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Austin Creek Narrows. Strenuous and Exploratory

  • Jun 8, 2014 · 10:00 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

A big twist on a favorite hike.  We work our way down to Austin Creek in the usual way but then things start to get a bit wet.  Instead of hiking up to the fire road on the west side of the creek, we will head right into the creek.  Yes, water shoes will probably be a good idea.  We will follow the creek bed for about a mile downstream until we reach Gilliam creek.  This stretch of Austin creek it totally gorgeous!  Narrow, lots of huge boulders to scramble around, cascades and mini waterfalls everywhere and several pools for swimming opportunities.  I did this once around 30 years ago (in beat up tennis shoes!) so I know it can be done.  I will leave it up to you if poles are a good idea since you will need your hands free for rock climbing.  I plan on taking our time in the creek to enjoy the beauty.  We will have our lunch somewhere along our creek run.  The total length will be around 8 miles with around 2000 ft elevation gain.

We meet in the parking lot just outside the park entrance and then squeeze into as few cars as possible to shuttle up to the gilliam creek trailhead.  We then hike 3.5 miles down the east austin creek fire road until we hit the spot where thompson creek hits austin creek.  We then go boulder hopping and water splashing down austin creek for about a mile until we hit the gilliam creek trail which we follow 3.7 miles back to our cars.

This hike takes you through some of the most beautiful backcountry in the region.  You descend 1000 feet during the first 1.5 miles of the hike and climb the same amount at the very end.  You need to be at a high level of fitness with recent hiking in your past schedule to enjoy this hike because although this is the favorite hike of many members...this is NOT a hike for everyone because it involves multiple creek crossings.  We will be coming down the fire road and returning with the creek crossings and trail up the hill to take advantage of any shade on the trail.

The hike doesn't climb as much as other of hikes because the altitude gain is not really that's just that most of it is at the very end!  I know I will be huffing and puffing, as well as probably groaning my way up that last climb. Also...please eat before you come because lunch is almost at the end.  It's a good idea to have some snacks in your pocket!  We walk over after the bulk of the climb to a scenic viewpoint.


From the town of Guerneville, take Armstrong Woods Road 2.4 miles north to the Armstrong Woods entrance stations.  Park in the parking lot on your right just prior to the entry kiosk.  We will gather there at  10 and travel the remaining way as a convoy!  Bring any State park passes you might have as we do have to enter the park. We leave at 10 and we will need to pay the $8 entry fee per car if you don't have a state park pass.

Car pool etiquette- Come prepared to drive, be aware that there may be no others wanting to car pool from your selected location or there might be a lot of people and everyone might want to ride. We determine who gets the rider seats by who has most recently been a driver in the past. This is worked out based by who shows up at the car pool location. We can't guarantee anyone a seat because we never know until that day who will show up.  We do our best to work it out and make everyone happy but we need everyone to pitch in and help make it work!

Then PLEASE if possible try to use the two locations below. The more locations we have the less effective we are and it's so much more complicated. Exceptions would be if you are not close to either location.

Car pool locations:

River Road park and ride (just west of 101). suggested leave at 9:30

Petaluma-Lucky at the intersection of Lakeville and Caulfield Ln. Park closest to Payran St. suggested leave by 9

General room of thumb...$5 one hour or less to trailhead $8 over one hour to trailhead Please insist your driver accept the money. It's to cover more than gas's the wear and tear on the vehicle. We like to take care of our drivers!

Please read and be familiar with the guidelines of the group as listed below.  It’s important before you come on a Wanderer hike that you agree and are prepared with the following.

As always:

We combine enjoyment of the trail with respect for everyone’s time.   A steady pace and we just keep going!  If you are in the lead you will end up waiting at trail junctions.  If you are in the back you will be asked to do your best to keep up with the group and at waiting points the group may move on as soon as you are within sight.  Our pace averages 2.5mph.  We do get separated from time to time as everyone walks their own pace but please bear in mind that you will need to be able to stay within a reasonable distance from the group.  Make sure this is something you are prepared for and would enjoy

Please always check your email the night before just in case there are any necessary adjustments to the hike details.  Cancellations or any adjustments will be posted by 10pm the previous evening.

RSVP etiquette must be followed. Only RSVP when you can commit to attend. Once you have RSVP'd if you have an emergency that means you have to cancel please change your RSVP by 5pm the prior day. This will avoid a "no-show" reflecting on your participation history. Over 3 "no-shows" might mean we have to excuse you from the group. We try very hard to respect each other in this group.

Give yourself time to find the trail head so that you arrive prior to the scheduled time.  That is the time we head out on the trail.  It would be disappointing to miss having you on the hike due to late arrival.  You will be left behind if you are not ready to head out at the hike start time.

Wear comfortable hiking shoes with good rugged soles that are well broken in.  Bring some water shoes just in case and poles are a good idea

Duration: 5-6 hours

Facilities: at the parking lot before we enter the park

Dogs?: none allowed

Bring plenty of water.  More than one bottle is usually a good idea.

Dress in layers.  The hike starts off cool but rapidly warms up.

Eat before your come, have some snacks in your pocket and bring a lunch for after the climb.

Bring your smile and great attitude!  We are ALL about trail enjoyment while respecting everyone’s time!

See you on the trail!

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  • Mary Ann R.

    Andy, what a great day we had! It was so beautiful walking up the that creek! Looking forward to seeing you again! Thank you!

    1 · June 9, 2014

  • patrick k.

    Another amazing hike more than well worth being a bit late to work for and a GREAT day for a couple of dips in a cool refreshing creek. Thanks Andy and fellow Wanderers!

    1 · June 9, 2014

  • Christopher

    Official Guernville high temp yesterday was 97. On the rocks on the way up and out, well over 100'.

    June 9, 2014

  • Christopher

    Was a delightful hike in the creek!

    June 9, 2014

  • Andy S.

    Super fun creek time. Kinda hot on the way out!

    June 8, 2014

  • Dwight

    Can't shake a cold. See you next time.

    June 8, 2014

  • patrick k.

    Probably won't make it afterall. Have a fun time!

    June 7, 2014

  • Andy S.

    I have to help out at a Kiwanis club event first thing in the morning. I plan on arriving right at 10. Please wait for me if I am 5 min late.

    June 7, 2014

  • Christopher

    Petaluma (or Marin?) Carpool anyone?

    June 7, 2014

  • Anne-Christina

    Garsh this looks like fun! SOO sorry I won't be around that weekend! Just started volunteering at Austin Creek. Maybe I can go get lost in that segment of creek on my own sometime soon..not quite as fun!

    June 2, 2014

  • AJ

    Hi Andy, I am not exactly sure where this is. I have hiked down from Tom flat parking area to the creek and walked along the creek to where the fire road is then hiked back up to the top near bullfrog pond. Is this the area you are talking about or is it another area? Also do you have an idea of how many miles we are talking about?

    May 31, 2014

    • Andy S.

      I added more details in the description part. Please check it out.

      May 31, 2014

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