Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tramping (Tramps?) around Las Trampas

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness
(Elderberry- Rocky Ridge- Devil's Hole- Sycamore- Rocky Ridge)
(6.0 miles)

And lo, didst a miracle occur. A new trail was explored today!

I have sung the praises of the East Bay Regional Parks before, so I will not enumerate their virtues, except to say that I am continually amazed at the good fortune I have to live near so many miles of trails.

We were actually going to run at Garin this morning, but unfortunately La SingleTrackJunkie was sick yesterday so the two of us who remained decided to run a little closer to where my friend was staying, and thus Las Trampas became our destination.

I have a confession to make. I'm somewhat of an urban snob. I tend to avoid suburban enclaves oh, say, like the plague. I would take the grittiness of 23rd Street in Richmond over a strip-mall in Tracy any day (No offense to Tracy meant at all). I like either being in the heart of concrete and grime with tons of people and huge varieties of food to eat or out on a mountain somewhere. (Yes, I am a woman of intense extremes. Or an extremely intense woman. But that's probably a different blog posting.) What this has meant is I tend to run places that are close to cities, like Tilden, Wildcat, Redwood and, of course, all over Marin County (usually not north of San Rafael, though). Add to that the intense bitterness I feel for the 680 due to a year of commuting to San Jose twice a week, and poor Las Trampas didn't have much chance to make it on the radar.

Today, I humbly apologize to you, Las Trampas, for my short-sightedness. You are a worthy park, and indeed, your views are better than the much-trafficked Tilden. Plus, you have some behind-kicking trails.

We started out at the Staging Area, and took Elderberry trail (wide fire road) up, up, and more up until we were on top of Rocky Ridge. From the map, it looks like there is about 1,000 feet of climbing in less than 2 miles. Rather steep. The trail winds up through some oak groves and then climbs up open hills to reach the top of the ridge.

The view from the top of the ridge is well-worth the climb. We could see Diablo (as evidenced by the first picture), but views also stretched all the way to San Francisco and I think we also saw Mt. Tam peeking through the clouds.

Our original plan was to continue along the ridge, but we were intrigued by the "Devil's Hole" trail and so decided to make a detour. While this detour was a mere 2.5 extra miles, we dropped over 800 feet in 1.3 miles and then had to climb all the way back up. Steep, steep trails. Presumably at the bottom of "Devil's Hole," we met up with the single-track Sycamore trail and climbed, through Santa Barbara-esque scrub back to Rocky Ridge. This trail was what I would call rather technical. For such a low-profile park, Las Trampas has some intense running opportunities. Those who are trying to improve their downhill technique (or uphill strength!) should come straight here.

Once back on the ridge, we continued on the loop back to the parking lot, stopping only to observe this group of turkey vultures taking care of a dead calf. While I am sorry the calf had such a short life, I think turkey vultures are the coolest creatures ever. What a brilliant balance, that a being would exist who finds rotting flesh a delicacy. It makes me feel like I should go home and recycle more--the turkey vultures are out there, decreasing the waste matter--guess I better do a better job of attempting to keep up...

In short, Las Trampas= worth visiting. Perhaps not every weekend, but absolutely worth the time, and a guaranteed hill workout. Looking at the map, I would guess one could cobble together a good 12-14 mile loop, and maybe an extra 5 if you wanted to do an out-and-back along Las Trampas Ridge trail, so there is some mileage to be had as well. As Las Trampas is an EBRP, you can bring the pups and have them off-leash. (side note: the little dog in the above picture is my friend's new dog and she went running off-leash for her first time EVER today! Very, very happy dogs.) Additionally, since it's an EBRP, cows are a part of the landscape, but apparently the cows at Las Trampas are more mellow than the cows at Wildcat or Briones (or, from what I've heard, Mission Peak) and one actually moved AWAY from us.

Next posting: not running, but about my extreme productivity this weekend!


Jo Lynn said...

I'm so happy you ended up having a great run yesterday. Boooooo about the dead calf though. :( That would truly break my heart.

John Soares said...

Great description and beautiful photographs.

I've hiked Las Trampas many times. I love the views and the good workout for the legs climbing from the valley up to the ridges.

Gambolin' Man said...

Hey Victoria,

Just wondering if you happened to read my posting on LTRW from a while ago, since you did the identical hike (run!) I posted about! Way to go! It is a wonderful, amazing place. Did you see the elusive black panther?

Victoria said...

Gambolin' Man-- I didn't see your posting until after I ran, and then I noticed too, that we did the same route! Unfortunately, I had no idea we were looking for an elusive black panther, but I'm willing to guess that with 2 dogs in tow, the panther would probably have not shown his/her face. Cool to know a legendary black panther wanders the hills, though!

CoachJim said...

Great description and pictures, Victoria - you have a wonderful and humorous writing style. There's nothing like the intensly alive feeling of getting out in nature and running in the hills! and I felt even better passing Malcolm X on one of the steep hills - yes, the black panther is very much alive and he's not afraid of dogs!

Anonymous said...

Good to see you back into action. I'm sharping rocks and roots for you at the Sierra de Madrid trails. Check winter clothes again as we are being bashed up by a northern european wintry front.


X-Country2 said...

What a beautiful place. Great pictures.

sam said...

Hi Victoria, I realize this is an old post, but I came across is looking for something on Las Trampas where I'm putting on a race next month. Since you liked Las Trampas so much (as do I), I just thought I'd let you know about it. The website for the race is Best regards, Sam