Okay. As I said before, this loop is my favorite after work hike. It’s beautiful, strenuous and, at the end, there are a lot of dogs and people that Lucy and me know. And by the time we get there, she has run most of her energy out. You start out at the Skyline Gate of Redwood Regional Park.
At the beginning, this is not the most beautiful trail.
It’s not bad, but it gets a lot prettier
It’s an easy walk, fairly level and, as you may have noticed, wide, since it is an access/fire road and not an actual trail. After about 10 or 15 minutes, you arrive at the trailhead for French Trail. You will know it from afar by the bench under the trees.
The next thing you know, you’re looking down French trail.
It is pretty steep in the top half, down through a mixed forest of madrone and pine and oak. Down down down down you go.
It can be a pretty fun trail to run down, if you don’t mind wrecking your knees or your lower back. But it really puts you on your toes and in the moment. Sometimes I feel like I am outside my body as I run down, manipulating it from a short distance.
Normally, Lucy runs all around the hillsides and bounds like deer into the bushes. I walk a mile and she runs two. (By the way, if you walk these trails with a dog, make sure they have been treated for ticks, as there are A LOOOOTTT of them.) But when I run, she herds me. She makes a point of continuously letting me know she is there by touching the side or back of my calf with her nose or the side of her head. Is it disconcerting? Oh yeah. But does it stop me? Oh no. It’s hard to explain, but this trail, this run is too perfect to stop.
The next thing you know, you are surrounded by oaks and it’s just beautiful, photographic. You’re going to want to stop a few times and take it in. Maybe walk very slowly.
And the trail sort of levels out and you are walking on just a slight downhill grade. If you let yourself, you can feel the calm, the serene atmosphere under the soft oak canopy. A kind of oaky zen. At some points, the trail looks like something out of a movie, or a picture you have seen in a book on someone’s coffee table.
On a great day, you don’t see anyone, which makes this a perfect place to unwind. But on some days, particularly weekend days, there can be a bit of traffic on these trails. Still, it is good to stop and take it in, or sit down on the ground by the trail, deep in oak leaves, and just sit and be there. In any case, take a little time coming down. It’s worth it.
Before too long, you arrive at the junction of French and Tres Sendas trails, where the forest turns to primeval redwoods and sword fern and you are deep into a whole new kind of beauty.