Soquel Demonstration Forest
Hike a fire road among huge trees at this experimental forest, looking out for the dozens of mountain bikers that frequent its hills.
- This forest is revolutionary as a demonstration forest. Several experimental land use techniques are employed here, including logging practices and installation of a few technical mountain bike trails. You can even find reports about tree growth, new harvesting methods, impact to fish and streams, and timber sales, through the State of California website, below.
- This forest is home to the famous Braille Trail, a steep downhill stretch that includes see-saws, jumps, and plenty of other technical fun. For experienced riders only! (When I tried this, I made it down a fraction of the distance, crashing a couple of times, before walking / sliding down the rest of the way. Riders assemble at the top for some elongated socialization (many getting some new courage). A helipad is up here, that gets a little use, when riders push their limits too far.)
- Despite logging in the area, the forest is quiet and relatively pristine.
- This forest is always cool and shady - a great place for summertime visits.
- With a creek running at the entrance, there is a lot of bug life here. See ladybugs and butterflies amass in the summer, or find spiders spinning webs near the stream.
- Wildlife includes banana slugs, birds, and squirrels.
- There are plenty of plants here, including ferns, mosses, horsetail, sorrel, and wildflowers, beneath a canopy of douglas fir and redwood trees.
- Find a shady spot with some smattering of sun and observe how sorrel behaves in response to the light changes. Sorrel in the shade will collapse its leaves like a closing umbrella, and sorrel in the sun will have them fully open. (Sorrel looks like large clover.)
- The fire roads are wide and well maintained (they are still used for logging).
- Dogs allowed on leash.
- Mountain biking is HUGE here, so hikers on weekends or during the summer should be wary of traffic. A lot of bikers linger at the top edge of the park, though, so aren't seen by hikers along the lower fire road.
- Mosquitoes can be plentiful in the Spring.
- Beware of poison oak and ticks in this area.
The entrance to the park and main trail are all along fire roads that are well maintained, so if the occasional debris and a some coarse gravel on the road can be managed, this area is handicapped accessible along the lower fire road. The narrower bike paths that go uphill are not accessible.
- Recommended Routes
All recommended routes begin along Hihn's Mill Road, a well maintained, wide fire road that follows the creek and the perimeter of the property. Various offshoot trails extend uphill, along paths from footpaths to fire roads.