Hamm’s Gulch

By Carol at 11:10 pm on Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today we drove to Portola Valley for a hike up Hamm’s Gulch near Windy Hill. Most of the hike was shady and still damp from recent rains.

creek bed

Jim, Joannie and Bob survey the ravine below the trail.


Parts of the trail were lined with snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) bushes. The white fruit grows in clusters and provides winter food for certain species of birds such as quail. It contains alkaloids which are considered mildly poisonous to humans.

big leaf maple

Bigleaf maples showed their yellow colors in the woods today. Below is a close-up of a single leaf.

maple leaf

Toyon berries

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) berries, maturing in the fall, provide food for several species of birds as well as mammals, including coyotes and bears. The fruit was prepared in various ways, by native Americans and early settlers of the West, for use in foods and beverages..

mossy bridge

Leaving the trail we cross a creek on this mossy old iron bridge.


These streamside plants look a lot like darmera peltata.


another big leaf maple

Back on the road there are more big leaf maples and rows of redwoods.

redwood row

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Montebello Open Space Preserve

By Carol at 9:13 pm on Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our first Autumn hike back in California was in this beautiful park off Page Mill Road, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We hiked the Canyon Trail to Bella Vista and Old Ranch Trails up to Black Mountain, and back. It was lunch time when we reached this meadow near the top of the ridge. Tiny shoots of new green grass are beginning to appear under last year’s stubble. In the distance, looking southwest toward Santa Cruz, are mist shrouded evergreen forests of Douglas fir and sequoia sempervirens.

Black Mountain

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