Ron Horii's Travel FAQs
Replies to the Bay Area Backroads Message Board - 2000

FAQs Home

Bay Area Back Pages

SF Bay Area Rec & Travel



Bay Area Backroads





Contents - 2000

  1. Santa Rosa
  2. Bay Area hiking in the woods
  3. Owl Rescue
  4. Beach/Sunset wedding
  5. Waterfalls in the South Bay
  6. Stuff in or near San Jose
  7. Daffodil hill...where??
  8. Wildflower Sightings
  9. Covered bridges
  10. Ghost Town near Newark
  11. Henry Coe State Park
  12. Poppy Fields
  13. Family reunion/reception but where?
  14. Mountain Biking
  15. Winchester Mystery House
  16. Easter Celebration
  17. Poppies
  18. Kayaking on Peninsula?
  19. Anniversary getaway
  20. Anyone know this photographer?
  21. Restaurant w/stream thru it
  22. Petroglyphs
  23. Backroads to Napa
  24. Carizzo Plains
  25. Banana Farm
  26. Old Van Camping
  27. Family and Dog
  28. Albany Hill Volcano?
  29. Santa Cruz
  30. Camping on the beach?
  31. Mountain Biking in South Bay
  32. Big Sur Monastary?
  33. Cycling
  34. Drawbridge Ghost Town Closure
  35. Town of Sonoma celebration
  36. What to do in San Francisco
  37. Architectural Tours
  38. Train ride
  39. Fioli Estate
  40. Trail Recommendations - Big Sur or North Bay?
  41. Hang gliding
  42. Wedding in the Redwoods?
  43. Local legends, ghosts, treasure?
  44. Pulgas Water Temple
  45. Bay Area Vacation Ideas
  46. Suggestions on Great Campgrounds?
  47. Train Museums
  48. Coyote Hills and the Alameda Creek Trail
  49. Pampanito
  50. Phone number for White Sulphur Springs?
  51. Redwood Shores
  52. Christmas Displays in the Bay Area?
  53. Know of a Chrismas Tree Farm in the Bay Area?
  54. Tortoise 
  55. The 1915 Fair and SF History
  56. Scenic drive to LA
  57. Fort Ross
  58. Oyster Farms
  59. Winchester Mansion



Subject: Santa Rosa, posted by Ronald Horii on January 17, 2000

I liked the show on Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is a great little city. One place that was not mentioned in the show (probably because it's not technically a city park) was Spring Lake Regional Park. Spring Lake is a beautiful 75-acre recreational lake. It has good fishing, including planted trout, and boat rentals are available. The park has campgrounds with showers in the hills above the lakeside. A large nearby swim lagoon surrounded by sandy beaches provides warm, safe swimming for all ages. There are shady picnic areas in the hills and around the lake. Next to it are Howarth Park (which was covered in the Backroads show) and the huge 5000-acre wilderness of Annadel State Park. Spring Lake and Annadel might be good subjects for another show. See: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Bay Area hiking in the woods, posted on February 20, 2000

Q: Want to go hiking in a kinda woodsy area, but not have to travel to far to get there. I'm in San Jose.

A: You are really lucky. San Jose is surrounded by great hiking areas. Many people don't realize that, and maybe that's a good thing. Most of these areas are not very crowded. Here is just a sample:

Almaden Quicksilver County Park is a fantastic open space area. It's huge! In the spring, its hills are covered with lush green grass and colorful wildflowers. It has more miles of trails than you are likely to be able to take in a day. The shadiest is the New Almaden Trail, which runs for miles along the foothills through shady forests. The Randol Trail and the Guadalupe Mines Trail are other good choices. For a real challenge, take the Hacienda Trail (also known as the "cardiac hill trail") from the Mockingbird Lane Entrance. See:

Santa Teresa County Park also has some shady areas on its east slopes. It's easy to get to from several points, including the backside in the Almaden Valley. The Laurel Canyon Nature Trail runs from the park entrance near the golf course and enters a shady canyon with a seasonal waterfall at its end. The Ohlone Trail runs along the hillside, with views of the golf course and its lakes below. The Stile Ranch Trail is a spectacular trail, especially in the spring, when it's surrounded by a riot of wildflowers. The park also has some surprises, like an ancient spring (Santa Teresa Springs) that runs year-round, a lush rest area where moss grows on rocks (Laurel Springs), a vine-covered hillside fed by a hidden spring (on the Hidden Springs Trail), and a spectacular hidden waterfall that can only be seen in really wet weather. See:
See my pages on Santa Teresa Park:

Lexington County Park/St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve and The Kennedy Trail in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve near Los Gatos have some challenging trails through steep, shady canyons. Other nice places are Sanborn County Park in Saratoga, Stevens Creek County Park and Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino, Uvas Canyon County Park near Morgan Hill, Mount Madonna County Park near Gilroy, Alum Rock Park in East San Jose, and Joseph D. Grant County Park east of San Jose. Uvas County Park is one of the best places in the South Bay for viewing waterfalls in the winter. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, there's lots of places, especially Big Basin State Park, Henry Cowell State Park, Castle Rock State Park, Portola State Park, Butano State Park, Wilder Ranch State Park, Pescadero Creek County Park, San Mateo County Memorial Park, Sam McDonald County Park, Wunderlich County Park, and Huddart County Park.

See my hiking pages:
My page on hiking links:
My page on hiking through the green hills:

Bay Area Backroads has done some good stories on the outdoors and hiking in the Bay Area:
Also, go to "Past Stories" and search on "hiking."

Some good books to get or check out at the library are:
"South Bay Trails : Outdoor Adventures Around the Santa Clara Valley" by Frances Spangle, Jean Rusmore
"Peninsula Trails : Outdoor Adventures on the San Francisco Peninsula" by Jean Rusmore, Frances Spangle, Betsy Crowder 
"The Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book" by Tom Taber 
"Easy Hiking in Northern California, 1996-97 : 100 Places You Can Hike This Weekend" by Ann Marie Brown 
"Great Outdoor Getaways to the Bay Area and Beyond" by Tom Stienstra 
"Tom Stienstra's Outdoor Getaway Guide : Northern California" by Tom Stienstra 
And the mother of all California hiking books: "California Hiking : The Complete Guide to 1,000 of the Best Hikes in California" by
Tom Stienstra, Ann Marie Brown 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Owl Rescue, posted on February 24, 2000

Q: I have a friend in Lodi who rescued a great horned owl some time ago. He was injured somehow. I am in search of a reputable facility which would take this injured bird and allow him to live out his life.

A: First, I would suggest contacting the Micke Grove Zoo in Lodi:

There's also the San Joaquin Audubon Society:

The Central Valley Bird Club:

In Walnut Creek, there's the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, which is a wildlife rehabilitation center. See:
"The museum exhibits live, non-releasable native wildlife in Walnut Creek, California. Founded in 1955, the museum is the oldest and one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation hospitals in the United States, treating more than 6,000 injured and orphaned wild animals each year."

The California Raptor Center at UC Davis:
Here's what they say:
"The California Raptor Center (CRC) is dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned raptors. The Center receives over 250 injured or ill raptors each year and is able to release over 60% of these birds."

There's also the Sacramento Zoo:

In Hayward, there's the Sulphur Creek Nature Center: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Beach/Sunset wedding, posted on February 29, 2000

Q: My bride to be has a vision of our being married on a beach at sunset. We are in Contra Costa County. I have no idea if this is possible. Can anyone recommend a site or two it would be greatly appreciated, as I would love to make this happen for her?

A: There are lots of beaches along the coast. The problem is the weather. It tends to be unpredictably wet, windy, and foggy, even in the summer. That makes planning ahead for a wedding tricky. Somewhere around Santa Cruz, like New Brighton State Beach might be your best bet, unless you want to travel to Southern California. In that case, the Santa Barbara beaches would be a great choice.
Here is a list and pictures of some nice beaches:
Here's some info on Santa Barbara:

The weather is warmer and more predictable along a bay, like San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, or Tomales Bay. Finding a nice beach, though, can be tricky. If you want a sunset view, you need a beach on the East side of the Bay.  On SF Bay, there are small beaches along the San Leandro shore. See this:
Farther north is Crown Memorial Beach in Alameda:
Go to the Bay Trail site for more locations around the Bay:

There are also several lakes in your area. Try Lafayette Reservoir. Backroads did a story on it recently. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

Subject: Waterfalls in the South Bay, posted by Ronald Horii on March 08, 2000 

If this rain keeps up, Anderson Dam in Morgan Hill should spill over. When it does, it creates what is probably the most spectacular waterfall in the Bay Area. Because of the rocky spillway on Anderson Dam, it looks like a natural waterfall, like one you'd see in Yosemite. It's so big, you can see it from Cochrane Road and Hwy 101 in Morgan Hill. It's a big event when it spills. They often cover it on the local TV news. There's a picture of it at the bottom of this page:
Here's the park's page:

Uvas Canyon County Park near Morgan Hill and Gilroy also has a number of lovely waterfalls. There's a picture of one at the bottom of this page:
Here's the park's page: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Stuff in or near San Jose, posted on March 11, 2000

Q: I'm looking for interesting stuff of any type to do in or around San Jose. A hike or nature stuff is OK as long as I don't have to walk too far or go up and down hills. Any suggestions are welcome - interesting museums, novel place to eat, something neat to see.

A: Click on "Search Past Stories" then enter "San Jose." You'll get a lot of stories and ideas. Also, look down at the old notes in the Message Board. You may find some ideas there. Off the top of my head, here are some South Bay ideas in no particular order:

Museums and gardens:
Tech Museum
Rosicrucian Museum
Intel Museum (Santa Clara)
NASA Ames Visitors Center (Mountain View)
Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton
Guadalupe River Park and Gardens
Overfelt Gardens
San Jose Rose Garden
Hakone Gardens (Saratoga)
New Almaden Museum
San Jose Museum of Art
Triton Museum of Art (Santa Clara)
Mission Santa Clara (at Santa Clara U.)
Mission San Jose (in Fremont)
Mission San Juan Bautista
Kelley Park: Happy Hollow, Japanese Gardens, San Jose Historical Museum
Winchester Mystery House
Emma Prush Farms
Ardenwood Historical Farm (Fremont)

Easy hiking/biking trails:
Coyote Creek Trail
Los Gatos Creek Trail
Stevens Creek Trail (Mountain View)
Bay Trail (all around the Bay)
Alamitos Creek Trail
Alameda Creek Trail (Fremont) 

Almaden Quicksilver County Park
Santa Teresa County Park
Calero County Park
Vasona Lake County Park
Joseph D. Grant County Park
Rancho San Antonio (Los Altos)
Stevens Creek County Park (Cupertino)
Ed Levin County Park (Milpitas)
Uvas Canyon County Park (near Gilroy)
Mount Madonna County Park (between Gilroy and Watsonville)
Sanborn Skyline County Park (Saratoga)
Coyote Point Recreation Area (San Mateo)
Alum Rock Park
Almaden Lake Park
Oak Meadow Park (Los Gatos)
Sunnyvale Baylands Park
Shoreline at Mountain View Park
Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve
Coyote Hills Regional Park (Fremont)
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (visitors center in Newark, Environmental Ed. Center in Alviso)
Lake Elizabeth Park (Fremont)
Castle Rock, Big Basin, and Henry Cowell State Parks (Santa Cruz Mountains)

One of the most unusual places to go to in San Jose is Alviso (don't laugh). Alviso is a sometimes neglected and forgotten corner of the city, but it's quite unique. It's San Jose's only port on San Francisco Bay. It has a long and colorful history, with many interesting historical buildings. It's a quiet old community that is in sharp contrast to hectic Silicon Valley. There are miles of very flat trails out there where you can get close to nature and get away from the crowds. There are also some good restaurants in Alviso. Personally, I like Vahl's, which is a very friendly, homey place, run by Mrs. Vahl, who is in her 90's. See:
There's also a ghost town near Alviso. It's called Drawbridge, and is located on a marshy island north of Alviso. It can be reached by guided tours. See:

That's just a sample. If you have kids, there's even more. If you want to go beyond the South Bay, there's a lot more.

For more ideas and information, see: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Daffodil hill...where?? posted on March 15, 2000

Q: I remember hearing something about there being a daffodil hill. Does anyone know where it is???

A: There's a Daffodil Hill in the Gold Country: 

Here are more links:

"Daffodil Valley" in Livermore: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

Subject: Wildflower Sightings, posted by Ronald Horii on March 20, 2000

On Saturday, I went to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newark, near the Dumbarton Bridge toll plaza. I walked up the hill above the visitors center and was pleasantly surprised to find that the west-facing slopes of the hill were covered with blazing orange poppies. The view from the top of the hill was also fantastic, with the Diablo Range covered in green grass and the salt ponds full of water. On the south end of the hill along the Tidelands Trail, the slopes were covered in bright yellow flowers. I'm not sure what kind they were, but they were about 3/4" in diameter on long slender stalks and arose from a base of 3-leaf clovers. 

On Sunday, I walked though Almaden Quicksilver County Park in San Jose. The hills along the Senador Mine Trail were sprinkled with poppies, which added a bright accent to the lush green grass. Here and there were stands of yellow wild mustard. With the weather warming up and no rain in sight, I fear this scene my be all-too brief, as the hills start to turn brown again.

Anyone else have wildflower sightings to report? 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Covered bridges, posted on March 29, 2000

Q: We heard about some covered bridges near Newark. We are interested in seeing any covered bridges in California. Where are they?

A: I got this note sent to me:

"Knights Ferry, CA has the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi. It is approx 330 feet over the Stanislaus River. Knights Ferry is close to Modesto - Oakdale, California. It is also a great area for hiking."

There are no covered bridges in Newark that I know of. However, there is a famous one in the town of Felton in the Santa Cruz Mountains, next to Henry Cowell State Park and Roaring Camp. It's near the intersection of Hwy 9 and Graham Hill Road. Look here:

There are also probably some in the Motherlode. I'm sure our Valley and Gold Country friends can point out some.

More links on covered bridges California: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Ghost Town Near Neward, posted on March 30, 2000

Q: I heard that there is a ghost town near Newark that will be closing down. Any info?

A: You are thinking of Drawbridge. See the Backroads story on it:

You can see it up close on guided tours conducted by the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters Visitors Center in Newark. This is the only legal way to see the ghost town close up. For information on tours, contact the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newark at (510) 792-0222.

You can see it from a distance from the trails in Alviso. I have some pictures of it on my Bay Trail page on Alviso's Mallard Slough Trail:
Here is a picture of some of the buildings of Drawbridge from the trail:
Note that this trail closes from October to January for duck hunting.

For more closeup pictures and stories of the town's history, see Eric Carlson's page: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Henry Coe State Park, posted on April 02, 2000

Q: Need info on Henry Coe Park. I heard it has excellent mountain bike trails. How about camping? dogs allowed?

A: See: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Poppy Fields, posted on April 03, 2000

Q: I am trying to locate the area/town where there are miles of poppy fields which you can walk about. I believe it is in Southern Ca area, perhaps in a place called Antelope.

A: You're thinking of the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster. Here are some links to everything you would want to know about the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Family reunion/reception but where? posted on April 10, 2000

Q: We need some advice on where to have a family reunion.

A: Here are some ideas:
Roaring Camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains:
Hecker Pass, A Family Adventure in Gilroy:
Coyote Ranch, south of San Jose:
Saratoga Springs, Saratoga:

Catering and planning:

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Mountain Biking, posted on April 12, 2000

Q: I want to go biking on some dirt trails and would like some suggestions on places in the Bay Area. Distance isn't really an issue.

A: I have hiking trails listed here, many of which are also open to mountain biking (please excuse the complaints about mountain bikers when I'm wearing my hiker's hat):

Wearing my biker's hat, here are biking trails, mostly flat, though:

There are mountain biking links on the links page (I haven't checked the links in a while, so I don't know if they have gone stale):

If you really like flat trails, check out the Bay Trail pages: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to Winchester Mystery House, posted on April 15, 2000

Q: How's the Winchester Mystery House? Is it scary?

A: Whether you will like the Winchester Mystery House or not will depend a lot on your expectations. If you're expecting a fun-house amusement, like Disney's Haunted Mansion, you will be disappointed. The advertizing seems to emphasize the ghoulish and macabre, but seeing the house is actually a very different experience. What I found was that it was a fantastic collection of Victorian art, decoration, and architecture. It has some beautiful stainglass, intricate wooden trim, and elegant antique furniture. The odd stairways and dead end halls seemed more like the work of a really bad architect (Sarah Winchester) than anything spooky, though the guides tried to make them sound eerie. However, I wouldn't want to go there at night. The place is reportedly actually haunted. See these links:

Anyway, if you think of the house as a really neat historical museum, you'll enjoy it for what it is. The gardens are also beautiful.

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Easter Celebration, posted on April 17, 2000

Q: Every Easter there is a sunrise service held at a Bay Area location on a hill with a large cross. I'm looking for the location and directions.

A: Are you thinking of Mt. Davidson in San Francisco? See:

Here are some pictures:

The cross on the mountain has been the subject of numerous lawsuits and a ballot proposition. It is technically now owned by an Armenian church group.

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

Subject: Poppies, posted by Ronald Horii, April 2000

If you live in the South Bay, you don't have to travel far to see a beautiful display of poppies. Poppies and other wildflowers are blooming along the Stile Ranch Trail at Santa Teresa County Park in San Jose. Here are some pictures of the trail: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Kayaking on Peninsula? Posted on April 27, 2000

Q: Any ideas of places or names of companies that rent kayaks on the Peninsula (Redwood City?). We are in Palo Alto and looking for a water-related group fun event nearby.

A: How about Mountain View? Shoreline Lake rents kayaks, sailboats and paddleboats. It's great for kids, since Shoreline is a small, safe, shallow lake that doesn't get too rough. The morning breezes are gentle. However, the stiffer afternoon breezes make it a great place for windsurfers. The park also has an indoor/outdoor cafe, lawn areas for picnicking, paved trails for bike-riding and strolling, nature trails, kite-flying areas, and hills for climbing. See:

Palo Alto's Baylands Nature Preserve and Byxbee Park are nearby:

Coyote Point is another popular place for more advanced windsurfing and kayakking:
Because of the extensive picnic areas, large lawns and playgrounds, and the famous Coyote Point Museum, it is a great place for family outings.

Here is a list of kayak outfitters:

If you're adventurous, you can take a nighttime kayak trip in the Bay, like Doug did:
You can also kayak at Pillar Point:

If you don't mind travelling a little, a great place to go kayakking (and swimming, clamming, fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, etc.) is Tomales Bay:

Also see: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Anniversary getaway, posted on April 27, 2000

Q: My husband & I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary, our schedules are hectic and I was wondering a good place outside S.F. to go for 2 days, like a romantic B&B, someplace with history (we like old stuff) & woodsy!!

A: How about Point Reyes/Tomales Bay? Inverness is a lovely town on Tomales Bay with several B&B's. Check out last Saturday's Backroads story. See:

Mendocino, Bodega Bay, Carmel, Big Sur, and the Santa Cruz Mountains are also good places. Search the Backroads' past stories. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Anyone know this photographer? posted on April 30, 2000

Q: Anyone remember the name of the photographer/ or name of the book that dealt with the Crystal Springs reservoir? Think it was on a past Bay Area Backroads.

A: Rob Buelteman. See: 
Also see my page: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Restaurant w/stream thru it, posted on April 30, 2000

Q: Bay Area Backroads paid a visit to a restaurant that had a stream flowing right through the middle of it. I believe that it was on Highway 19, but am not certain. If you recall the name and location, please let me know.

A: The Brookdale Lodge on Hwy 9. See: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Petroglyphs, posted on April 27, 2000

Q: There are supposed to be some Indian petroglyphs somewhere around the San Francisco area. Can you help?

A: This was a tough one, but I finally found these links: 
I hope these help. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Backroads to Napa, posted on May 6, 2000

Q: I would like to take the backroads (highways okay, but no freeways) from Sunnyvale/San Jose into Napa. Is that possible?

A: It's possible, but it depends on why you want to take the backroads: to avoid freeway traffic but still get there in a short amount of time or to take the slow, scenic route where time is no object. I'll tackle the latter and suggest a scenic route. I know the Peninsula better than the East Bay, so I'll plot a very scenic, but slow, route along the west side of the Bay. It includes my secret scenic shortcut through San Francisco:

Take Hwy 9 through Los Gatos, Saratoga, and climb up into the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Turn right on Skyline Blvd. Follow Skyline along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains as it passes by many open space parks.
Where Skyline ends at Hwy 92, either turn left and take Hwy 1 up the coast or turn right and take Skyline Blvd. down towards Crystal Springs Reservoir. Turn left at the reservoir and follow Skyline north along Crystal Springs Reservoir and the Crystal Springs Golf Course. 
At the golf course, the road jogs inland of Hwy 280. It parallels Hwy 280 and sometimes requires driving on 280 for short distances. 
Skyline (Hwy 35) finally breaks away from 280, and follows San Andreas Reservoir. Take it all the way to Daly City, where it joins up with Hwy 1 coming in from the coast. Continue on Skyline Blvd into San Francisco. 
At Fort Funstion and Lake Merced, turn left onto the Great Highway. Follow the Great Highway along the coast past the San Francisco Zoo and the end of Golden Gate Park.
Follow the road as it turns inland pass the Cliff House and become Point Lobos Avenue.
Point Lobos turns into Geary Blvd.
Turn left on 34th Avenue into Lincoln Park, where the road becomes the Legion of Honor Drive. 
Past the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, turn right onto Camino Del Mar.
Camino Del Mar runs through the wealthy Seacliff district, then becomes Lincoln Blvd.
Follow Lincoln Blvd through the Presidio, past Baker Beach. The road goes under the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Turn left immediately after going under the bridge approach, get onto Hwy 101, and cross the Golden Gate Bridge. 
Take the Sausalito exit. In Sausalito, follow surface streets along the Sausalito waterfront until you get to the Hwy 1 turnoff. 
You could continue along the Bay and take surface streets through San Rafael and Novato, but it gets too complicated. Instead, take Hwy 1 to the coast (this is a really scenic route, but you better not be in a hurry).
Follow Hwy 1 past Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Olema, Point Reyes, and Tomales Bay.
Turn left onto Tomales-Petaluma Road and head into Petaluma.
Once in Petaluma, take Bodega to Washington to Lakeville, which becomes Hwy 116.
Follow Hwy 116 east.
At Hwy 121, turn left. Follow Hwy 121 to Hwy 29 into Napa. Find a B&B because it will probably be dark by the time you get there.
If you really want to take this route, it's best to turn it into a 2-3 day trip, because there are so many destinations along the way.

To return, take Hwy 29 south, cross the Carquinez Bridge, get off on San Pablo Avenue. Follow San Pablo to Appian Way. Follow Appian Way south. Turn left on San Pablo Dam Road. This passes San Pablo Reservoir and becomes Camino Pablo, then Moraga Way. Turn right on Canyon Road, then left on Pinehurst Road (this looks like a narrow, winding road on the map), then left on Redwood Road, which leads past Upper San Leandro Reservoir into Hayward. Take 238 to Hwy 84. Take Hwy 84 across the Dumbarton Bridge back to Silicon Valley. (This route is from the map. I haven't taken it, except for small pieces of it.) 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Carizzo Plains, posted on May 12, 2000

Q: I am interested in visiting the Carizzo Plains and was wondering if anyone can give some first hand information.

A: Did you see the Backroads story on it: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Banana Farm, posted on May 14, 2000

Q: I'm looking for a banana farm or plantation that was featured on an old show somewhere on the central coast.

A: I don't remember that show, but when I've driven down the coast on Hwy 101 from Carpinteria to Ventura, I've seen banana farms along the coast there. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Old Van Camping, posted on May 15, 2000

Q: Wondering if there are local spots exceptionally suited for "Van Camping." Fremonts Peak, is it one? Others?

A: Look here for some ideas:

If you want to stay close to the Bay Area, the Santa Clara County Parks that have campgrounds (Uvas Canyon, Coyote Lake, Mount Madonna, would be good. So would Olema Ranch and Saratoga Springs, which are private. Any of the state beaches around Santa Cruz that have camping, such as New Brighton, would be good. Big Sur is the best place to camp, but you have to reserve way in advance. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, there's Big Basin, Henry Cowell, Portola, Butano, and Memorial Park. There are also KOA campgrounds in Watsonville, Petaluma, and south of Gilroy. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Family & Dog, posted on May 22, 2000

Q: We are trying to find a nice place to picnic with our 2 boys (age 6 & 4) and take along the family dog. No city parks...too many other dogs and kids. Any ideas?

A: Are you near the South Bay? Try Santa Teresa County Park in San Jose. They allow dogs (on leash) and have picnic areas. See:

Sanborn County Park near Saratoga is another good place:

Check the Santa Clara County Parks page for more parks:

Check this link for more dog parks: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Albany Hill Volcano? posted on May 30, 2000

Q: I have heard that Albany Hill (in Albany) is the top of a volcano nearby that blew off. Does anyone know if this is true? If so, where could I find more information?

A; Look here: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Santa Cruz, posted on June 13, 2000

A: My sister and brother in law are coming into town and I would like to show them around Santa Cruz/Capitola area. Are there any boat rides or sailing trips available in that area? Any other fun ideas (besides simply sitting on the beach)?

A: Here are some links:

Bay Area Backroads episodes (Search for "Santa Cruz" in Past Stories): 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Camping on the beach? posted on June 28, 2000

Q: Does anyone know where I can go camping ON the beach legally?

A: Here's one place I know of:
You can camp on the beach right by the mouth of the Navarro River. There's a big lagoon nearby. It's on the Mendocino Coast, which can be foggy in the summer. Inland up the river is Paul Dimmick Wayside Camp, which is warmer and less foggy.

At MacKerricher State Park, you can camp close to the beach, if not on it. See:

At Carpinteria State Beach in Southern California, you can camp in a paved paved at the edge of the beach. See:

At Emma Wood State Beach in Ventura, you can park your RV alog the seawall that borders the beach. See: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Cycling, posted on July 02, 2000

Q: My girlfriend and I just bought road bikes and are trying to find good rides with low automobile traffic and beautiful scenery. Willing to drive 1-2 hours from San Ramon.

A: If you like easy, flat trails, try the Bay Trail:

You can travel for miles along the Bayshore on dedicated off-road trails. The trail segment from Hayward to San Leandro is really nice and runs right along the Bay. See:

For a long and scenic ride, take the Alameda Creek Trail (see,, from Niles Canyon, go through Coyote Hills Regional Park (which has some steep mountain bike trails to check out, see and to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
(, then over the Dumbarton Bridge
on the bike path, then to Menlo Park's Bayfront Park
( This is almost entirely off-road.

If you want to try inland trails, try the Iron Horse Regional Trail, the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail, the Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail, the Delta De Anza Regional Trail, or the Marsh Creek Trail. There are lots of trails in the East Bay Regional Parks District. See:

Here are some more bicycling links: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Mountain Biking in South Bay, posted on July 05, 2000

Q: I am new to this area and was wondering if anyone could help me out by telling me if there are any web sites that have info on mountain biking in the south bay. I really just would like to know where the trails are, how hard/easy they are, stuff like that. I would preferably like to know about places in the south bay, near San Jose, but am also interested about other areas as well.

A: Look here:
and here: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Big Sur Monastary? posted on July 07, 2000

Q: Anyone know of a monastary in Big Sur which is open to visitors staying over night?

A: Tassajara Hot Springs: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

Subject: Drawbridge Ghost Town Closure, posted by Ronald Horii on July 23, 2000

I went out to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newark today. I asked the ranger about the tours to the ghost town of Drawbridge, north of Alviso. She said that they stopped giving the tours because of safety concerns. In order to see the town, visitors had to walk along the railroad tracks. They had to post a lookout to warn of approaching trains. Then, everybody had to jump off the railroad tracks before the trains came. With the increase in commuter train traffic along this route, it became too unsafe to continue the tours. You can see stories and pictures of Drawbridge and see the tops of the buildings from trails around Alviso. See the notes on "Ghost Town" down below for links and further info.

Here is the official notice from the FWS: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Town of Sonoma celebration, posted on July 25, 2000

Q: Please give me info on the Town of Sonoma's celebration.

A: See: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: What to do in San Francisco, posted July 2000

Q: What is there to do in San Fran? I am interested in the arts or gardens... something that may not consist of walking or hiking. Maybe ocean Scenery...Interactive Museums. Looking for fun kid-like stuff

A: Go to Yerba Buena Gardens downtown. In one place you have gardens and fountains, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Zeum, and the new Sony Metreon, which has movies and video games.

Museums in SF:

Other places to check out: 
The Exploratorium, the museums in Golden Gate Park (Academy of Sciences, DeYoung Museum, Arboretum, Japanese Gardens), the Musee Mecanique at the Cliff House.

Look here:

Search the past stories of Bay Area Backroads for more info. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to Architectural Tours, posted on July 16, 2000

Q: Does anyone know of any good architectural tours of downtown (+ surroundings) tours of San Francisco?

A: Never been on one, but check these sites out (this is a list, not an endorsement):
Architectural tours:

General tours:


Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Train ride, posted on August 03, 2000

Q: I remember seeing a report a while back that you can ride a day on the train and go sightseeing somewhere in Northern California.

A: There are probably several, but the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg comes to mind. See: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Fioli Estate, posted on August 04, 2000

Q: Does anyone have any updated information regarding this lovely estate in Woodside?

A: Here's their Website: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Trail Recommendations - Big Sur or North Bay? posted on August 20, 2000

Q: I'm trying to plan a backpacking trip for my boyfriend and I to take next June. I'd appreciate any recommendations on trails around Big Sur or north of S.F. I'm looking for a trail that will take about a week or so. I'm currently considering the Lost Coast trail, but I'd like some other options as well.

A: Here are some hiking ideas close to the Bay Area:

If you look at a map of the Peninsula (, you can see a string of parks and open space preserves that are adjacent to each other. You can go from one to the other along the Santa Cruz Mountains. Several of these have camping. For instance, you can go from Sanborn-Skyline County Park in Saratoga, which has camping, to Castle Rock State Park (trail camp), to Saratoga Gap OSP, to Long Ridge OSP, to Portola State Park (camping), to Pescadero Creek County Park. From there, you can go either to Big Basin State Park, which has lots of camping and miles of trails all the way to the sea, or north to Memorial Park (camping) and Sam McDonald County Park (trail hut). From Long Ridge, you can go to Skyline Ridge, Russian Ridge, Los Trancos, Coal Creek, and Monte Bello, which has the only trail camp in the Open Space District. There are lots of other parks and preserves farther north for hiking, but not camping. There are more camping areas closer to the coast, like at Butano State Park.

The Bay Area Ridge Trail runs along the crest of the mountains. Look here to read about 2 people who hiked its entire 400-mile route:

Another idea is Point Reyes National Seashore. It has several trail camps and 140 miles of trails. See:

Here's some info on the Big Sur area

Here's some info on the North Coast:

Here is a good site for hiking info:

In particular, here is their page on the Ventana Wilderness:

Bay Area hiking: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Hang gliding, posted on August 22, 2000

Q: Thinking of hang gliding on my 27th birthday in September. Never done it before, don't know which company to sign up with. Need advice.

A Take a look at these links. They may be helpful:

The best thing is to contact one of these local clubs mentioned in the links above and talk to some of the hang gliders.
Also, go to Fort Funston in San Francisco, watch them hang glide, and talk to the people there. (See:

Subject: Off-Highwy Vehicles and Camping on the Beach, posted by Ronald Horii on August 28, 2000

People have asked about places to take off-highway vehicles and camp on the beach. At Oceano Dunes SVRA, 3 miles south of Pismo Beach, you can do both. It is the only California state park which allows driving a vehicle on the beach. 4WD's are recommended. You can camp anywhere along 3 1/2 miles of beach.  See: Here is a map: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Wedding in the Redwoods? posted on August 30, 2000

Q: We are getting married next year and are desperately trying to find the "perfect" place for the ceremony and reception. Does anyone know of a gorgeous place that fits our criteria?

A: Here are some redwood parks with group areas near the Bay Area, if you don't mind having an outdoor reception:
Sanborn Skyline County Park in Saratoga:
Saratoga Springs:
Mt. Madonna County Park:
Uvas Canyon County Park:
San Mateo County Memorial Park:
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park:
(also see the Big Sur Lodge)
Portola State Park:
Big Basin Redwoods State Park:
Henry Cowell State Park:
Roaring Camp:
Samuel P. Taylor State Park

My friends had a wedding at Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, which is a very beautiful place: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Local legends, ghosts, treasure? posted on September 06, 2000

Q: Does anyone know of any local (bay area) legends, ghosts, spirits etc... Websites would be helpful. Or any info. on treasure hunts in the area?

A: I don't believe in ghosts. I've never seen one. However, I've heard reports of ghosts in several places in the Bay Area: the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Pacheco Pass, the Boulder Creek Lodge in Boulder Creek, the aircraft carrier Hornet in Alameda, and the Toys R Us in Sunnyvale. I have some friends who live near Santa Teresa Springs in South San Jose, which is near an Indian graveyard. They once saw a ghost of an Indian in their house. Bernal School, which is nearby, has also had janitors report seeing apparitions in the school at night. Here are some Web sites:
I hope this helps. I still don't believe in ghosts (I keep telling myself). 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Pulgas Water Temple, posted on September 07, 2000

Q: Is the Pulgas Temple open to the public? On the occassions when I have driven by the Pulgas Temple there has been a large chain link gate that is locked, and no parking along Canada Road. Is it open to the public on a specific schedule?

A: I think the parking lot is open 9-4 on weekdays only. My guess is that they are trying to avoid the crowds of teenagers that used to hang out there on weekends.
For more info. contact the San Mateo County Parks & Recreation Division:

If you're on a bike or on foot, I think you can get to the water temple anytime. It's just the parking lot that's closed. A good way to get there is by bicycle on "bicycle Sunday." See: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Bay Area Vacation Ideas, posted on September 11, 2000

Q: Need advice: I have one week to explore the bay area, Monterey coastal area and Marin coast areas. I happen to have 2 nights in the premier lodge in Yosemite. I am traveling with 2 Sr Citizens.  Should I forget the trip to Yosemite if we only have a week? Seems far from the San Mateo area.

A: It's possible, I think, if you go to Yosemite at the start or end of your vacation. It depends on how well your passengers can handle long drives. It will take about 5 hours to get to Yosemite from the Bay Area or more, depending on which route you take and where you go in Yosemite. It's a big park. It requires a long and somewhat boring drive across the hot (if you go in the summer) Central Valley, then a scenic, but winding drive through the foothills to get to Yosemite. If you go to the higher parts of Yosemite, altitude may be a concern, especially for the elderly.

Personally, I would plan a vacation in one area. For instance, if I was going to see Yosemite, I would make it part of a trip to see Lake Tahoe, the Gold Country, and the Sierras. Seeing the Bay Area and Monterey can take more than a week. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Suggestions on Great Campgrounds? posted on September 29, 2000

Q: I'm fairly new around SF and would like to go camping. Can anyone suggest a place or places to go, 2-3 hours max.?

A: Here's my page on favorite family campsites:

My hiking page covers parks that have camping:

My friends and I went camping at Portola State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains this year. It's a very nice park and not too crowded, mainly because it's hard to get to. Here's some info on it and the surrounding area: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Train Museums, posted by on October 01, 2000

Q: I was wondering if you could give me some information regarding train museums within the bay area.

A: The best train museum in California, and certainly one of the best in North America, is the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. See:

Closer to the Bay Area and less flashy, but still with an imporessive collection of rolling stock, is the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista. See:

There are no museums as extensive as these within the Bay Area itself. There are some smaller museums, train lines, or miniature train rides.

Running through Niles Canyon from Sunol to Fremont is the Niles Canyon Railway. See:

In the Fremont community of Niles is the Niles Depot Museum. See:

You can see some of the places that have miniature train rides at the bottom of my page: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

Subject: Coyote Hills and the Alameda Creek Trail, posted by Ronald Horii on October 14, 2000

There are some new guided photo tours on Coyote Hills Regional Park and the Alameda Creek Trail in the East Bay (I made them). They are on ABAG's Bay Trail Website at:
These are excellent areas for hiking, biking, horseback riding (on the northside of Alameda Creek), and nature-watching. Coyote Hills is a great place for picnicking. The visitors center has interesting exhibits. There's a restored Indian village that has scheduled demonstrations of Indian culture. There's a group campground for day or overnight use. The Coyote Hills rise to almost 300 feet and are right at the edge of salt ponds that line the Bay. Views from the peaks are fantastic. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Pampanito, posted by on October 29, 2000

Q: What days is the WW2 submarine Pampanito open for tours?

A: Hours and directions:

More on the Pampanito: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Phone number for White Sulphur Springs? posted on October 29, 2000

Q: What is the phone number for White Sulphur Springs?

A: 707-963-8588. They also have a Website:

Here's a list of more spas in the area:
Here's a site to get more info on the Napa Valley: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

Subject: Redwood Shores, posted by Ronald Horii on October 30, 2000

To go with last week's story on Redwood City, there's a page on the Bay Trail around Redwood Shores, a suburb of Redwood City, on the Bay Trail Website:
Note that part of the proposed Bay Trail route is closed due to a predator abatement program along the Bay, but a detour is described in the page.

The Bay Trail can be taken from Redwood Shores to Foster City, along the San Mateo Shoreline through Coyote Point, and almost without interruption all the way to the edge of San Francisco Airport. These routes are described here:

I've taken this route lots of times by bike. It's more than 30 miles round trip, but it's a flat, easy ride and is a nice way to spend a day. It's a great ride for families, since there are lots of parks and beaches to stop at along the way. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Christmas Displays in the Bay Area? posted on November 06, 2000

Q: Does anyone have a website address that provides a listing of houses/neighborhoods,etc. that do elaborate Christmas displays in the Bay Area?

A: Near Christmas, the San Jose Mercury News usually publishes a list of homes with outstanding Christmas light displays. Check periodically.

Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos has its annual "Fantasy of Lights" show. It's a drive-through tour of over 30 Christmas light displays. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Know of a Chrismas Tree Farm in the Bay Area? posted on November 26, 2000

Q: If you know of a Christmas tree farm in the Bay Area, please let me know.

A: Here is a list of some tree farms:

Before we bought a plastic tree, we used to go up to the Santa Cruz Mountains. There were several tree farms there. I think one is now part of Skyline Regional Open Space Preserve. It was quite an adventure bouncing down those winding mountain roads with a big tree sticking out the back of my friend's little pickup truck. Later, we went to Madrone farms in the Coyote Valley just north of Morgan Hill. They had a good selection and much easier access. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Tortoise, posted on November 26, 2000

Q:  I saw on a TV station a program about a place that takes in and saves turtles or possibly reptiles in general. Can anyone enlighten me if there is a sanctuary around? 

A:I don't know about the turtle. Maybe you should contact the Lindsay Wildlife Museum:
or the Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society:
Here are some general sites on reptiles:

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: The 1915 Fair and SF History, posted on November 26, 2000

Q: Is there an online spot for me to do some snooping into the past (namely 1915 in SF area) about the Pan Pacific Exposition?

A: For San Francisco history, see:

This is an excellent site on San Francisco history: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Scenic drive to LA, posted on November 28, 2000

Q: Does anybody know how long it takes to take the scenic drive to Los Angeles (Hwy 1) starting from Oakland?

A: There may be an easier way to do this, but here is what Mapquest said, given times between cities that are on Hwy 1:

SF to Davenport: 2:13
Davenport to San Simeon: 3:58
San Simeon to Pismo: 1:05
Pismo to Guadalupe: 0:28
Guadalupe to Lompoc: 0:56
Lompoc to Port Hueneme: 2:01
Port Hueneme to Malibu: 0:58
Malibu to Santa Monica: 0:26

These are from city center to city center, so there's a little bit of time driving off Hwy 1 and back again. Add in the times for Oakland to SF and Santa Monica to wherever you want to go in LA.

Here's a driving tour of Big Sur: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Fort Ross, posted on November 30, 2000

Q: I was searching for more information. We visited Fort Ross some time ago, but was looking for more info. Do they do children overnight stays with school groups?

A: Here's the Backroads story on Fort Ross, which is in Sonoma County:
Here's the park's Webpage:
Here's their phone number:
(707) 847-3286
Here's more information:
This site says, "The Fort Ross Environmental Living Program brings history to life for elementary school grades by placing children in historical roles overnight to re-live history." Unfortunately, the link to it doesn't work. You'll probably just have to call the park.


There's a primitive campground just south of the park in a protected ravine. 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Oyster Farms, posted on December 12, 2000

Q: Does anyone know where I can find a good oyster farm?

A: Backroads did a story on the Point Reyes/Tomales Bay Area. They went to Johnson's Oyster Farm in Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

In Reply to: Winchester Mansion, posted on December 22, 2000

Q: What days and hours are the Winchester Mansion open, and what's the admission charge?

A: See

Here are the rates and schedules: 

Return to Contents - 2000
Return to Contents - all years

Created 6/3/01, updated 11/18/09 by Ronald Horii