Navigating the Carquinez Bridge on the Ridge Trail

May 1, 2021 – The Bay Area Ridge Trail crosses the Carquinez Strait at Crockett on the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge. The hike across the suspension bridge with its sweeping view of San Pablo Bay is anchored by the California State University Maritime Academy to the north of the span and downtown Crockett to the south. Find the trail map here.

We are hiking the 390-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Dawn’s Journal

One thing to remember about the Bay Area Ridge Trail is that there are a variety of connector sections that link the more spectacular nature experiences. Some of these connector sections are bridges. This particular section is also an interstate highway. I approached the day with lowered adjusted expectations, and found a couple of fun surprises.

I’m not going to lie, the Carquinez Bridge does not even pretend to be a tourist destination and the views are not especially remarkable. The route starts in the town of Crockett. I heartily wished the local tavern, Club Tac, had been open. Dating from the prohibition era, it looked like a comfortable local hangout. We have a tradition of celebrating hike completions by finding a Pub At The End Of The Trail and toasting the hike. Covid has curtailed our Trail Pub tradition for the moment, but I hope that Club Tac will be waiting for us when things get back to normal.

The bridge walkway itself has all the charm you would expect from a freeway. Views of the San Pablo Bay improved the walk a little bit and the large Cal Maritime Academy research vessel docked at the Vallejo side of the bridge had us googling the school. We also found a plaque dedicating the bridge to an iron worker (Alfred Zampa) who helped build it and its predecessor. This was a heartwarming little surprise that make the trail more memorable.

Dan’s Journal

This pretty little suspension bridge and its cantilevered sister catch my attention every time we travel east of the Bay Area on Interstate 80. I enjoy catching a glimpse of the 115-year-old C&H Sugar refinery from the older eastbound bridge on the way out and the brief view of the bay from the westbound Alfred Zampa span on the back.

When we discovered the bridge also serves as a connector for the Bay Area Ridge Trail, I thought walking the bridge might be kind of fun. It wasn’t. The trek is windy and noisy; the view of the sugar refinery is obstructed by the old bridge; and, upon closer inspection, the view of the bay is a yawner. At least we didn’t have to pay a toll.

The highlight was reading the plaque dedicated to Alfred Zampa, the iron-worker for whom the suspension span is named and a charter member of the Golden Gate Bridge Half Way to Hell Club. Zampa worked on the original Carquinez Bridge, which opened in 1927, and the existing cantilevered model, which opened in 1958. He attended the ground-breaking of the suspension bridge in 2000. The symmetry is sweet.

The Ridge Trail crosses the Carquinez Strait at Crockett on the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge. Dan Page/CoastsideSlacking

Miles we hiked

0

(with returns and connectors)

Elevation gain

0

(feet)

Duration

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(hours)

Our Progress Hiking the Bay Area Ridge Trail – 27 out of 390 miles

6.9%

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