So the original
plan was to go backpacking in Butano State Park and do a nice 5.5 miles
through some redwoods. Well with the state budget impasse and some crazy
wet weather the park was not open to camping until May. So we decided
to exercise our backup plan of Stewarts Camp in the Ohlone Wilderness
via Lake Del Valle. Well that was full on the Friday night so we needed
so we exercised option c and reserved the last spot in the Ohlone Wilderness
that Friday night, Boyd Camp.The plan now was to hike in early to Boyd
Camp and then day hike to Murietta Falls.This is an ambitious day hike
due to the elevation gained/lost along this section of trail. Permits
are required for day use in the Ohlone Wilderness and can be obtained
for $2 in person or $2.50 through the mail. Reservations for camping
are done over the phone by calling 1-888-327-2757, press option 2, then
1. For general information about the Ohlone Wilderness, phone Sunol
Regional Wilderness at (925) 862-2244. Camping fees as of this trip
date are $5 per person per night with an $8 reservation fee. There are
only two sites at Boyd Camp. We reserved site number two. The ranger
I spoke with said with the wildflowers in bloom the sites are filled
on the weekends. So plan earlier than we did to get the site you want.
The hike in is listed at just over 2 miles and my GPS clocked it at
2.3, see map and profile below. We parked at Lichen
Bark Picnic Area and hiked in on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. Starting
elevation is 750 and Boyd Camp sits at 2240. The picture above shows
Mount Diablo the next morning from camp.
Here is the crew
on this trip. We left the trailhead at Lichen Park. See the smiling
faces. They forgot that I said this trip would be mainly uphill... Don't
worry they would be cursing me out soon enough (even though I warned
The trail is a good
mix of covered and exposed. The first mile to the Wilderness boundary
is not bad with you gaining 500' in that mile in spurts. Here is the
start of the trail from the parking lot.
You are mainly hiking on fire roads so the grade can get steep in spots.
Everything was green and lush which is much different than what it looks
like the majority of the year.
That water behind Leo is Del Valle. Make sure to look behind you occasionally
to see the views (and catch your breath).
Another shot of what the trail looks like. The good thing about the
fire roads is they are wide so you have little chance in encountering
the infamous Poison Oak in this area. Some of the more narrow trails
adjoining this one are covered in it, so keep a watchful eye out.
If only the whole trail was this covered, and level, this hike would
be a piece of cake...
You can see in this shot that you are starting to gain some elevation
now. Stop to enjoy the views of the ridges surround Del Valle. The trail
seems steepest after the Wilderness boundary at the junction with the
Vallecitos Trail. If you want a nice covered trail take this trail back
to Dell Valle, otherwise continue the ascent on the Ohlone Wilderness
Here is a quality way to close a fence. I would hope that this is not
a sign of the times to come with the reduced budgets to parks statewide.
At least the "rope" used didn't include anyone's underwear...
So we continued to the junction of Stromer Springs Road and took a right
to get some water. It says to filter so we all tanked up and filled
our extra water bladders for camp. Notice the hands free setup for the
water filtering... Yes it takes four of us to setup the hands free system
and by the time we had it setup we were almost done filtering. We decided
that next time we will need some water filtering music, so we may require
a fifth person...
Here are our shelters
setup at Boyd Camp. We setup shelters and packed our daypacks for our
planned dayhike. By this time I did not think that we would have the
energy/desire to make it to the falls (I didn't tell anyone my feelings
on this yet though as I was curious how far we would get).
So camp includes a trash can and outhouse. Water is back at Stromer
Springs about 1/3 mile away. It is a decent hill down and then back
to camp to pump water (this is why we pumped on the way to camp).
So the hike is a slight up and then levels out for a bit. Here is Sycamore
Flat with a carpet of yellow wild flowers..
The cows reluctantly got out of our way. I think they tired of us mooing
We descended into
Williams Gulch with a decent stream that runs through it.
We started up the much more narrow trail up the Big Burn. Great wildflowers
and even a slight breeze to cool us. Trail is covered and almost overgrown
These are the plants you want to avoid at all costs (unless you are
lucky enough to be immune to urushiol , but even then you might spread
the oil onto a friend who is not). Can you see how shiny the leaves
are... There was plenty of Poison Oak out there so be careful!.
So here we are after turning back from our uphill journey through the
Big Burn. We decided that a leisurely lunch at the stream in Williams
Gulch sounded much more appealing. We heard there was a little water
flowing from the falls but we would save that journey for another day.
We also heard that it is best viewed after some considerable rain to
really get it flowing.
The stream was flowing
pretty good and provided lots of opportunities to explore. If it was
warmer it would have been neat to sit in one of the many pools it forms.
Of course the water was freezing and the weather was a little too chilly
to want to air dry. There weren't many bugs, which made it easy to spend
quite a bit of time down here. The fact that the trek back to camp was
uphill also made staying around the stream seem like a good option.
We eventually did hike back up to camp at a leisurely pace. That night
at camp was relaxing, with the moon almost full it was bright around
camp. Not many people out hiking this Friday.
Here is Leo in the morning. I think he is preparing his coffee this
morning from his "sleep system". Although he couldn't hammock
between two trees his was able to hammock from different limbs of the
Oak tree over the fire ring (No fires are allowed in Ohlone Wilderness
but evidence showed that some people before us didn't follow that rule).
Our site was large
but the area that was flat and not torn up by hooves or covered in cow
pies was rather small. We put up all three shelters pretty close to
each other in the best clean flat spot we could find. The site has some
mature Oak trees that would provide some shade in the summer.
The fog came in that night and erased civilization for us. You can make
out the twin peaks of Mount Diablo but not much else in the Valley this
morning. My tried and true Sierra Design Light Year one man tent is
in the foreground.
Here is the sign post that you will encounter on the way in from Del
Valle just before Boyd Trail Camp. It says there is wate,r and yes there
is, but it is the same water that you passed at the earlier junction
down the hill. This is just the steeper and narrower way to get to it.
Not sure that you save any time going this way. I would just use the
road as the trail is steep and wet. Nothing like having to go up something
steep and wet carrying bags of water.
My obligatory "dead tree picture" as my wife likes to put
it. I guess I like dead trees.
So yes there are a few crazy steep sections that you would not want
to fall down with a pack. Trekking poles and good hiking boots really
help out on sections of "trail" like this. Here is Eric traversing
the slope. He had already amazed us with a skateboarding slide move
on a slope earlier on the trail. .
The red line shows hike in to camp, dayhike and hike back out. Scroll
down for elevation profile. Starting and ending point should be the
same but I did not calibrate my altimeter the second day so with the
weather changing it probably explains the slight elevation difference..
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