Fall Hiking at Portola Redwoods State Park

After a morning breakfast and packing up our hiking gear, we loaded up our two toddlers and headed to #49 of 

60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco

, (by Jane Huber), 

Portola Redwoods State Park

, last Saturday.

The kids (1 and 2 year old) both fell asleep on the freeway, and off we went through winding Page Mill Road, past CA 35-Skyline down towards the shady California State Park in La Honda.  Last Saturday was absolutely beautiful and this picture was taken a little after passing Skyline as we descended towards Portola Redwoods State Park.

This is the most well maintained California State Park, based on what I read online and it sure lived up to the hype.  The Park Rangers Station was very neat, looked like a nice cabin and had a little museum inside which my kids were excited and scared to see the taxidermy animals.  We didn't see any mountain lions but we did see some wildlife which is always exciting.

We were aiming to do the exact hike that was listed in Huber's Book, 7.4 Miles crossing from Portola Redwoods to Pescadero Creek County Park.  We weren't able to hike the whole 7.4 miles but we got close.  This was by far the LONGEST hike we have done with our two toddlers.  Overall it went very well, and 95% of the time I was not stressed out that a meltdown was going to occur.

We started at the Ranger Station and started down Sequioa Nature Trail which descended towards Pescadero Creek. Pescadero Creek collected into a calm green pool as you can see above.  We saw a large crayfish that I tried to take a picture but it came out too blurry.  I saw another larger crayfish further down Pescadero Creek, but my camera was tucked away.

We crossed the bridge over Pescadero Creek and headed up to Tiptoe Falls.  My toddlers got really excited when they saw the creek and my son wanted out of my husband carrier.  My son hiked most of this 6 mile hike which was pretty amazing for a 2 year old.  It was a somewhat steep hike up to Tiptoe Falls, but everything seems steep with 20-30 lbs of toddler on our backs.  Thankfully this was a very shaded trail which was great, but we still worked up a sweat.

We took a break to check out the Banana Slugs of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Sophia, really wanted to be in the water so off she went into Pescadero Creek.

David, I love him so much, look at that smile.  He was having a blast splashing around Pescadero Creek.  This was a little beach cove right before Tiptoe Falls. The beach cove was much roomier than than falls and entertaining than the falls.

Tiptoe Falls, not very impressive at all but it's a waterfall!! It might be more exciting after a rain.  After visiting the falls we started to really hike, back down Iverson Trail, crossed Pescadero Creek again headed on Pomponio Trail which eventually led us into Pescadero Creek County Park.  Something that I learned on this hike is that having creeks or ponds for my kids to play at was wonderful, they got a break from the carriers and had fun splashing in the water.  There was a slightly difference when we crossed into Pescadero Creek County Park, the trails and surrounding environment was overgrown and not well kept as in Portola State Park.  It's not like we had to machete our way through Pescadero Creek Couty Park though.

I love color and Pomponio Trail and Bridge Trail had splashes of red berries hanging off of trees.  I don't know if these are edible but I thought there were very pretty looking.  By this point Sophia had passed out in my carrier and my son was entertained by my husbands Camelback and eating Gummy Bears, so Jesse and I were hiking as fast as we could.  We can hike pretty fast when both kids are in our packs and the trail has no real elevation change.

I don't ever stop hiking when my daughter is sleeping in my carrier, I have this mindset of "I need to cover as much distance as possible".  We crossed our third bridge where my son got too close to an unprotected railing and started up a hill again.  Halfway up the hill Sophia woke up and we had to stop a little later for a break.

It was 5:00 p.m. and we still had almost two miles to go, which is not very far but we average 1 mile per hour when we are hiking with toddlers.  After our break we, started hiking "fast" and Sophia had a little bit of a hard time towards the end but she made it. We actually saw a Racer Snake, which I thought it was a shoe lace at first.  Its a constrictor and not venomous but we still kept our distance.  If I see one more snake on our hikes, I'm nicknaming myself the "Snake Queen".

We cut through the Service Road to get back to the Ranger Station which we were all happy to see.  We finished our hike at 6:30 p.m.and the kids were happy to be in the car.  I really like this park, it had day picnic area, group camping, individual camping, a pretty ranger station and nice trails with lots of little creeks.

What I liked about this hike the most was Pescadero Creek, it was so nice to hike along a little river, it was really refreshing for the kids and for us parents.  I loved that the trail was mostly shaded and that I saw "wildlife", I also saw two dead mouses and plumage of a bird that once was.

Hiking statistics are as follows:

Elevation was up and down, but it was mostly flat other than going to Tiptoe Falls and going up Old Haul Trail, there was 200 ft degree of difference from the lowest point to the highest point.

Over all it was a 6.2 Mile (once again our LONGEST hike to date with our two toddlers), beautiful weather and scenery, relatively flat hike.  We will definitely visit Portola Redwoods State Park again.

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