A bit of everything
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Distance: 3.06 Miles
Duration: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Coppertone and I were looking for something not too long or difficult today. We had hiked at the adjacent Spring Lake Regional Park in the past but had never crossed the boundary into this park so we figured we'd give it a shot.
Howarth is one of those parks that seems to have something for everyone. In addition to trails there are playfields, playscapes and even a miniature train. The hiking is not a destination activity for those who live far away, but there is a surprising variety of terrain from completely flat paved surfaces to rocky hard packed dirt with a little bit of elevation gain.
You won't find a lot of solitude here, particularly on the easier trails near the center of activity in the park. But as is typical, the farther away from a trailhead you venture the smaller the number of people you'll encounter.
The Spur 6 Trail had piles of rough rocks that resembled those we've seen in quarries elsewhere. I need to do some research to see whether or not that was the case here.
When hiking down the Eagle Scout Trail on the north shore of Lake Ralphine we were able to see a young boy catch his first fish along the shore. Unfortunately, the fish got loose right at the edge of the lake and got away, much to the young angler's disgust. He threw his pole down and mother and and father were trying to encourage him and keep him motivated.
Sears Point out and back
San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge
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Distance: 5.71 Miles
Duration: 2 hours, 53 minutes
For our second visit to San Pablo Bay NWR Coppertone and I headed to the flat and straight Sear Point area to hike along a section of trail that was relatively recently opened to the public. Termed the "Eliot Trail" on some maps produced by the refuge the path we chose today sat atop a levee that paralleled the railroad tracks that run through the area. To the north some fields continue to worked but mostly for hay production these days I believe.
To the south are the wetlands that have been recreated on what used to be acres of productive farmland. Now water, marshes and small dots of dry land sprinkled about provide shelter and feeding grounds for a large number of birds, the wildlife refuge's main customer. From a hiking standpoint there's nothing here that's particularly gripping. The trail is very flat and straight. There are a few views of far off mountains such as Mount Tam and Mount Diablo is the weather permits. But the reason for the refuge to begin with and the added interest for hiking here are the birds.
We're not birders by nature but we spotted Seagulls, Canada Geese, Egrets, Hawks, Red Wing Blackbirds, Plovers, Ducks, Terns. The list would be longer if we had enough knowledge to differentiate the ducks and others from each other. Suffice to say, if you like birding, you'll like hiking here.
Despite there being numerous signs indicating that dogs are not allowed on the unpaved trails in the refuge, about half of the people we encountered had dogs. One dog in particular had gotten quite muddy and wet by launching itself into the shallow muddy flats reconstructed to serve as shore bird habitat, not a doggy playground. I'm sure the refuge personnel are stretched given current funding issues, but some enforcement of the rules is called for here.