Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hiking in El Corte De Madera Creek Open Space Preserve, California

We visited one of the oldest residents in the San Francisco area--the Methusela Tree. It's a redwood tree up in the El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve. After the 1848 Gold Rush, San Francisco was a boom town. Locals needed lumber and started several mills to harvest the local redwoods. This particular area has steep hills, so they didn't get to logging around here until the 1860s. By 1900, logging was no longer a viable industry and faded away. The tree known as Methusela was never taken down due to the knobbly, knotty nature of the trunk. It is thought to be over 1000 years old and was 225 feet tall. It was struck by lightening in 1954, causing some fire damage and some shortening. Now it is 137 feet tall with a 14 foot diameter at the base.

Methusela Tree

Sign by the tree

Daughter by the tree

Children dwarfed by the tree

Some of the fire damage

Knot good enough for logging

Hiding inside the tree

A nearby stump provided some entertaining climbing for our kids.

Also a formerly big tree

Don't jump!

Everyone gets in on the action

Grandparents and grandchildren

The tree was especially easy to get to since it is a short walk from an unpaved parking area on Skyline Boulevard. We drove down the road a bit, hoping to hike out to the Tafoni Sandstone Formation. This other parking lot was paved but the hike was about a mile into the forest. Across from the parking lot was a nearly fallen down tree and some maps to get us going.

Tree growing out of mudslide?

Getting maps and walking sticks

Make that 1.3 miles!

We were warned about various dangers. Rattlesnakes are native to the area but aren't usually out in the colder weather (this was late December). Mountain lions are also native and also less likely to show themselves. Poison Oak is a perennial threat. Banana slugs are often found on the trail in moist spots. Can you guess which of these hazards we discovered on the trail?

Walking danger!

Banana slug

Another slug!

Happily, banana slugs are only gross, not aggressive. We continued undaunted, though several of our members were getting tired.

Running to catch up

Cool trees

We found a burnt-out stump that made a good photo op.

How big is that stump?

Pretty big

Four cousins could fit inside

The trail had lot of beautiful things to see.

Another stump

A flat piece of trail

Trees growing out of the slope

Somewhere between half and three-quarters of a mile most everyone had run out of energy. We decided to save the sandstone formation for another day and headed back to the car. The forest is a beautiful place to visit and we'd love to go back.

Hiking back out

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