ADT-CA-8 2021-05

It is dry out there! Poison oak is turning fall colors, at least two months early, California Bay Laurel trees (non-deciduous) are losing a lot of leaves, live oak leaves are browning around the edges, almost all flowers except poppies, monkeyflower, and non-natives are past, the grass is crispy. Except for canyons and seep areas where there is still some moisture left, and things look more like spring. The photo below is ironic, fog over the ridges creating fog capture droplets, as every place else is dry, dry, dry.

fog along Skyview Trail, also ADT

The next segment of the American Discovery Trail. As always, access by transit, in this case Capitol Corridor to Martinez, and County Connection 316 to Pleasant Hill BART station, and then a short walk back to the Contra Costa Canal Trail where I left off the last trip (ADT-CA-7 2021-05). I arrived early afternoon, intending on not hiking far that day, but sometimes the feet get to moving, and I went all the way to San Pablo Creek area.

I grabbed water at Larkey Park, the last source before Bear Creek Staging Area in Briones Regional Park. The Lafayette Ridge Trail in Briones Regional Park is one of my favorites, for the views, not the trail itself which is a fire road and utility road that humps up over every hill and then descends, again and again. But what views!

I continued through the EBMUD East Bay watershed to San Pablo Creek, which is the next source of water. The creek is somewhat unnatural, in that it carries some Mokelumne River water through the plumbing system of EBMUD.

The next day up the Inspiration Trail to Inspiration Point, and then south along the Skyview Trail in Tilden Regional Park. The ADT has been rerouted here, north of the earlier way, and I missed the turn for that. The ADT and Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail are coincident from Walnut Creek to Inspiration Point, and some though not all of the trail has new ADT and MCCT trail markers. Where the ADT markers are missing, the MCCT markers guide the way. The ridge in Tilden had fog blowing across it all morning long, giving a completely different feel to the trip.

The trail then descends Strawberrry Canyon through the UC Berkeley campus. I had tea at the corner of Bancroft and College, where the ADT becomes an urban trail. In keeping with the urban nature, I rented a Bay Wheels bikeshare to ride College and Broadway into Oakland. Making the best of that, I stopped for beer at Temescal Brewing and again at the Modern Times taproom before continuing around Lake Merced and to Jack London Square. The ferry to San Francisco, which is officially part of the ADT, does not run at all on weekends under the pandemic schedule, so I could not complete the trail to San Francisco and the bridge.

I’ll pick up this section when the weekend ferry is running again, or be there on a weekday. I’m also awaiting the reopening of the Coastal Trail in Point Reyes National Seashore so that I can complete segment 9 to the ocean. It was closed by the Woodward Fire in August 2020.

And home on the Capitol Corridor from Oakland Jack London.

Photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157719323240500

ADT collection on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/collections/72157637788624964/

Other ADT blog posts: https://allisondan.wordpress.com/category/backpacking-hiking/american-discovery-trail/

ADT-CA-7 2021-05

Last weekend I did segment 7 of the American Discovery Trail from Antioch to Walnut Creek. I’ve done parts of this trip a number of times (Berkeley to Clayton backpack, and others), but the only whole trip I’ve done was in 2014 (ADT7: Antioch to Walnut Creek 2014-01).

As always, my access was by train and transit. Capitol Corridor from Sacramento to Martinez, then San Joaquins from Martinez to Antioch. The schedule doesn’t really work, but it gave me plenty of time in Martinez to walk over to El Cielo Brewing to have a beer. On the way back, Pleasant Hill BART to Richmond BART, and then Capitol Corridor back to Sacramento. It is a short 0.3 mile walk from the ADT to Pleasant Hill BART. The walk from the Antioch Amtrak station to the trail is longer, about 3 miles, but if I’d used BART instead to Antioch, it would have been a shorter 2.5 miles.

The segment starts on the far shore of the Contra Loma Reservoir. No idea why, it should start at where it the ADT leaves the Contra Costa Canal Trail/Delta De Anza Trail and heads south into Antioch Community Park. The trail then winds up into the hills of Black Diamond Mines preserve, using ranch/fire roads. It climbs way up, with good views. I camped on the ridge, and didn’t sleep much at all for the howling wind all night. The trail then descends to the Somersville townsite, one of the early mining towns, and then climbs again to high ridges with fewer views, and then a long descent into the town of Clayton. Clayton has a coffee shop, a convenience store, a few restaurants, and a nice park. The is the old part of Clayton, a real town, not the new part of Clayton which is just an exurb of Concord.

hills and oaks of Black Diamond Mines preserve

From Clayton the trail along a wash and across the fan heads into Mitchell Canyon and then begins the long climb to Mount Diablo. The Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail, which is mostly coincident with the ADT, deviates here to go up Donner Creek, east of Mitchell Canyon, and then rejoins past Deer Flat. The trail up Mitchell is gradual until it heads up steeply through switchbacks to reach Deer Flat. Deer Flat once had developed water, but not in years, and Mitchell Canyon had only a trickle for a short distance. The route then circles to the east before climbing very steeply up to Prospectors Gap. There is a spring off the trail, on Donner Creek, but I forgot to look to see if it had water this year. The plumes of clematis seeds decorate much of the other vegetation all the way up the trail. The trail/road then heads around the east and south side of Mount Diablo. The official ADT route did not formerly go to the top of the peak, but apparently it now does, but I skipped it for being late in the day and very windy.

clematis seed plumes

From the peak, or where the ADT meets the road to the peak, the Summit Trail and ADT route heads down the south slope of Mount Diablo, zig-zagging close to and then away from the road. The park has turned off nearly all water sources, even in the campgrounds, and the only sources I could find were hidden away from the public. This is a reasonable response to the drought, I guess, but sure makes it hard on long distance hikers.

During the night the fog came in heavy, and in the morning all the isolated trees had circles of wet ground around them, water that is captured from the fog and then drops to the ground. It either doesn’t happen in forested areas, or if it does, is not as obvious, but for isolated trees in the woodlands, it must really make a difference.

fog droplets on grey pine needles

The next day I followed the route out Wall Point Road through the park, and then regional park, and then city park, then the edge of Walnut Creek, all the way to Heather Farm Park. There is a lot of cattle grazing on these lands, useful to keep the vegetation down that would carry fire, but really there wasn’t much left to eat, and I think the cows should be off by now in a dry year. There were also a lot of people out hiking and bicycling! This is a popular trail for people in the Walnut Creek area, and perhaps beyond. The park is the first place with water available in quite some miles.

ADT segment 7 ends at the bottom of Heather Farm where the trail meets the Contra Costa Canal Trail. Segment 8 heads west along the canal. I think the break point of the two segments should actually be where the Contra Costa Canal Trail crosses the Iron Horse Trail. At that point, it is 0.3 miles north to Pleasant Hill BART station with BART and buses, or about 2 miles south to Walnut Creek BART station with BART and more buses. I realize many people dayhiking on the ADT just drive to trailheads, but the long distance hikers need transit access points and stores for resupply. I went to Pleasant Hill BART, took BART to Richmond, and home on the Capitol Corridor.

Photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157719235713289

ADT collection on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/collections/72157637788624964/

Other ADT blog posts: https://allisondan.wordpress.com/category/backpacking-hiking/american-discovery-trail/

I have been working on creating routes, traced on the trails in GaiaGPS, for the California segments. I am not making any claim that these always reflect the current route, nor match on-the-ground signing, but you may find them useful. I just purchased the 2018-04 version of the ADT California tracks and waypoints, and will be checking them against these routes over time.

ADT-CA-1: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/route/9ceb43ee-2915-420d-9c80-57de46102477/

ADT-CA-2: not completed

ADT-CA-3: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/route/2a7cbb45-1031-4df1-a5a8-d8a3dd6c4212/

ADT-CA-4: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/route/e75135ac-d79b-4762-b6fc-da5a6a994acd/

ADT-CA-5: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/route/b38deb6c-f511-4874-bc29-e4ef55801258/

ADT-CA-6: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/route/010f9b3f-6613-428b-997f-b589790b396a/

ADT-CA-7: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/route/9d43af35-dc9b-4ca4-99e0-acb7a81e9897/

ADT-CA-8: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/route/effe8e4b-2e40-412d-92b2-74cc387d9846/

ADT-CA-9: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/route/25b7ca99-66fe-42d0-acd6-f40e545b7a9e/

oaks in Black Diamond

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”

ADT7: Antioch to Walnut Creek 2014-01

Buckeye leafing out
Buckeye leafing out

This weekend I completed the Antioch to Walnut Creek segment of the American Discovery Trail, up and over Mount Diablo. This is the last of the California segments for me, so I’ve now walked across California. Though the ADT materials and I use the word “trail,” much of this route is actually fire and farm roads. These are still pleasant to walk, and there are some stretches of real trail interspersed.

I started out in Antioch, getting there on Amtrak and BART and TriDelta bus. The official start of the segment is up in Contra Loma Regional Park, but I’d finished segment 6 in Antioch Community Park, closer to public transit, so that is where I started again. The trail soon enters Black Diamond Mines Regional Park (East Bay Regional Park District) and heads up into the dry brown hills and eventually to the old town of Somersville. Scattered oaks and cows mark the hills, but gradually thicken to oak woodlands and chaparral. Some buckeyes are leafing out, and there is a bit of green grass in a few wetter areas, but mostly it looks like the end of summer, no new growth of winter or spring.

Continue reading “ADT7: Antioch to Walnut Creek 2014-01”

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”