After Work Hike, The High Roads in El Corte de Madera OSP

After last night’s walk in the cool canyons of El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve I decided I wanted to go back tonight and visit a couple other points of interest. So with just enough time for a 90 minute hike I managed to string together a 3 mile hike that covered  4 different trails and managed to avoid any serious gain/loss. This is a great little loop for an after work walk, it’s suitable for anyone, even my young kids will be comfortable with this level of difficulty.

About hike: El Corte de Madera Creek OSP (aka ECdM) is a preserve rich in history. There are sites that were used as stopovers by the Ohlone Native Americans as they traveled from the Bay to the ocean, as evidenced by shell and obsidian fragments in the hollows of ancient redwood stumps. There’s abundant history of the logging activities of the late 1800s and early 1900s and then again in the last half of the 1900s. The area abounds with stories of murders and land grabs, nefarious dealings and wild living in the logging days. Remnants of summer cabins from the 1930s can be found in the northern portion of the preserve and there are abandoned cabins from the hippie counter-culture movement still to be found if you know where to look. And then there’s the debris field of the 1953 crash of the passenger airliner The Resolution.

In October of ’53 a DC-6 from Australia/New Zealand made a navigational error and instead of descending through the fog into the San Francisco Bay Area they instead dropped into the El Corte de Madera Creek canyon. The aircraft clipped some trees with one wing and crashed into the trees, killing the 19 people on board. The debris of the crash remains in the preserve, including a 13 foot section of the wing which was sheared off and  which can still be seen today if you know where to look. The Resolution trail in ECdM goes through the crash site and is dedicated to the memory of those lost in the crash. In July of 2009, the MROSD will place a memorial plaque in the preserve at a spot where the visitor can see the trees which were topped by the aircraft as it descended into the trees. I’ve visited the crash site and wing many times and I wanted to go see where they were placing the plaque, so that was the basis of this hike.

Doing the hike: Start off at Skeggs Point Overlook on Skyline Blvd. Park here and walk a hundred yards or so northwest to Gate CM01 (you’ll need to cross Skyline Blvd so be careful). Go in CM01 and follow the Tafoni Trail (not the paved road) about one mile to the intersection with the Fir Trail. Go straight at this intersection and you’ll be going downhill on the Fir Trail, through a section of trail which is usually quite soft. After about .2 miles you’ll see a small sign on the right that reads “Vista Point” just beyond this point is a boulder that will have the Resolution memorial plaque mounted to it on July 18. The resolution trail begins another 0.1 miles down Fir but we won’t go there today, it’s too long for an after work hike. Follow the path up to the Vista Point and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of the ECdM canyon and the San Mateo Coastside in the distance. There’s a little turnaround at the Vista Point, back in the 50s and 60s kids used to drive out into the woods and neck at the Vista Point, according to one MROSD Board member who reminisced about doing so.

After enjoying the view at the Vista Point return to the Fir trail and retrace your steps back to the intersection with the Tafoni Trail. Now follow the Fir Trail in the other direction. This keeps you high on the mountain rather than dropping into the canyon. After 0.2 miles you’ll come to an intersection with a sign indicating that you can turn right and go to the Methuselah trail, follow this trail down 0.1 miles to a 4-way intersection with Methuselah and Manzanita and the little no-name trail you just walked on. Manzanita is a tempting trail but it’ll add a lot of mileage to our hike so for today turn left on Methuselah, in the direction of Skyline Blvd and gate CM02.

Methuselah will descend quite a bit down to an intersection with the Timberview fireroad. Check out the big boulders at this intersection, read the sign about being kind to the streams but don’t go down Timberview. Stay on Methuselah and climb back up to Skyline Blvd. Just before you get to Skyline and Gate CM02 you’ll come to an intersection with the Sierra MorenaTrail. Turn left (northwest) onto Sierra Morena and follow this very lovely but often soft/wet trail back towards where we began. Listen carefully for cyclists on this trail, it is a heavily used connector trail for mountain bikers.

When Sierra Morena trail intersects with the Fir trail turn right and head back to Skyline. This is a little counter-intuitive, you’ll feel like you should go left. Trust me, head right and in about 200 yards you’ll see a fenced area with some antennas and water tanks. This is the Sierra Morena peak, the highest point of Kings Mountain, in this part of the Santa Cruz mountains. The trail continues past that fenced area and onto that paved road that began at CM01. Follow the trail through the gate to the paved road and then down to CM01. Now walk back along Skyline to Skeggs Point.

The map claims this hike is right at 3.0 miles, give or take a smidgeon. I did this hike at a relaxed pace,  fiddled around peeking at some old closed trails and poked my nose into some hidey holes that I probably shouldn’t and still managed to do this hike in about 90 minutes. It’s a gentle hike and well suited to an evening hike when you need to wind down but not push yourself too hard.

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2 Comments on “After Work Hike, The High Roads in El Corte de Madera OSP”

  1. Nicky Says:

    I went hiking along this trail today and actually down the resolution trail trying to find the aftermath of the crash including the wing but was unable to spot it. Any helpful hints? Thanks.

    • tpmcgee Says:

      Nicky,
      Most of the debris right along Resolution has been picked up by passing hikers and bikers. To get to the wing you have to hike on one or more closed trails, which is a misdemeanor. That being said, if you go down the fireroad past the boulder with the memorial plaque and you go past the intersection with the Resolution trail you’ll shortly see a fenced off trail marked “Closed, Not a trail”. That’s the trail we used to call Jersey Shred because of the close-growing manzanita bushes.

      If you were to go around the Closed sign and follow Jersey Shred (remember, you can go to jail for this so please don’t do it) you’d have to climb over some downed trees and the you’d reach a point where the trail becomes a bit obscure and loops around some small rises. Watch for a pile of rocks at the apex of a turn in the trail, an obvious marker that this is a point of interest. If you leave the trail at this point you’ll quickly reach the wing and see some other pieces of debris.

      There are pieces of fuselage and engine enclosure at the bottom of the trail we used to call Deer Antler or Carnage, if you know the old trail names. These are also closed trails and cannot be hiked without risking a big ticket or jail time. Please don’t go wandering around in the woods looking for wreckage, you’ll get busted and will really tick off the rangers.


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