Ridge Trail: East Bay 2020-10 (+ SF + ADT)

This month I re-hiked the continuous section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail from Kennedy Grove recreation area in the north (El Sobrante) to Garin park in the south (Hayward), about 73 km (45 miles). Kennedy Grove is less than a mile from the AC Transit 74 bus stop on Castro Ranch Rd (though be warned, only every other bus goes to this destination), then along Hillside Dr (though be warned, the back gate from Hillside is signed as being open all park hours but was locked when I was there, so I had to crawl under the gate). The Ridge Trail leaves the area, parallels and then crosses San Pablo Dam Rd, and then climbs on trail and fire road to Nimitz Way on the crest. Nimitz Way is an old road now only open to hikers and bicyclists, and it can be quite busy when the weather is nice, as it is moderately flat and has great views. The trail then heads south to Inspiration Point on Wildcat Canyon Road in Tilden Park.

Dropping down to cross the road, it climbs again to the ridge crest and continues south to nearly Vollmer Peak, then down to the trailhead near the redwood railway. There is water here. On this hike, I found about half the water sources to be turned off. There is no justifiable reason for this, just lazy park personnel using the pandemic as an excuse to not clean drinking fountains.

Ridge Trail in Huckleberry Preserve

The trail continues south into East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) lands, then Sibley Volcanic and Huckleberry Botanic preserves. The ridgeline is not flat, so the trail repeatedly loses and re-gains elevation. It passes Skyline Gate, which is one of the most popular access points in the east bay, so expect to see crowds of people for several miles though Redwood park. The water here was turned off. The trail loses considerable elevation to cross Redwood Creek, then climbs again into Anthony Chabot park. Passing close to Bort Campground (but not to, the maps are incorrect for the current alignment), the trail follows the creek and then gradually climbs to the ridge north of Chabot before descending to Chabot Staging Area, which is the EBMUD trailhead.

The Ridge Trail then ascends the ridge and then descends again to Cull Canyon recreation area, where there is usually water, but it was off. Following some streets and trail segments, the trail crosses Castro Valley Blvd and goes under I-580 (or you can follow Five Canyons Parkway, which is not a pleasant walk but saves distance and elevation loss).

From the Five Canyons trailhead, the trail climbs steeply to the ridgeline and wander along with good views and a lot of cows. PG&E is doing vegetation clearing in the area and has made a dust bowl of the fire road. They probably won’t fix it when they are done. The trail descends into Palomares Creek, dry this time of year, and then climbs the ridge again to Stonebrae Country Club. A ways south on the ridge, the trail starts its long descent. You can either go out to Dry Creek trailhead at May Rd, or out through Garin Park, which is nice but longer. Regular transit runs along Mission Blvd, a short walk from Dry Creek or longer walk from Garin. This entire section of the trail is dry, which is strange, since it passes five huge water tanks and goes through Stonebrae, which is an island of emerald green fairways on the otherwise dry ridge.

The trail will eventually stay on the ridge to the south and descend into Niles Canyon, instead of going out at Dry Creek, but that segment is not completed yet.

This section of the trail is the second longest of the entire trail, so makes some wonderful hiking. There is one backcountry camp, in Sibley Volcanic, but it is not at a location that makes sense for walking the trail. There are other backcountry camps on the planning horizon, but none under construction.

I took transit to San Francisco, and spent a day there, for the enjoyment and to give my feet a rest. I visited one of my San Francisco favorites, the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, swam a bit at Baker Beach, walked Lands End, and of course went to Acme Bread in the Ferry Building.

Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco

Then I headed back out on the American Discovery Trail section CA-08, from San Francisco to Pleasant Hill. The route includes the ferry ride from the Ferry Building in San Francisco to Oakland Jack London, and then streets from there to UC Berkeley. I skipped the street walking this time to be nice to my feet, took transit, and picked up again at College Ave and Bancroft Way, where the route goes up Strawberry Canyon and the Jackson fire road to the crest. From here is follows the same route as the Bay Area Ridge Trail though Tilden Park, but descends from Inspiration Point to San Pablo Creek. On EBMUD lands, it parallels and then crosses the creek and goes around the east side of Briones Reservoir to Bear Creek Staging Area. Where the water was again turned off. From Bear Creek, the trial climbs to Lafayette Ridge and follows it down to Pleasant Hill Blvd, then up through Acalanes and down through the north end of Walnut Creek to where it meets the Contra Costa Canal trail. The trail along Lafayette Ridge is a roller coaster, up and down over enumerable hills, not a fun hike, but the views and vegetation are great.

ADT Trail on Lafayette Ridge

The ADT heads east southeast from here and up over the shoulder of Mt. Diablo, but my feet had had enough so I walked out the the Pleasant Hill BART station, took the bus to Martinez, had a beer at Del Cielo, and caught the Capitol Corridor home to Sacramento.

Photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157716598013768; Bay Area Ridge Trail collection on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/collections/72157708271186714/

ADT8: Walnut Creek to San Francisco 2014-11

buckeye nuts
buckeye nuts

I repeated the American Discovery Trail section 8 from Walnut Creek to San Francisco, this time successfully creating a GPS track, though the track was just an excuse to get out on the trail again. I love this ADT section for its combination of fairly remote backcountry with an urban experience. This is my third time. After my first trip in January 2014, I re-walked it in March 2014 in an attempt to create a track, but messed it up. And forgot my journal, which is largely why I never did a post on that trip. But the photos are good!

I started after a Sunday evening circle dance in El Cerrito, then BART to Pleasant Hill, and then walked for about two hours to Lafayette Ridge, arriving about 2:00AM. I camped under a spreading oak, and sunrise came soon. Monday I continued the route through Briones Regional Park, the EBMUD Briones watershed, and Tilden Regional Park. It is hard to say whether this year is drier or wetter than last year. There are wet areas, mostly in the canyon bottoms, and a little furze of green growth coming up, but the hillsides are largely still brown and waiting for rain. Fall is well along, with some fall color still present and some leaves gone entirely. Since I was hiking on a weekday, I saw very few people on the trail, three before Tilden and only about 15 within Tilden, very much different from my prior weekend trips where I passed many people and Tilden was crowded with hikers.

Continue reading “ADT8: Walnut Creek to San Francisco 2014-11”

ADT8: Walnut Creek to San Francisco 2014-01

sign post for ADT and others
sign post for ADT and others

This last weekend I completed another of the American Discovery Trail (ADT) segments, this one from Walnut Creek to San Francisco, which is segment 8 of California, leaving just segment 7 for me to complete. I took Amtrak to Richmond, and then BART to the Pleasant Hill station in Walnut Creek.

I walked to the beginning of this segment, mile 0 at Heather Farm Park, just so that I could get an accurate GPS track from the beginning to end of this segment, and then… I forget to turn on the GPS app on my iPad. So I have no track to contribute, but do have some guidance. It is hard to do any of these segments without reference to both the ADT Data Book, and a GPS unit with mapping. A number of times I could not have determined which way the trail went except by looking the the waypoint beyond the trail current trail junction. As it was, I got lost late in the day on Saturday, missing the trail that continues along Lafayette Ridge and dropping into town, from where I had to reorient and then climb the 1000 feet back up to the ridge. I was more careful after that. It is a situation where having a GPS track in hand could really help, but then, that is what I didn’t accomplish. Maybe next time!

Continue reading “ADT8: Walnut Creek to San Francisco 2014-01”