Ridge Trail Big Rock & Alta Loma 2020-09

In mid September I headed out to complete the last segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail that I will be doing as my “Ridge Trail by Transit” circumnavigation. The details of that are for a later post, but this trip was to do the Lucas Valley and Loma Alta sections.

I took transit from Sacramento to Lucas Valley Road and Las Gallinas Ave in San Rafael, and headed west up Lucas Valley. There is a trail alongside the road, or separate, for some of the distance, but it is not really a pleasant walk. On the suggestion of some women playing tennis, I headed up the Luiz fire road to Big Rock Ridge. I walked along the ridge, which has good views of the bay side of Marin County. Don’t be fooled by the Ridge Trail signs along the ridge, which are misplaced. From the point at which the future Ridge Trail will head north to Indian Tree, the trail descends to Big Rock, which is not, as I presumed, on the ridge, but along Lucas Valley Rd where the trail crosses.

Big Rock, Lucas Valley Rd, Ridge Trail tunnel

Alta Loma fire road climbs the ridge and then descends back down to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. With this section, I’ve completed 93% of the completed Ridge Trail, and this was my main objective. But since the trail from here to San Francisco is a favorite, I continued. From the summit at White Hill, the trail ascends onto San Geronimo Ridge and wanders through Sargent cypress and chaparral vegetation that forms on serpentinitic rocks. After several miles, the trail descents to Samuel P. Taylor state park where I had lunch. The park is served by Marin Stage 68 bus, with a stop at the park entrance. The White Hill summit can also be accessed by the same bus, by request.

Sargent cypress cones in the serpentinitic soils

From the park the trail ascends Bolinas Ridge and heads south-southeast along the crest of the coast range. Open grasslands, mixed forests, and redwood forest alternate along the ridge. My assumption that the fires in Point Reyes National Seashore were out was a misunderstanding; they are contained and being allowed to burn as they would naturally, so there is some smoke being produced that filled the valley with smoke at times. The fires will burn, at a low level, until there are real rains to put them out. The Matt Davis Trail, which goes from Pantoll down to Stinson Beach, was crowded with hikers, being Sunday, and very few of them were wearing masks. Very uncomfortable for me, and though this is one of my favorite sections of the trail, I hurried through it.

I stayed the night in the Pantoll hike/bike camp site for $7. This is also another transit access point, with Marin Stage 61 bus several times a day. I rarely stay in campgrounds, so I was a little taken aback by the noise and bright lights of this campground. Though walk-in, it is a short enough distance that people can and do lug all the accoutrements of civilization with them from the parking lot. Continuing from Pantoll, I left the Ridge Trail route and took the Coast View and Heather Cutoff down to Muir Beach, had lunch at Pelican Inn. With outside seating only if isn’t the same experience at the inside pub, but still nice. Then up Dias Ridge and back to the main Ridge Trail route down to Tennessee Valley, where I camped at Haypress campground, one of the few official backcountry campsites along the trail. Morning, I walked down to Tennessee Valley beach, and then continued to the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.

Tennessee Valley beach

Then SF Bay Ferry to Oakland and Capitol Corridor home from Oakland Jack London to Sacramento.

Photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157716600491713; Ridge Trail collection on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/collections/72157708271186714/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.