There are times in your life when you just have to be OK with the shortcut. This past weekend was one of them! We had record-breaking heat during our labor day weekend here in the Northbay with a lot of smokey skies so the hubs and I opted to head south for our hike. Long weekends = hikes further away than normal. Henry Cowell’s Fall Creek fit the bill!
The hubs and I try and encourage people to explore the world around them. This includes expanding your 10 mile radius to maybe 100 miles. It will be OK I promise! Exploring outside your comfort zone is good for the soul and also helps you to appreciate the beautiful place you are lucky enough to call home. The smoke in the air from California fires caused triple-digit temps at home so we headed south to Santa Cruz County for our hike. There was less smoke but the heat still remained.
We made our way through the lovely freeway system in the bay area to Felton (a small town just outside of Santa Cruz) in about 2 hours 20 minutes. It was definitely a good thing we left early as most of the parking spots in the dirt parking lot were taken. We found one of the last ones and checked what temp the car showed just before shutting down 88 degrees. Ugh. Then opening the doors it was humid on top of it! While this was cooler than wine country it was still brutal to start off your hike this hot and muggy. Not sure I was made for this weather!
Henry Cowell Hike
Starting out on Bennett Creek trail we were happy to be walking downhill in the shade of the forest toward Fall Creek. Even with the parking lot full, we did not see many people once we crossed the first bridge. There are so many trails to explore in this park! Fall Creek trail was nice and wide and well kept. Following this trail, we could hear the nearby sounds of the train and people enjoying a dip in the creek.
Head on up Ridge trail and enjoy the steady climb through the trees. Our water was going down fast here. While the climb itself was not difficult, the heat coupled with the humidity made it feel more exhausting. This did not stop us from enjoying the scenery! Moving away from the creek and into the trees, it felt like the heat was trapped in by the tree canopy.
At about mile 2 we ran into a trail marker that showed the S-Cape trail as a shortcut to the North Fork trail. We debated for about 30 seconds and opted to escape the Ridge Trail by taking the S-Cape trail. We are guessing someone had a little fun naming this trail! 🙂 While this may have been a shortcut, it was not short on scenery. The forest was thick with young redwoods and the narrow path quickly led us back to Fall Creek where it was cooler.
The footbridges were handy to cross the creek and dip our hands in the chilly water flowing through the creek. We crisscrossed the creek a few times and enjoyed being at the bottom of the forest floor near water. The trees were so healthy and beautiful! We would have liked to see the park before last year’s damaging storms but mother nature has a way of coming back even stronger than before. The trail was easy to hike and wide enough in most places for us to walk side by side.
Once we reached the parking lot we realized how much hotter it was than when we started. Half the cars were gone. We put in our maps to go to Bonny Doon’s tasting room and headed down the windy road to Highway 1. We stopped in thinking we could get a spot at the Davenport Roadhouse for lunch but apparently a ton of other people also had this idea. So snacks from Slow Coast and our crackers and fruit we brought with us were what we enjoyed while cruising north on Highway 1 with the top down. Traffic wasn’t bad heading away from the coast but was a complete mess trying to get to the coast…next time we are heading north when it’s hot! 🙂
Free parking, no facilities, no water, 90% shade, 4 miles (will return for the full 8-mile hike when it’s cooler!), elevation gain/loss 450 ft, dogs ok, closest town is Felton. Use the restroom at the little strip mall when you first exit the 17 freeway.
Map My Walk Stats (no laughing! We enjoy the hikes, we don’t speed hike)