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AustinCreek SRA

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AustinCreek SRA

Postby will_jrob » Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:47 pm

Austin Creek State Recreation Area 03/11/2008
A visit to another state park on the list to be closed for budget savings (Armstrong Redwoods State Park/Austin Creek State Recreation Area), this one is at the opposite end of the Bay Area from Henry Coe, west of Santa Rosa . A smaller park than Henry Coe, but large and undeveloped enough that I met no one during 9 miles on the trails on a midweek day. The day started out sunny, but by afternoon a layer of high clouds partially obscured the sun. I started hiking from the ridgetop trailhead for the Gilliam Creek trail, in oak woodlands, then some open hillside meadows.
Blue flowers were out, Baby Blue-eyes, ShootingStars, BlueDicks, HoundsTongue, and a few Iris. A few poppies, but they were still furled, Buttercups, and later/lower some MonkeyFlower represented Yellow/Orange. MilkMaids, BabyStars and PopcornFlower were the most common White flowers.
The trail descends, eroded and steeply in places to the streamside of Schoolhouse Creek, then still steeply descending, reaches its junction with GilliamCreek, and more level terrain . This creek was flowing well, good volume of water and sound. About at this junction I first noticed newts in the creek pools, and on the banks. The newts were present as far downstream as I ventured, they must have easily numbered several hundred, and as the trail crossed the unbridged stream 9 or 10 times they were occassionally nearly underfoot. The trail and creek eventually meet East Austin Creek, a much larger stream, which I didn't cross, probably would have required knee high wading. Still plenty of newts here, but also some steelhead? minnows in a cutoff pool at the junction. Returned back up the creek trail, fighting the downstream facing willows at a couple of the stream crossings, to the Gilliam Creek junction, then took the fork that follows Gilliam Creek itself, and merges with a fire road after a short distance. The fire road proceeds directly to the ridgeline at a fairly uniform strenuous pitch, and continues on the ridge to the park road. Above the woods were some nice views to the west of the Coastal ridges between the park and Pacific near Ft. Ross/Cazadero. A flock of turkeys near the ridgetop vista point were the largest animals I saw: pigs have dug up some of the area under oaks, and a trap was placed along the fire road. No lizards or snakes, yet, and fewer hawks/vultures, song birds, and butterflies than last week in Henry Coe. An enjoyable streamside hike and aerobic hillclimb.

'Framed Ridgeline GilliamCreekTrl"

"Baby Blue Eyes, Gilliam CreekTrail"

"Seep Monkey Flower, Gilliam CreekTrail"

[url=]Image[ /url]
"Emerging Newts, Gilliam Creek"

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Re: AustinCreek SRA

Postby Snow Nymph » Thu Mar 13, 2008 7:52 am

Lots of green! Love the newt! Thanks!
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison
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Re: AustinCreek SRA

Postby Trailtrekker06 » Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:55 pm

Nice pics, really like that first one. Spring is here! Newts are cool. Haven't seen one in a very long time.
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