Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hidden Villa, Bunny Creek to Elephant Mountain




Hidden Villa is probably best known for the large, family-friendly educational farm located at the center of the park. The park offers a surprising depth of trails though beyond the jean-clad throngs at the farm. The approach to the trailhead requires a walk through the farm though where goats, sheep and pigs roam around in the fields while children run around laughing and playing and couples hold hands.

The Bunny Creek Loop starts out from the far side of the farm near the hidden villa itself. The trail is quite mellow early on and crosses a relatively flat Bunny Creek a couple times. An option to do a short trail offers itself, Beylah and I took the long trail and found it quite satisfying however.

Stairs leading up the Long Bunny Creek Trail

The trail climbs rapidly after the junction through 15-20 switchbacks over the next mile of following the creek. Many small waterfalls dot the trail and provide an unusually entertaining set of switchbacks. Most of the falls are a meer 5-8 feet but delightful none the less. After the switchbacks the trail crosses the creek one more time and zips up and around the hill, opening up to some views of the peninsula. Moffet Field and Mission Peak in the east bay come in to view.

The shade of the tree canopy eventually gives way to the exposure of chaparral country after passing an unusually impressive Pacific Madrone. The exposed trail luckily ducks back in to the tree canopy after about 1/2 a mile to connect with Adobe Creek finally bringing the trail around to a major trail junction back closer to the farm. At this point the trail has taken Beylah and I a surprisingly pleasant 3.9 miles through the parks north side but we were just getting warmed up.

Small waterfalls along Adobe Creek

We opted to connect the Bunny Creek Loop with another short loop making a figure 8 of the day. We continued straight through the trail junction and up the Adobe Creek Trail which follows Adobe Creek up a small ravine and over several bridges. The second trail option, the Grapevine trail offers a nice steep climb and some fabulous views. After a few switchbacks and some steep climbing we found ourselves rapidly gaining elevation.

The dry exposed trail up to the saddle.

The trail dumps out to a saddle (small ridge connecting two peaks) between Elephant Mountain and Ewing Hill spanned by the Hostel Trail in both directions. A left at the junction leads up to Elephant Mountain with very little climbing left to be done. The very dry chaparall seems like classic tick country up here and in between catching views of the Bay Area from San Jose to San Francisco and Oakland check yourself for any would-be riders who might have jumped on to your outer layers.

The Hostel trail sign marker near the summit of Elephant Mountain

The top of Elephant Mountain offers some impressive views but they are mostly obstructed by the 5 foot high scrub brush all around the top. Right after the summit the trail descends rapidly and continues to do so for about a mile. After just a few hundred feet the Chaparall turns to a lush canopied forest. The forest floor is literally covered with Miners Lettuce here (wich is eatable if you get hungry!)

The forested final mile covered with Miners Lettuce.

After the big descent the sounds of families socializing and laughing resume indicating that civilization is yet again close by. The trail spits out right behind the Hostel near the main farm. The main road leads back to all parking lots.

No comments:

Post a Comment