Tags: stevens creek

McClellan Ranch

McClellan Ranch

On Saturday D. and I visited McClellan Ranch Preserve, because it was nearby and had flat trails that wouldn't challenge me much.

First we spent a little while in the preserve's new Nature Museum to see the animals that live there and learn a little more about them, and then we took a short walk on the Nature Trail alongside Stevens Creek.  Here are my pics from the trip.

One of the mice in the Nature Museum.

A bearded dragon sits in a sink to get a drink of water.

Bearded dragons have cute little tongues.

This California kingsnake has slightly cloudy eyes because she is about to molt.

California kingsnakes eat rodents and can take up to a week to digest a rat.

A tarantula in the Nature Museum.

Outside, we follow the Nature Trail alongside Stevens Creek.

Milk thistle.


A bee visits a buckeye blossom.

Enigmatic signs in the brush alongside the trail.

Another look at Stevens Creek prior to turning back.


Stevens Creek Trail, Cupertino

Stevens Creek Trail, Cupertino

On a blazing hot Saturday, with skies hazy from wild fires a few counties to the north, D. and I decided to walk part of the Stevens Creek Trail in Cupertino, between McClellan Ranch Preserve and Blackberry Farm Park, because it fit several criteria: 1) it was relatively close; 2) it was flat; 3) it had a paved surface; 4) it was mostly shaded; 5) we hadn't seen that part of the trail yet.  So we went, and I took some pics.

California buckwheat is one of several native species planted alongside the trail.

The trail winds around remnants of an old walnut orchard.

California wild rose, and rose hips.

We are reminded to Think Drought as we pass by the lush green bocce ball courts.

Goldenrod sways in the breeze near the banks of Stevens Creek.

Yarrow, and grasshopper on yarrow.

A quiet moment beside Stevens Creek.

Floofy seed heads of California asters are a reminded that summer is winding down.

Dry yarrow, a hint of autumn to come.

More rose hips.

The trail.

The windmill at Blackberry Farm Park.


McClellan Ranch Preserve

McClellan Ranch Preserve

On Saturday D. and I visited McClellan Ranch Preserve (a former horse ranch from the 1930s featuring a nature museum, community garden and historic buildings), where we visited its Junior Nature Museum and walked the nature trail alongside Stevens Creek.  Here are some of the pics I took.

Colorful buckets outside the Junior Nature Museum.

Inside the Junior Nature Museum we see a cattle skull wearing a cozy scarf, a bearded dragon and a collection of skulls and bones.

Outside on the nature trail next to Stevens Creek, we find a cryptic note on the banks and an offering of flowers in the water.

Bare sycamore branches sprawl overhead.

Stevens Creek.

A sweet gum leaf glows in the afternoon sunshine.

The woods next to the creek.

Another look at Stevens Creek.

Interesting things overhead: a raven perched on a sycamore branch, and the moon and a contrail.

Cottonwoods are brilliant yellow.

One last look at Stevens Creek before we go back home.


Stevens Creek Trail: Yuba Dr. to Sleeper Ave.

Stevens Creek Trail: Yuba Dr. to Sleeper Ave.

On Sunday D. and I took a walk along the Stevens Creek Trail between Yuba Dr. and Sleeper Ave., and I took some pics.

The trailhead is next to a substation.

Looking down from the Yuba Dr. bridge through the trees into the dry creek bed.

Some of the landscaping along the trail.

Milk thistle is a non-native weed common throughout the area.

Buckeye blossoms have a light, sweet fragrance.

The trail follows the high-tension power line right-of-way.

Dances With Lightning Bolts.

If they don't want people to climb the towers, they shouldn't make it look like so much fun.

California wild rose.

Not surprisingly, the Stevens Creek underpass below El Camino Real has some graffiti in it.

Looking downstream inside the tunnel beneath El Camino Real.

On the outside of the tunnel, barn swallow nestlings wait for another snack from mom.

We decide to follow the creek upstream.  The creek bed is dry, level and fairly even.  It is like walking along a shaded sunken roadway.

At a drop structure we find some junk in the creek.

Sunlight dapples the foliage.

Bracket fungi on a rotting log next to the creek.

This bigleaf maple leaf has a hole in it.

These buckeye buds haven't opened yet.

Poison oak berries.

Another look up the dry creek bed.

A cluster of bigleaf maple leaves reach into a patch of sun.

The creek is dry now, but in March 2011 it rained so heavily that the creek rose high enough to erode this section of bank and endanger several homes.  This retaining wall was eventually built.

Blackberry blossom.

We leave the creek bed and return to the trail alongside, where an apricot ripens on an ancient tree, a minuscule fragment of the vast fruit orchards that once blanketed the Santa Clara Valley prior to WWII.

As we get closer to Sleeper Ave., where the trail currently ends, we begin to see signs of the new trail extension under construction, and the concrete barriers ("K-rail") keeping trail users separated from the construction equipment have acquired some ornamentation.

More trail landscaping.

Construction equipment can be scary. 

This is the business end of the Ditch Witch, which is a trencher designed to install buried service lines of various sizes.

Danger, Will Robinson.

Yes, it's really called Ditch Witch.

Being a construction site, of course there is graffiti.

The new trail overpass across Highway 85 isn't ready yet.

Surveyor's flags lie in a pile at the construction site.

Power lines march north toward San Francisco Bay.

As we return down the trail, a California ground squirrel finds some shade beneath the ancient apricot tree.

California poppies.

The creek bed is dry now because we had hardly any rain last winter, and no more is due until late this autumn.   Are we in for another drought?



Stevens Creek County Park

Stevens Creek County Park

On Saturday D. and I went to Stevens Creek County Park, and I took these pics.

Sycamore sky.

Stevens Creek Tony Look Trail.

Canopy overhead.

Sycamore leaf.


Stevens Creek.

Sycamore sky.

Alder strobiles (cones).

Floating sycamore leaf.

Plants in creek shallows.

Cottonwood leaf.

The trail.

Seed floofs.

Bigleaf maple leaf.

Sycamore sky.


Backwater below the dam.

Another sycamore sky.

Broken buckeye.

Graffiti near the dam's spillway.

Lucky post.

Sycamore and power line.

More power lines.

Power lines across the canyon.

Nearing the dam.

Dead thistles.

Looking up the dam's spillway.

The water in the reservoir is low enough to expose the warning sign on the edge of the spillway.

Looking down the spillway from the top of the dam.

The buoy in front of the spillway is high and dry.

Floats afloat in the reservoir.

At the reservoir's shore, all the elements are present: cool air, calm water, dry earth, and the diamond-fire of sun glinting on the reservoir's surface.

And, for a moment, we pause, because there is equilibrium. Eventually, the wind shifts and the sun slides farther along in the sky, fading in the water and deepening the shadows. And so, we go home.

Stevens Creek County Park

Stevens Creek County Park

We've had some storms and rain here lately. It's been wet all week. So what do D. and I do on the weekend? We go to a reservoir. What's a little more water after all we've already had, anyway? Here's my pics from the Rim Trail at Stevens Creek County Park.

Stevens Creek is up from all the rain.

Arroyo willow catkins are drippy with rain.

California manroot.  It is a wild cucumber native to western North America.

We catch a glimpse of the reservoir's spillway from the trail.

The ground is saturated from all the recent rain, and temporary vernal pools develop in low spots on the ground.

We get closer to the foot of the reservoir and see heavy equipment on the side of the dam.

At the foot of the dam we see water monitoring equipment.

Across the path from the staff gauge is the reservoir's outlet works, used when water flow exceeds the diversion capacity of the dam but not high enough to warrant the use of the dam's spillway.

The outlet structure is fenced off, with a warning.

And they aren't kidding!

A torrent spews from the outlet, swollen from several days of rain.  The gatehouse structure, and the very ground itself, trembles from the force of the water, and the roar is incredibly loud.  It is like standing next to a freight train thundering past a few feet away.

Video of outlet torrent roaring downstream:

Video of vibrating padlock on outlet gatehouse door:

Sign on the gatehouse door.  I wonder if the struck-through W means Water?  And why the gatehouse needs a hazmat sign in the first place?

I find it odd that the gatehouse has hatches on its roof, in addition to a door.

As we continue up the Rim Trail toward the reservoir, Stevens Canyon Rd. comes into view on the left.

Stevens Creek Reservoir, in the rain.

There is a raven on the shore.  In the rain.

Fruit trees around the shore are in bloom, bright spots in a gloomy, rainy day.  These look like cherries, from a distance.

It's a great day for ducks on the reservoir, in the rain.

We walk along the dam toward the fenced-off spillway, a target for taggers.

There is no fence at the bottom of the spillway, we can walk right up to it.

As if that keeps anybody out.

In case you were wondering which brand is preferred by taggers . . .

The creek at the bottom of the spillway wends through the woods.

Spiky cocklebur seed pods on weeds growing at the bottom of the spillway.

It rains.  Branches drip.

Another look at the spillway from beneath the sprawling limbs of a huge walnut growing at its base.

The seed head of a sedge growing at the water's edge.

It rains, water into water.