Easy backpack at Sam McDonald Park

Hey guys, first time posting here so hopefully I do everything right! I run into the problem that a lot of my trips are often spur of the moment and find these trips fill up quickly so figured I would give it a shot.

This weekend I am going to do an easy backpack into Sam McDonald Park - it is roughly 5 miles in 5 miles out and not any serious up or down but one of my favorite local quick trips this time of year. You get to see a lot of different terrain and I hardly ever see anyone on the trail. We will be starting at the Sam McDonald trail head and taking the right side of the Brook trail to the Shaw Flat Camp. This is a cool campsite above a creek and only once have I not had the whole place to myself, and unusual for this area you are allowed to have fires. The next day we will head out the other side of the Brook trail, and if people are up for it we can drop into Memorial Grove (I will have to see if the bridge is up) which is a cool old growth area.

The campsites are first come first served but as I said I have only ever seen one other person there so not a worry! We drive in past the Sam McDonald Park entrance to the Memorial Park ranger station to let them know we will be out there - $10 per campsite (4 per) but I typically grab the big one at the end which can hold 10 people easily. We then drive back to the trail head (less than a mile) and get going.

I can handle all food assuming it is not more than 8 or 9 people, just bring a trail lunch for Saturday. It might rain on Saturday so as usual bring layers. There is no spigot at the campsite but there is a toilet. The stream is .25 miles away and I have water purification equipment and bladders. We usually get to camp early so bringing some tevas/watersocks to explore down there is fun.

Some background on me - I have been backpacking around here since being a kid, and am now a Scoutmaster and have lead groups of kids on this hike many times before, and it is sort of my goto spot to take friends to also - taken a lot of first time backpackers here. I have also lead 3-5 day adult treks and am certified in wilderness first aid. I have tons of gear if anyone needs to borrow anything, just ask.

I live in Redwood City, so it is pretty close for me, but planning on getting on the trail by 10 on Saturday and should be back not too far after noon on Sunday. I like to get lunch at Alice's on the way back :)

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  • Tom M.

    Hey guys, I got a flurry of messages after this - I guess I was not an "event host" and may have not done things by the book - I will probably host my next outing on a different meetup but you all have my email and I have yours :)

    April 8, 2013

    • ajai

      rules! oh dang i thought we followed everything to a "T!" well i had a wonderful time and would do it with this motley crew (and i dont mean the band haha!) any time , twice on mondays!

      1 · April 9, 2013

    • Isa

      Tom rules, I say!

      April 9, 2013

  • Amor

    Remarkable group of people! Thank you Tom for hosting/leading this event. It was nice meeting you all, thank you for sharing pics and rides. - Amor

    2 · April 7, 2013

    • ajai

      thanks Amor for sharing your musical knowledge with us along with Sarah! it was really fun trip and i was glad to have met all of you

      1 · April 9, 2013

    • Amor

      Ditto Ajai! thank you for the beautiful and artistic pictures!

      April 9, 2013

  • ajai

    Great Crew, Awesome Awesome leader (cannot state enough), fun time had by all. Warm people willing to share gear as well (thanks rebecca!).

    1 · April 9, 2013

  • Jason

    Such a fun trip. Everyone was great. Particular thanks to Tom for organizing such a wonderful event. Overall rating: 200 proof (100%) :).

    4 · April 7, 2013

    • ajai

      i concur jason; at least 200 proof! wonderful to meet you all on this trip. would love to do it again!

      1 · April 9, 2013

  • Michael F.

    I'm so glad I went! Thanks to Tom and his pet salmon of course, but all of you other people too! This meetup was my first and set a pretty high bar...I can only hope the next one is half as good.

    4 · April 7, 2013

    • Amor

      Mike, your ultra light pack is impressive!

      April 7, 2013

    • ajai

      i have a 2000 fill jack..haha i kid i kid. mike it was really fun. i sent you my info would love to hike going forward

      1 · April 9, 2013

  • sarah

    sorry i had to rush off. you all made my first backpacking (in the US) experience really awesome! hope to hang out again soon. anyone who wants to eat awesome thai food in oakland should text me.

    1 · April 7, 2013

    • Donn

      I may just take you up on that! It was great meeting you- super fun times

      April 7, 2013

    • ajai

      Thanks sarah for all your wisdom on the thai culture, massges inclusive :) And wonderful musical entertainment (with Amor) throughout this trip!

      1 · April 9, 2013

  • Donn

    Awesome time, everyone- couldn't have worked out better-it's not super often that a group of people hits it off so well. I'm really looking forward to hanging out with all of you again- either on the trail or off! Please hit me up with your info, unless you want to post it on here- texts work great. Until we talk again! D[masked]

    4 · April 7, 2013

    • Amor

      You got it Donn! I'll keep in touch!

      April 7, 2013

    • ajai

      Donn you rock! and i dont mean the rocks i hit you with either (accidentally of course!). Wealth of konwledge, funny (and i dont mean funny like joe pesci in goodfellas) and made a great team with Tom. Ill send you my info for sure!

      1 · April 9, 2013

  • Amor

    Tom Mchale is an excellent backpacking/event organizer.

    3 · April 7, 2013

    • Amor

      Couldn't agree more ;)

      1 · April 7, 2013

    • ajai

      Best trip ever. Tom is the definition of meticulous organizer and leader. I would be happy to hike with him any time day or night! learn so much from him!

      1 · April 9, 2013

  • Zena

    Wow, Im sooo jealous!
    Pleez, let's do this trip again.
    I wanna join...for my first timer backpacking...

    April 8, 2013

  • Isa

    If anyone would like a high res file of any of my pictures, please email me

    April 7, 2013

  • Donn

    Excellent time- great group of folks!

    4 · April 7, 2013

  • Isa

    Wow, what a great group of people! And awesome dinner! Thank you for everything Tom!

    3 · April 7, 2013

  • Jesse O.

    I'm going to need to arrive a little later in the morning on Saturday (probably at the trailhead about 11:15am), but the directions (and corresponding trail maps) seem very clear to me. Happy to catch up with you all at the campsite.

    April 3, 2013

    • Tom M.

      I am not a fan of trail signs and avoid leaving them but will leave a big arrow for you guys to go check out the bats :) It does not mean go walk into the poison oak though!

      April 5, 2013

    • sarah

      hi jesse - just in case anything happens, my number is[masked]-8015. please text me yours. thanks!

      April 6, 2013

  • Teresa T

    Hi guys. So I am completely new to backpacking and don't have any gear (not sure what they would even be)! But I love getting away and getting outdoors and have been meaning to get into backpacking. If a beginner is welcome, I would be happy to hear some tips on what to bring... thanks!

    April 4, 2013

    • Tom M.

      H Teresa - just finalizing my pack and realized you are not going to be hiking in with us - I have plenty of sleeping pads you can borrow but they are a little big so I can only really hike in with one (for me to sleep on) with the gear I am already carrying.

      April 5, 2013

    • Teresa T

      Tom, I told my ride I will not be able to join you all tomorrow but didn't think to tell you. Thanks for the thought and planning, next time I will be more prepared and hope to see you then.

      April 5, 2013

  • Tom M.

    Hey all, leaving work and going to grab the food and get packed. Sounds like we have a good group and the forecast looks clear - please ask me if you have any questions. The one thing I would ask for the people meeting me at the trailhead is as you are packing leave a little room for some commissary that I will divvy up at the trailhead - it will not be anything more than a fuel bottle/water filter/small bag of food but will save me hauling it all in :)

    1 · April 5, 2013

    • Isa

      Sure thing Tom!

      April 5, 2013

    • Donn

      I don't... Sorry. Still trying to learn it. Thanks for the info. No problem with cramming gear. We're probably going to be rolling up to the parking lot around 930- turns out to be a little further than I thought. So we'll see you then.

      April 5, 2013

  • Amor

    Just finished packing my gear. See y'all tomorrow! -Amor

    April 5, 2013

  • sarah

    i am a beginner backpacker, so i hope i don't slow everyone down. i will be driving from Oakland, and can give rides (and get a little gas money?) to 1-2 people - my car is a small hatchback, so don't think i can fit more than that with bags. let me know what i can bring.

    1 · April 3, 2013

    • Teresa T

      Looks like she will be able to get a ride. Thanks

      April 5, 2013

    • Amor

      Sarah, I am fine leaving early Sunday. My babysitter would be happy :-) See you soon.

      April 5, 2013

  • Rebecca

    I'll be coming from Richmond, would be up for a carpool, driving or riding.

    April 4, 2013

    • Donn

      Hey there- I'm in Fremont. Have you figured out a ride yet?

      April 5, 2013

  • Jason

    Hi Tom. So, just to be clear, is the plan to meet at the Sam MacDonald parking lot at 9AM and then go to the ranger station together or will we meet at the ranger station at 9?

    April 4, 2013

    • sarah

      sorry, but did the start time change? i thought it was 10am....maybe my snafu.

      April 4, 2013

    • Tom M.

      I was suggesting meeting at the Sam McD parking lot at 9 then heading over to the ranger station together, checking in then back to the trailhead, sort out gear and be on the trail by 10. For now we will stick to this plan. In my experience these thing always take longer than planned but if the group consensus is a later start would be better I can figure it out - let me know :)

      April 4, 2013

  • Isa

    Tom are there trees where we are planing to camp? I ask to know whether to take my hammock

    April 4, 2013

    • Tom M.

      Lots of trees! I have slept in a hammock at this site a few times.

      April 4, 2013

  • Rebecca

    Hi Tom! This looks like a great weekend. May I ask what kind of pace you plan to set on the way in? I'm an experienced hiker but enjoy a stop-and-smell-the-flowers approach.

    April 4, 2013

    • Tom M.

      Hi Rebecca - I will let the group set the pace but I enjoy taking pictures and admiring the scenery so planning on a leisurely pace as it is a short hike to camp.

      April 4, 2013

  • Tom M.

    Cool, good response so far! Ajai, depending on how many people come and what time we are done breaking down camp being back at the cars by noon is easily done. There are some really pretty vistas and potential mushroom collecting sites on the way back so up to the group how fast we go. If you want to head out earlier/fast hike the trail back is pretty straightforward but would rather no one hiked alone so if you plan on that would feel better if you had at least one other who would go with you.

    I am used to cooking for a big group so before I plan the menu wanted to know any dietary restrictions also. Looking forward to it!

    1 · April 1, 2013

    • Amor

      I will bring hummus and pita bread to go along with it. Looking forward to this mini getaway from the hustle and bustle.

      April 3, 2013

    • ajai

      Awesome stuff.. i will try to find some munch stuff at TJs to bring

      April 4, 2013

  • Isa

    I am in Cupertino, near the 85 and 280 intersection. I would like to carpool. Can meet you and leave my car at your place if that works better.

    April 1, 2013

    • Tom M.

      Replied to Ajai and CC'ed you Isa

      April 2, 2013

    • ajai

      responded via mail and cc'ed isa :)

      April 4, 2013

  • Dan

    tore calf muscle! next time!:)

    April 3, 2013

    • Tom M.

      Ouch! Heal up fast and hope to see you out soon!

      April 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    So sorry but it turns out I can't make it

    April 3, 2013

  • Dan

    Also would like to jump in a carpool with someone! The City or Eastbay. Looks like a great hike looking forward to this

    April 2, 2013

  • Dan

    Looking to carpool also from the city, or from the Eastbay

    April 2, 2013

  • Tom M.

    Also, I will be heading up from Redwood City and have a Jeep with tons of room if anyone in the area need a lift.

    April 1, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Is anyone leaving from San Francisco that I could carpool with

    April 1, 2013

  • Jim

    Yes next time for sure

    April 1, 2013

  • Samantha

    I would love to join but already had plan. Bummer!

    April 1, 2013

  • ajai

    okay i think i could do this if we are back by noon sunday.

    April 1, 2013

  • ajai

    this sounds like fun and a quick turnaround. Hmm wonder if i can make this happen since i got some activities o saturday. i need to get backpacking practice in;

    April 1, 2013

  • Chris

    Looks like fun. Looking forward to meeting everyone.

    1 · March 31, 2013

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