Let's burn off some of those Thanksgiving Day calories by tackling the P G & E Trail at Rancho San Antonio. This hike is ~7.8 miles, ~1600 feet of elevation gain, and by our standards, a strenuous hike.
Since parking at Rancho San Antonio fills up quickly, I am going to suggest we meet at Homestead High School, where there is lots of parking, we can consolidate passengers and cars, and take up minimal parking spots at the park. Homestead High School is at the corner of Homestead Road and South Mary Avenue, http://goo.gl/maps/7t7iE. If you want to meet at Homestead High School, meet there at 8:45am, and we will depart no later than 8:50am. If you do not want to meet at Homestead High School, click on this link to the destination point on Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/fyZB0. Use the "Get Directions" button for directions from your starting point.
Although the extended forecast shows 0% chance of rain on November 30, rain WILL cancel this hike.
The "nuts & bolts" of the hike:
Hiking speed: Regular hiking speed, short gathering stops at most trail junctions, break stop at the bench at the end of the P G & E Trail. 2.5/5
Hiking surfaces: Dirt trails and fire roads, 2/5
Elevation gain: Trailhead ~400 feet; high point ~1600 feet; total ascent ~1600 feet, 3/5
Hike distance: ~7.8 mile loop, 3.3/5
Trail Exposure: Mix of sun and shade
Hiking time: ~4.5 Hours
Rated as moderate, with strenuous sections, 2.7/5
Hike details: (Mile markers are approximate)
For a trail map of Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve click here,
* gathering stop
** break stop
We will meet at the footbridge near the dirt "Equestrian" parking lot. We will head up the P G & E Trail from the footbridge.
At about .5 miles there is a 5 way intersection*, we will make a hairpin turn to the left and continue on the P G & E Trail.
We will pass through a gate (RS04) and go another 1.6 miles until we get to the intersection* with Upper Wildcat Canyon Trail, where we will stay left to remain on the P G & E Trail.
This is where it starts to get strenuous as we make an 800' ascent over the next 1.9 miles to the top of the ridge, at ~1600' above sea level**. There is a bench at the end of the P G & E Trail, and we will stop there for a break.
On the descent, we will head down the Upper High Meadow Trail for 1.3 miles, where we will reach the intersection* with the Upper Wildcat Canyon Trail.
We will remain on the Upper High Meadow Trail for another .3 miles, where we will come to a 4 way intersection. We will proceed straight through, and remain on the Upper High Meadow Trail.
After the 4 way intersection, there are 2 unmarked trails that we will avoid, staying straight on the Upper High Meadow Trail.
After .2 miles, there is a 5 way intersection*, we will veer to the right, heading towards the rise of the Vista Point, and can either go up the rise, or go left at the intersection, and head down on the High Meadow Trail.
We will proceed down the High Meadow Trail for .8 miles, until we come the a 4 way intersection* with Wildcat Loop Trail, and Coyote Trail. We will go straight through this intersection onto the Coyote Trail for .7 miles.
At the intersection* of Coyote Trail and P G & E Trail, we will go left on the P G & E Trail for the last .5 miles to the parking lot.
Optional Lunch: TBD, I'm open to suggestions!
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