13 March 2011

Kent Trail near Alpine Lake

Yesterday, Urmi and I went hiking along the Kent Trail in Marin County. This trail is pretty tricky to find, mainly since it's not really part of any state parks or state recreation areas. You still have to pay to get in, but I'm not entirely sure who you pay to.
Our Kent Trail loop started us between two lakes (Bon Tempe and Alpine), then sent us up a hill through a Redwood Forest. After a grueling mile-long climb up the hill, the forest opened up to give views of the Bay and several Marin county cities. The best part of the hike came when we turned a corner, and I was just getting my camera ready to take a picture of the landscape. All of a sudden I heard a rustle behind me and turned around to see a deer, no less than ten feet away, staring at me as if trying to figure out what the heck I was doing here.

Since I already had my camera ready and everything, I was able to get dozens of shots before the deer lost interest and went away. It kept following us, though, never coming closer than about ten or so feet, for at least a quarter-mile. By far the best (or, at least, the closest) wildlife encounter we've had in California, including the Elephant Seals we saw at Ano Nuevo.
After a mile or so up the hill, our path abruptly changed direction and sent us down a narrow and winding trail through a thick redwood forest. After the sunny and barren hill we had just climbed, the forest was almost like a different trail. We passed waterfalls, ponds and more, before the trail eventually connected with the main loop around Alpine Lake. Apparently the trail is not well maintained, though, as we had reached several areas where whole trees had fallen across the trail. We initially thought we'd made a wrong turn, and had a difficult time getting through the deadfalls.

The hike around Alpine Lake was long and winding, but it was an enjoyable hike. We saw lots of wildlife, including butterflies, birds, and, of course, the deer. I even spotted a Salamander wandering across one of the less traveled parts of the trail. The first half of the trail had next to no one else hiking it, which was nice. Once we rejoined the Kent Trail, however, the trail was much more crowded and full of dogs. Highly recommended to people who can get to Marin County. For more photos, see my picasa album.