This weekend I enjoyed an overnight hike, called the Solano Overnight, sponsored by the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. We met at Benicia State Recreation Area on the Carquinez Strait, and were shuttled to the northern end at Newell Open Space trailhead. The group of about 20 people, leaders included, are mostly from Solano and Contra Costa counties, many of them long time Ridge Trail hikers but some new to it.
From the Newell trailhead, we hiked up the access trail to the ridge crest, connecting with the official Ridge Trail, and then descended through the Lynch Canyon Open Space to the trailhead parking lot near Interstate 80 where we had lunch. We then went up Middle Valley back to the ridgeline, and then out through a newly purchased but as yet un-trailed grassy valley to a trailhead near the Hiddenbrook interchange.
Across the interchange to the Hiddenbrooke Trail, which is initially along the road but eventually heads into the grassy hills again, with spectacular views near Sulfur Springs Mountain. At the end of the official Ridge Trail, we descended into McIntyre Ranch, a Greater Vallejo Recreation District facility where we camped the night, with a catered dinner and s’mores around the campfire.
Next morning we walked along unofficial road and trail to Blue Rock Springs Park, where the official trail starts again. A long walk along Columbus Parkway and Ascot Parkway finally brings the trail back to nature at the Vallejo-Benicia Buffer. The trail heads down the ridge between sprawl subdivisions on the Vallejo side and sprawl subdivisions on the Benicia side. And then back to the state recreation area.
I got to the trailhead via BART and SolTrans Y bus from San Francisco, and then caught a ride from two participants to the Pleasant Hill BART station, thence back to Richmond BART and the Capitol Corridor train home.
For me, the two big reasons I signed up for the hike were that a shuttle was provided to the trailhead, which I could not have gotten to on transit, and that the route was through sections not open to the public.
I do most of my backpacking and much of my day hiking solo, so this was a fairly unique experience of going with a group, but I really enjoyed the camaraderie, information sharing, and stories. I have a lot more insight now into the challenging planning, fundraising, and partnerships that go into the Ridge Trail and growth into its eventual 550 miles or so.
I am ‘circumnavigating’ the Ridge Trail, but as a car-free person, that is challenging. I’ve done the easily transit-accessible segments, have started into the partially transit-accessible parts, but won’t get to the rest unless I go with groups. I’m now at 242 miles / 389 kilometers, but that distance is not directly comparable to the current officially complete mileage of about 375, because I have been walking and counting many of the gaps. I’ve also walked access trails that won’t necessarily be part of the final trail once it is a through-trail.
Album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157677996380837; Ridge Trail collection on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/collections/72157708271186714/
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