This is a popular and rewarding workout for trail runners due to its steady grade.
From the roadside parking along Sir Francis Drake Blvd., take the paved Devil's Gulch Road
for about 100 yards until you see a trail (Devil's Gulch Trail
) on the right that follows Devil's Gulch Creek. Follow this ferny trail for another 100 yards to the junction marked with a huge, hollow redwood tree. Go right, cross the bridge and then take Bill's Trail at the T-junction on the far side of the bridge. If you arrive at the horse camp you went the wrong way!
Begin the ascent, keeping an eye out for shade-loving wildflowers tucked among majestic old trees. In a little less than a mile, cross a bridge and take the short out-and-back to Stairstep Falls Trail
for a visit to these three pretty drops. The 35 foot falls are at their best in the wetter, winter months.
Regain Bill's Trail and climb moderately up switchback after switchback. The grade is so steady it is hardly taxing. Cross numerous bridges and travel across grassy knolls followed in turn by wooded areas. Finally pop out of the trees to stand on the exposed ridge line of Barnabe Peak at the junction with Barnabe Fire Road
. If you've made it this far, it would be a shame not to take in the stupendous views from Barnabe Peak, so it is recommended that you jump on Barnabe Fire Road
for the worthwhile out-and-back to Barnabe Peak's summit.
Note: bikes and horses are not allowed on this trail.
Bay trees, Douglas fir, madrone, eucalyptus, maple, laurel, live oak, buckeye, redwood, nutmeg, ferns, wild rose, hazelnut, poison oak, and wildflowers (in the spring). Banana slugs.