People enjoy Sanborn County Park in Saratoga for quite a number of reasons: grassy meadows for picnics and play, the Nature Trail, a central platform that allows wheelchair users to sit in a grove of redwoods, the hiking trails and more.
I started my hike on the Sanborn Trail to see the redwoods, which are in second and third growth groves. But not long after, I started coming to dead and diseased tan oak trees. Tan oaks are not true oaks from a DNA standpoint, but they were so named due to the fact that their fruits look similar to acorns.
The more I hiked the more I noticed afflicted trees everywhere. Even the seedlings of the tan oaks were diseased. Hundreds of them over the course of the next three miles. The pathogen is transported in water. No cure currently exists. This scourge has doomed millions of live oak and black oak trees in California.The redwoods and bays can get it, but usually don’t die. SOD affects about 35 tree species. Some species fall victim; some are just carriers.
I noticed Douglas firs that appeared unaffected.
You can identify the three to four-inch cones of the Douglas fir by the spurs coming out of their scales.
All the dead tan oaks definitely affect the aesthetics of the forest scenery. I found it hard to overlook the devastation.
The prettiest part of the park, in my opinion, was located not in the central area around the main entrance and parking lots, but on your way out. About ¼ mile from the turn that goes back towards the town of Saratoga, are several unmarked trails on Sanborn Road. I stopped and parked on the side of the road, headed up the trail and before long, I came across a winter fairyland where rocks and limbs coated in bright green moss seemed to jump out of the landscape. As the creek meanders through the rocks and boulders, you almost expect to see leprechauns waving from the trees. Wherever I travel, I find the off-road is often the most exciting.
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