I got out for my first hike of 2006 today. I picked a fairly easy and close hike in the Long Ridge Open Space Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Although I forgot to bring along a camera, I did bring my GPS receiver so that I could log my hike.
I started at the trailhead on Skyline Boulevard across from the Grizzly Flat Trail's parking area at about 8:15 AM. The path from the trailhead leads down into the valley until it T's at the intersection of Long Ridge and Peters Creek trails. From there I went right onto Long Ridge Trail and continued on Long Ridge Road until it ran into Peters Creek Trail. Turning left on to Peters Creek Trail, I followed that back to the intersection with Long Ridge Trail, then headed up out of the valley back to the trailhead.
The entire hike took two hours and was 4.2 miles long. The largest climb was early in the hike, starting right after I turned onto Long Ridge Trail, climbing 260 feet up in about a tenth of a mile. That got the ole heart pounding! In total I saw about 400 feet of elevation change.
There were a lot of mountain bikers out this morning; I must have passed at least 20 of them (some more than once). I also came across a park ranger, slowly rolling along the trail in her pickup. All were friendly, but I kind of wished for a little more solitude—I mean, I hike to get away from the masses, not to find more. I didn't see any large wildlife, either, probably because of all the people that were on the trail.
In all, it was a great first hike for the year and I can't wait to do more.