White-tailed Kites are fairly common around here. You often see them hunting in freeway medians. They have a characteristic way of hovering in one spot like…well, like a kite. I saw this fellow hovering at the base of the Mount Cleff Ridge in Wildwood Park. Slowly, deliberately the kite dropped ten feet, fifteen, feet, and then to the ground. It was a gentle glide, not the fierce high-speed descent of a Peregrine.
Highlights: The Santa Rosa Trail loop that I took was just shy of five miles. The most notable feature in the park is a craggy ridge of conglomerate mineral deposits. You expect a war party of wild Comanches to leap out at any minute. This should not surprise–Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and The Rifleman were all filmed here. There is an elevation gain of 400 ft, a little bit of a stiff climb at the beginning. The ground is very rocky and uneven, a challenge to mountain bikers and people with weak ankles.
One other notable thing about this trail. Once you get on top of the ridge there just isn’t any place to pee. Large two-million dollar homes overlook much of the trail along the back side of the ridge and there just isn’t much tree cover. This something the wild Comanches never had to worry about–or maybe it’s what drove them wild in the first place.
The geology changes slightly on the eastern part of Lower Butte Trail. To me it looks something like the burren region in Ireland. This explains how Wuthering Heights could be filmed at the location as Gunsmoke.
To get there: From the 101 take Lynn Rd north to Avenida de los Arboles, turn left and continue to the end. Click here for a Google Map.
Originally posted March 27, 2007