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Theme: Parks with a Past

A Brief History of Bay Area Parks and Open Space
   Pt. 1, 1840s-1950s

A Conservation Timeline
   Pt. 1, 1840s-1950s

Up and Down the Peninsula and South Bay

Names on the Land
   Pt. 1, San Mateo County

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Sudden Oak Death

Oak Mortality Syndrome

Grazing Through Huckleberry Heaven

Old-Fashioned Huckleberry Muffins

Wild Lit

Note from the Literary Editor

Blacksmith Fork and Fox - Megan E. Hansen

Down Harkins Fire Road (El Mar de la Purissima - Greg Dunn


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Fall 2000

Grazing through Huckleberry Heaven


      We could barely tear ourselves away from our path of temptation, but the sun was already low and we had some distance to cover before returning to the Hikers' Hut. The hike back from Tarwater Creek was sadly lacking in huckleberries, although we saw plenty of bushes that suggested there had been riches earlier in the season. We turned right when we met Tarwater Trail Loop and followed Tarwater Creek down to Camp Pomponio Rd. and Pomponio Trail. The road continued to the San Mateo County Jail; we crossed the bridge over Tarwater Creek and climbed to skirt the jail to the north. About 3/4 mile up the hill, the lower end of Bear Ridge Trail meets Pomponio Trail. We took Bear Ridge Trail back to Brook Trail Loop and home, still bearing stains of our bounty on our hands and faces.

     Note (Oct. 15, 2000): Although the berries were abundent in 1999, they are somewhat scarcer this year. Even you don't find many huckleberries, you may wish to see why Tarwater Creek is so named - near the crossing on Canyon Trail and downstream, a thick layer of tar is floating in the pools and has spattered on the rocks. I had read about seeps in the area, but had never actually seen it before. (See also the entry on Oil Creek in Names on the Land. Pt. 1, San Mateo County)

If you're going... The trails are most easily reached from La Honda, on Hwy 84. From La Honda, travel west, then turn left on Pescadero Road and continue 1.5 miles to the Sam McDonald RS. Take the Heritage Grove Trail or climb the Town Rd. to the ridge and bear left at the Jack Brook Horse Camp. The two routes can be used to make a pleasant, longer loop with only a short doubling along Town Fire Rd.
      For a slightly shorter trip, you can also begin at Heritage Grove. From Hwy 84, travel about a mile and turn left on Alpine Road; continue another 1.5 mile up Alpine to the Grove parking area. Heritage Grove Trail climbs a mile to the top of the ridge where it meets the Town Fire Rd. and Brook Trail Loop, just beyond.
      The Hikers' Hut is managed by the Sierra Club and can accommodate up to fourteen people . Call the Club at (650) 327-8111 for reservations.

Total distance: 5.5 miles (from the Hikers' Hut) + 2 mi. (from Heritage Grove or Sam McDonald via Town Rd.); + 4 mi. (from Sam McDonald via Heritage Grove Trail); or + 5 miles (from Sam McDonald via Heritage Grove Trail/Town Rd. loop) Time: 5-6 hours (with lunch and huckleberry stops) Elevation Gain: 650' (from Hikers' Hut) + 550' (from either trailhead) Maps: Pescadero Creek County Park; USGS 7.5 minute quads La Honda and Mindego Hill. Trail maps are available at the Sam McDonald Ranger Station.

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