This is a great time of the year to hit the foothill trails, especially the ones along the river or with seasonal streams. Your dog will have fun in the water, and you can enjoy the cool weather and the early-emerging wildflowers. Another bonus if it is even slightly drizzling, you will have the trail more to yourself to enjoy the solitude.
Beware of the parking at these foothill trails. Recently, there have been a number of vehicle break-ins. Thieves know you will be gone for a while, making your car vulnerable. Trailhead parking closer to a roadway is safer than parking areas off-road. The most important way to protect your belongings is not having any belongings left behind in your car. If a thief looks in your windows, there should be nothing in sight, not even a jacket on the floor possibly covering a purse. If you leave a coat behind, hang in on the car seat so it is apparent that nothing inside is if value. If the thief sees nothing in your car, he will most likely move on to the next available target. You do not want to return from your outing to find broken glass and stolen property.
To reach the 9-mile Olmstead Loop Trail, drive on Highway 49 to Cool and park behind the fire station. There is a $10.00 fee for day use parking here, but you can also creatively park free nearby. Your car may be safer, however, in the fee area. The loop’s design is for walking in a clockwise direction, with mile markers every half mile. If you go in this direction, you will have a pond to circumnavigate, and Knickerbocker Creek to cross (not an easy rock hop). If you choose the counter-clockwise direction, you can turn around at Salt Creek and enjoy a drier outing. If you want to do the entire loop, then crossing Knickerbocker is a must, so bring along some water shoes.
You will share this undulating foothill trail with bikers and equestrians, neither of which will be riding out of control since there are few flat, straight stretches within the loop. You may get a little muddy, so have a change of shoes in your trunk, and a towel for cleaning your pooch before the ride home.