Big Foot Trap

Location: Big Foot Trap (Collings Mtn. Trail), Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: < 3/4s of a mile. If you can get a spot at the trailhead it is only about half a mile. Otherwise park at the Hart-tish Park parking lot and it will be ¾ of a mile. (see parking).

Elevation: 300 feet.

Cost: $5 for day use at Hart-tish Park parking lot. I got away with parking at the trail head for free but I would recommend bringing the cash.

Parking: There are roughly two spots on the side of the road for this trailhead. Otherwise parking is available across the road at Hart-tish Park (see cost for fees).

Directions: I-5 exit 30. Hwy 62 turns into Hwy 238 and follow 13.5 miles. At the town of turn left onto Applegate Rd. At 15.5 miles you can turn left into Hart-tish Park or the trailhead will be a few more feet up on the right hand side.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen. It is pretty covered with tree’s, but sunscreen is always a good idea.
  • Water. No water at trailhead. May be some available at the park but I didn’t use it. Always better to come over prepared than under.  
  • Bathroom. There is a rest stop with a pit toilet roughly half a mile before the trailhead or one available if you pay to park at Hart-tish day use area.  

Experience:

The trail is pretty much off by itself in the forest. There is a good trail head sign visible from the road (see picture above) that has a foot print telling you that you are in the right place. You start by cresting a tiny flat mound between the road and the trail, then it quickly shifts downhill hiding you immediately from the view of the road. After only a hundred feet or so the trail splits between hiker and horse access. You will cross through a wooden barricade and start a semi steep descent. Less than five minutes into the trail you cross an incredibly unique footbridge that crosses a creek. When I went (early summer) there was no water, but I would assume in the wetter seasons this footbridge would be helpful to keep you dry.  Shortly after at about a quarter mile there is a wooden bridge.

On my first pass to park at the trailhead there were forestry services parked and I assume doing trail maintenance. The trail was extremely clear the whole time. I am also assuming/hoping the several arrows hand drawn into the dirt were communication between a trail maintenance crew. Otherwise it was extremely eerie to be down this trail by yourself not knowing when the last person hiked through, following crude arrows in the dirt…

I did follow them, however, and was rewarded with my prize. Towards the last bit of trail, it forked into what felt like two very defined trails. I almost went down the wrong one when I noticed the arrow in the ground pointing to the very left trail option. I followed it and was rewarded with a creepy smiley spray painted on a cut tree that passed over the trail. In retrospect it is not creepy but when you are alone, surrounded by forest, walking towards a big foot trap; Everything seems creepy. Later I saw that the right fork of the trail is a short jaunt to a demolished/decayed minor’s cabin. I will have to explore next time!

Up the hill on the left fork is the trap!  In a nice open space with a giant steel gate is the big foot trap. Thankfully, bigfoot was not there when I got to the clearing. It has been spray painted throughout the years and was remarkably still very sturdy. Although it would be no match for Big foot!

Big Foot History:

The Big Foot trap was first created in 1974 by the North American Wildlife Research Team. Which is no longer an organization. They tried for 6 years to trap Big Foot, baiting the trap with carcasses but all they ever caught was beers. The structure is 10 by 10 feet and made with 2×12 planks, combined with heavy metal straps, and fastened to the ground by telephone poles. In 1980 the door the was bolted open for good. It is now a tourist attraction and maintained by the United States Forest Service.

Full Trail Specs:

The Big Foot Trap is part of the Collings Mtn Trail

The trail continues past the trap and increases elevation rapidly up to the ridgeline before taking you along the western edge of Collings Mountain. It will drop you into Watkins campground. If want to do the whole thing find the additional info below!

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

Distance: 7 miles one way.

Elevation: 1000 feet.

Extra Trail:

There is an easy flat half mile (one way) trail between the Hart-tish day use parking lot and a rest stop up the road. It runs along the side of the lake and provides great views for little effort. If you get to the rest stop there is also a short walkway that takes you out into the lake and gives a nice view of the dam.

Until next time, Happy Roaming!

Zion National Park

Park Talk: Zion National Park

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I had the pleasure of having a best friend trip, with my ride or die Blake, to this beautiful park last May. Maybe eight months before we went we decide to point to a national park on the map go there. The only thing we planned was that it had a trail we could backpack…and that’s about it. We didn’t know anything else. Zion wasn’t on our bucket list per se, but it quickly became one of our favorite places in the whole world. Our trip was really broken up into 2.5 pieces as far as the park was concerned. Kolab Canyon, the main drag of Zion (where we did two smaller hikes), and Springdale. I am going to include all parts here in a single blog so if you don’t care about a section they’ll be clearly labeled, and you are more than welcome to scroll through. Scroll all the way down if you want a fun and real video of our experiences!

First stop

Kolab Canyon – Overnight Backpacking Trip 

Location: Kolab Canyon (La Verkin Creek Trail)

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: Lee Pass to Kolob Arch 7 miles (one way)

Elevation change: 950 feet

Cost for backpacking permit: $5 nonrefundable for reservation. $15 for 1-2 people per site/night $20 for 3-7 people per site/night.

* For costs to enter the park please see the general Zion National Park information.

Parking: Parking is limited at the top. I would recommend getting there early if you are just going for the day. We got in late afternoon which also worked out as we were camping and only going a couple miles, we were able to snag a space from a day hiker.

Directions: Make sure if you are looking to go this side of Zion that you put in the right address to your GPS (or if you are without a GPS) you just need to make sure you are heading north on interstate 15 (exit 40) and follow the signs. This is a separate entrance from the main entrance.

Preparation: For a day hike may sure you have water and sunscreen. For a backpacking trip you will need all the essentials. There are two water sources on this trail so you can hike with less water and bring a filter. Stop in to the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center at the bottom and they can advise of current water availability. When we went the creeks were FLOWING. We really didn’t need to bring as much water as we did.img_3668

The Hike: After a late afternoon start into the Canyon we set up camp at campsite two. Which is roughly 2.5 into the park form the Lee Pass trail head. Our goal for the next morning was to make it the additional 4.5 miles to the Arch and then the 7 miles back out to the car. However, as our first real backpacking trip (and my first time camping EVER) we severely underestimated the toll on our bodies of traveling the day before, immediately hiking into the wilderness, camping, and continuing on the next morning as if nothing had changed. We both felt like crap the next morning. We went maybe another half mile to a mile into the trail and made the decision to turn around. We would have loved to see the arch but our main goal was try out our backpacking gear and decide if we loved it, the arch was just a bonus. SPOILER: WE LOVED IT. We decided it wasn’t the smartest decision to continue forward not feeling well and then still need to hike 7 miles (up the 950 feet) to get back to the car, so we turned around. We still hit 10,000 steps before we got the car and we judged that a win.  Upon consideration afterwards we could have left our packs at the campsite to try hiking to the arch with less weight but as newbies to the backpacking lifestyle I think both of us felt weird leaving our homes and all our belongings behind.

Highlights of the hike. 1) The breathtaking views as you descend into the Canyon. As a gal who had never experienced this part of the country before I could not keep myself from calling it gorgeous, oh, about 100 times per minute. 2) The feeling of wilderness. As a sidestep out of the main portion of the park and really made for people who are planning on doing a serious hike there was barely anyone there. The feeling of being by yourself in this beauty is overwhelming. 3) The hike itself crossed a few different terrains. There are dessert sections, several creek crossings, a plateau of trees. It has a little bit of everything!

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Second stop…

Location: Zion National Park

Difficulty: All Levels

Distance: There are several different hikes throughout the park. For a full list I’d recommend visiting their website. Blake and I were able to go on a couple and as those will be the ones I talk about those are the only ones I’m going to list here.

Cost to enter the park: $35 for a private vehicle, $20 per person, Annual pass for Zion $70, Interagency Annual Pass (all National Parks) $80. The Private vehicle and per person tickets are good for 7 consecutive days.

Parking: There is limited parking at the park but the whole town of Sprinimg_3740gfield is set up to help the flow of people to the park. There is a free shuttle service throughout the town that drops you directly to the park entrance. Just head to your nearest shuttle stop! Once you are inside the park there is another free shuttle system that will take you to 9 different stops, just leave enough time to catch the shuttle back down from the park.

Directions: The two closest international airports are Las Vegas, Nevada (170 miles) and Salt Lake City, UT (300 miles). We flew into Vegas. Keep in mind there is an hour time change between here and Zion, with Zion being an hour later.

Preparation: Everything you might need for a day long excursion!

  • Snacks (careful the squirrels here are fearless!)
  • Sunscreen,
  • Camera
  • Water bottle: there are plenty of water fill up stations throughout the park but make sure you start with some water and have a good refillable water bottle.
  • Hiking shoes: No matter what you decide to do at the park there will be a lot of walking.

 

The Hikes:

Lower Emerald Pool Trail

Shuttle stop: 5

Distance: 1.2 miles round trip (out and back)

Elevation:img_3723 69 feet

Estimated Hiking time: 1 hour

This is a paved trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall. The path leads you behind the falls for a spectacular behind the scenes view. There are a few places where the water from the falls can get on the trail so be prepared for a few slippery spots.

 

 

Riverside Walk

Shuttle stop: 9 img_3706

Distance: 2.2 miles round trip (out and back)

Elevation: 57 feet

Estimated hiking time: 1.5 hours

This is a paved path that follows the Virgin River. It is a beautiful winding path that shows you a great view from the bottom of a canyon. You need to travel this trail to get to the mouth of the narrows and during times when the Narrows are open you can walk to the mouth of this famous trail for a quick view even if you aren’t going to attempt it. Unfortunately, when we went the river was overflowing with snow melt and the Narrows was closed.

The Town:

Springdale was such a cute and easy town to travel around. Very much catering to the tourist flow from Zion park the free shuttle service runs throughout the town not just to the park. There were a bunch of delicious eateries and a great little grocery in the center. We found a great hotel that was not too much for our budget that provided great views from the deck and hot tub!

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Overall:

Blake and I both agreed this entire park and everything around it was heaven. Even a year later we talk about how relaxed we were while we were in Zion. As a park it was extremely well organized that even when it was busy you never felt img_3782overwhelmed with people. The shuttle system really made the difference because it took the stress out of trying to get good parking at all the “good” spots. We really were at ease exploring whatever we wanted. Although we both would have enjoyed some of the more challenging hikes Zion had to offer, we both agreed we were there to adventure and explore and have a great best friend’s trip. We were not there to murder our bodies on hikes we were not quite physically ready for, or even we were, we did not want to wear ourselves out and not be able to enjoy everything else. 10/10 we would highly recommend this park and adventure to everyone, there is a little something for all levels and ages and is truly a joy to explore and pleasure to experience.

Video!

 

 

 

 

Trail Talk: Hidden Falls Regional Park – South Legacy way to Hidden Falls Access Trail

Location: Hidden Falls Regional Park

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 2.5-3 miles. I didn’t record on my Fitbit, but this is our best guess from the trail descriptions and online creeping for help. 

Time for us to Complete: 1.5 hours

Cost: $8 for parking. If you are going on the weekend or a holiday you must reserve your space online before you go. Thisis nice because you have a guaranteed spot when you get there. 

Parking: Single Parking lot. 

Directions: There is only one entrance so just follow the signs. It’s located at 7587 Mears Place, Auburn, CA and located between the communities of Auburn and Lincoln. 

Preparation:

 Sunscreen
 Water – There is no water fill-up in the park, you must bring in water you wish to consume. 

Heat Index:  This Park is located near Sacramento Valley . We were lucky enough to be in the area in January so it was sixty degrees and overcast. However, in the summer this area will get 90+. 

The Journey

To get to hidden falls you will connect the South Legacy Waytrail to the Hidden Falls Trail. The South Legacy Way trail is classified as easy. You’ll take this until you cross a bridge and then take the first left. Here the Hidden Falls Trail starts, and this portion is classified as moderate. Both paths seemed to have the same amount of elevation gain/decline, the only big difference we noticed is that the “easy” classified trails were wide with gravel and the “moderate” classified trails were narrow with dirt. This is a very design your own path trail system, as there are several other trials you can start or take and still end up at the destination of the waterfalls. I got to take my mom with me on this hike and we had a blast. I wish we could have stayed and explored more but were in a time crunch to get back to town for fundraiser event for the PCT association! 

The Falls

I love waterfalls. If its water and it falls I am the happiest person in the world so any recollections here may be biased. The Hidden Falls trail follows along the river and eventually twists you back to an observation deck for the falls. They are beautiful. The falls are fed by the western Sierra Nevada range and when we went the river was flowing! It was a great spot to stop and enjoy. If you are more adventurous you can climb down to the river as well and there are places to swim when it gets warm.

The Baby Falls

If you can’t get enough of falling water climb up back to the trail and finish it out until it connects to the North Legacy Waytrail. From there cross the large bridge and you will see stairs to another observation deck that overlooks Canyon View falls. These ones are little compared to the main event at Hidden Falls but worth the extra trek as the view from the bridge is delightful. 

The Park

The park is great, well organized, and clean. They have portable bathrooms strategically located throughout the park which is always nice. They have a good variety of trails from easy to difficult and good varied lengths that you can combine for any size length you wish to achieve. Their site claims 30 miles of multiple use trails and they have great placards throughout the park providing informative information about the surrounding area. It also looks like this is also a great place for horse back riding and mountain biking as we saw several of both while we were out there and I heard a few mountain bikers raving about the trail quality One of my favorite parts is that they limit visitors to the park to only the number of vehicles that can fit into the parking lot, and those who purchase a parking lot space have that space reserved all day.  I can’t wait to go back.

 

Until next time, Happy Roaming!

Trail Talk: Pinnacles National Park – Bear Gulch Caves to the High Peaks

 

Location: Pinnacles National Park

Difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 6.5 mile loop

Recorded (fitbit) distance: 8.84

Elevation: 1800 feet

Time for us to complete: 6.5 hours

Cost: 7 day pass for non-commercial vehicles: $25

Motorcycle: $20

Individual: $12

Annual pass: $50 (best deal if you live in the area and think you’ll be able to make it back 2+ times)

Parking: Bear Gulch Day Use Area

Directions: Enter the park on the East side. Once inside the park continue straight and follow signs for the Bear Gulch Day Use area. There are two parking areas. Either one is fine as the trail starts off of one and ends at the other.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen
  • Flashlight (required in the caves)
  • Water: The website for the park recommends 1 liter of water per hour on the trail. I took with me 4 liters of water which ended up being perfect for me.

Heat index: HOT. This park is notorious for getting extremely warm. I would recommend only visiting in the early early hours or winter/early spring if you are susceptible to heat like I am.

The Journey

Here is where you will be introduced to my best friend, Blake. Luckily for us, she discovered this great loop connecting three trails that we were able to conquer on her recent visit. If you wish to recreate this journey you will connect the bear gulch caves to the reservoir to the rim trail to the high peaks trail. Leaving the high peaks trail at the top and circling back down to the parking lot. Full video available for viewing at the bottom.

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The Caves

Follow the signs for the Bear Gulch caves and head out. This first part is only about 0.7 miles. Not long into the hike you’ll see a stopping point that warns you to have a flashlight before continuing. While we were starting we saw about four deer (not including the ones we saw from the car driving in). The caves themselves are pretty amazing, there are a ton of stairs carved into the stone and when we went through we could see standing water on either side of the trail. The website warns that there is a possibility of getting wet when traveling through these depending on the weather before and when you go. We saw a few places where little waterfalls could come down from above but it was dry for us as we trekked through. At the top there are two directions to go; only one was open when we went and thankfully this was also the one we needed. The one that was closed was the “upper caves” and the one we took was the “Moses spring exit.” It is at this point that the cave gets the narrowest and both Blake and I had to crawl on our hands and knees for a small portion.

DISCLAIMER: This caves can also be closed at any time. Check their website to see if they are open. There is a way to continue this full length trail without the caves but it’s definitely more fun if they are open.

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The Tricky Part

So at this point, we got lost. There is a sign pointing to the reservoir and we continued that way. Then the trail split. We took the right fork but it appeared to dead end so we turned back around and dead ended at the left fork as well. We backtracked to the cave exit and reread our maps. Then we went back up and took the original right fork that had “dead ended” but in reality was actually leading us back into some more caves. We were thrown off because we didn’t realize there was a second set of caves to traverse through before hitting the reservoir. So for you reader, there are two sets of caves! Also the left fork goes only a few hundred feet and ends at what we believed to be Moses Spring but there was no water at this point in the season.

The Reservoir and Rim Trail

The view of the reservoir after you get up the last set of stairs out of the caves is PHENOMINAL. We stopped here for awhile and never wanted to leave. Finally though we dragged ourselves away and keep going. There’s an easy sign pointing to the rim trail. This trail is pretty level and starts to show you some of those spectacular views. It’s a little over 2 miles if you just did this loop up to here and then returned to the Bear Gulch Day use area.

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The High Peaks

Here is where the elevation gain kicks in as well as the heat. We recommend you get started on this part as early as possible. We were trying to start early, but with the long pause at the reservoir and time lost getting turned around in the early stages, the sun was already high when we started this stage. This did not take away from the amazing atmosphere and views this trail provides. Take as many breaks as needed and find shade whenever possible to relax and catch your breath. I took about fifteen breaks on my way up and had only one minor meltdown, thankfully only caught partially on video. For some this is going to be easier than for others. I have a high aversion to heat so I struggled a lot, but I still made it and so can you!

Near the top there is a restroom (which is just a really nice port-a-potty, there is NO WATER up here) and a bench that shows you the most spectacular views. We paused for a length in the shade of the restroom’s building and then walked over to enjoy the view. We had the luck of seeing two California Condors soaring above us and it took our breath away. From here you continue up to the fun steps and narrow trail that probably enticed you to make this trek up to the peaks.

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The Fun Stuff

There are a few small staircases and then finally you hit the extra long one. Continue on to a ledge that is narrow and requires either some great balance or extreme trust in the railing. We were discussing how great it was to be coming from this direction because going down these stairways seemed scary and we were happy to be going up…..and then we discovered the staircase we had to go down. I was able to do it without too much trouble, but with my giant clown feet and nerves it took me a lot of time and a few deep breaths. While we are attempting this part of the trail WE WERE PASSED by a group of hikers who were all aged 70+. They put us to shame but just shows that depending on your ability level this hike is still really accessible t o anyone.

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Breaking Point and Heading Down

After the stairs we thought that we were done with the elevation gain. We were not. We kept going up and that broke our spirits a little bit. When we finally hit the split in the trail, that led us back to Bear Gulch, I was very close to having my second breakdown of the day. The sign is clear and says “Bear Gulch Area” and it’s only 1.7 more miles to the car from here, and to our relief all downhill. If you miss the split and keep going you head up the Bench trail which is two more miles and who knows after that, I didn’t care to find out. On the trail down there is a Condor Viewing area, but it paled in comparison to the views we already experienced up top and we were exhausted so we just kept going down. At the bottom it drops you right to the first parking lot and thankfully where we had our car parked.

Conclusion

I loved this hike. Yes, I know, it seemed like I really struggled with it, but that also is what made it so much more of an accomplishment for me. I love to push myself and see what I can really handle, it’s rewarding for me to make it to the bottom of something like this and realize that I did it. On top of that this hike had everything: Caves, the Reservoir, views, wildlife, and unique trail structures. If you are ever near Pinnacles or are coming to cross this park off your list of National Parks, this is definitely my recommended trail.

Until the next trail, happy roaming!

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For your further enjoyment, here is it all caught on camera (sorta):