I met a local professional landscape photographer on flickr several months ago. He noticed that I was into hiking so we decided to meet up for a hike. His friend Hans suggested we go to Corte Madera, past Pine Valley. I had never been there before so I was interested in being on a new trail. Throughout the week I had checked the weather reports and I saw a 50% chance of rain/snow for the area. On Saturday evening we confirmed that we would go anyway. I met Alex, his wife, their dog, and Hans at a shopping center in North County on Sunday morning at 10 and from there we drove to the trailhead, which took us about 90 minutes. I normally don’t leave home that late in the morning, but they told me that since it was a short hike, 6-7 miles, we didn’t need to start so early. Plus, we would begin hiking in warmer conditions. There were heavy clouds in the sky, but it hadn’t started raining yet. We got to the trailhead a little before noon after trying to find Corral Canyon Road referenced in Jerry Schad’s book. I recommend driving a car in which you feel comfortable taking it on a dirt road for about 2 miles. Alex was not happy with that bit. After loading up camera gear and getting Toni, the dog, ready we started on the Espinosa Trail. It’s a rather secluded trail in an area which I’m not too fond of, but since Hans had been here before I didn’t feel so uncomfortable. We started under oak woodlands passing sycamores with beautiful golden leaves. The ground was still damp from the light rain we had overnight. As we ascended up the trail we arrived to the saddle where you can turn around and see the Lake Morena area below.
We veered right at the saddle and continued into an area beautifully dotted with boulders, chaparral, Manzanita, and Coulter pines. I’m glad Hans was with us as I probably wouldn’t have managed to reach Corte Madera Mountain on my own.
Alex and his wife were behind Hans and me. At one point Hans wanted to make sure that they took the right path so he turned back to see where they were. When he got back to me he told me that Alex’s wife decided not to continue because of pain in her foot. So Hans and I continued to the summit plateau of Corte Madera Mountain as quickly as possible to beat the ominous rain clouds. It was windy and misty when we finally reached the summit. I warmed up with hot chocolate while Hans took pictures of the dramatic scenery.
Eventually Alex and Toni caught up with us. Alex got what he wanted that day; wet clouds and fog, or what I thought to be Scottish weather. (No, I’ve never been to Scotland). Despite the clouds, the views were spectacular. One can see Los Pinos Mountain, Espinosa Canyon, and I’ve heard that on clear days one can see into Baja California and the Santa Catalina islands. We quickly ate our lunch and then headed back down careful not to slip on the damp rocks. Every now and then I would turn around to find Alex changing the lenses on his camera. I enjoyed the hike very much for the varied terrain; the pine trees, the sycamores, the granite rocks, and the dramatic views. I’ll have to come next time on a clear day. We made it back to the car a little after 4pm. My GPS calculated 7.28 miles with an elevation gain of 1,829 ft. It was a great hike and I see myself going back there again.