Date: October 2015
Place: Uvas Canyon County Park, Morgan Hill, Califronia
Coordinates: 37.084501, -121.792897
Length: about 4 miles (including trail to Triple Falls)
Last year I finished my hike at Almaden Quicksilver County Park with a visit at the park's museum and visitor center (highly recommended!), and chatted with one of the park naturalists. I asked her which of Santa Clara County parks was her favorite, and she said, Uvas Canyon, with musty eyes and a longing voice. Naturally, I had to check it out, and sure enough, it made it into my list of places to hike with my hiking group.
The first thing that welcomed me when I exited the car at the day use parking lot was a hefty madrone tree, laden with fruit.
My original plan was to hike up the Alec Creek trail only to the intersection with the Contour Trail. On my solo hikes, however, I couldn't resist the temptation, so I hiked all the way to the Triple Falls at Alec Creek, and then backtracked to the Contour Trail and on to the Upper Falls and Swanson Creek.
Across the trail from the water tank there was a group of trees with a very distinct and beautiful bark: Tanbark Oaks. There were quite a few of them along the trail.
On the sunnier parts of the trail I found the source of the poo berries: a California Coffeeberry bush.
Uvas Canyon County Park is a home to a fascinating forest comprised of rich variety of tree species, not one of them truly dominating the scenery. One of the tree species there is the Douglas Fir, some of which have reached a size that dwarfs even the local redwoods.
The Contour Trail provides plenty of opportunities to see and feel the infinite aspects of Nature. One only needs to look. I chanced to look down at the base of one large laurel trunk, therefore I saw this beautiful moth sitting motionless o n the ground.
On one of the curves the trail dips shortly into a dry wash. A few undergrowth greens were hanging from the rocks, all very similar.
Almost every park in the Bay Area has poison oak growing near the trails and Uvas Canyon is no different. There is, however, much less poison oak there than in other parks with similar vegetation communities. The examples of poison oak I've seen along the Contour Trail were hardly impressive.
A few yards below, however, the water was flowing openly on the surface. Not a big flow, but for 4 straight years of drought, it was nice to see the creek running.
The trail continues on the other side of the creek. There's no bridge there, just a few large rocks to hop on. On high flow times, the trail is closed to hikers.
A third more mile down and I was at the Upper Falls. Finally, a waterfall that flows.
|Uvas Canyon Upper Falls|
From there on, the trail follows the creek downstream. About 50 yards below the falls the trail splits into two: the left is a wide dirt road that stretches high above the water. It is wide and comfortable, sunlit in more than one place, and the perfect trail to take if seeing reptiles is on the agenda.
|Western Fence Lizard|
|Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)|
Many thanks to members of the California Native Plants Society for their help in identifying the coffeeberry and the droppings :-)