Place: Sunol Regional park, Sunol, California
Coordinates: 37.533137, -121.832930
Length: About 6 miles
On Friday, December 2, I realized that I had missed the deadline to turn in my East Bay Regional Parks Trail Challenge log. Oh, well. I know I had fulfilled the requirement, and that's what matters. So I went to celebrate my little achievement checking out a new trail - the Maguire Peaks Trail at Sunol Regional Wilderness.
I had wanted to hike this trail for some time now, ever since I had realized that the Maguire Peaks are within the boundaries of Sunol Wilderness. When recently the chance came I jumped on it and went on this hike.
|Upper Peaks Loop access trail|
The lower access trail isn't marked and there is no obvious parking area near it, so I missed it completely and parked at the upper access trail. There is a small and very inclined pull out area and a gate marked as fire lane behind which started a wide gravel going uphill.
|My hike, labeled yellow.|
|Upper Maguire Peaks Trail|
|Acorn Woodpecker, male|
|Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens|
|Exotic Tree Grove|
I'll share here that throughout all my years of hiking solo, the only times I experienced hostility from anyone was from mother cows. I therefore took the situation seriously and left the trail, circumventing the cows while maintaining a safe distance between them and myself.
I went on and turned the curve. Around it I saw my first view of the Maguire Peaks from the trail.
|The Maguire Peaks|
On a lower branch of one of these naked oaks stood a Say's Phoebe. I managed to get a few photos from a distance, but as I advanced up the trail the bird flew away.
Those are the lines of runoff.
As I hiked the northern part of the loop the higher peak was now within my view constantly. I admired the cliff rocks, visible under the top soil and vegetation. The rocks had quite a few cavities - I assume that there are those beings who would call these home.
And right by the trail - a single coyote brush covered with tiny parachute seeds. A very pretty sight
|Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis|
The map doesn't show any trail leading to the peak itself but there is a trail - a narrow and steep one that begins right at that bench. I started up the trail and soon found it wet enough still to be quite slippery and potentially dangerous. I continued slowly and carefully, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't sure-footed.
Along the way I saw many rocks protruding through the topsoil. Here and there there were also some plants blooming, the most conspicuous of them was the red-flowered hummingbird trumpet.
|Hummingbird Trumpet, Epilobium canum|
The higher of the double peaks is 1688 feet high and is prominent indeed. Standing there I had a magnificent view all around. I could only wish that the air was clearer.
|View northeast from the upper peak. The three peaks on the horizon left to right are Mt. Diablo, the Morgan Territory, and Brushy Peak.|
|View north and slightly west from the upper peak. The bulge in the center past the valley is Pleasanton Ridge.|
View northwest from the upper peak. Below are the Hayward Hills and past them are the city of Hayward and the San Francisco Bay. On the horizon - the San Francisco Peninsula with the peak off the center to the right being San Bruno Mountain.
|View west and slightly south from the upper peak. Under the antennas is Mission Peak.|
|View to the south and slightly east from the upper peak. Somewhere at the bottom a bit of the San Antonio Reservoir is visible. The shadowy peak on the horizon belongs to the Mt. Umunhum, south of the city of San Jose.|
|View to the east from the upper peak, featuring the rest of Sunol Wilderness. The tiny peak on the horizon is Rose Peak in the Ohlone Wilderness area.|
|Mushrooms on upper Maguire Peak|
|More ushrooms up upper Maguire Peak|
|Bristly Goldenaster, Heterotheca sessiliflora ssp echioides|
At least the view remained fantastic.
I curved again around the peaks and was walking on the south side of loop, going in and out of narrow gullies covered with oak trees. The peaks, that towered over me, I could not see at all.
The trail improved some distance later and then the peaks came into my view again. At least their southern cliff side. What caught my eye was the grove of wintering oaks (possibly black oaks, but I don't really know), that covered the slope just below the cliffs.
Oak trees have a majestic quality to them, and are revered in many world cultures, including the native East Bay Ohlone people. Being key species in the area, oaks are an essential part of local habitats. They are also very beautiful and awe-inspiring.
|Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia|
|Yes, I did remove it.|
I looked around and to my horror I spotted all three calves in the trees left of the trail. The hills sloped sharply on either side so there was no going around this time - I had to stick to the trail - that run between the calves and their mothers.
I walked slowly, trying to keep eye contact with the nearest cow yet not ignoring the other two. The cows too eyed me suspiciously, and started moving towards their calves. The calves got nervous and were edging towards their mothers, so all of us were now converging onto the trail ...
At one point one of the cows started trotting towards me. I locked my gaze on her and raised my hiking poles. She stopped. Another cow was coming from behind and I waved my other pole at her. All the time I kept moving slowly, talking calmly to them, and stopping whenever it looked like the calves might reunite with their mothers. Eventually the cows crossed the trail and joined their babies and I passed through. It was a very scary experience, and it cost me some dear time too.
|Down the trail back to Welch Creek Road|
A note to myself - revisit this trail in the spring. I look forward to seeing the poppies bloom on the Maguire Peaks.