Beginning last fall, we started exploring new hiking venues. We’ve somehow got into a rut previously, always returning to the same 3-4 places every weekend. Familiar hiking trails are nice – you recognize landmarks and have an idea of how long it’s gonna take to finish the hike, you know the types of dogs and owners that frequent these trails, you know what to expect. But after awhile, it gets a little bit boring. We’ve been to some of these trails so often that QQ isn’t excited during the trail, he doesn’t run back and forth, instead he keeps a steady pace sniffing along behind us. It’s familiar and comfortable, like a worn sweater.
But every now and then, I like to break it up. Previously we didn’t dare go to new places because we didn’t know how QQ will react. Now we got his reactivity somewhat under control, I decided that it’s high time we break the monotone. Sunol Regional Wilderness has been on my list for awhile, it’s a little bit of a drive for us, which was another reason we kept putting it off, but one weekend last fall, we decided to go for it.
Sunol Regional Wilderness is a huge park with multiple loop trails of varying difficulties. It can be very hot in summer, which was a reason why we chose to go in fall. Being that this was our first time, we also opted to go for the easier Canyon View trail which loops in to Camp Ohlone Road to make for a total of approximately 3 miles round loop. Part of the trail towards the end goes near a creek. However, the ranger at the visitor center warned us that there’s algae in the creek that’s poisonous for the dogs so we made sure to stay a distance to avoid the dogs drinking any water out of the creek.
One reason we really wanted to try this hike is because it’s one of the rare off leash trails. Dogs are allowed off leash on undeveloped areas, which is most of the Canyon View trail. We did need to leash the dogs up when we got to Camp Ohlone Road but that was near the end of the trail.
It was a crisp fall day and Sunol had plenty of fall foliage for us to enjoy along the trail. There was a mix in landscape with hilly views and meadows interposing with wooded trails. We went after lunch and although there was long lengths of trail where there wasn’t any shade, it wasn’t hot. We brought water and stayed hydrated.
There was some elevation at the beginning but the trail soon flattened out before it led down to a small attraction called Little Yosemite. Unfortunately when we were there, there hasn’t been any rain recently so it was mostly dried. We plan to return in spring when the park is known to have plenty of wildflowers and hopefully the falls will have plenty of water too.
Towards the end of the hike, we also witnessed the moonrise. It was so beautiful.
Sunol also has many other longer and tougher trails for when we build up my stamina. It’s even possible to hike all the way to to Mission Peak (another yet to try park on my list). Also do note that the park charges a $5 fee per vehicle and a $2 fee per dog. Not expensive and we like to think of it being a way to support these parks.
Overall, we really enjoyed the hike. Because of the drive, this likely won’t become a regular hiking destination. But I do want to return for a spring hike maybe in April. And the park would be a great alternate destination whenever we feel we are getting into a rut again.
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