Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

My visits to Monte Bello Open Space Preserve in the golden hills of the San Francisco Bay Area on two consecutive weekends couldn’t be more different. Whether walking or on a trail run like I was, both were intriguing.

The first weekend was cloud covered with low hanging fog that gave the golden grass at the preserve a unique look:

Foggy Path by jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Foggy Path by jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

The rising sun was beautifully veiled.

Around the Bend by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Around the Bend by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

And my favorite bench looked otherworldly.

A Place to Rest by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
A Place to Rest by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

The next weekend was sunny and gave the preserve the look that everyone thinks about when they hear the word California:

Hilltop View by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Hilltop View by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

The trails were cheerful and open:

On On by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
On On by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Grasses contrast nicely with the sky:

Blue Yellow by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Blue Yellow by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

And my favorite bench looked spritely:

Favorite Bench by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Favorite Bench by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

The critters were quite different from one weekend to the next. In the canyon, I found this 8″ to 10″ salamander in the middle of single track frequented by cyclists. He was unmoved when I let him know he was in danger from fat knobby tires:

Granddaddy Salamander by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Granddaddy Salamander by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

On the exposed hilltops I found centipedes hiding from the sun:

Centipede by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Centipede by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

In the tree covered areas, lizards raced me for short distances and usually won. This one was an extrovert and stayed long enough for me to snap a photo.

Extroverted Lizard by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Extroverted Lizard by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Here you can get high enough to clear the pollution in the valley below:

Above the Layer by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Above the Layer by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

The paths are very well-marked and sometimes customized with a feather:

Feather Marks the Way by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Feather Marks the Way by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

If you’ve read this far you totally deserve to see my favorite from both weekends:

Lichen and Flowers by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014
Lichen and Flowers by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2014

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve is well worth the hike (with sunscreen) to experience some of Northern California’s true beauty. Enjoy!

 

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