Back in April we wanted to go backpacking here, Butano State Park, and do a nice 5.5 miles through some redwoods. Well with the state budget impasse, and some crazy wet weathe,r the park was not open to camping yet. 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. While Boyd camp was nice we really wanted to get out and see what Butano had to offer so we tried again in June (oh, and still no budget, but at least they were open). Butano Trail Camp does not allow reservations. There are 8 "environmental sites" with a pit toilet and NO water. You can either pack your own in or do like us and filter on the way in. You pass some streams about a mile from camp. Not sure if they remain available all year, so I would check with ranger ahead of time. Do not count on a ranger being at the gate. We arrived on a Saturday mid morning and we had to self register using the iron ranger. The 8 sites are first come first serve (and $10) so you could conceivably arrive and not have a site. It is about 5.5 miles from trailhead to the camping area via the Jackson Flat Trail, see map and profile below. To get to the trailhead leave highway 1 and head west on Pescadero Road, pass Pescadero and then head south on Cloverdale Road to Butano State Park. We parked at the gate/Visitor Center (see the stop sign in the picture). We did happen to see a ranger before we left, but he just asked us if we had any questions (without getting out of his vehicle). I think we asked him about water and he told us that he hadn't been up there is a while, so didn't know for sure if water was still flowing (it was and in more than one spot). It was a damp morning with the fog in pretty thick.
We (Dave, Leo and
I) left the trailhead at the Visitor Center and headed into the forest.
The trail is probably around 90 percent covered if you stay on the trails
and avoid the fire roads. We used the Jackson Flats Trail To Canyon
Trail to the Trail Camp. The cover was nice but it made for some low
light for the picture taking. I apologize in advance for being lazy
and not setting up a tripod on some of these shots to capture them correctly.
Everything on this
trail is green. The trail is well used and that is probably the only
reason it is not overgrown. The plants would definitely take over this
place should the humans stay away for a while..
Here is another
shot of the trail conditions. Much of the trail is heavily covered so
don't let this shot of the sky fool you. I simply took the opportunity
of the available light to snap one of the trail
damp section of the trail that was plank and wire covered. I hadn't
seen this technique before. It really was easy to walk on with the extra
grip the wire that was tacked on provided.
Even through the
drier sections everything was green. This area would be great if you
are trying to escape the heat during the summer.
Here is another
Banana Slug on the way in. Not sure what the shell is. Any thoughts?
So as "Smokey"
the Banana Slug tells us here, there are no fires allowed at the Trail
Camp at any time. The Trail Camp sites are very nicely spaced and marked
well. You almost have a private trail to each one of them. There are
trash cans and a pit toilet at camp. We picked site #1 but only looked
at sites at the far end. We figured the family we passed would camp
at the near end (We guess correctly). We also had some Scouts camp here
that night. Even with a fairly large number of people camping it felt
like we had it too ourselves. Great site layout. All sites have some
good cover from what I saw. It was very damp that night under the redwoods.
It almost sounded like rain, Dave.
Here is where the
Mill Ox Trail junction is. A little overgrown but you would have a hard
time missing it despite the picture you see here.
We made our way
through the narrow trail (You can tell this one does not get used as
much as the Jackson Flats Trail).