunol Regional Wilderness, yet its only a short ways from town. Definitely a must-hike!

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    Hike Stats:
    Distance: ~6.5mi
    Total Time: 4h 16m (including about an hour of stopped time)
    Elevation gain: ~1,500 feet
    Calories burned: 2,698
    Difficulty: 6
    Scenery: 9
    Trail condition/markings/etc: 9
    Wildflowers: 10
    Overall rating: 9+

    Last modified 08 February, 2011 MST
    Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul
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