A Homestead Headlines Article by Chuck Oldenburg
In 1988, The Homestead Valley Land Trust (HVLT) published a book by Matthew Davis titled, On Foot in Homestead, A Hiker’s Journal of a Coastal Valley”. Referring to Homestead’s open space and its trails, he states, “When you step out your door with eyes and heart open, the land unfolds as you walk it.” The book is out of print, but a copy can be checked out of the Mill Valley Public Library. With the open space acquired in 1974 came old trails and dirt roads which HVLT has improved, extended, and maintained. A trail map is periodically updated. Each trail has interesting stories to tell.
This trail goes from Stolte Grove to the Homestead Trail. The steep hillside land it traverses near Stolte Grove was acquired over 100 years ago by Fred Stolte. During the twenties and thirties his son Frank who later inherited the property used to take the trail up beyond the redwoods to a flat clearing where he camped out. In the sixties, as a developer, Frank wanted to build a house there, but a long steep driveway was prohibitively expensive. In the seventies, Betsey Weedon purchased the property from Frank and donated it for open space. It is now known as Weedon Redwoods.
Shortly after the property became public, HVLT allowed a group of boy scouts to rehabilitate the trail which had almost disappeared in some areas. This gave them an opportunity to earn community service merit badges to help them gain eagle scout status. After they completed the project, without asking HVLT, they placed a sign at the Stolte Grove end of the trail which said, “Eagle Trail.”
In the eighties, hippies camped out on a clearing near a rock outcropping along the trail. Fear of fire danger justified their ejection. In the nineties, a trail was established to connect Eagle Trail with the fire road to Four Corners on GGNRA land. Also in the nineties, mountain bikes become a serious problem. HVLT prohibited them, but there were several confrontations. In the aughts, the Ridgewood trail was connected to the Eagle Trail.
Also during the aughts, a Homestead husband and wife were hiking on Eagle Trail with her mother who was visiting from Los Angeles. The elder woman fell and broke her leg while descending the steep part of the trail in Weedon Redwoods. A rather unique rescue operation ensued. She was placed in a wheel barrow and carefully transported down to Stolte Grove, and then driven to the hospital.
Eagle Trail is somewhat hard to follow, especially for first time users. There are many intersections with deer trails that dead end. In the nineties, I installed directional arrows at several junctions to guide hikers. Someone maliciously removed all the arrows. I replaced them twice with the same result. The culprit was never found. Hikers may be inconvenienced, but what better place to get lost.
If you have comments or questions about this article
or other topics pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.