Michaels Summit

Fri, Jan 27, 2017

With: Steve Sywyk
Tom McClaughry

Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

Dhananjay Naniwadekar, active with several local hiking groups, had sent me a variety of emails over the past year or two generally correcting information on my peak database or making me aware of other summits I might have missed. Michaels Summit came to my attention in this manner, twice actually, since I sort of half-ignored, half-forgot about it the first time he mentioned it. The Michaels Summit Trail is depicted on Dave Baselt's Redwood Hikes map, but the summit is unidentified. It is located in a little-visited corner pocket of Castle Rock State Park east of Waterman Gap. The hike is entirely in second growth redwoods, not one for any sort of views but a beautiful hike nonetheless. I decided to use this for one of our Friday picnic hikes since it would be a little over 5mi in a nice loop.

There is no established trailhead parking at the start, the interection of SR9 and the old Saratoga Toll Rd (long closed to vehicles). A mailbox suggests a homestead along the road here somewhere but we never saw one. The land has changed hands various times here, and public access seems dubious until one passes a first gate without any signs whatsoever. A kiosk map we found past the gate shows a section that includes Michaels Summit as restricted and open by permit only, though again there are no signs along the various trails we plied to suggest the public isn't allowed. The result of the current status is that you are likely to have the place to yourselves, much like we did. We parked at a small turnout just north of the intersection, and after passing the gate started up the Toll Rd on the west side of the San Lorenzo River. After 1/3mi we turned right onto the unsigned Kings Creek Truck Trail blocked to vehicles by a second gate. This old road soon crosses the San Lorenzo River. The water was 2-4in deep at the time so we took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our pants and crossed barefoot. On the opposite side, the old road begins to climb the eastern bank of river. We missed the junction with the Michaels Summit Trail found about 1/4mi up from the river (again no signs) and so continued up the truck trail for more than a mile until finding a more obvious (to us anyway, others have reported differently) junction that marks the upper end of the Michaels Summit Trail. We followed this trail south past the chassis of a long-forgotten vehicle and then to Michael's Summit a mile later. A couple of old-growth redwood stumps mark the highpoint and it was here under a canopy of second-growth that we enjoyed our picnic lunch over the next hour and more. Afterwards we continued at a leisurely pace clock-wise around the trail, returning to the truck trail, the river crossing and eventually Hwy 9 by 4:30p. A nice way to spend half a day...


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