A Toe-Stubber at San Geronimo Ridge on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail from White Hill Preserve to Samuel P. Taylor State Park travels southwest from Castro Valley up a moderate grade through grassy meadows and groves of mixed trees. The trail flattens out at the Gary Giacomini Preserve and becomes incredibly rocky as it reaches stands of pygmy cypress that grow in the thin serpentine soil along San Geronimo Ridge. The rocky surface finally yields as the trail drops steeply into a canyon filled with ferns and redwoods before leveling off at the state park, paralleling San Geronimo Creek for the final two miles.

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TRAIL MAP (date hiked)

Our Journal

This segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail is more about trail surface through a diverse array of terrains than the views.

The wide and sometimes steep fire road across San Geronimo Ridge is paved with a toe-stubbing, ankle-twisting, tendon-popping jumble of rocks the size of knuckles, fists, heads and torsos. Not even the trees grow right on this rocky ridgeline. The stunted stands of cypress clinging to the shallow soil were fascinating.

The ridgeline’s trail surface contrasts sharply with the flinty-slick pebbled road to the east at White Hill Preserve and the soft, loamy forest floor we found beneath the redwoods at Samuel P. Taylor State Park to the west.

Fortunately, we emerged with our toes, ankles and tendons intact. No scrambling required. But this is one Ridge Trail segment where proper footwear comes into play. At least we had no problem finding a comfortable rock to sit on while we enjoyed our lunch.

Note: We walked the two-mile foot path along San Geronimo Creek the week before hiking the remainder of this segment in order to break up what looked like an extra tough hike. It wasn’t necessary, though we’re pretty sure our decision to hike the primary trail from east to west made for an easier outing.

Miles we hiked


(with returns and connectors)

Elevation gain






Our Progress Hiking the Bay Area Ridge Trail – 245 out of 400 miles


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One thought on “A Toe-Stubber at San Geronimo Ridge on the Ridge Trail

  1. note: the dwarf cypresses at san geronimo ridge are C. sargentii, not C. pigmaea as the thing says
    though nice to finally have a good photo of that dwarf cypress woodland(?)

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