Yosemite National Park is definitely one of the best tourist attractions in California. It’s filled with tall and ancient sequoia trees, mighty waterfalls, adventurous trails and loads of natural beauty. It’s a popular destination in The Golden State year-round. But there’s a similar wilderness adventure much closer than most travelers’ realize.
Nested in the Sierra Nevada Mountains along the border of California and Nevada, Yosemite National Park is truly worth visiting. But, visiting the park cannot be accomplished by some spontaneous plan over a weekend. Situated over 165 miles from the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, it’s a haul. Besides, as this park is huge, you need a lot of time to explore it all. And it requires prior booking due to its high demand all year. This brings in careful planning, hours of discussion to coordinate the schedule among family members, research of stay arrangements and finally prayers to turn this into a success.
But, do not let these factors stop you from enjoying natural wonders over a short vacation as I have an interesting quick-fix idea. How will it feel if you are able to experience the mighty Yosemite, right in the city? Read on as we go to an interesting, yet hidden alternative that will definitely appeal to the adventurer in you.
Little Yosemite in Sunol Regional Wilderness
There’s a spot inside the park, “Sunol Regional Wilderness,” known as Little Yosemite. Spread over 6,859 acres, it’s maintained by the East Bay Regional Park District. Located just 30 miles from San Jose or 50 miles from San Francisco, you can easily enjoy this experience over a weekend. It is not as huge as the Yosemite National Park, but it definitely resembles the famous tourist attraction in several ways. Waterfalls, hiking trails and rolling acres of natural beauty justify its name Little Yosemite.
Sunol Regional Wilderness is famous among the local folks for camping, hiking, picnicking, backpacking, mountain biking, and equestrian trail rides. It comes across as a peaceful and quiet spot to enjoy nature. It has close to 12 trails that are truly worth exploring. Besides solving the problem of long travel and holidays, you can plan your visit over a long weekend and avoid expensive accommodations.
A peek into the park
The Old Green Barn Visitor Center greets you with maps, useful information about the trails and a list of activities inside the park. The center also exhibits artifacts, wildflower seed packets, history books, and topographical maps. With many items available for purchase. It is open daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas day.
There are around 10-12 trails that you can explore. Among all the trails, Indian Joe creek trail is famous for a wonderful view of the river. It is a 5.5 mile loop with many points of interest along this trail.
Another famous trail is the 3.8 mile long Canyon View Trail that leads to the spot of Little Yosemite over the Alameda Creek. The soothing sound of flowing river and waterfalls greet the hikers. Flag Hill Trail is a one mile loop trail that offers view of the Calaveras Reservoir and Alameda Water Shed. Eagle View Trail (5.4 miles) is one of the best trails of this region due to the stunning view of the East Bay hills. It offers excellent view of flowers during spring and summer. Besides these, Maguire Peak and Rose Peak Trails are comparatively difficult hikes recommended for experienced hikers.
So much to see!
Flora and fauna: Coast live oaks along with valley and blue oaks are in abundance. California poppies, mustard, goldfields and lupines can be seen in the spring. Raccoons, skunks, black-tailed deer, ground squirrels and yellow-billed magpies share this habitat. Among the birds, acorn woodpeckers, turkey vultures, and golden eagles are spotted quite often.
Activities: There are many options of naturalist-led activities that you can choose from. These include hiking, backpacking, camping and mountain biking. Rental horse riding is another interesting activity that you can enjoy in this region. There are several picnic and barbeque sites that are available on first-come-first-serve basis.
Important pointers to remember
- The park is open all days of the year from 8 a.m. to sunset.
- Parking fee is $5 on weekends and holidays. $2 is the dog fee. Service dogs or guide dogs enter free.
- There are no drinking water arrangements in the park. As the hike can be challenging, it is essential to carry enough supply of water or juices.
- Dogs are allowed on the hike, but they must be leashed at all times.
- Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit this place. If you are visiting in the summer, wear hats and sunscreen to protect from the sun.
- There is no public transit to the park.
- Camping require prior reservation.
Enjoy it your style
After a long day over the trails, all you will need is a flex hotel. Flexible hotel booking from FlexBook provides custom hotels with early check in and late check out. Book a flexible hotel and make the most of this little Yosemite in the city. A San Francisco flexible hotel provides the perfect accommodations. An adventurous world within itself, Sunol Regional Park is definitely an interesting place for your next weekend getaway. It offers the benefits of nature, yet sits close to one of the busiest cities. A win-win for locals and tourists alike!
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