Friday, 23 March 2018

Streaming Your Entertainment Outdoors After Big Rains In Bay Area

Rivers, streams and creeks provide the instruments for nature’s symphony. Watersheds can be some of the prettiest places in nature, but what stays with you is how their flows and sounds can make you feel inside. After all, like a great concert, it only lasts awhile. Each song is an unrepeatable moment.

Now is the time to feel this.

Spring arrived Tuesday, right when the last in a series of gully whompers swept through the Bay Area and across California. The March storms have transformed creeks from trickles to torrents, and in canyons, the heavy rains have fed cascades, chutes and steps.

This weekend, watersheds through the region will be at their peak for the season. At many, you can drive to streamside. Some have trails for hikes or nearby service roads for mountain biking. All provide payoffs.

With clear, warm weather imminent, here are my No. 1 picks, plus other favorites, for this weekend.

North Bay

Lagunitas Creek: Marin’s prettiest stream runs from its first drops high on the flank of Mount Tamalpais past Lagunitas, Bon Tempe and Kent Lakes en route to the southern end of Tomales Bay. The prettiest spot right now is the Inkwells, a series of small, gorgeous cascades near Shafter Bridge/Inkwells Bridge and Samuel P. Taylor State Park. After heavy rain recharges the watershed, it is drop-dead beautiful. Another favorite spot is the secluded riparian zone below Kent Dam (take the Pump Trail and then break off to your left, down the canyon), a historical spot where a swimming hole was once dammed up in the summer months. Near the stream’s entrance to Tomales Bay, another cool spot is Whitehouse Pool. You can launch kayaks here for access to the adjacent marsh area, the Giacomini Wetlands, to explore and bird watch. Little known: Leopard sharks spawn in this area.

Contacts: Marin Watershed Information Line, (415) 945-1195; Samuel P. Taylor State Park, (415) 488-9897, www.parks.ca.gov; Whitehouse Pool, Marin County Parks, (415) 499-3795, marincountyparks.org.

Others of note: Petaluma River; San Geronimo, Nicasio and Olema creeks (tributaries to Lagunitas Creek; Upper Napa River; Dry, Rector and Milliken creeks (tributaries to Napa River); Devil’s Well, Archer Taylor Preserve.

Peninsula

Pescadero Creek: Following Pescadero Creek will take you to a series of pristine landscapes that span from redwood forests to a coastal lagoon and marsh. The trip starts at Portola Redwoods State Park. Near the visitor center, take the trailhead (near Iverson Cabin Site) for the Old Haul Road. It is routed along the headwaters of Pescadero Creek for 5 miles (one way) with an easy 500-foot descent into Pescadero Creek County Park and to Memorial County Park at Wurr Road (off Pescadero Road). The stream then runs west past Loma Mar en route to Pescadero and beyond to the ocean. Just upstream of Highway 1, on the north side of Pescadero Road, there is a staging area for Pescadero Marsh. An easy, flat walk, the Audubon Trail, runs into the interior of a 600-acre marsh and lagoon, fed by Pescadero Creek. Resident egrets, herons and owls are common. Roughly 200 migratory species of shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors have been verified here.

Contacts: Portola Redwoods State Park, (650) 948-9098, www.parks.ca.gov; Memorial County Park, (650) 879-0238, http://parks.smcgov.org; Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve c/o Pescadero State Beach, (650) 879-2170.

Others of note: Peters Creek, Long Ridge Open Space through Portola Redwoods State Park; Tiptoe Falls, Portola Redwoods; Brooks Falls, San Pedro County Park; Purisima Creek, Purisima Redwoods Open Space Preserve; San Gregorio Creek; San Francisquito Creek, Stanford to Palo Alto Baylands.

East Bay

Alameda Creek: From the deep interior of the East Bay hills, Alameda Creek flows out of the Sunol-Ohlone Wilderness, into Little Yosemite, then through Niles Canyon and Coyote Hills Regional Park to San Francisco Bay. In the process, there are a series of staging areas with payoffs, from top to bottom: Little Yosemite in Sunol Regional Wilderness is gorgeous when recharged with fresh flows with its small pool-and-drop waterfalls, a mile walk to get there. Downstream, Highway 84 runs through Niles Canyon. In Niles, there are two trailheads for the Alameda Creek Regional Trail: one on the north side for hikers, another on the south side for cyclists. The trail spans 12 miles west past Shinn Pond, Quarry Lakes and extends the final four miles to remote bay wetlands and where Alameda Creek enters the bay.

Contact: East Bay Regional Park District, (888) 327-2757; www.ebparks.org.

Others of note: Redwood Creek, Redwood Regional Park; Abrigo Falls, Briones Regional Park; Murrieta Falls, Ohlone Wilderness; Pine Creek, Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area; Donner Creek, Mount Diablo State Park; Wildcat Creek, Wildcat Canyon Regional Park; Bollinger Creek, Las Trampas Regional Wilderness; Walnut Creek, City of Walnut Creek.

South Bay

Santa Clara County: Coyote Creek may undergo more changes in its path than any other stream in the Bay Area. It starts as a pristine brook deep in a wilderness canyon at Henry W. Coe State Park east of Gilroy. Most get their first glimpse of Coyote Creek near the Hunting Hollow staging area and ride a mountain bike along the creek and past a gate into the park. The creek runs downhill into Coyote and Anderson reservoirs. Below Anderson Dam, at Morgan Hill west of Highway 101, it emerges as a pretty stream, with picnic sites. The Coyote Creek Parkway, a bike route, then spans 15 miles to Hellyer Park and Cottonwood Lake. Most stop here.

You can instead trace the creek north through San Jose to where it feeds into tidal wetlands near Alviso for the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Best access is on Dixon Landing Road. A boardwalk trail provides a route to the interior of the wetlands. Before it enters the bay, Coyote Creek becomes a tidal slough, and in a kayak at high tide, you can venture to one of the Bay Area’s ghost town s , Drawbridge.


Contacts: Santa Clara County Parks, (408) 355-2200, www.sccgov.org/sites/parks; S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge, (510) 792-0222, https://www.fws.gov.

Others of note: Stevens Creek, Monte Bello Open Space; San Felipe Creek, Grant County Park; Los Trancos Creek, Foothills Park (Palo Alto residents only); Los Gatos Creek, Lexington to Vasona. Note: Uvas Canyon County Park and its waterfalls remains closed due to a collapsed access road.

Source: Sfchronicle.com

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