Austin Explorer's Logbook

Stats

Total Log Entries: 412 (Rank: 3rd)  [List Them]  [Map Them]
Total Distance: 1,671.92 Miles (Rank: 4th)
Average Distance: 4.06 Miles

Average Rating: 3stars (3.06)
Average Difficulty: 2stars (2.30)
Average Solitude: 2point5stars (2.56)

Earliest Log Entry: 4/7/2001
Latest Log Entry: 4/24/2022

Average ratings are based on the published values and not the values entered in your own log entries.

Photos

Overlook

Overlooking the valleys feeding into Bee Creek. [Wild Basin]

Log Entries

More here than meets the eye
Benicia State Recreation Area - 4/24/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 3.41 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Coppertone and I did not know what to expect when coming here to hike.  We'd looked at the online map.  We knew there'd be a few miles of hiking we could do here.  So we figured we might as well visit and start mapping new trails.

We started out at the parking area near the Military West exit off of Highway 780.  This is the easternmost edge of the park.  The paved Mike Taigher Trail starts here and goes for a bit less than a mile to the north.  The path is probably more popular with cyclists than hikers, but there are some hiking only features here as well.  The real downside of the trail is that is parallels Highway 780.  Though there is a good tree line blocking some road noise, it is rather loud nonetheless.

Two unpaved sidetrails branch out from the paved path and venture a bit closer to the Southhampton Bay Wetland Natural Preserve which the park surrounds.  This is more of a true hiking experience.  And on our trip the added distance from the highway greatly decreased the road noise.

When we got back to our car we drove around to the Rose Drive entrance to the park near its northernmost point and drove down Dillon Point Road to the southernmost parking lot in the park.

Here we embarked on a leisurly stroll mostly along the shoreline of the Carquinez Strait.  There are a number of promising trails up on the bluff overlooking the shoreline here that we intend to map out on our next visit.

Flower hunting along Newell Open Space Loop
Newell Open Space Preserve - 4/10/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 5.97 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 4 minutes

Before we stepped foot on the trail we started off our day with an unexpected wildlife encounter.  While preparing our backpacks at the car I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye and found a rabbit scurrying a few feet away from us.  It took a quick look around and then sought shelter between the port-o-potty and some brush at the trailhead.

We had planned our trip to Newell on this day in hopes of finding a lot of Lupine on trails we had hiked in previous years.  Measured on that criteria alone the trip would have been something of a letdown.  Several segments where we saw an abundance of Lupine in the past we found no sign of them this year.  Instead, tall grass had already enveloped the sides of the trails.  We did finally spot some Lupine on later trail segments when we had given up all hope.  Our wildflower haul increased dramatically towards the end of our hike where we spotted some on our sought out Lupine but also plenty of Poppies, Blue Dicks, Yarrow, Blue-eyes grass, Hog Fennel and Mustard.

As always, we still enjoyed hiking at Newell a great deal and the views can hardly be beat.  We did our preferred loop that touches all of the high points in the park  for us and totaled about 6 miles.  This included the Creekseid and Valley Trails, the Loop Trail and the highly recommended Prairie Ridge Trail.  It's debatable whether the Prairie Ridge Trail is in Newell or the adjacent Lynch Canyon Open Space Park since it straddles the boundary between each.  Regardless, it's typically the highlight of our hikes here.

Simple stroll
Sonoma Valley Regional Park - 4/3/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 2.67 Miles Duration: N/A

Coppertone and I just headed out to Sonoma Valley Regional Park for a simple stroll on this day.  I didn't even bring my normal GPS, so I just recorded the walk on an app on my phone.

Hiking to and from Lake Herman via Benicia Community Park
Lake Herman Recreation Area - 3/26/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 4.27 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 12 minutes

Coppertone and I started this hike at the Benicia Community Park since we did not know where the trail we were going to hike would end up.  There's ample parking here, though it can be very crowded if there are a lot of baseball games going on.  There were not many free spaces when we started, but there were plenty when we finished our hike.

We started off looping around the baseball and softball fields to get to the back of the park where the entrances to the trails are located.  We had used this point a week ago to hike the Rolly Wiskerson Trail.  This time we turned right and hiked what we'll call the Lake Herman Trail.

As the name implies, the trail wraps around part of Lake Herman, a small man-made lake which serves as part of the community's water system.

We spotted a good number of California Poppies and Lupine along the trail.  Another purple flower, which we could not identify was also showing off its colors.

At the end of Lake Herman we found an old house and a few structures perhaps used by the park or utility folks.  There's also a smaller, but much more sedate, parking lot from which to start a hike.

As we doubled back we decided to check out some of the well worn side trails that parallel the Lake Herman Trail.  The first is a small spur that ascends to the top of the small hill overlooking Lake Herman.

A longer parallel trail traverses the ridge overlooking the entire area.  Because we hiked the Summit Spur we ended up joining what we'll call the High Trail halfway through.  The ridge here overlooks the park to the northwest.  In the opposite direction you're right on top of the backyards of a housing subdivision. You can easily see Mount Diablo from here, but you'll also see lots of houses and a petrochemical plant.

The trail eventually descends into Benicia Community Park and joins up with the park's paved loop.  We walked around the park mapping out trail segments for this park before calling it a day after logging 4.27 miles.

Hilly trail skirting the edges of Benicia and Vallejo
Rollye Wiskerson Trail - 3/12/2022  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 7.22 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 44 minutes

Coppertone and I hiked a small section of the Rollye Wiskerson Trail earlier when we ascended the Vallejo-Benicia Buffer Trail.  We made a note to return in order to map out that trail, which was our plan for the day.

We started our hike at the trailhead located in the Benicia Community Park.  There's lots of parking around the perimeter of the ballfields.  A paved walking path leads to the back of the park where the trailhead resides.

The trail starts off climbing a small, but quite steep, hill.  At the top of this hill we found a family looking around anxiously for something.  We correctly deduced they were geocaching and were new to the pasttime.  We stopped for a moment and gave them a few pointers, which seemed to help and they found the cache soon thereafter.  We logged the find as well and then started our hike in earnest.

As the trail leaves the park it starts to hug a ridge separating houses from the watershed leading into Lake Herman.  Along the way the trail will pass by a couple of small neighborhood parks, Gateway Park and Channing Circle Park.

The Rolly Wiskerson Trail proper follows the contours of the neighborhood boundary and ends at Channing Circle Park.  But at a junction prior to that we opted to ascend the very steep connecting trail that joins up with the Vallejo-Benicia Buffer Trail near where we turned back a couple of weeks ago.

It was a windy day.  A couple of paragliders were prepping to take off from the grass covered slopes.  They had not worked out their logistics before we continued on down the trail.

We decided to continue well past our previous turnaround point near the summit at Doris Klein's Bench and follow the trail all of the way to its conclusion at Ascot Parkway.

There is parking along Ascot Parkway, so it could be used as an alternate trailhead.  We doubled back towards our car, counting up 7.22 miles in the process.