Friday, November 12, 2010

Reynolds Road, November 2010

A little satellite imagery can be a dangerous thing.  On my Pheasant Road ride, I took a picture of the Hicks Creek valley and Reynolds Road.  Looking at that area on the map, there's a branch of Reynolds Road that appears to head pretty far up the slope of El Sombroso.  I wonder what's up there?

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Reynolds Road peels off of Hicks Road, and climbs about 700 feet in 1.5 miles.  From its heights you can enjoy views of the dump, and if that's too distant, there are almost always abandoned mattresses and sofas and so forth along the road.  After 1.5 miles, it turns to dirt and climbs again to a fork in the road at about 1300 feet.  On the left fork, you get a couple hundred yards before you get to a chain across the road.  There's a sign that reads Sycamore Springs Ranch, which as far as I can tell has no presence on the web.

I should point out that at the point at which the pavement turned to dirt, a sign told me that only authorized or resident vehicles were allowed any further.  So to get here, I had already respectfully disobeyed a sign.  Why not cross this easily-crossed gate?  Well, I'll tell you.  I'm willing to break the rules by riding onto closed open space (if you will), but I'm not willing to enter private property.  I keep thinking that, if it were my place and my kids were playing outside, I'd be pretty creeped out by some stranger riding through.

Having said that, I'm willing to enter private property if I stick to a road that I think is a thoroughfare (even if the law isn't on my side).  I have little patience for privatized roads.  So this could be that situation, but the satellite image makes the trail from this point look more like a driveway than a road.

So having got to the end of the left fork, I turn around and start exploring the right.  On the maps, it was clear that there weren't many houses up this way, and signs at the fork seem to indicate that there are exactly three. In this area you can look up the slope of El Sombroso, up the valley, and see a house perched somewhere up the ridge.  From here it looks impossibly far up, but there must be a road to it, and this is really the only candidate.

The right fork is lovely.  Reynolds Road has trees, and trees are great, but what with the trash on the road and the scrub near the fork, it's not the prettiest area of these hills.  The right fork heads through much deeper woods, past two of the three houses up here.  On the damp, windy day I was exploring, the woods were making constant noise.  Acorns (I think) were making uncannily loud cracking noises as they fell and rolled down the hills.  The trail here is wide enough for one vehicle, barely, and the leaves and grass on it didn't give the impression of heavy use.

Eventually, one gets near that house I spied from the fork.  I knew the road went right next to the house, and was getting anxious about riding under the noses of the occupants.  I was spared that experience by another gate across the road, where the path turned north.  It's about 1600 feet up the hill at this point.

That's a real shame, because it looks like there's probably another mile of trail beyond the house.  I'd love to go exploring those trails someday.

On the way down I took a panorama shot of the Hicks Creek valley, showing the hill that the Pheasant Road trail winds around.  In the valley you can just make out a little house.  This house, according to logic and a little search engine detective work, is a former residence recently purchased by the MROSD, and is now serving as a caretaker's residence.  The gated driveway very near the bottom of Reynolds Road is its entrance.

Another document on the the same site indicates that the MROSD recently bought the section of land at the far end of the left fork of Reynolds Road, past that Sycamore Springs Ranch house.  That doesn't help me any; the only path is through that private property I'm not willing to cross.  But the map in that document does indicate that the trail goes all the way up to that property, and maybe someday we'll be able to ride it.

A good leisurely ride, and a little more of the "personally unknown" explored.  About 12 miles, with 1800 feet of climbing.

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