Rainy Weekend, Coast Trail in Point Reyes, CA

Last Spring I had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Point Reyes with the Albany High School Art Department. It rained the whole weekend but we choose the drier of the two days and headed out on a trail that followed the shoreline. It’s Coast Trail that starts near the Youth Hostel and takes you over gently rolling hills to Coast Camp. (Story Continues Below.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was scarcely anyone else hiking and I like having the place to myself and my people, though that sounds absurd when you are part of a large group. I admit I’ve avoided hiking in the rain to date, probably because I’m from sunny SoCal (Southern California). However, in my quest for moss photos, I’ve made friends with cool, drizzly days. Increasingly, I’ve developed a tolerance for rain and a soft spot for the landscape of gray, wet days. It also makes me feel rugged and a bit rebellious to be out hiking in the rain since we’ve all been told to stay out of the rain. Not good for the camera, but that’s another story!

I admit I’ve avoided hiking in the rain to date, probably because I’m from sunny SoCal (Southern California). However, in my quest for moss photos, I’ve made friends with cool, drizzly days. Increasingly, I’ve developed a tolerance for rain and a soft spot for the landscape of gray, wet days. It also makes me feel rugged and a bit rebellious to be out hiking in the rain since we’ve all been told to stay out of the rain. Not good for the camera, but that’s another story!

It also makes me feel rugged and a bit rebellious to be out hiking in the rain since we’ve all been told to stay out of the rain. Not good for the camera, but that’s another story!

In my experience, Point Reyes is a bit removed from the rest of the Bay Area and less visited. It can seem otherworldly with it’s harsher weather conditions. It has fewer trees to break the wind and that cold ocean wind whips across the place…like it’s a tiny island.

I plan to venture out to Point Reyes and get to know it better. Look for future photos and dispatches!

Start: Point Reyes Youth Hostel
Distance:
4.3 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy, but expect it to be windy. Bring a windbreaker. Coast Trail can and does close due to flooding from time to time.
Maps: Available at the Bear Valley Visitor Center – Park Headquarters.
Parking: on road by Youth Hostel I think.
Dogs: Dogs not allowed in 95% of Point Reyes National Seashore
Bikes: Permitted on the trail to and from Coast Camp.

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point reyesI Heart Moss is a project about art, nature, and environmental activism. We offer free local hikes in Fall, Winter, and Spring and donate 5% of our proceeds to Greenpeace.

Visit our gift shop for nature lovers at www.shop.iheartmoss.com. In the shop, you’ll find hip jewelry and gifts made by artists and makers. Gifts mailed out promptly in 100% recycled packaging.

McCloud Falls near Shasta

We were having a blast bouldering at McCloud Falls when we witnessed what could have been a tragic death. Seems jumping off Middle McCloud Falls is a popular thing to do, judging by the number of videos you’ll find at #mccloudfalls on Instagram.

A girl and two guys were up at the top left of the Falls. The first guy jumped off successfully. The girl, however, kept hesitating.

 

Finally, she jumped off but immediately hesitated again, which caused her to start sliding down the dirt and rock face. It was horrifying, as it looked like she was going to continue sliding down the rocks! Fortunately, she did clear the rocks, but she landed on her side and her body slapped the water extremely hard. Thankfully, she lived to limp to the shore.

Her hesitation made the jump so much worse. With risks, sometimes it’s good to jump in and sometimes it’s important to proceed cautiously and test the waters. With cliff diving, do not hesitate.

We came across McCloud Falls by accident on a list of “10 Things to Do” in Shasta. We all wanted to explore and boulder around the Falls and I was hoping to get some moss photos. We parked in the parking lot above the Falls, changed into swimsuits and hiked down some switch backs to the Falls.

 

It looks like a gorgeous waterfall and swimming hole like you’d find in Hawaii, but the water is frigid. This was early July and of the two dozen people around, only one or two were swimming.

I do like other kinds of challenges, though. There was a long tree trunk spanning the river and I walked across while willing myself to put one foot in front of the other and pay attention. On the right side, there are tons of boulders big and small, and I had a great time bouldering myself to the rocks right up close the Falls.

McCloud Falls

 

Using the rocks and boulders you can get yourself face-to-face with the waterfall. For some people, this would be a spiritual experience with the mist enveloping you and the  rushing water so close you can touch it. For me, my adrenaline was surging from the bouldering and I was worried I’d slip and fall. So, not as spiritual or calming as I thought.

Also, I left my camera over on the sand beach as I didn’t want to break it on the rocks or drop it into the water. So I took no close up photos of the moss.

Mount Shasta

 

Nature Lover

Afterward, we learned there is a 4-mile hike called McCloud River Falls Trail starting in the picnic area at the lower falls and connecting the three Falls…lower, middle and upper McCloud Falls. The trail sounds great and I hope to do it  another time.

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Karen is a nature photographer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written a book called Moss and Lichen. She has a gift and jewelry shop especially for nature lovers you’ll find at shop.iheartmoss.com.

Please check the shop if you are looking for a birthday, graduation, wedding or other kinds of gifts.  Many Thanks, Karen

 

 

 

Berry Creek Falls Trail, Big Basin Redwoods SP

Many, many years ago before we had kids, my husband and I decided spontaneously to go away for the weekend. We looked at the map and selected a big green square and headed there. That green square turned out to be Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz, CA.

When we got to the park, we asked the ranger for their best hike! (Continued below.)

Walking below the Redwoods

The ranger on duty sent us on an 8-10 mile hike to Berry Creek Falls. We set out late morning and barely made it back before dark. I remember running up the switchbacks to the headquarters at dusk. I normally find these switchbacks strenuous to walk, so I’m sure it was grueling.

However, the spontaneously trip to a new place, followed by a long hike through beautiful scenery became a lasting memory for us. We’ve returned nearly every year to camp and hike at the park, bringing our kids with us.

Waterfalls | Berry Creek Falls

How to Get to Berry Creek Falls

There are three different trails one can take to get there. Like a lot of people, I like loop trails. The second two options are loops.

Maps: You don’t want to set out without a paper map as you may need more info then the trail markers provide. You will be taking interconnected trails so a map in necessary.

You’ll find free maps at the ranger station at park headquarters at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The headquarters can be found on GPS and the park rangers are friendly and helpful; I think most rangers like helping people choose hikes.

Strenuous Hike: All three trails to Berry Creek Falls are pretty strenuous and all have different sights and scenery to recommend them.

1) There and back trail: From park headquarters take Skyline to the Sea Trail to Berry Creek Falls and back. This hike is eight miles roundtrip and includes several switchbacks 🙂

Every inch of Skyline to the Sea Trail is beautiful. It’s lined throughout with redwoods and ferns and follows Kelly Creek for most of the distance to the falls. Check out my previous post for some photos of a spot I found on this very creek. Note: there are two-three waterfalls above Berry Creek Falls which are beautiful as well and can be accessed by continuing on the Berry Creek Falls Trail.

2) Loop Option 1: This trip starts the same as the hike above. Head out on Skyline to the Sea Trail.  Just past Middle Ridge Road, you’ll find the juncture for the Howard King Trail.  I love this trail because one, it has a fantastic view of the ocean from Mt. McAbee Outlook at 1739ft and two, the trail takes you through a couple of contrasting micro-climates. First, you’ll walk through the redwoods, then chaparral and then back into the redwoods again. Total distance is about 10 miles.

3) Loop Option 2: Again, head out on the Skyline to the Sea Trail. Ignore the Howard King Trail, and look for the Sunset Connector Trail to your right. Follow Sunset Trail several miles to the three upper falls: Golden Falls, Cascade Falls, and Silver Falls. In my opinion, Sunset Trail isn’t as interesting as the other two and it’s probably 11 miles…a little longer. What is cool is that it makes a loop that takes you past all three-four waterfalls. Follow the Berry Creek Falls Trail down past Berry Creek Falls and return on the Skyline to the Sea Trail.

Bathrooms: The last bathroom is near the amphitheater and the bridge before you start on the Skyline by the Sea Trail.

Dogs: Not allowed on the trails at Big Basin Redwoods SP. They are allowed in the campground and the paved roads and trails.

Crowds and Parking: Weekends, especially summer weekends, are busy. Go as early in the day as you can; before 9 am is really great. If you arrive after 11 am, you’ll spend more time finding parking but we’ve always found a spot in our 2 decades of visiting.

Silver Falls, Big Basin Redwoods SP

Golden Falls


I’m Karen Nierlich. I take forest pictures with a focus on moss plants and ferns. Please follow me on instagram.com/iheartmoss or facebook.com/iheartmoss. We also have a nature-inspired jewelry shop especially for nature lovers.

Mossy rock

 

 

FOUND — One Japanese Garden by the Side of the Trail

My family and I were on a trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park when we saw a boulder-filled stretch of creek that intrigued us. I gazed at the rounded mossy boulders, abundant plants, branches and water. As I turned around, I noticed how beautiful and harmonious this spot was from every angle, like a Japanese Garden.

Big Basin Redwoods SP

The locale had a couple of plants that I want to mention. One is liverwort, which like moss, is a primordial plant without roots that takes in water from its leafy surface. To me, it’s an uncommon plant I see from time to time in a creek, and according to my plant ID resources, it’s found throughout the world, including deserts and the arctic.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The second plant I want to call out appears in the foreground of most of these photos showing off its bright green five-fingered leaves. My plant friends from Facebook say this is Western coltsfoot or petasites frigidus var. Palmatus.

leaves_moss

Changing the topic back to moss; I’ve had a powerful interest in moss for approximately 10 years now. People often ask me, Why moss? I think this question implies something negative like “Why are you so interested in moss of all things?”

Mossy Rocks | Japanese Garden

I’ve asked myself the question over and over and I come up with the same answer each time. I have a lifelong love of color and texture and I’m infatuated with the bright green and fuzzy texture of moss. I want to have a modern and edgy sensibility — but if I’m honest, I actually have a romantic and sensual vision, and moss is linked to that vision.

I also love how moss is an element from the background. It’s like the cello and the bass in an orchestra; an instrument that rarely has a solo like a violin, flute or trumpet. I like flipping the symphony over on its head and making the cello the main instrument. In my mind, the moss represents what is overlooked, hidden, quiet and subtle; I love taking it out of the background and bringing it to the foreground.

Moss Plants

 

Mossy Rockstar – Steep Ravine Trail, Marin CA

I declare Steep Ravine the rockstar of mossy trails. I reveled in the abundance of mossy trees, mossy rocks, lichens and ferns. You get the idea. The science fiction fans in my household dubbed it Middle Earth for any Tolkien fans reading this.

These first three moss plant photos were taken on Mother’s Day in early May. It was a super foggy day which enhanced the green color of the mosses.

sR_tree

 

Steep-Ravine2

 

SteepRavine3

This trail is more strenuous than others I’ve reviewed in Marin, such as Cascade Falls and Cataract Falls, though not as strenuous as the name Steep Ravine Trail might make you think.

 

falls_ladder

In addition to the plentiful mosses and ferns, the other highlight of the trail is the wooden ladder about 1.5 miles downhill! I’m so geeky — gushing about a ladder on a trail! It adds adventure and magic to the trail and made me feel like a kid.

I also appreciate how the trail builders took the trail via ladder right up along the waterfall. Some less imaginative trail builder might have placed the trail so it went around rocky outcropping and bypassed the waterfall.

fern

Maps: It’ll make your trail days so much happier if you pick up a paper map at Pantoll Station in Marin CA.  Pantoll Station can be found on GPS.

Moderate Hike: If you haven’t hiked in while, I suggest going the 1.5 miles down the trail to the ladder. Climb down the ladder, look around, and then hike the 1.5 miles back. There are places you can sit, if you wish to take breaks on the way back. Lots of people jog or move fast on trails, but this is a trail that bears slowing down and pondering.

Challenging Hike: If a seven mile hike with some uphill climbing suits you, I recommend three options:

1) Down Steep Ravine Trail from Pantoll Station to where the trail meets the Dipsea Trail, and return back up Steep Ravine. (Approximately five miles and strenuous, as the trip is 50% uphill.)

2) Down Steep Ravine Trail and follow the Dipsea Trail to Stinson Beach. At Stinson Beach, locate the Matt Davis Trail behind the fire station at the end of the short block. Follow Matt Davis back uphill to Pantoll Station. Matt Davis will take you back to where you started. (Approximately seven-eight miles and strenuous.)

3) Reverse the hike above. Start at Stinson Beach and go up the Matt Davis Trail located at the end of the side street past the Fire Station. Come down Steep Ravine. (Approximately seven miles and strenuous, but on this route the second half of the trip is downhill.)

Dogs: Not allowed in the Mount Tamalpais State Park, but dogs are allowed in the Mount Tamalpais Water District. Hikes at Cataract Falls and Cascade Falls both allow dogs.

Crowds and Parking: Weekends, especially summer weekends, are busy. Go as early in the day as you possibly can; before 9am is really great. If you arrive after 11 am you may have a very hard time parking. There is some parking along the side of the roads, which is okay if you don’t mind walking with cars passing by.


I’m Karen Nierlich. I take forest pictures with a focus on moss plants and ferns. Please follow me on instagram.com/iheartmoss or facebook.com/iheartmoss. We also have a nature-inspired jewelry shop especially for nature lovers. For example, a gorgeous twig necklace is a great conversation starter.

Cataract Falls Trail, Marin, CA

 

waterfall

Cataract Falls Trail is an idyllic walk through the woods culminating in a dramatic waterfall! There are trees, ferns and mosses all along the creek. The image above is the top of the Cataract Falls, and if you follow the creek down, you’ll find multiple smaller but exquisite falls below.

The image below is of one of the lower falls that’s easily accessible, and where there is a short spur trail and some beautiful spots to sit.

These photos were taken in March and April of 2016, but by early May 2016 the water is slowing and the moss is considerably drier. Plan your visit during the Spring rainy season for optimal moss and fern viewing!

Cataract Falls, Marin, CA

Parking Recommendations: Go to Pantoll Station, which is easily found on GPS. Get a printed map there, speak to a ranger if you wish, and use the flush toilets! If you just want to grab a map, use one of the 15 minute spaces on the eastside of the parking lot, as the parking lot is often full.

On weekends, go early in the day. By afternoon, parking is harder to find, and you may need to walk along the road from your parking spot.

When you leave Pantoll Station, drive 1.3 miles up Pantoll Road to Ridgecrest Road. There is a larger parking lot there and pit toilets where the two roads meet.

Difficulty: This trail is appropriate for most hikers, as it’s just 5 miles round trip and almost entirely level. There are also lovely places to stop, and the scenery is outstanding!

Dogs Allowed: Dogs are allowed throughout the Marin Municipal Water District, including this trail.


I’m Karen Nierlich. I take forest pictures with a focus on moss plants and ferns. Please follow me on instagram.com/iheartmoss or facebook.com/iheartmoss. You’ll also find a nature-inspired jewelry shop on this site that caters to nature lovers. Forest-themed necklaces allow you to show the world your love of nature. An acorn necklace, for example, is a great conversation starter and helps you meet others who share your love of the outdoors.

Small and Beautiful Cascade Falls

Cascade_Falls_BoAe

Cascade

Cascade Falls is a moderate two miles roundtrip with little change in elevation. There’s no parking lot at the trail head but there are a few pull out parking spots. I went several times this Spring and each time there were three to ten cars parked on the street. If you hike here in Summer the waterfall will be dry or mostly dry.

To get there, drive west from Hwy. 101 on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard about 5 miles to the town of Fairfax. Turn left on a street called Pastori where there is a traffic light, and then make an immediate left and go one block down to Broadway and turn right. Drive up Broadway and as you are leaving the center of Fairfax turn left on to Bolinas Road. From Bolinas Road make a soft right on Cascade Drive and follow it until you get to the end. Trail starts at the gate at the end of the road.

Few more notes about Cascade Trail at this link and below.

Clumpy

 

Clumpy2

Distance: This is a great hike for young kids because it’s only 2 miles roundtrip and it’s quite level. As far as I can see the trail doesn’t continue after you get to the Falls. However, there are other trails that crisscross the main trail so you can take one of those to make this a longer hike.

Parking: No parking lot. A few pullout spots. Be careful not to block a driveway. I went 3 times in Spring and had no difficulty parking.

Dogs Allowed: This is the Marin Municipal Water District which allows dogs.

Bathrooms: None

Coffee, icecream, beer, lunch, dinner: Fairfax is a scenic small town and you have to go through it to get to the trail. I stopped each time for a coffee or ice-cream and that made it an especially relaxed and wonderful day.

 


I’m an artsy, California photographer. Please follow me on instagram.com/iheartmoss or facebook.com/iheartmoss where I post moss, waterfall and forest pictures all the time. You’ll also find a nature-inspired jewelry shop just for nature lovers. An twig charm necklace, for example, shows your love of nature and is a great conversation starter.

Cataract Falls, Fairfax, CA – October 2015

 

Cascade Falls, Marin, CA

 

[Road to the Cataract Falls Trail on the Fairfax side has been closed in 2016 and so far in 2017. Check road status before heading there. 2/14/17.]

El Niño is on it’s way in. We know that. Whether we’ll get more water —more rain—we don’t know. I’m thinking, be careful what you wish for. I think I speak for all Californians when I say we want the rain. But the possibility of mudslides and flooding is real too. Can we have the rain without destruction, please?

In the meantime, I’ve been checking out new trails. I’ve hiked the Dipsea Trail dozens of times now. From the article, 7 Best Waterfall Hikes Near San Francisco, I found Cataract Falls near Fairfax, CA.

Pluses are that it’s easy to drive to and there will be tons of moss here in Spring. Minuses are the trail is steep with lots of switch backs and there is scarcely any parking. Just 10 parking spaces at the trail head. So stay away on weekends.

 

Cataract Falls, Marin, CA

 

On our hike in October 2015 we hiked up to the top and found thick fog and mossy trees!! Delightful as I was suffering from rain and moss withdrawal. It’s been dry here since Dec. 2014..about 10 months. On the way there was a little water in the creek bed which must come from a natural spring. Below is the dry version of Cataract Falls. I promise you a picture this Winter / Spring.

Cataract Falls, Marin, CA

 

This is the reservoir you see as you drive in on Cascade Dr. It’s part of the Marin Water District. Low water line!

 

Marin_Water_District

 

 

Cataract Falls, Fairfax, CA

 

Photos by Karen Nierlich. Love Moss and Lichen, please see Karen’s book available on Lulu.com or buy one directly from her.

 

 

 

Beautiful Moss Photos – Fern Canyon – Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

 

Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks

If you love Yosemite, you’ll love this picturesque but less visited redwood park. I consider it a well kept secret that I’m sharing with you, but don’t tell your friends. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is at the far north border of California; just north of Eureka & Arcata and south of the Cali-Oregon border.

Fern Canyon is the main attraction here. The mouth of the canyon is right at the beach and stretches back far inland. It stays wet year around with moisture that rolls in from the ocean, but the best time to visit Fern Canyon is Spring when the walls are typically super lush with moss and ferns. These photos were taken a little before Spring; in February of a drought year. The rangers confirmed it was drier than usual in February 2015.

 

Fern_Canyon_Alter

Fern_Canyon_Hat

 

Fern_Water_Fall

Fern_Canyon_Mouth

 

This area definitely has primordial forest written all over it. I found some sources that said the Jurassic park movies were filmed here in and around Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Fern Canyon. However, websites that cover movie locations say all the forest scenes in Jurassic Park were filmed in Hawaii for all the movies.

Let’s just leave it with Jurassic Park COULD have been filmed here.