Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vasona Lake County Park

One of my favorite places where I can stretch my legs, so to speak, is at Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos. Within the park, you have over two miles of paved trails to enjoy. A couple of them offer you a panoramic view of Vasona Lake, while others let you wheel along under a canopy of trees, which is great during the summer's warm weather. There are a couple of places where you can sit and relax by a creek that runs through a section of the park.  Vasona trails system also connects to the Los Gatos Creek trail which is a scenic 9.5 mile trail.

You can rent pedal boats, kayaks, and sailboats from Spring to Fall. For children, there is the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad, which has a 1/3 scale locomotive for the kids to ride on. The park is also a great place for bird watching.

Vasona has handicap parking and accessible restrooms located in different areas of the park. It does get crowded during the weekend, especially during the summer.  I found the best time to visit is early morning. 

Happy Wheeling!

To see my wheelchair adventure at Vasona, please watch my video. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Crissy Field - San Francisco

Crissy Field is a wonderful recreation area with lots to offer, which makes it a prime place for locals and tourists. It can be crowded on the weekends but the main pathway is very wide and I didn’t have any trouble cruising along and bumping into anyone.  There are a few handicap parking spots at East Beach parking area and each time we’ve visited during the weekend, we didn’t have trouble finding parking.  There are also accessible restrooms by the parking area.

Starting from the parking area and heading west, make your way along the dirt trail. To your left, you’ll see a lagoon, which is a great place to do some bird watching.  On the right you’ll see a couple places where a wooden platform extends out onto the beach. Next you’ll see a long, grassy field which was the site for a former army airfield.  There is a trail that cuts through it and that leads to a paved bike trail. It’s wide enough  though that I didn’t have any problems sharing it with bicyclists.

Continuing on the beach pathway you’ll be getting a closer view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Wheelchair users are able to join others on the beach as there are beach wheelchairs available.  You’ll need to call and give them a 5 day advance notice and you can pick up the beach wheelchair at Fort Mason, Building 201. For more information, contact Richard De La O, Accessibility Program Manager. Voice: (415) 561-4958

The beach pathway finally comes to West Bluff Picnic area and at the end of that is the Warming Hut which also has accessible restrooms.  On the right you’ll see the Torpedo Wharf.  There are cracks in the wharf and bumpy at places, but it’s worth venturing out onto to get a better view of the bridge and a wonderful view of the San Francisco skyline.

Just beyond is a road that leads to Fort Point.  From there you can get a close up of the Golden Gate Bridge towering above.

Also nearby Crissy Field, is San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Theater. I was amazed by its stunning architecture. It was also featured Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, Vertigo.  Because it’s so close, it’s well worth a visit.

I really enjoyed visiting Crissy Field and highly recommend it.  Be sure to check the weather forecast ahead of time.  Some days it’s very foggy, and the last time I went there there was a cold wind blowing in from the Bay, so be sure to bring extra clothing just in case.

Crissy Field is located at 1199 East Beach, San Francisco

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tony Look Trail

The start of the Tony Look Trail is located below the Stevens Creek Reservoir. Make a left turn at the Stevens Creek County Park entrance, which is just before the reservoir. The road will go past a large parking area on the left. Continue to the right, go over a bridge, and you’ll see on the right a small parking lot with a small building. It has one handicap parking spot. The start of the Tony Look Trail is a short ways down the road and on the left.

Even though there is a handicap logo sign at the beginning of the trail, I wouldn’t say that this trail meets the ADA guidelines, mainly due to the angle of the trail’s slope. For wheelchairs, it’s a very short trail and about 3/4 of it is uphill. The trail is wide and rocky at some parts. The trail finally levels out and you’ll have a panoramic view of the back of the reservoir.

The only thing, in my opinion, that makes this trail worth hiking, is the beauty of the trail itself. Most of the trail is shaded by a canopy of trees. To the right of the trail and below, there is a creek. Fall and Spring would be the best time to visit.

After taking a hike on this trail, you can take a very short drive to the Stevens Creek Reservoir. It has two handicap parking spots and the back of the reservoir has a wide trail, giving you a beautiful view of the reservoir and the hills above it. See my video of the Stevens Creek Reservoir - 2012, April

To see more of the Tony Look Trail,
please watch my video.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Joseph D. Grant County Park

Joseph D. Grant County Park is the largest Santa Clara County regional park and has 52 miles of trails. Some of these trails are wheelchair accessible, though the dirt trails can be challenging.

The park though does have a short paved whole access trail that is very scenic. There is also a longer paved trail that has a meadow on one side and a picnic area on the other.

Next to the whole access trail, is the Hotel Trail. You need to go down a steep path to get to it. The dirt trail is wide and mostly flat, but during the summer, as I found out, it can be very dusty. In fact, after being on the trail for two miles, I had to turn around because there was too much dust in the air, not good for ventilators.

The other trail that I checked out was the Yerba Buena Trail. There is small parking lot just beyond where you turn into the main park area, and it has one handicap parking spot. The beginning of the trail has a slight incline, but after that it’s pretty flat. The trail itself is a mixture of dirt and rocks. I enjoyed this trail and you’ll get a panoramic view of Grant Lake. The trail eventually has a very steep drop and I didn’t chance it.

I saw several handicap parking spots in the main park area, along with accessible restrooms.

The first time I went there was in the spring and it was beautiful. The second time I went was during the summer and I found it too hot and dusty. With all the trees decorating the surrounding hills, it's probably a very scenic place to visit during the fall.

To see more of Joseph D. Grant County Park, 
please watch my video.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Shoreline Lake

Shoreline Lake, located off Hwy 101 in Mountain View, has become one my favorite places to visit. There are a few accessible trails to enjoy, and most of them are flat. Being an avid bird watcher and photographer, Shoreline is also a wildlife sanctuary to many species of migratory birds.

You also can enjoy the tranquil lake scene, and during the year, you can rent pedal boats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, windsurfers, and sailboats. For a longer wheelchair hike, the Bay Trail runs next to it. This paved trail will take you to the Baylands Nature Preserve, another great bird watching area.

Lakeside Cafe, which is located next to the lake, offers a place to eat, accessible bathrooms, and handicap parking. It’s where we usually park.You can also access the other side of the lake by taking San Antonio Road, and there is a handicap parking spot at the far end of the parking lot. Because Shoreline Lake is so popular, it will sometime be crowded on the weekends.

For wheelchair users, this is a wonderful place to visit.

To see more of Shoreline Lake and its trails, 
please watch my video.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Horseshoe Lake - Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve

Horseshoe Lake - Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, is located on Skyline Boulevard (CA 35).

I enjoyed this short, but scenic, wheelchair accessible trail which skirts along the lake. The dirt harden trail though was rough going at times and could use some maintenance. The end of the trail connects to the Ridge Trail, which crosses over a bridge. After crossing it, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Horseshoe Lake. The trail continues on to a trail junction. The trail to the left is the Horseshoe Loop Trail, the one of the right is the Tree Farm Trail.

I found the first part of the Horseshoe Loop Trail to be much smoother and enjoyable than the wheelchair accessible trail. Eventually, the trail leads to a small, steep hill which will be challenging for manual wheelchairs. The trail continues on, and after crossing a bridge, it becomes more narrow and you’ll need to wheel past overgrowth as the trail becomes steeper. Finally you’ll make it to the top where you’ll have a wonderful view of the lake. It is a very precarious spot though, and I found myself inches away from the drop off. As much as I was elated to finally make it up to this view of the lake, it was too risky at parts of the trail for me to consider to make a return trip, or even to recommend.

The Tree Farm Trail, though very wide, is a very steep trail with rocks and tree roots ready to slam into your wheels. Even with my power chair, I found it very difficult to navigate. Coming back down was even more challenging and a couple of times my wheels skidded out of control.

Throughout the morning, I saw several deer, lots of birds, and a snake sun bathing on a trail. There is plenty of parking and an accessible bathroom.
Weather can change quickly. When I first got there, there was a heavy mist hanging over the area. An hour later though, the sun finally broke though, so come prepared.

I would rate Horseshoe Lake 3 out of 5 stars. The wheelchair accessible trail is bumpy, but the tradeoff is the beauty of the lake and area. It would be a nice place to have a short hike and a picnic.

 To see more of Horseshoe Lake,
please watch my video.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Baylands Nature Preserve - 2014

The Baylands Nature Preserve is 1,940 acres of undisturbed marshland, with miles of multi-use trails woven in and around it. It is one of the best areas for bird watching on the West Coast.

There are three main ways to enter the Preserve. First is from the Embarcadero Road, which will lead you to the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center.  This dirt trail offers a close up view of various bird species.  It’s one of my favorite places for bird watching and for bird photography.  There is also the Duck Pond, but I have only been there a couple of times, mainly because of all the duck poop on the ground.

If you take a right turn at the stop sign, right before entering the Preserve, the road will lead you to Byxbee Park.  There is one handicap parking space, and an accessible bathroom.  If you enjoy a long hike, this is a great place to start from.  You’ll hike past the Mayfield Slough and then eventually see the Charleston Slough.

The third way to enter Baylands Nature Preserve is by taking San Antonio Road.  There are a couple handicap parking spots available, and an accessible bathroom.  What I like about this entrance is that, not only can you hike along the miles of trails, but you have Adobe Creek on the left of the trail, which is a great place to see the American White Pelican.  To the right of the trail you have a viewing platform that gives you a view of the Charleston Slough.  The bonus of parking here is that to the right of the parking area is one of the entrances to Shoreline Lake.  Another wonderful place for bird watching.

Most of the trails are flat and are made up of hard-packed dirt. The only drawback is that you’ll accumulate a lot of trail dust.

Overall, this is a wonderful place to hike and to enjoy seeing many various types of bird species.

To see more of Baylands Nature Preserve
please watch my video

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sawyer Camp Trail

Located in San Mateo County, the Sawyer Camp Trail runs above the Crystal Springs Reservoir. The trail is mostly flat and marked for two-way traffic and it has mile markers every half -mile. There are two handicap parking spots and there is an accessible bathroom at the beginning of the trail and another one a couple of miles further down.

There are no water fountains on the trail, so bring your own water. There are also benches located at different spots along the trail, most of them giving you a panoramic view of the reservoir.

The trail is multi-use ... joggers, cyclists, parents with strollers, and is wheelchair accessible. Because this trail is so popular, during the weekends the trail can be very crowded and you have to keep aware of cyclists that at times can come zipping by.

Weather can be tricky. Fog at times comes over the mountains and the trail can be cast in a light mist, so plan ahead with extra clothing, just in case.

Overall, I really enjoyed cruising along this beautiful trail, but the best time to enjoy this trail is on a weekday so that you can avoid the crowds.

To see more of the Sawyer Camp Trail,
please watch my video.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

San Bruno Mountain State Park

San Bruno Mountain State Park has several hiking trails including a wheelchair-accessible trail - Bog Trail. As I traveled along this trail, though, I could see that it was no longer accessible. It became too narrow and I got stuck a couple of times and I eventually had to turn around and go back.

Old Guadalupe Trail is a wide, paved trail. The reason it isn't labeled an accessible trail, though, is because it goes uphill for about 0.4 miles and doesn't meet the ADA trail guidelines. However, in a power chair this is trail is fine, but for someone in a manual wheelchair, it could be quite the workout.

I also did a hike on Saddle Loop Trail. This is a 2.9-mile trail that winds around part of the mountain and has a great view of San Francisco. This trail, though, is a rough, dirt trail and traveling along it in my power chair became very bumpy at times. Power chairs with small wheels could have trouble in some places and I wouldn't recommend a person in a manual wheelchair to hike it.

I have informed the San Mateo Park Department that Bog Trail is no longer accessible. They replied to let me know that because of budget issues, they aren't able to fix the Bog Trail at this time. Bummer!

To see more of San Bruno Mountain State Park,
please watch my video.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Capitola By the Sea - 2013

Capitola is one of my favorite places to visit.  It is easy to get around in a wheelchair.   During the summer, a wheelchair-accessible walkway is built and it juts out onto the beach.  Most of the restaurants have wheelchair access, and Mr. Toots Coffee House has a specially-made elevator for wheelchair access.

It can get crowded, especially during the summer months, so I've always had tried to go there in the morning.

To see more of my tour of Capitola,
please watch my video.