First hike of the year for us. I wanted to get a hike in since the weather was nice, even if it had rained a bit the previous night. Lynch Canyon was one of the nearest large parks we hadn't yet visited, so it was the winner.
There is ample parking at the trailhead and a restroom. We elected to do a counterclockwise loop through most of the park than consisted of the Lynch Road, Middle Valley and Ken Poerner Trails. This was expected to yield a bit less than four miles.
It's hard not to notice the cows congregating near the trailhead. We're not sure why so many seem to loiter here, but they serve as a reminder that the area continues to function as a cattle ranch. You're likely to see many more on the trails in the park. Some of them can be spotted high up on the steep hills in the park. We joked about the cows mistaking themselves for mountain goats but they probably were able to snag some of the choicest tufts of grass up there.
Not too many people on the trail today and many of those who were had horses underneath them. The horses didn't seem to mind the muddy conditions at all.
Through about the first mile or mile and a half Lynch Road and Middle Valley Trail surfaces were graveled jeep trail, so the recent rain had no effect on our hiking at all. I didn't think this would last, but it was nice surprise.
About half way through the Middle Valley Trail the path turned to an ungraveled dirt path. Given the recent rains the trail turned to mud at this point. Mostly the mud was firm, so your feet didn't get sucked into it but we definately got some mud caked soles. The soft dirt path faithfully records the hoof imprints of both cow and horse. This increases the difficulty of the hike a bit as one has to mind his or her step a bit to avoid twisting an ankle.
Hawks of various types love the area and we stopped to watch them hunting numerous times on our visit. They often swooped close to the ground along the steep slopes of the hills looking for prey. However, we failed to see one successfully snag a lunch. If you like to birdwatch, take your binoculars. You'll have plenty of opportunities to spy on them.
We spent a few minutes back at the trailhead with some branches to try and scrape off as much of the mud from our boots as possible. Our footwear sits on our front porch at this time with a few remaining souvenirs of our visit until we can point a hose at them. We'll probably save a repeat visit for the remaining trails a bit later in the year to give the mud a chance to dry out a bit, but not too late though. We'd like to see the hills as green as possible.