See also my photo album
from this hike.
(Saturday, March 30, 2003 near Sunol, CA)
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.
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
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.
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!
||4h 16m (including about an hour of stopped time)