The Bay Area Ridge Trail from El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve to Huddart County Park tracks two very different primary trails. The Skyline Trail winds through a shady mixed forest to the east of the preserve, with a thick undergrowth of blackberry and poison oak. The well-groomed and much shorter Oljon Tail, which opened in 2019, rises and falls in the shade of second-growth redwoods. Find a trail map here.
We are hiking the 390-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.
- Oljon Trail: Aug. 5, 2021.
- Skyline Trail via Sierra Morena and Molder trails: July 15, 2021.
The Oljon Trail segment was a joy to hike. It’s well-groomed. It travels beneath the shade of redwood trees. It still has new trail smell! (Or, perhaps that was my newly laundered hiking hat.) The downside to the Oljon Trail? It is one of the few Ridge Trail segments with no car shuttle option. The round trip out and back is just 4 miles, however, with the option of returning via a more challenging loop.
The Skyline Trail segment, by comparison, was OK but didn’t have much unique to offer, by Santa Cruz Mountain standards. It also needed some grooming on the day we hiked it. A trail that’s knee deep in poison oak-laced blackberry tendrils is hard to love.
I also found the Oljon Trail to be a lovely walk in the woods. One nice thing about a younger redwood forest is the dappled sunlight that surprises you as the trail curves around a bend. We encountered riotous clumps of tiny redwoods that would some day fight each other to become that one tree that captured all the sunlight. The trail was so tidy that we wondered whether significant amounts of the normal forest undergrowth had been cleared as the trail was groomed.
By contrast the Skyline Trail is the neglected stepchild, slowly disappearing under the encroaching blackberry and poison oak. We saw no one on our hike but the frequent Skyline Blvd. traffic noise dissolved any illusion that we were in the wilderness.
Miles we hiked0
(with returns and connectors)
Our Progress Hiking the Bay Area Ridge Trail – 98.6 out of 390 miles25%