Archery Range in Silicon Valley (Bowhunters Unlimited at Stevens Creek County Park)

Didja know that there are three Archery Ranges in Santa Clara County that are FREE and open to the public? They’re maintained by local clubs, with the County’s permission. The closest one to me is near Stevens Creek Reservoir, between Cupertino and Saratoga.

Easy to miss on Mt Eden Road

Easy to miss on Mt Eden Road

Find “Mt Eden Road” from the back of the Stevens Creek Reservoir or from Pierce Road, coming from Saratoga (past Garrod Farms and Cooper-Garrod Winery, which are also nice stops to rent a horse and sample some local wine  and look on the uphill side of the road for the range. (The entrance is at N 37° 16.585 W 122° 04.177  if you’re a Map Geek. It’s about 1000 feet NW of the intersection of Mt Eden Rd and Orchard Meadow Dr.)

Turn left if you're coming from the reservoir

Turn left if you’re coming from the reservoir

The range in Cupertino is nicely maintained by “Bowhunters Unlimited”

The Archery Range and shelter with picnic tables

The Archery Range and shelter with picnic tables

There is a series of hay bales, with targets attached, at varying distances from the shady shelter, near the parking lot. “Porta Potties” too!

View from the target range shelter

View from the target range shelter

There’s also a “field course” of 32 targets, spread out across the steep hillside.

Walking Course entrance, to the right of the target range

Walking Course entrance, to the right of the target range

All the targets are safely backstopped against the hillside. With normal caution, often called-out by nearby signs, you can shoot from a wide range of distances.

Walking Course in the woods

Walking Course in the woods

Shoot from as far or as close as you want!

Shoot from as far or as close as you want!

The trail is steep in some places, and I did get briefly disoriented around #17 ~ #19, before I saw the “exit” sign behind me. Generally the course is well-marked and even has a few stations with bottled water and shady tables along the way.

Beware of the Troll

Beware of the Troll

…and views of the surrounding hills

Nice views from the Walking Course

Nice views from the Walking Course

If you’re interested, it’s open to the public to come in and look around. If you decide to try archery, there are shops in Gilroy ( and one up in San Mateo County. A beginner’s kit will run you around $200 for a reasonable bow, arrows, a quiver, a finger guard and a wrist guard ( (No, I don’t know them or get a kickback if you buy anything!). Those shops can set you up with some lessons, or Bowhunters Unlimited can do the same for free at the range ( Give it a try!

FOOTNOTE on the California drought: I stopped at the nearby Stevens Creek Reservoir back in March and was happy to see that it was almost full…about a foot below the spillway on the dam.

Full in March 2015 (dam in background)

Full in March 2015 (dam in background)

This past week, 6 dry months later, the level was a (very sad) 10 feet down. Can we have some rain…please?!?

About 10 feet down (Sept 2015)

About 10 feet down (Sept 2015)

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Bicycle Camping (Bikepacking) Half Moon Bay via Kings Mountain Road & Purisima Creek

Park Entrance

Park Entrance

I finally found some time in the family calendar for an overnight trip. Off to Henry Coe we go…or maybe not! The forecast was 95F degrees in Morgan Hill, which would mean over 100F up on the sunny ridges that Coe is known for. My second bikepacking trip into Henry Coe was not meant to be (the first one here: )

It’s fortunate that living in Silicon Valley I can usually escape the heat by heading to the coast. A bit of research commenced and I found that many State Parks have “Hike and Bike” campsites, including Half Moon Bay! Half Moon Bay is a reasonable bike ride from home…at least on a 17 pound road bike (

These “Hike and Bike” sites are a shared group site that require NO RESERVATIONS! This is a huge bonus, given that the prime campgrounds are all booked months in advance in the summer. I gave a quick call over to the park to be sure my understanding was correct…oops! I explained that I planned an overnight from Silicon Valley and was strongly discouraged. “It is for people cycling the coast”. Hmm…OK…how about if I rub some dirt on my body and say that I’m coming from San Diego? I would think that anybody with panniers and camping gear should be welcomed (or at least not be subject to questioning or doubt). There is no firm policy on the State Parks website

Sooo…I went over to the forums and asked the question. I received a handful of constructive replies, indicating the “wrong person” answered the phone. I decided to go for it. If anybody gave me a hard time, I’d be polite and insistent, and sneak back in after dark, as well as blog about it afterwards. It worked out GREAT!

Pack up the gear and off we go! (Rear panniers, plus a tent and sleeping bag bungeed to the top). The big knobby 2.25 inch tires are meant for hill climbing in Henry Coe, not for touring…

Panniers, plus tent and sleeping bag

Panniers, plus tent and sleeping bag

A little zig-zagging around Silicon Valley, past Stanford, and up Kings Mountain Road from Woodside, CA. It was a nasty 94F degrees in the sun, and my loaded bike was around 55 pounds.

Leaving Woodside...

Leaving Woodside…

The reward started here, at the top of the climb at Skyline Boulevard:


Kings “Mountian” Road at Skyline

Then a short bit to the right on Skyline Boulevard to the top of the Purisima Creek Trail:

(Note: I have seen Puris(s)ima spelled both with a single “s” and a double “s”. The Midpeninsula Open Space folks use a single, while most other uses seem to be a double “s”)

Skyline Blvd at Kings Mountain Road

Skyline Blvd at Kings Mountain Road

My research indicated, from old USPS Topo maps, that the Puris(s)ima Creek Trail used to be a road so I expected a reasonable grade and no technical sections. (Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve and the map )

Purisima Creek Trail

Purisima Creek Trail

Ahhh…cool redwood goodness, with a burbling creek next to the trail on the lower portions.

Lower parts of Purisima Creek Trail

Lower parts of Purisima Creek Trail

4 miles of downhill dirt, until I reached the pavement. From there it was another few miles coasting down to the coast. The fog bank became visible as I descended:

Descending down to the coastal fog

Descending down to the coastal fog

…and then cycling a few miles on the wide shoulder of Highway 1. (Higgins Canyon Road could be used to avoid Highway 1, but it’s a few miles longer and about 300 feet of additional climbing.)

North on (wide-shouldered) Highway 1 for a bit

North on (wide-shouldered) Highway 1 for a bit

I arrived! I cycled up to the entrance station and a cheerful State Parks employee saw my loaded rig said “Hike and Bike Site? Seven dollars!” and in I went.

The Hike/Bike Group Camp

The Hike/Bike Group Camp

The site is quite large, and located just over a dune from the beach and close to restrooms and a shower (bring quarters!). Convenient, large, and only a few neighbors. The 4 tents were all about 30 feet apart from each other, with additional space to spread out away from the trees and 2 picnic tables. There were 2 solo cyclists, and a pair of young ladies. I talked to both of the guys. They were both from San Francisco, with one just finishing a 3 week trip, and another who just came for one night.

The view, 100 feet from my tent!

The view, 100 feet from my tent!

One of the best things about this campground is it’s proximity to the quaint town of Half Moon Bay. I carried just a few snacks with me as I later went to town for a BURGER and BEER!

29 cent gasoline(!) at a restored building, now housing a gift shop of some sort

29 cent gasoline(!) at a restored building, now housing a gift shop of some sort

I returned just before dark, and went to sleep fairly soon after. The crashing surf took a bit of getting used to, as did sleeping on the ground without a pad.

Lights reflecting on the fog/low clouds

Lights to the north reflecting on the fog/low clouds

The next morning, I headed back the same way I came. Where Purisima Creek Road meets Highway 1, there used to be the town of Purisima. All that remains a cemetery hidden back in the trees. (The town:,_California The cemetery: I have been to the cemetery. If you’re not afraid of walls of poison oak and want to look for it, drop me a note for details, or look here if you’re a “Premium member” Geocacher:

Starting back up, near Highway 1 at the

Starting back up, near Highway 1 at the “lost” town of Purisima

A stationary well. Oil, I think(?) There was limited exploration and production during the last century in this area.

Oil well? I know there is a small amount around here.

Oil well? I know there is a small amount around here.

That’s it! Great trip. About 35-40 miles and 3000 vertical feet from the geographical center of Silicon Valley. I intend to explore some of the other State Park’s Hike and Bike campsites, including Big Basin Redwoods and New Brighton Beach.

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Amargosa River (China Ranch, Death Valley, Tecopa, Mojave Desert)

About 1/4 mile from China Ranch

I recently did a big road trip through the eastern edge of California. Travelling from south to north, I went from the Mojave Preserve, up to the Sonora Pass, just north of Yosemite.

One of my stops was at the “China Ranch Date Farm”  near the southeast corner of Death Valley. I had heard and read about this desert oasis, including  from the DryCyclist and from Calipidder!

After camping at Mid-Hills in the Mojave Preserve ( and a reading of 99F degrees at 10:20AM in Baker, I blasted north in the car towards Tecopa and followed the signs to China Ranch.

The giant thermometer in Baker (99F at 10:30AM

The giant thermometer in Baker (99F at 10:20AM)

The road north out of  Baker

The road north out of

It was about 108F degrees when I got to China Ranch. Perfect for a stroll along the Amargosa River!

Heading down into China Ranch

Heading down into China Ranch

Follow the signs!

Follow the signs!

Remote and Air Conditioned!

Remote and Air Conditioned!

A quirky bit of their decor!

A quirky bit of their decor!

Dates, wrapped-up to protect them

Dates, wrapped-up to protect them

Enough about the Date Farm. Go, buy a shake or a loaf of date bread, talk to the nice people…back to my main point: The RIVER!

I strolled in the heat, just a bit downhill from China Ranch, and passed a few old signs of human habitation



…and then saw the huge green streak against the barren valley walls. There must be water here, at least occasionally!

The Amargosa River, looking downstream from China Ranch

The Amargosa River, looking downstream from China Ranch

A sign explaining it’s an “Area of Critical Environmental Concern”, as well as giving credit to the Nature Conservancy and China Ranch for their contributions.

Area of Critical Environmental Concern

Area of Critical Environmental Concern

…descending down into the mass of green, yields some human pathways and flowing water! I could hear it before I saw it.. (BTW, did I mention it was hot and two species of large biting flies were screaming “lunch!” and attacking me?  I slapped at least a dozen and had no lasting bite marks, but they did keep me alert and moving!)

Flowing water (look closely!)

Flowing water (look closely!)

I re-crossed the river at a different spot, looked around a bit, and headed back to safety. I enjoyed my visit! I had a shake, took a short hike, re-entered the building to cool off, and hit the road!

Later in the day I visited Ash Meadows, just across the border to the NE in Nevada. It too is a fascinating desert oasis, which I discovered is also a part of the Amargosa River system!

Boardwalk from the Visitor's Center

Boardwalk from the Visitor’s Center

Railing on the boardwalk

Railing on the boardwalk “Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge”

A huge amount of water is gushing out of the ~2 foot gravel hole here. There is no visible “upstream” from this point, but a pleasant life-giving stream which starts here. (Yes, I did see some endangered Pupfish here, too. They look a bit like aquarium guppies and have survived thousands of years in these isolated desert oases.)

~2 foot gravel hole in the middle is gushing with ~2000 gallons/minute of water

~2 foot gravel hole in the middle is gushing with ~2000 gallons/minute of water


After Ash Meadows, I passed the turnoff to Saratoga Springs, and headed north to Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, where it was 115F degrees, and I kept on driving!

After returning home, I started studying a bit about the Amargosa River system. I found it fascinating enough that I decided to present more info!

The river is mostly underground, with a few exceptions of Ash Meadows, China Ranch area, and Saratoga Springs. The places I coincidentally visited or passed by on my trip!

In the picture below, the River starts in the high desert of Nevada and moves underground to the “Amargosa Desert” area near Ash Meadows, where some of it flows out of the ground. It then continues south to Tecopa and the China Ranch area. where it again becomes visible, at the “Amargosa Canyon”. From there, it loops north and expresses itself as Saratoga Springs, before heading further north and west, ending in the Badwater basin of Death Valley.

Amargosa River (from Wikipedia)

Amargosa River (from Wikipedia)

Here’a a link to the BLM’s page, with another map type:

The river is mostly underground, except for the rare rainfalls when it becomes a surface drainage. The Ash Meadows signboards indicate that the water takes centuries to move underground through the system. The Nature Conservancy calls it “one of the world’s longest underground rivers”

That’s about it! I found it fascinating that such an “intermittent” river system existed in this harsh environment. I was happy to to have seen the Ash Meadows and China Ranch areas and hope to visit Saratoga Springs on my next visit (…which will not take place when it’s 115F degrees!)



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Montebello Road, Black Mountain, and Stevens Canyon (Cupertino)

One of my favorite “quick but challenging” bicycle rides (MTB and road bike) is in nearby Cupertino, CA. It starts at the Stevens Creek Reservoir, near the quarry.

Park along the wood fence near the boat launch, outside of the paid area, if you want to save a few bucks. On weekdays watch for trucks for the first half mile, until you’re past the quarry.

Side trip to the dam

Gravel trucks, viewed from roadside parking

Gravel trucks, viewed from roadside parking

Stevens Creek Reservoir, near the quarry

Pass the quarry and turn right onto Montebello Road. Up you go! (It’s about 2000 vertical feet to the end of the pavement and a bit more if you’re doing the scenic MTB loop.)

Montebello begins (right turn)

Montebello begins (right turn)

After about a half mile you’ll see the Picchetti Winery on your left. It’s a nice little picnic area for the kiddies, with some peacocks roaming the ground, as well as hiking trails. (Tasting room details: The Picchetti Open Space Preserve has parking in the next driveway up the hill. Trail map and details: )

Pichetti Winery

Picchetti Winery

Keep climbing Montebello Road and you’ll see the reservoir in the distance and a bit of dust rising from the quarry (on weekdays when they’re working)

Reservoir and dust from the quarry

Reservoir and dust from the quarry

Keep grinding uphill, past the now-closed Montebello School (closed in 2009, after 100+ years, due to declining enrollment When you see the Ridge Winery on your left, you’re getting to where climb starts to flatten out (…relatively speaking!)

Ridge Winery

Ridge Winery

In the home stretch, at least if you’re on a road bike, you’ll see a big vineyard coming up on your right:

Getting close and flattening out

Getting close and flattening out

Silicon Valley below!

Silicon Valley below!

Side note: All of Montebello Road is “No Parking”. There is a “workaround” if you want to hike or bike from near the top. Apply for a parking permit a few days in advance and you’ll be given the combination to this gate, where you may park. Easy and convenient!

Waterwheel parking

Waterwheel parking

…and a little further is the end of the public road. If you’re on a road bike this is your turnaround point….and come back and do it 4 more times in the same day, like a local endurance athlete did!

End of the public road

If you’re on a mountain bike and want a nice descent through the canyon, go around the gate and head up another 15 minutes, or so, until you see the second set of towers and the vague summit of Black Mountain:

Black Mountain summit

Black Mountain summit, with the Pacific Ocean under the fog layer

Close to the actual summit

Towers close to the actual summit

When you’re ready for the descent, continue on the gravel road, with the towers on your right, and bear left at any forks in the road. When it gets really steep, you’ll be on “Indian Creek Trail” and soon making a left onto the canyon trail, where it is more gradually graded.

See that canyon ahead?

If you have a GPS device and are curious, there is a seasonal pond, just a few steps off the right side of the trail at N 37 18.779  W 122 9.675. In the spring (non-drought years) this fills with water. I’ve seen a bunch of newts lounging around here in late March or April in previous years.

Seasonal newt pond

Seasonal newt pond (dry!)

And, yes, at some point you’ll leave Palo Alto and re-enter Cupertino! (FYI: There occasional reports of radar speed traps way out here in the woods, enforcing the 15mph limit for cyclists)

Does it really matter?

Does it really matter?

There is one creek crossing, which does become an uncrossable raging torrent after major storms. Today it was a pleasant trickle, about 4 inches deep.

Dangerous during a storm

Dangerous during a storm

Eventually you’ll get back to pavement and see a few rustic homes. Below is the intersection with (crazy steep) Redwood Gulch Road. There is roadside parking here for about 4 cars if you’re interested. No parking further up the canyon.

Redwood Gulch intersection

Redwood Gulch intersection

A few more miles of peaceful pavement follows the meandering Stevens Creek to where it empties into the reservoir near the quarry.

Following the creek to the reservoir

Following the creek to the reservoir

Small side trip: Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson were killed nearby in 2008 by a Sheriff’s Deputy who fell asleep at the wheel.  If you parked on the side of the reservoir, like I did, you passed the Ghost Bike on your left and the accident site on the embankment before that on your right. Both were accomplished athletes, with Kristy having won the Hawaii Ironman in her age 25-29 group and was expected to be on the US Olympic team.

Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson, 2008

Kristy Gough and Matt Peterson, 2008

The actual spot,

The actual spot

That’s it! 20 miles and ~2600 feet of elevation. My Strava track, which can be downloaded in the “tools” section, where you see the wrench, is here:

Enjoy this cycling loop, or come here as a hiker to (permit only) Waterwheel Parking, Picchetti Ranch, or Redwood Gulch

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Dowdy Ranch > Walsh Trail > Pacheco Camp (Henry Coe State Park)


The lesser-known Dowdy Ranch entrance to Henry Coe State Park is open seasonally to cars on weekends starting in May. Four of us enjoyed a lengthy hike on the first open weekend of 2015. (Details and location of the park entrance:

After driving the 8 miles of well-graded gravel from Highway 152 (Pacheco Pass), we parked the cars and were soon walking past the summit of Burra-Burra Peak.

(You can also enter the park 24/7/365 by leaving your car down by Highway 152. The gravel road is always open to hikers and cyclists. It’s about 80 minutes uphill if you’re  a reasonably strong cyclist and ALOT of fun coming back down, despite the posted 15mph speed limit!

(History geeks will want to know that a Civil War-era copper mine was briefly attempted at Burra Burra Peak. It was named after the Burra Burra copper mine in Tennessee that became part of the Confederacy, necessitating the Union to look for an alternate source of copper. )


Below is a view from the backside of Burra Burra Peak, on the Center Flats Road. The chaparral-covered ridge includes (a trail I can’t figure out on the map) and the far valley includes Kaiser-Aetna Road, north towards Orestimba Corral.


After a bit, we turn right onto the Walsh Trail and start down, down, down… Few hikers come this way and even fewer bicycles.


Finally at the bottom, we find the creek and the Tin Cabin:


Complete with two broken bedframes and signs of rodents spending some time there (i.e. “hantavirus”).


As we cross the creek, the first in our group spots a turtle (not very effectively) running for cover. Just below the dry rock, notice the smaller underwater “rock” that’s shaped like a turtle!


..and crossing the meadow, with the cabin and creek behind us,  ready to climb out of the canyon:


We reach Pacheco Ridge Road after a very steep climb (“steep” like Steer Ridge and the Mt Sizer “shortcut”, if you “know Coe”. My Strava track shows 500 feet of climbing in 0.4 miles = ~25% grade.)

Finally we get to “Coe normal” roads, versus the “Coe steep” Walsh Trail:


From Pacheco Ridge Road we see the currently-dry Pacheco Falls area.


…and many scattered Mariposa Lillies prospering in the drought and poor soil


The occasional shade and flatter stretches of road are welcome after the climbing we’ve done so far.


Soon we see Pacheco Camp:


Pacheco Camp is a maintained and padlocked building, with kitchen facilities, used for various official State Park activities. (I think…I’ve asked the question of who gets to use it and under what circumstances. I’ve never been able to get an answer of who has the keys and makes the decisions. If anyone knows, please let me know. If it’s a benefit of being a Coe volunteer in the backcountry, it may be a motivator. As a secret, it’s demotivating…)

Anyway…it’s an awesome place to visit regardless, including shade, picnic tables, pit toilets, and a reliable source of great water. The water is gravity-fed to a sink and a shower house(!) from way uphill at the Live Oak Spring. Kudos to park volunteer “Paul L” and others for their work in improving and maintaining the water sources in Coe.


Time to start the return trip, this time down the other side of the canyon, past the proper trail to Pacheco Falls:


Here’s an older picture of Pacheco Falls, late April 2012, a few hours before sunset:

(Pacheco Falls, late April 2012)

A little further down Wagon Road we pass Wilson Tower, peeking above the trees, just to the right of center. The tower is for backcountry radio communications. There’s a great logbook near the tower, under some rocks. It was placed by geocachers, but is well known by cyclists too. Fun to read, but we didn’t stop this time:


Finally we head down the Hersman Trail and soon see the buildings and picnic area at Dowdy Ranch in the distance.


That’s it! About 16 miles and 3500 vertical feet. My Strava track missed the last few miles:

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Jurassic Faces & Applejacks! Portola Valley > La Honda > Alpine Road Cycling Loop


One of my favorite cycling loops is to park my car in Woodside or Portola Valley and do a nice counterclockwise loop over the Santa Cruz mountains! I park in either of two locations: the bottom of Windy Hill Open Space, or behind the newer location of Roberts Market in Portola Valley (Alpine Road at Portola Road). Roberts is a “mandatory” stop for an Arizona Iced tea (or a Boddington’s in a paper bag)  and one of their small pre-packaged scraps of exotic cheese when I’m done. (I’m getting ahead of myself!)


A few miles of flat-to-downhill, heading NW, Portola Road takes you to the bottom of Old La Honda Road (“OLH”). OLH is quite well know by cyclists as a safe and scenic (and steep, but not “insanely steep”) route up to Skyline Blvd, as well as over the other side towards the town of La Honda.

OLH is also used as a measure of fitness in a local club’s ride classification system (I used to be a “B” but have moved up to a “C”.) This is the beginning of OLH:


Eventually you’ll climb up past some large and often interesting, homes through the redwood trees, to Skyline Blvd. Crossing over Skyline you’ll eventually break out of the redwoods down to some great coastal views as you descend. This picture actually includes the fogged-over coast in the background:


It’s easy to miss the semi-famous Jurassic Faces, carved into the sandstone:


Look for them on your left, as you descend past the lengthy sandstone cutaway next to the road. This photo is looking back uphill:


…and this photo is that road cut from across the valley:


Eventually the VERY quiet road merges with Highway 84, just before the red barn, which is now part of the (Permit only) La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve:


Highway 84 is a major route to the coast, but it has a decent shoulder and I feel safe in the downhill direction.

Soon you’ll see the little town of La Honda. On your right will be the Fire Station, followed by a small plaza with the Post Office and Country Store. The store has great sandwiches, and you can take them across the street to Applejack’s Bar if you want!



Applejack’s was actually a 19th century blacksmith shop, with some sections of their wood floor being VERY old, or maybe “original”. Their weekday hours are a bit inconsistent and they don’t have a website. Quaint little place!


Between Applejacks and the Country Store is the town’s only crosswalk. If you go uphill to the left, you can explore a maze of homes and cottages where most of the residents live.

Continuing down Highway 84, turn left after about a mile onto Pescadero Road. This is also a major route the coast and to (guess where?) “Pescadero!”.

(If you’re interested in going a bit “Further” [sic][“Are you on the bus?”] and looking for an “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”, continue down past the Pescadero Road turnoff. I’ve been told that Ken Kesey’s old place is on the left at 7940 La Honda Road)


Tourists and stronger cyclists usually stay on Pescadero Road to the coast. My usual route is to bear left after about another mile onto the beginning of Alpine Road. (The “bicycles not advised” sign has been there since they “gravelled” the road last year. It’s perfectly fine now!)


Quiet, peaceful redwood forest, with a creek burbling near the road.


…and views of Mindego Hill from the downhill side. Mindego Hill is a landmark hill, recently added to Russian Ridge Open Space, but not yet open


…and eventually an intersection to a “back entrance” to Pescadero Creek County Park (“Camp Pomponio Road” from the northeast on the map: ):


…and later on an intersection for the main entrance to Portola Redwoods State Park


..and a view due east to Long Ridge OSP, just below Skyline. It’s the headwaters of Peters Creek, marked “Devils Canyon” on old USGS topo maps. (“Thank you” to my frequent hiking companion, Michael B, for identifying those cliffs!)


From here, you’ll continue your uphill “grind” for another ~900 vertical feet until you reach a new parking lot on Alpine Road. There are pit toilets here, but no water. Fear not, though, because you’re less than 200 vertical feet from the top!


From here, you can cross over Skyline Blvd and take (somewhat busy) Page Mill Road down. The better way (IMHO), which takes me back closer to the car, is to turn left off of Page Mill onto the now-closed Alpine Road (red diamond below). It’s open to bicycles and hikers, though it’s not paved. On my skinny tire bike, there are a few short sections that I have to walk down, and I take the gravelly turns slowly.


I find it much more enjoyable than busy Page Mill. Soon enough it re-joins pavement and takes you directly back to Robert’s market in Portola Valley with almost no pedaling!


That’s it! have fun! (About 30 miles and 4000 feet of climbing. Here’s the Strava track: )

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“The Land of Medicine Buddha” & Nisene Marks State Park (Santa Cruz / Soquel)

IMG_3702There’s an interesting place, uphill from Soquel, CA, bordering the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. It’s the “Land of Medicine Buddha“! They welcome quiet and respectful visitors to wander their interesting property. You can also use it for a “secret backdoor” into Nisene Marks State Park.

They’re a Tibetan Buddhist retreat and educational center. Their website explains it better than I will attempt to do:

Set your GPS for “5800 Prescott Rd, Soquel, CA” and you’ll eventually get to a small bridge and this small sign:


I highly recommend parking just before the bridge, where there is room for about 6 cars. If that’s full, there’s scattered roadside parking a few hundred feet back. (There isn’t really any reason to take your car into the property. The signs and navigation are a bit tricky and I’m encouraging visitors to keep the impact low and arrive on foot!)



Wander around the main buildings a bit and “explore”.


Turn the Prayer Wheel for peace and happiness, in the properly marked direction, of course!


IMG_3693 IMG_3695


There are a some signs, as well as a few roughly-drawn photocopied trail maps available. If you have an electronic toy that can download “real” maps, like Open Street Maps, it will be much more helpful…particularly if you want to wander further into the State Park.


Poison Oak? Why yes! It does seem to be thriving during this severe drought. Too bad it isn’t a cash crop, like almonds or rice, that can be sold to other states and countries…


A sign from a circular trail in the upper LMB property:


…and one more shot: a typical trail in the Forest of Nisene Marks: old redwood stumps and newer second growth redwoods.IMG_3724

Getting there: Waze on my iPhone easily brought me the few miles uphill from Soquel, CA. Drive slowly, as the roads are a tight squeeze if someone is coming the other way.

Here is a map of the Forest of Nisene Marks (last page) The land of Medicine Buddha is located just above the “Legend” on that map. To see the minor trails, connecting between the Nisene’s West Ridge trail and the Land of Medicine Buddha, please see, starting at the lower-center, near where it says “Yurt Village”:

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