Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A perennial hiking & nature-study destination: Garland Ranch Regional Park, California

Garland Ranch Regional Park: Carmel Vally floor and ridges
Open space of Garland Ranch Regional Park

Garland Ranch Regional Park is located about 10 miles southeast of the Monterey Peninsula. The park landscape includes a section of the Carmel Valley floor as well as scenic canyons and ridges of the northern tip of the Santa Lucia Mountains—a coastal mountain range that stretches from Carmel Valley south to San Luis Obispo County. The park was established in 1975 and is preserved and protected by the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District.

The topographic Garland Ranch park map provides an excellent overview of the park trails and locations of interest, including a seasonal waterfall and historic sites. The Garland Visitor Center offers docent-led hikes. Depending on season, plants and mushrooms are featured at the visitor center. On January 25, 2015—a warm and sunny mid-winter day—we found a specimen of the native Padre's Shooting Star (Dodecatheon clevelandii ssp. sanctarum) and of the non-native Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) displayed. The latter was introduced as follows:

This deadly poisonous mushroom is a non-native import from Europe. Its cap grows between 3.5-15 cm, stem 4-18 cm long, 1-3 cm thick. Color is usually olive to yellow, rarely white, often with a metallic sheen.
Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)
It occurs scattered to gregarious [open-cluster growth] under coast live oak and other hardwoods, early fall through mid-winter.
The Death Cap contains both phallotoxins and amanitins which are responsible for poisonings in humans and domestic pets. Contrary to popular belief poisonous mushrooms are not dangerous to handle, only to ingest. DO NOT EAT!

Garland Ranch is a dog-friendly park. Just keep your dog away from those mushrooms!

Getting there
The main parking area close to the visitor center is found next to Carmel Valley Road, about 9 miles east of Highway 1. This area includes equestrian parking and also is the starting point for bicyclists, who are—according to the general information given in the foldable park map—only permitted on the 144-acre Cooper Ranch addition west of Lupine Loop and the Kahn Ranch Addition. The park has various other access points for hikers, which can be reached via Robinson Canyon Road (near Carmel Valley Ranch Resort) and via Carmel Valley Village roads: Boronda, Paso Hondo and Esquiline Road.

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