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By Sally Torbey

Foothills Park: a world away

Uploaded: Aug 23, 2014

Last weekend we celebrated the end of summer vacation with a church camping trip to nearby Foothills Park. This camping trip has become a popular tradition, probably due to the wonderful cuisine. A talented church member organizes the meals for the weekend, shops for the ingredients, preps many of the dishes and brings all the cooking gear. This is camping at its easiest and most accessible, as the rest of us only have to worry about bringing tents, sleeping bags and clothing, and lending a hand with meal preparation and clean up. And, the food is fantastic. It is a rare experience to feel pampered after a weekend of family camping!

Foothill Park is just a few minutes up the hill, but a world away. The campground is tucked away in the woods down a dirt road, with the sites only a short walk from the parking. As long as the clumps of poison oak are avoided, it is the ideal setting for a raucous game of capture the flag. The proximity to home allows for stress-free packing, even with small children along. No need to remember four formulations of Tylenol. If somebody runs a fever, home is only 20 minutes away. Although I've never personally resorted to this, the rumor is that pizza can be delivered to the campsites. My spouse has brought up lattes and bagels in the morning, and they are still warm upon arrival. There is even the possibility of a short jaunt home for forgotten items, or to sneak in a quick mid-weekend shower. Avoid the mistake of one husband, who gave himself away by returning to the campground in clean clothes. As the rest of us were coated in a thick film of sweat and dust by that point, he was pretty conspicuous.

The campsites are located close to trails ranging from a mile of flat strolling to a hilly eight-mile loop. We enjoyed a three-mile loop that included part of the Los Trancos Trail. In less than an hour of mildly strenuous climbing, we had gorgeous views of the Bay and beyond, worth every sore muscle. There is also a small lake in the park with plentiful birdlife, loud bullfrogs, fish, and a small bridge-accessed island to explore. Large expanses of meadow allow for multi-generational games of volleyball, football, Frisbee and kite flying. At dusk, a herd of deer arrived to graze, undeterred by the flying balls.

In the evenings we concluded with s'mores, singing around the campfire, and star gazing during a meteor shower, all accompanied by the peeping of tree frogs. It was a much appreciated and restorative weekend in nature before the busyness of back-to-school engulfed us this week!