Tag Archives: Hiking

Ewoldsen Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

IMG_8973While camping up in Big Sur I wanted to make sure Katie and I tried a hike since there are so many in that area. I googled some and found the perfect one only 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park called Ewoldsen Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It has the best of everything that Big Sur has to offer from spectacular ocean views to redwood groves and forests. I was super excited to give it a try.

We headed down to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and pulled into the lot. The sign read parking $10, but since we were camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park our parking was free with our fee at the campsite. The lot was packed so we parked along the road on the way back out as someone left. I believe there is also free parking on the main road before you turn into the state park too.

After we parked we filled our camel packs and headed to the restroom and then to the head of the trail. Ewoldsen Trail is clearly marked to the left side of the entrance after you reach the small ranger house. It is a 4.5 mile loop hike with a 1,600ft elevation gain. It’s about 1 mile out to the 2 mile loop where you follow the same mile back to the start. And since you’re doing the 2 mile loop make sure you don’t miss the small jaunt uphill to the look out and the end of the trail.

Katie and I set out on the trail without much guidance and immediately were in the middle of huge redwood trees. We crossed the McWay Creek a few times back and forth over rocks and small wooden planks. In our back and forth we accidentally missed the sign for the first turn off to the Ewoldsen Trail and followed the creek until it dead ended at a 30 ft high gentle waterfall full of moss and green lush plant life called Canyon Falls.

We took a few pictures while getting attacked by small flies. Then, knowing time was of the essence due to the time change we quickly backtracked to the sign we had missed. If you’re going to hike the trail and want to skip the waterfall keep to the right of the creek.

We stood at the trail sign for a moment deciding if we had time. What the heck, we’ll give it a shot. If it starts to get dark before we hit the lookout we will just turn around and come back. Besides, there were still people on the trail heading out with us and it was only about 3pm.

We followed the trail to the right and up on some switchbacks. We zigzagged up and up and waited for the trail to level off which it rarely did. There were steeper and less steep sections, but it was almost always up. It felt as if the trail would never stop going up. We passed through groves of redwood trees and others labeled along the trail, each a little different than the last. We passed huge redwood trees standing on the trail hallowed out from who knows and even more lying on the ground cut down with the cuts completely smoothed by the weather.

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We came to a large bridge and finally decided it was time to ask someone how much father the 2 mile loop was down the trail. It seemed like we had been walking forever and being in the canyon the sun was shaded by the trees, shrubs, and mountain around us. We asked a couple and the guy told us the loop was another 5 minutes down the trail, that the loop should take us about an hour, and that we should be sure to take the turn off to the lookout when we reach it. It’s worth it was his reasoning.

We continued for another 15 minutes and finally reached the beginning of the loop. We spoke with a lady and man and she told us the loop was 2 miles long, which we already knew, but seeing her do it made us feel as though it would easily be accomplished. Then we realized that she didn’t finish the trail as she said the trial is easier to the right and she came from that way. She must have walked out as far as she could and then turned around. Still determined we could do it, we started up the trail to the right.

The trail continued with more elevation, but not as much as the beginning. It continued to zigzag back and forth and around curves. We placed our feet carefully as the trail was riddled with roots peeking out that we occasionally stumbled over our ankles giving out a few times when we landed on one smaller than expected. With a mountain ridge to one side and a long steep decline into scrubs and brush below falling was not something we wanted anything to do with. The trail steepened and I knew the turn off must be getting close.

Another couple passed us and shortly afterward we came to the turn off to the lookout. The trail steepened again and we headed up without giving much thought to how we would have to come back down that same section of the trail. We reached a map with the intersecting trails on it and headed left to a beautiful overlook. Further down we finally reached a bench and a sign that read “End of Trail”. We stopped here for a short rest taking in the view and eating some power bars to energize us for the 2nd half of the loop we would need to take back. We could see the yellow grass to the end of the cliff, the rocks and crystal blue water below, and then the ocean and clouds above the horizon for as far as we could see. It was incredible.

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The views didn’t stop at the lookout. As we continued the loop there were several clearings that gave us great views of the ocean. One where we were right on the edge of the cliff and another that you could see between the canyon ridges. We turned a corner and suddenly were back in the canyon trekking down between redwoods again. The way down went a lot faster than up even though the trail was trickier in some sections. Our pace just seemed to increase with each step we took and before we knew it we were back where the loop began.

We headed back out on the same 1 mile section we came in on and as we reached the original first turn onto the trail we realized where we should have crossed the small wooden plank the first time and skipped climbing the rocks across. We exited the trail with about 20 minutes to spare before sunset. Just in time.

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Katie and I both really enjoyed this hike. Katie even said it was one of the best hikes she’s been on with me yet. I’m not sure this one is great for people of all ages as along the trail we saw one elderly lady that turned back and another elderly man that had fallen and gotten hurt. I would say this trail is great for those that are somewhat in shape. Older children could probably do it pretty easily, though there are some tricky sections that they might need help with. All in all, this hike’s views are definitely worth the effort.

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Beautiful Views at Doe Mountain Trail

IMG_8973My friend Caroline and I had only a little time left in Sedona Arizona before we had to head back to Los Angeles. We wanted to do a hike so I picked out one from my book, Sedona’s Top 10 Hikes by Dennis Andres, I got from the Oak Creek Visitor CenterDoe Mountain Trail was it’s name and it was said to have some of the best views of all the hikes nearby.

We headed through Sedona on 89A and took a right at a light onto Dry Creek Road, heading north. We reached a T and turned left onto Boynton Road and followed that until we hit another T taking another left onto Boynton Pass Road. The trail was down the road on the left, right off a big parking lot at the base of the mountain. If you reach Aerie Road you have gone too far.

As we arrived at the base of the trail and looked up to the mountain top Caroline and I caught ourselves thinking, ‘We’re going to hike all the way up there in just under a mile? This is gonna be tough.’ But the book informed us that the hike and trail would be moderate difficulty with many switchbacks making the journey a gradual climb up the mountain side. It stated that we would barely notice that we were going up at all with the trail being so gentle and it would be easy to lose our focus.

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As we started our journey we saw two older folks that looked like they hiked often on their way back down the mountain and felt a sigh of relief. ‘If they can do it surely we can do it,’ we thought to ourselves. We headed down the trail, past some trail markers and the sign in book, which we opted not to sign. Before we knew it we were at the base of the mountain and as we looked back toward the car, we were already up above it in the parking lot below.

We began our climb up the mountain and the dirt path narrowed as we reached the switchbacks. We curved around bends and climbed over rocks back and forth, each level leading to a longer distance of walking before reaching the next turn. The dirt was dark red and trees were perfectly green making for a beautiful contrast of colors. We gained elevation pretty quickly and each time we stopped to look at the view there was a drastic difference as we got higher and higher.

Trail was a little tricky and I stumbled a few times as my focus was on the scenery around me not what was under my feet. I tried to stay alert for the occasional rock, stump, and super narrow spots where you have to climb up the rocks or up some stairs without falling down the side of the mountain. The last thing I wanted to end my trip with was with a long tumble down to the bottom of the mountain.

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We reached just below the top of the mountain and noticed an arrow pointing the way back down. Just past this was the last climb up through a narrow chute bringing us to the top. We stopped for a moment to take in the view of where we had come from. It was beautiful. We also took a moment to take one last look at our remaining route up. Cacti scattered the edge of the mountain ridge and gave an interesting and drastic look that you can’t see anywhere else.

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As we came out of the chute I made a mental note of where it was so that we could find our way back. We started to head across the flat top of the mountain. At this point the trail becomes lost with only a few old markers left to guide you. Some have arrows, some do not, but luckily you can usually see the next one from the one before. After a short jaunt we came to the other side where it was even more beautiful than where we came from. Words cannot even describe it.

Instead of heading toward the east, like the book suggested my friend and I opted to take the walk through the different cacti, trees, and over uneven rocks to see if we could reach the other end of the mountain. We passed more amazing views and crossed over and coyote poo and tracks. We made it pretty far on our own trail, sticking close to the edge not to lose our way. We eventually came to one last overlook that we felt was worthy of our final pictures. It was getting late and we still had to climb down and drive all the way home so we decided to head back.

We found the chute we came up and climbed down it. It’s really the only way up or down that’s safe and won’t leave you on the wrong side of the mountain or stranded half way down the side of the mountain according to the book. The trek down the mountain gave us a slightly different view, but it was just as magnificent.

Doe Mesa Trail is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve never seen views anything like it anywhere else. As I continue my travels, I hope to find many places just as beautiful if not more beautiful than it. Even though it rained on and off during our hike I will never forget it. It’s one of those hikes that I will be sure to do again next time I am in Sedona and I hope that you will get to try it too.

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Hiking Vasquez Rocks Trek

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© Arpy

I had spent the morning surfing and even though I was kind of sore I decided to head over to Vasquez Rocks for an afternoon hike with a friend. What a great decision and amazing adventure! I only wish we had more time to explore.

We pulled into the lot, got our gear set and headed to the small visitor’s center to check it out before we started hiking. Inside they had a few live animals to be on the lookout for: snakes, spiders, and a scorpion. We took note and hoped we didn’t come across any of the poisonous ones.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is located only about 45 minutes outside Los Angeles. It is a 932-acre park located in Agua Dulce, named after Tiburcio Vasquez. Tiburcio Vasquez is one of California’s most infamous bandits. In 1874 he used the rocks to hide horses he would steal from the local farmers in order to resell them. He was able to elude capture by law enforcement in these amazing rock formations and his name has since been associated with them ever since.

IMG_8115We set out on the first trail we came across and quickly were drawn to smaller less traveled path that led us up a hill to a rock that was believed to have some ancient drawings on it. We didn’t see any ancient drawings, but we climbed the rocks to the top and got an amazing view of the area. We descended down the backside through the brush and eventually came to another pathway that led back to the main trail. We continued hiking, up, over, around, through, and on and off the main and smaller trails for the rest of the afternoon totally a little over 4 miles.

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Vasquez Rocks is amazing, beautiful, and so much fun! Climbing the rock faces are both exciting and can be a little scary. They are quite steep, but are also well worth the views. It’s fun for all ages if you stay on the trails and a little harder if you feel the urge to travel the less traversed routes or make up your own as we did. Go check it out. You could spend the whole day there, or two! Maybe you can even reenact some scenes from Star Trek or Roswell.

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© Arpy

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Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

IMG_8067I joined a meetup group in hopes of finding some new and exciting activities to do and places to see in the city. It turns out that in Los Angeles there are many different hiking trails. You can hike through the city, the valleys, over the mountains, and along the beaches and many of them have amazing views. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, located in Culver City, was one of the places that was suggested so one early morning I decided to check it out.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook trail is located off of Jefferson and Heltzer. You can drive to the top which has a parking lot with a $6 parking fee or there is free parking in a small lot at the base which is usually full or along the street which if you get there early enough usually has lots of availability. Once you start your hike you will notice that it has two main options to choose from, a 1/3 mile hike up the center stairs or a 1.25 mile walk along a dirt path that zigzags around and through the 58-acres park and  crosses the stairs a few times. Both end about 300ft above the trailhead for an amazing view of the city.

IMG_8072When I went I decided to tackle the stairs up the center, all 282 of them, right off the bat. I followed the path to the left of the main entrance and stopped at the bottom of the stairs for a few photo ops. It wasn’t a super clear day as the haze hadn’t completely lifted yet, but I could still see the top. It wasn’t going to be an easy trek.

The steps were quite big and I needed to take a couple breaks as I went, mainly because I was going right before work and I didn’t want to get all sweaty in case I didn’t have time to run home to shower. It turned out that I had plenty of time, so next time I will try to just power through the whole thing not caring and get my full workout.

IMG_8078Just before the last set of stairs there is a marker, putting you 375ft above sea level. It also has an amazing and motivational quote, “Step by step, your climb expands the cityscape a thousand-fold, framing it ever more broadly with hillside and sky.” I took the last set at a quick pace and arrived at the peak huffing and puffing. I took a moment to catch my breath and gazed out over the city. I could see the LA River and part of what I believe was Westwood to the northwest. To the east was downtown LA, but it was too hazy to see much of anything that day. Next time I will go later in the day, which will give the haze time to clear and allow me to take in the full view. I explored a bit and found a cute little explanation of the plants and animals that can be spotted in the area.

IMG_8082I started my descend down the trail that leads back to the entrance, not sure of which way to go. I easily found a trail heading down, but you could spend an hour just getting lost picking and choosing between back and forth paths and walking in almost any direction you would like to go. I arrived at the bottom using the driveway as my final path knowing that it was one of the quickest ways to reach the bottom.

All in all Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is a nice little jaunt through a small park in the middle of a big city. It’s relatively easy so anyone join in the fun, tackle the stairs or trails, and take in the views.

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Hiking at Iron Mountain

IMG_8050Iron Mountain is a hiking trail in Poway, CA. It is one of the peaks on a small mountain ridge that separates Poway from Ramona. It is a ranked as a moderately difficult 5.2 mile trail which I thought it was relatively easy. There is a parking lot nearby which makes it very easy to access and while I have heard it can become quite crowded it was not during my trip. Also, while dogs are allowed it is not overrun with them which was really nice.

IMG_8059You start out walking under the Iron Mountain sign that clearly labels the trail and down a dirt path which guides you to a beautiful canopy tunnel of trees. Follow these trees and continue out the backside of them to come to the trailhead. From there you hike your first mile and a half over rocks and boulders around to the back of the mountain and to the start of Iron Mountain Peak.

IMG_8060Here you can chose between a shorter less traveled hike or the longer trail leading to the main peak. I chose the harder trail of the two up to the peak. Another mile or so through gently sloping switchbacks bring you to the top where can see the most captivating views ever. You can see everything including valleys, other mountain peaks, more boulders, green bushes, and on a clear day even the city of San Diego. Unfortunately, by the time I made it to the top on the day of my journey the haze had engulfed the peak and it was hard to see thru to the beautiful sites promised.

I trekked down the mountain and on the way back I got to see one of the most stunning sunsets ever. The reds, oranges, yellows, blues and purples were washed together in the most mesmerizing sight I could have ever imagined. It made it all worth-while.

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