Hike | Redwood Regional Park

Hike | Redwood Regional Park

Whenever we visit California, we try and get a hike or at least some good walking in. During our last trip, we headed up to the San Francisco area, so before we even landed, we knew we wanted to hit some Redwoods. We met up with Linda’s friend Alexis from the area, and she knew a perfect little spot to head to. She does a lot of hiking in the area with her dog Bastian, an Australian Shepherd. So somewhat early morning, we headed out of the city and went over to East Bay. After a nice curvy ascent in the car, we pulled into the Chabot Space and Science Center, which is connected to Redwood Regional Park (you can see a map and info below). There is apparently some great science and astrological stuff to do here, as well as a nearby Archery range. Both were closed at the time. I think the Archery was due to some of the sprinkler the current micro-climate was dishing out. We had heard on the news that there was some rain sprinkles expected, but in San Fran, it seems that every mile has it’s own weather forecast. We figured a little rain, no biggie, onward.

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Redwood Regional Park – Alexis & Bastian

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Redwood Regional Park – Madrone or Redwood Peak Trails

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Redwood Regional Park – Trail Intersection

After parking we walked through the Redwood Bowl and started on what I believe may have been the Redwood Peak Trail. I know we started heading downhill for sure and eventually made it to the Stream Trail. It continued to sprinkle, but when we were down the mountain and in the deep canopy, we hardly noticed the rain. We continued along the Stream Trail, which has some cool spots with great trees and moss covered ground, the type of forest that we don’t see much of, and when we do, it’s mainly on TV. We were coming to the end of the Stream Trail, and the rain started picking up. We had to make this one clearing, and try and pick up the West Ridge Trail to head back up the mountain. At this point, the rain was coming. After a quarter to half mile, we came to the junction for West Ridge Trail. Just our luck, it was closed at this point. We started heading back down the Stream Trail to find another connection, and eventually went back up the mountain on Chown Trail. It was a steep climb up, but was the shortest path. The rain was really coming down now, to the point where we had mini water falls cascading over our feet as we continued trudging upward. We were all completely soaked. I had forgotten my coat, which would have been nicely suited for this to some degree, so my newly purchased Russian River Brewing jacket was clinging to me. Alexis, who was somewhat prepared, was also soaked to the bone, so not sure it would have really helped at this point. The Chown Trail brought us out onto the West Ridge Trail finally, everyone pretty exhausted in addition to the wetness (though Bastian seemed ready to keep going, minus the occasional annoying shake off). The West Ridge Trail is basically a fire road, so we still had a climb, but not the switchbacks we had just a little earlier. We made it back to the car, and the girls changed into something dry. None of us expected to run into a monsoon during this hike. So we headed to Drake’s Brewing Company afterwards, and you can read about that and Russian River Brewing here.

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Redwood Regional Park – Damp Redwood branch

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Redwood Regional Park – Crossing the stream along Stream Trail

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Redwood Regional Park – Stream Trail

This is a great park. The parking we chose was covered, and it was a great area to access a lot of the trails, though on the upper ridge portion of these trails. The park was a dog friendly park, and Bastian was allowed to be off leash for most of the time. Apparently this is more common place in these parks. We ran into a couple of dog hikers, literally vans full of dogs, heading out. It’s a well maintained park, and with the many trail heads, presents a lot of variety lengthwise and scenery. We enjoyed the Redwoods and some of the little stops along the way, such as the Fern Dell and Old Church. There are several areas that you can picnic and even restroom stops along the easier gentler routes. We went during the weekday, so wasn’t too busy, but was told that the weekend would be packed. If you are ever in this area, and want to get away to nature for a bit, this park is worthwhile.

Redwood Regional Park Map

Redwood Regional Park – Map

Redwood Regional Park
7867 Redwood Road
Oakland, CA 94619

Hike | Cactoctin Mountain Park & Cunningham Falls

Hike | Cactoctin Mountain Park & Cunningham Falls

Jan 1, 2016

Since our little guy was born, I’ve been wanting to do more hiking. We love hiking, and can’t wait to take him along. At his current age though, it’s been a bit tougher than we thought. We did purchase a carrier for him, which I’ll have to share sometime, but doing a serious day hike with 40 or more pounds on my back can be a bit much. So while he was with his grandparents for New Years, we decided to go out for a hike. New Year’s day, we headed up to Catoctin Mountain National Park. We have been here a few times before, but never hiked the Cunningham Falls trail. As seems with most places, the state park adjacent supposedly is better, but we haven’t been able to tell a difference.

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Catoctin Mountain – National Park Visitor Center

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Parking lot and Cunningham Falls Trailhead.

It was chili, and we got a bit of a late start. Arriving at the parking lot, a lot of other people were heading in from the trails and we were losing sun light quick. The visitor center was closed, no surprise being a holiday. On the right side of the visitor center, at the end of the parking lot is access to a couple of trails that take you to Wolf & Chimney Rocks and Thurmont Vista. To the left of the center is another parking lot and the trail head to the Falls. So we started on our way. It’s a decent little hike, the trail guide calls it moderate, it’s under 3 miles with a few ascents and descents, though nothing real steep. Some of the other trails definitely have a steeper ascent. We didn’t run into a lot of other hikers, though I’m sure the weather and timing had more to do with it. The Falls Trail is the most popular trail at the park, which is understandable due to it’s length and difficulty.


Posing in front of the falls.

After hiking for a bit, you come upon an intersection which leads to Hog Rock. With sunlight fading fast, and the chill setting in, we decided to skip this today and continue onto the falls. After crossing a street and entering the Maryland State Park, you pass by another parking lot and walk on a raised wooden walkway to a view point of the falls. These falls are the largest cascading falls in Maryland, stretching about 78 feet. After a quick drink, the cold and setting sun kept our time at the falls short, and we decided to return back.

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Heading back – rock outcroppings

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Heading back – rock outcroppings

We were able to catch some nice views of the waning sunlight on the rock outcroppings on our return trip. The trail was now pretty empty. We reached the parking light with some light left and loaded up in the 4Runner with the heat blasting. Was nice to get out into the woods again. I wasn’t able to take a good picture of the map, and with the visitor center closed I couldn’t pick up a new one either. Below is one I snatched from the NPS online.

Catoctin Mountain National Park Map-sm


Catoctin Mountain – Cunningham Falls Trail



Hike | Angel’s Landing

Hike | Angel’s Landing


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Early morning at the hotel.

Angel’s Landing is considered one of the top hikes in the world. It is located in Zion National Park in Utah. Though it is not the highest point in the park, it has some great views and provides a strenuous climb.

We decided to get an early start for the Angel’s Landing hike, to make sure we were ahead of the crowds. We made it to the park still covered in dark and had to wait for the facility to open and the shuttle to start running. We spoke with the Ranger’s and the only warning they had was potential flash floods. We didn’t think this would effect us, as we were going up, not down. We filled our Camelbaks and loaded on the shuttle. It was a quick and short ride to the Grotto, and after crossing the street, we started heading into the wilderness, or somewhat. The beginning was gradual and was a dirt path in most areas, and somewhat paved in others. The gradual quickly made way to steep switchbacks with dropoffs on one side, as the path was carved into the side of the mountain. At one point, the path cuts into a valley. After the path flattened out for a little bit, we ran into The Wiggles, aptly named as the switchbacks are very steep and tight. We had to take a couple of breathers here, as the ascent was dramatic. Once we hit the summit point, it started to rain. The summit had a couple of restrooms and there were a lot of people taking a break. Of course, this is when it started to sprinkle a little bit. The girls pushed on as the guys debated the impact of the rain. The next portion was steep cliffs, basically traversing a ledge, with a chain to help you along. It does level out in some areas, with a three foot wide span and dropoffs on both sides, while other areas require some boulder climbing. 

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Crossing the river & the start of Angel’s Landing Hike.

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In the valley before the wiggles.

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Crossing the bridge heading towards Angel’s Landing.

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Looking up to Angel’s Landing.

The views are great at this point, creating a distraction, good or bad, from the effort it is taking to move on. We were able to catch up with the girls, and then stopped to put a jacket on as it was getting colder with the wind and higher altitude. During this time, the rain picked up, and looking off in the distance, looked like a storm was coming. The girls were out of view at this point, and we decided it was time to head back, as the rocks were getting more and more slippery. As we worked our way back, we realized the girls were also on their way. So we paused briefly to fill in the group and continued moving across the slippery stone and chains. Obviously heading down was much easier than heading up, and the weather was back and forth between sun and rain.

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The view from the Landing.

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Heading back down & letting others pass.

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Group photo on the way down.

We were all starving so we met family at the Zion Canyon Brew Pub. After all that hiking, a full sampler of beers was deserving. While getting ready for dinner, another bad storm swallowed Zion, dropping .63 inches of rain in an hour. This rain created the flash floods we were warned about earlier in a neighboring community, and in the park itself. We found out later that seven people went missing from these floods while canyoneering at Key Hole Slot Canyon. Later to be confirmed dead. 

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Sampler at Zion Canyon Brew Pub.


Angel’s Landing E-Hike

Angel’s Landing Info

Zion Canyon Brew Pub
95 Zion Park Blvd #2
Springdale, UT 84767

Second Annual VT Alumni Beer Fest & Hiking

Second Annual VT Alumni Beer Fest & Hiking

June 26-28, 2015

We headed down mid afternoon Friday to Blacksburg, Virginia in preparation for an early morning before heading to the Beer fest.  The drive down saw some periods of rain, and plenty of traffic.  Seems many are getting a jumpstart on their Independence Day Holiday, lots of RVs and roof packed vehicles.  After a bit of baby uncomfort on the way down, we pulled into town around 8pm.  We grabbed a quick dinner and settled for the night.  Only main disturbances were my disagreeing stomach from something eaten previously, and a over tired little one.

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Heidi taking a break on the Virginia Tech Drillfield.

The next morning, we were up early, the norm now, so grabbed some breakfast and headed to campus.  Decided to throw the ball with Heidi a bit in hopes of tiring her out.  Eli was onto his nap at this point, so we just kept throwing.  There was a dampness in the air, and an occasional sprinkle but not the rain that was forecasted.  After a quick visit to a university bookstore to update our school swag and an additional umbrella, we dropped Heidi off at the hotel and headed to the beer fest.  We met Mark and Virginia in the parking lot and were admitted early.  There were only about twenty breweries there, but a decent mix of locals (Bulls & Bones, Roanoke Rail) and bigger craft names (Sierra Nevada and New Belgium).  We did spot a ShockTop tent and there was plenty of Bud and Miller advertisements.  Only a few food vendors.  One of which was a pizza vendor, we ordered the Jack & Balls, a pizza with all meats and veggies available, topped with meatballs.  It didn’t last long and inspired our partners to grab one for themselves.  The souvenir glass was a shaker pint, and there was plenty of stickers, bottle openers, and other merch up for grabs.  With entry, the bracelet had 15 samples on it.  Some of these pours however went above the 4 oz line (helped slightly by our new free beer coozie covering up part of the glass) resulting in Linda and I having to pass our bracelets on.  Time for another nap.  We met up later at Mellow Mushroom, for yup, more pizza.  The app showed up late, but everything was pretty good.  A little on the pricey side, especially for Blacksburg, but worked none the less.  We were headed for an early night.

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Cool Natty Greene draft handle and excited beer volunteer.

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View of a portion of the beer fest.

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Jack & Balls Pizza

Sunday morning was another early morning and breakfast.  After running some errands around town, we met up with our partners and headed north.  We decided after a few nap time hours on Route 11, we would hit a hike.  The day was beautiful with perfect skies and a nice breeze.  We stopped at the Belfast Trail outside of Natural Bridge.  Parking was minimal, but pulling up on the side of the road is not a concern for the 4Runner.  The trail heads to the Devil’s Marbleyard, which exposes itself after almost a mile and a half of gradual and then more extreme upward slope.  It literally looked as if someone’s dump truck accidentally tipped over or something.  I stayed at the base with Eli as the others explored further.  Seems I’ll have to try this one again based on the pics.  Eli and I played with tree bark, dirt, and leaves after a snack.  The downward trip was much simpler and went smoothly.

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The start of the hike.

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Made it to the top.

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Lots of rocks heading up.

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View from the top.

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Linda and Heidi posing with the Marbleyard.

We decided during the descent that lunch and beer were in order, hopefully together.  Sadly, Devil’s Backbone lodge was a bit out of the way, so we grabbed burgers, shakes, and donuts at Pure Eats in Lexington.  Great little joint and we got to eat outside.  Then we stopped in at Devil’s Backbone Outpost brewery for a flight.  Since we had Heidi, he took advantage of their beer garden, which has a great shaded view of the mountains.  I picked up a couple of bottles of 16 Point IPA for the cellar and this was where we parted ways.  The remainder of the journey proved to be quiet, and we got home in time for buddy’s bed time.

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Fermentation tanks.

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Flights in the beer garden.

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View from the beer garden.

Was a nice little trip, though journeys like this leave me yearning for more.


VT Beer Fest
Holtzman Alumni Center Lawn & Terrace

Devil’s Marbleyard
106 East Washington Street
Lexington, VA 24450

Pure Eats
107 North Main Street
Lexington, VA 24450

Devil’s Backbone Brewery (Outpost)
50 Northwind Lane
Lexington, VA 24450