So the original plan was to go backpacking in Butano State Park and do a nice 5.5 miles through some redwoods. Well with the state budget impasse and some crazy wet weather the park was not open to camping until May. So we decided to exercise our backup plan of Stewarts Camp in the Ohlone Wilderness via Lake Del Valle. Well that was full on the Friday night so we needed so we exercised option c and reserved the last spot in the Ohlone Wilderness that Friday night, Boyd Camp.The plan now was to hike in early to Boyd Camp and then day hike to Murietta Falls.This is an ambitious day hike due to the elevation gained/lost along this section of trail. Permits are required for day use in the Ohlone Wilderness and can be obtained for $2 in person or $2.50 through the mail. Reservations for camping are done over the phone by calling 1-888-327-2757, press option 2, then 1. For general information about the Ohlone Wilderness, phone Sunol Regional Wilderness at (925) 862-2244. Camping fees as of this trip date are $5 per person per night with an $8 reservation fee. There are only two sites at Boyd Camp. We reserved site number two. The ranger I spoke with said with the wildflowers in bloom the sites are filled on the weekends. So plan earlier than we did to get the site you want. The hike in is listed at just over 2 miles and my GPS clocked it at 2.3, see map and profile below. We parked at Lichen Bark Picnic Area and hiked in on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. Starting elevation is 750 and Boyd Camp sits at 2240. The picture above shows Mount Diablo the next morning from camp.
So here is the crew on this
trip. We left the trailhead at Lichen Park. See the smiling faces. They forgot that I said this trip would be mainly uphill... Don't worry they would be cursing me out soon enough (even though I warned them).
The trail is a good mix of covered and exposed. The first mile to the Wilderness boundary is not bad with you gaining 500' in that mile in spurts. Here is the start of the trail from the parking lot.
You are mainly hiking on fire roads so the grade can get steep in spots. Everything was green and lush which is much different than what it looks like the majority of the year.
That water behind Leo is Del Valle. Make sure to look behind you occasionally to see the views (and catch your breath).
Another shot of what the trail looks like. The good thing about the fire roads is they are wide so you have little chance in encountering the infamous Poison Oak in this area. Some of the more narrow trails adjoining this one are covered in it, so keep a watchful eye out.
If only the whole trail was this covered and level this hike would be a piece of cake...
You can see in this shot that you are starting to gain some elevation now. Stop to enjoy the views of the ridges surround Del Valle. The trail seems steepest after the Wilderness boundary at the junction with the Vallecitos Trail. If you want a nice covered trail take this trail back to Dell Valle, otherwise continue the ascent on the Ohlone Wilderness trail.
Here is a quality way to close a fence. I would hope that this is not a sign of the times to come with the reduced budgets to parks statewide. At least the "rope" used didn't include anyone's underwear...
So we continued to the junction of Stromer Springs Road and took a right to get some water. It says to filter so we all tanked up and filled our extra water bladders for camp. Notice the hands free setup for the water filtering... Yes it takes four of us to setup the hands free system and by the time we had it setup we were almost done filtering. We decided that next time we will need some water filtering music, so we may require a fifth person...
Here are our shelters setup at Boyd Camp. We setup shelters and packed our daypacks for our planned dayhike. By this time I did not think that we would have the energy/desire to make it to the falls (I didn't tell anyone my feelings on this yet though as I was curious how far we would get).
So camp includes a trash can and outhouse. Water is back at Stromer Springs about 1/3 mile away. It is a decent hill down and then back to camp to pump water (this is why we pumped on the way to camp).
So the hike is a slight up and then levels out for a bit. Here is Sycamore Flat with a carpet of yellow wild flowers..
The cows reluctantly got out of our way. I think they tired of us mooing at them.
We descended into Williams Gulch with a decent stream that runs through it.
We started up the much more narrow trail up the Big Burn. Great wildflowers and even a slight breeze to cool us. Trail is covered and almost overgrown in spots.
These are the plants you want to avoid at all costs (unless you are lucky enough to be immune to urushiol , but even then you might spread the oil onto a friend who is not). Can you see how shiny the leaves are... There was plenty of Poison Oak out there so be careful!.
So here we are after turning back from our uphill journey through the Big Burn. We decided that a leisurely lunch at the stream in Williams Gulch sounded much more appealing. We heard there was a little water flowing from the falls but we would save that journey for another day. We also heard that it is best viewed after some considerable rain to really get it flowing.
The stream was flowing pretty good and provided lots of opportunities to explore. If it was warmer it would have been neat to sit in one of the many pools it forms. Of course the water was freezing and the weather was a little too chilly to want to air dry. THere weren't many bugs which made it easy to spend quite a bit of time down here. The fact that the trek back to camp was uphill also made staying around the stream seem like a good option. We eventually did hike back up to camp at a leisurely pace. That night at camp was relaxing with the moon almost full it was bright around camp. Not many people out hiking this Friday.
Here is Leo in the morning. I think he is preparing his coffee this morning from his "sleep system". Although he couldn't hammock between two trees his was able to hammock from different limbs of the Oak tree over the fire ring (No fires are allowed in Ohlone Wilderness but evidence showed that some people before us didn't follow the rules)..
Our site was large but the area that was flat and not torn up by hooves or covered in cow pies was rather small. We put up all three shelters pretty close to each other in the best clean flat spot we could find. The site has some mature Oak trees that would provide some shade in the summer.
The fog came in that night and erased civilization for us. You can make out the twin peaks of Mount Diablo but not much else in the Valley this morning. My tried and true Sierra Design Light Year one man tent is in the foreground.
Here is the sign post that you will encounter on the way in from Del Valle just before Boyd Trail Camp. It says there is water and yes there is but it is the same water that you passed at the earlier junction down the hill. This is just the steeper and narrower way to get to it. Not sure that you save any time going this way. I would just use the road as the trail is steep and wet. Nothing like having to go up something steep and wet carrying bags of water..
My obligatory "dead tree picture" as my wife likes to put it. I guess I like dead trees.
So yes there are a few crazy steep sections that you would not want to fall down with a pack. Trekking poles and good hiking boots really help out on sections of "trail" like this. Here is Eric traversing the slope. He had already amazed us with a skateboarding slide move on a slope earlier on the trail. .
The red line shows hike in to camp, dayhike and hike back out. Scroll down for elevation profile. Starting and ending point should be the same but I did not calibrate my altimeter the second day so with the weather changing it probably explains the slight elevation difference..