On Sunday D. and I went on a docent-led walk at Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. This preserve is not open to the general public yet, so access is by permit only or via a docent-led event. Once the lavish estate of one rich guy, then another, and then Alma College (a "finishing school" for Jesuit priests), the land hasn't undergone full conversion to an open space preserve due to several decaying structures still on the property, and a lack of developed trails.
At 1,430 acres, Bear Creek Redwoods has not only redwoods but Douglas fir, oak, and madrone. While most of them are second- and third-growth, some of the redwoods are thought to be 800 to 900 years old. There are also grasslands, five ponds and three perennial creeks. Before the Open Space Trust purchased it, the land was slated to be luxury housing and a country club. Now its natural beauty is preserved forever. Here's some of the pics I took.
The canopy overhead. The fog is burning off.
The trail takes us around the pond. A fountain once jetted from its center.
Wild cherries are ripening.
Steps to nowhere. Whatever these led to is long gone.
The heart of the rose.
Near the pond we see several Ohlone grinding stones, or bedrock mortars. The native Ohlone used many boulders as mortars but not in this exact location. Speculation is that one of the rich guys who used to live here had the boulders moved from nearby to the pond for decoration.
Our group on the trail.
We pass one of several bat boxes on the grounds. Bats are roosting in the abandoned buildings which are slated for eventual demolition, so these alternate accommodations have been put up so they have somewhere to relocate.
Docent Jenny shows us an aerial photograph of the grounds from the 1960s, before most of the buildings burned down.
Surrounded by chain-link fencing, glimpses of the abandoned buildings and assorted junk are visible through the foliage.
Fencing doesn't keep out determined vandals. There isn't a single intact window visible, and there is graffiti on every structure.
Pergola, or belvedere, or gazebo, or cabana, or kiosk, or maybe something else.
Signs on the fencing warn us.
Looking back up the trail.
The trail snakes along.
A couple more abandoned buildings.
More steps to nowhere.
Goldback fernis golden yellow on back.
The trail takes us through a small meadow.
A feral iris sticks out like a sore thumb in a field of wild mustard. Once lavishly landscaped, there are a lot of garden escapees found in strange places here and there in the preserve. This one is by a brick wall and more steps to nowhere.
Abandoned concrete conduits lie piled up by a brick wall, unused and forgotten.
Leaving the abandoned conduits behind, we move farther along the trail.
Pale flax and rigid hedge nettle grow alongside the trail.
This metal wreckage overgrown with foliage is the remains of the first mainland radio tower to receive the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. (The Jesuits were ham radio buffs.)
California cudweed and blue-eyed grass.
The day has grown warm, and the canopy overhead provides welcome shade along this stretch of trail.
Another garden escapee, foxglove.
We circle back toward the pond.
Periwinkle is an invasive non-native plant that grows in just about every preserve we've been to.
Above us we see a glimpse of some of the ruins.
As we circle back to the entry point, we see another bat box and one of the abandoned buildings.
In the parking lot, a California alligator lizard sits motionless on redwood needles, blending in almost perfectly.