Lake Tahoe: Road Trip from San Jose

Ski Run Marina

Lake Tahoe is all about beaches. Well, mostly! All you need to do is park yourself at one of them and you’re set for the day/afternoon/evening. In summer months, as everyone flocks to the cool waters of the lake, all beaches and Vista points close to water can get pretty crowded and it can become nearly impossible to get an official/decent parking spot. Some folks do manage to park on the side of the highway and walk miles with their entire beach gear (tents, chairs, food) to their spot of choosing. Probably best to visit Lake Tahoe in an off season to steer clear of the crowd.

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La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve

Location: Redwood City, San Mateo County
Hike Date: 2017, June 21, Wednesday, 10:40 am
Hike Stats: 3.3 miles, 1.5 hours, 400 feet elevation gain

View at the Vista Point “The panoramic view of the seemingly never-ending valleys leading to the coast is spectacular. On a clear day, visibility extends to the ocean.” (text source: mrosd)

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Smartphone App for Hiking in the Midpeninsula Region – Avenza Maps

Avenza MapsOn one of the docent-led hikes, I learned that I need not rely on Google Maps for figuring out my route in the middle of a forest. Thanks to Marie-Anne Neimat, a docent, for introducing me to Avenza Maps (free) – a great app for hiking in the Bay Area Peninsula region. The app is available both for Android and iOS. The app uses the GPS on your phone to help you track your hiking route as well as tell you which trail you’re at.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) provides free GeoPDF maps for some of the preserves (look for Midpen Preserves (Bundle) in the app’s Store).

More information about the app is available on the MROSD website.

El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve

Location: Redwood City, San Mateo County
Hike Date: 2017, June 28, Wednesday, 10:10 am
Hike Stats: 6.4 miles, 2.5 hours, 1375 feet elevation gain

Repeat Visit: 2019, May 4, Saturday

Methuselah Tree “The panoramic view of the seemingly never-ending valleys leading to the coast is spectacular. On a clear day, visibility extends to the ocean.” (text source: mrosd)

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Castle Rock State Park, Saratoga Gap Trail

Location: Los Gatos, Santa Clara County
Hike Date: 2017, June 10, Saturday
Hike Stats
: 5.4 miles, 4 hours, 1700 feet

Previous Visit: 2015, October 4, Sunday

One of the Sandstone Outcrops on the Saratoga Gap Trail

Exquisite sandstone formations and sculpted caves are among the treasured features within this park’s vast wilderness.


For my previous trip to this state park in 2015, check out this post.
For other trails in Castle Rock State Park, check out this post on Skyline to the Sea Trail.

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Castle Rock State Park, Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail

Location: Los Gatos, Santa Clara County
Hike Date: 2017, June 1, Thursday
Hike Stats:
5.33 miles, 2 hours 25 minutes, 1079 feet elevation gain

Summit Meadow Trail

Attractive lichen-covered boulders and sandstone rock outcrops add to the scenic value of this area.


For other routes in Castle Rock State Park, see Hike in Castle Rock State Park – Saratoga Gap Trail.

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Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir

Location: San Mateo County
Out-and-Back: Sawyer Camp Trail
Hike Date: 2016, December 12
Hike Stats:
6:00 miles, 2 hours
Repeat Visit
: 2019, September 23, Monday

The Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo was a great find. The paved Sawyer Camp Trail along the length of the reservoir provides a great place to walk, run, cycle, or indulge in a leisurely stroll.

Sawyer Camp Trail

The day was perfect – bright and sunny (cold in the shadows) – drawing in moderate crowds. More families with kids started showing up later, after sundown. No pets are allowed on this trail.

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Getting Canada Visitor Visa (via Online Application)

While it was a breeze to create an account and generate a GCKey on the http://www.cic.gc.ca/ website (that is the first step), we did face a lot of confusion while collecting the documents we had to submit as part of the process. The website is not always explicit in stating the documents they expect from us, such as for a category called “Purpose of Travel”. We did not want our visa application to get rejected just because we missed submitting something.

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Castle Rock State Park

Location: Los Gatos, Santa Clara County
Hike Date: 2015, October 4
Hike Stats
: 5.9 miles, 3.5 hours, 2108 feet elevation gain

Repeat Visit: 2017, June 10

Castle Rock State Park
Castle Rock State Park is a place of abundant solitude, wilderness, high cliffs, and sweeping vistas. Unique patterns on weathered sandstone, lush forests, and stream-fed canyons make up the park’s diverse features. – https://www.parks.ca.gov/
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