Hiked in Jan right after a rain so the trail was muddy about 1/3 of the distance. Only saw 3 other people. Extended it just a bit to see part of Pomponio trail, so about 6 total miles and 3 hours, including stops to take several pics. So about 2.5 hours hiking time. But I'm writing this review to notify everyone that a lot of the trails in the area have been renamed. So part of what used to be the Tarwater trail is now the Shingle Mill trail. But the trailhead has a nice map and they've published a new one dated Nov 2015. The trail junctions have new signs and they are number coded. Kudos to the county for these new signs. Everyone should go to this new system. Takes a lot of doubt out of "where are we?"
Fun trail! The open rolling meadows are gorgeous, we came across an abandoned cabin which was my favorite part. Gigantic redwood tree blew my mind - visiting from the Midwest and have never seen a tree so mesmerizing!!
The jail was really creepy - would be fun to do this around Halloween. We didn't walk all the way back, it appears to be in use for some other reason. A fun, eclectic hike!
Kristen J. on Tarwater Trail Loop
Went here a couple of weeks ago with the husband. We got as far as the ruined mill when we came across where the trail was now closed. Would have liked to see the rest. There is an absolutely huuuuge redwood along the trail here. It's so large it has another tree growing inside the hollowed out base of the tree. The trail was in good condition, but I was a bit clumsy and rolled my ankle. Fortunately, it didn't keep me from finishing the hike.
The road out here feels very off the beaten path. It's paved, but only large enough for one car at a time. Fortunately we didn't meet any other cars coming in or going out. I was also glad we had an SUV, because some of the ruts in the pavement were deep.
There is no bathroom available at the trailhead. We stopped at another open space area nearby to use the facilities there.
Michelle R. on Portola Trail
Beautiful area and would love to camp there. The only downfall is that the trails are somewhat hard to follow; the bridge was down on the nature trail, which we were warned of, but then we hiked tiptoe falls trail on a narrow trail which we were unsure if we were even on the trail in some spots and that dead ended to a creek which seemed it was supposed to have a bridge from the map, but no bridge there either. It's beautiful there and quiet, not crowded, which is nice, but the trails/maps can leave you a tad misguided.
Great hike! Beautiful scenery and shaded the whole way. Even though it was a Saturday morning (started at 10:30am) we only saw other people when we were crossing the road. Highly recommend using EveryTrail if you want to stick to this exact hike because there are some unclear intersections- and while there is plenty of documentation to pick up at the self-registration area, including ideas for future hikes, the hike descriptions are not adequate. Highly recommended hike that I look forward to doing again!
Half downhill, half uphill what do ya know!
Very scenic through some really massive redwoods! Less than 15 min in you come across the largest tree on the trail and it's mind blowing. The loop is easily completed in 2 hours.
Unclear if this is a dog friendly trail or not... We got mixed info and brought a dog anyways, didn't seem to be an issue.
So quiet and serene, hard to believe the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley is less than an hour away.
FYI - The last road you turn on to make it to the trailhead is very narrow and looks like a beaten up golf-cart path. Plenty of parking at the trailhead.
This is a wonderful hike through gorgeous redwoods and beautiful scenery. We only saw 3 people on the entire hike. We took a slightly larger loop by going from Tarwater Trail, continuing on Canyon Trail, then heading south on Bear Ridge Trail, then back up Tarwater trail.
Beware of the creek! This trail is aptly named. We unfortunately allowed our dog to go into the water and we will now be cleaning tar out of our car for ions to come.
None of the elevation gain/loss is steep as the trails meander up the slope in a gentle incline. The trails are well maintained and easily spotted.
This is a great trail for solitude, I saw only a handful of other people during the entire two days. Started off in Sam McDonald County Park and stayed overnight at Tarwater Trail Camp. There's a decent waterfall near the convergence of Towne Creek and Jones Gulch Creek. The trail is moderately strenuous. If you like redwood forests without the crowds of Muir Woods, this is a great place. The Tarwater Trail is particularly nice.