Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jacks Peak County Park

Recently, our hiking karma was not too good. Already at the end of March I planned to go hiking in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, famous for its 80 feet waterfall falling directly into ocean. We could not fulfill this plan as there was a mudslide on Hwy 1, blocking the access to the park.

After the highway reopened, we attempted to go to the park again and again we were close to failing! This time because of Big Sur Marathon, which closed a major part of Hwy 1 south of Carmel on the day that we picked to go there. I just could not believe our bad luck. But I was also determined to finally see the falls.

We decided to return to Hwy 1 after it would reopen (at 2 pm that day) and to find another hike in the vicinity to keep ourselves busy until then. Luckily, the Monterey area is also full of great hikes, so we did not have any problem finding two that suited our plans. First, we decided to go for a short, 1 mile, hike in Jacks Peak County Park. Jacks Peak, at 1068ft, is the highest point on the Monterey Peninsula and my guidebook promised that it would offer spectacular views of Carmel Valley, the Monterey Peninsula, Point Lobos, the Santa Lucia Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, things have changed a lot since the time this part of the guidebook was written. When we got to the top of Jacks Peak (via Skyline Nature and Jacks Peak Trails), we were surprised that it was absolutely impossible to see anything from there, due to heavy forest coverage. So even though the hike was pleasant, I would not recommend it.

From Jacks Peak Park we drove to Pacific Grove, where we hiked Asilomar Coast Trail (to be described in the next post). By the time we finished that hike it was already 2pm, so we could come back to our initial plan and continue south on Hwy 1 to hike in Garrapata and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Parks (also to be described in the following posts).

Even though we were disappointed by the lack of views from the top, we were pleased to see many of these pretty butterflies:

Catching a butterfly in a flight is a true challenge!

Spring in the air:

An interesting snake:

There were better views from the road leading to the park rather than from the top: