Bay Area Ridge Trail

Moody Oaks at Rockville Hills on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail climbs abruptly into Rockville Hills Regional Park into a woodland of gnarled blue oaks overlooking rugged bluffs of volcanic rock. The trail leaves the park just as abruptly, descending to the paved and landscaped Vintage Valley Trail as it passes through suburban Fairfield.

We are hiking the 405-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “Moody Oaks at Rockville Hills on the Ridge Trail”
Skyline Wilderness Park

Napa to Suscol Ridge via Skyline Wilderness on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Skyline Wilderness Park begins with a difficult one-mile climb through an oak-studded hillside with views of the city of Napa and neighboring vineyards. The trail continues along canyon highlands and above Lake Marie to Suscol Ridge. The view from the ridge includes vineyards, Suisin and San Pablo bays, the Carquinez Strait, and mountain peaks in all directions. On a clear day, we were told, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “Napa to Suscol Ridge via Skyline Wilderness on the Ridge Trail”
Vallejo-Benicia Buffer

A Tromp across the Vallejo Highlands on the Ridge Trail

This suburban segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail extends south from Blue Rock Springs Park to the Benicia State Recreation Area. After tracking two miles of Vallejo boulevards, the trail climbs into the undeveloped highlands along the border with Benicia. The dusty, shadeless highlands include extensive views of Vallejo and San Pablo Bay to the west, and the Carquinez Strait to the south. The trail begins with a short hike up the desolate hill above Blue Rock Springs Park to a dead end at a gap in the Ridge Trail.

We are hiking the 405-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “A Tromp across the Vallejo Highlands on the Ridge Trail”
Vallejo-Benicia Waterfront

Mimosas on the Ridge Trail at Benicia

The Bay Area Ridge Trail doesn’t offer many opportunities for a mid-hike mimosa. We found one at mile eight of the Vallejo-Benicia Waterfront hike along the Carquinez Strait. If we’d hiked in the opposite direction, we might not have finished. We found no mimosas when we returned six weeks later to cross the strait on the Benicia-Martinez Bridge.

We are hiking the 405-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “Mimosas on the Ridge Trail at Benicia”

Lighthouse Tales from the Washington Shoreline

No one told us that chasing lighthouses would be this hard. And fun.

We came to Washington to do some hiking and see a few sites in Seattle. A docent at the Admirality Point Lighthouse suggested we check out a few lighthouses along the way. The same docent sold us a “passport” to have stamped at each location, plus a selection of related maps. He might have sold us the Tacoma Narrows Bridge if we had stayed much longer.

And so we committed to a lighthouse odyssey. We traveled by automobile, ferry and foot. We peered through fog and past no trespassing signs. We drove to the extreme northwest corner of the contiguous United States and through the streets of Seattle. We hiked five miles to the end of a spit of sand. And back.

A handful of the light stations were resplendent with renovations, boasting docents and giftshops. Nearly all of them were still operational, but many needed a coat of paint. One had moved from the coast to town decades ago and survives as a home on a quiet street. Most did not have a stamp for our passport. Alas.

But we tracked down 15 lighthouses, or their remnants, and had a great time doing it. Here’s where we visited:

Continue reading “Lighthouse Tales from the Washington Shoreline”
Lassen Volcanic National Park

A Hike to Lassen’s Bumpass Hell … and Back

The trail to Bumpass Hell at Lassen Volcanic National Park gently rises along a lightly wooded ridge with views of Lassen and other iconic peaks before plunging into a steaming geologic cauldron. Acidic water boils. Mud belches. The stench of sulfur hangs in the air. We brought the grandsons.

Bumpass Hell (Aug. 5, 2022) – 2.7 miles

Continue reading “A Hike to Lassen’s Bumpass Hell … and Back”
Rocky Mountain National Park

Fall Color on the Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park

Planning a fall color tour at Rocky Mountain National Park is an exercise in timing and luck. We started late, which added to the challenge. After consulting the online foliage forecasts, we chose the last week of September 2021 for our visit. With Labor Day already past, we scrambled to snap up one of the last remaining rentals in Estes Park, made a set of suboptimal timed entry permits, and drove east via Southern Utah. We got lucky.

Continue reading “Fall Color on the Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park”
Bryce Canyon National Park

An Ice Cream Fever Dream on the Trail at Bryce Canyon

The Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park begins with a lengthy walk along the canyon rim overlooking the canyon’s fantastical limestone walls, curtains and columns. The trail offers a close-up view of the pastel-colored formations and desert scrub as it descends steeply into the canyon to Bryce Creek and back up to the rim.

Continue reading An Ice Cream Fever Dream on the Trail at Bryce Canyon
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

A Desert Waterfall on Calf Creek at Grand Staircase-Escalante

The sandy trail to Lower Calf Creek Falls at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument begins at a popular campground along Utah State Route 12. The first half of the trail winds up the side of the canyon above a reedy wetland. As the canyon narrows, Boxelder shade the trail as it moves closer to the creek bed and arrives at the falls.

Continue reading “A Desert Waterfall on Calf Creek at Grand Staircase-Escalante”

A Drive-by Visit to Zion National Park

We stopped at Zion National Park on a late September drive from San Francisco to Estes Park, CO. Unfortunately, we booked late and could not find a satisfactory hotel room within 50 miles of the park. Instead of back-country hiking, we settled for a drizzly stroll above Kolob Canyons and the scenic drive on Utah State Route 9.

Continue reading “A Drive-by Visit to Zion National Park”
Jack London State Historic Park

A Ridge Trail Floral Spectacle at Jack London State Historic Park

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Jack London State Historic Park begins with a two-mile hike up a connector trail. The connector traverses a wide service road that passes historic vineyards and buildings on parkland once owned by the early 20th century adventure author before climbing through a shady redwood forest. The actual Ridge Trail segment veers left up a forested single-track trail before breaking into open meadows with views of the mountains to the east.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “A Ridge Trail Floral Spectacle at Jack London State Historic Park”

Hiking the Burn Scar at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park parallels Ritchey Creek as it ascends steadily through the shade of mixed woodlands and redwood groves. The park’s redwoods – an unusual feature this far inland – and much of the forest in the upper elevations of the park was heavily damaged by the Glass Fire in October 2020. Watch out for poison oak.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “Hiking the Burn Scar at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park”
Moore Creek Park

A Wine Country Canyon at Moore Creek on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Moore Creek Park in Napa County ascends steadily up to a ridgeline through a rich mixed woodland and onto a grassy hillside with views of the multi-hued canyon canopy below and mountains to the west. At roughly the half way point, the trail drops steeply to the creek, where the footpath makes five water crossings as it rises and falls through the woods. The Ridge Trail segment ends at a rocky wide spot in the creek that’s perfect for a Wine Country picnic.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “A Wine Country Canyon at Moore Creek on the Ridge Trail”

Vista Angst at Pacific Union College on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail passes through the Pacific Union College Demonstration Forest at Angwin. The trail drops gently along an unpaved service road through a heavily thinned woodland for 1.5 miles before dipping sharply down a footpath that winds along a hillside. The trail offers tantalizing glimpses of an unrealized view.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “Vista Angst at Pacific Union College on the Ridge Trail”
Lynch Canyon Open Space

Cranky Cattle in the Mist above Lynch Canyon on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Lynch Canyon Open Space Park begins on a farm road along Lynch Creek before climbing through oak-studded pastures to rocky hilltops with views of the Napa Sonoma Marsh, San Pablo Bay, Mount Tamalpais and Mount Diablo. Benches and picnic tables are placed at regular intervals along the trail. Morning fog obscured the views on the day we hiked.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “Cranky Cattle in the Mist above Lynch Canyon on the Ridge Trail”

Ridge Trail by Reservation at San Francisco Peninsula Watershed

The Bay Area Ridge Trail crosses the San Francisco Peninsula Watershed on the Fifield-Cahill Trail between locked gates at Sweeney Ridge and Skylawn Memorial Park. A short section also passes through the cemetery itself. Entering from Sweeny Ridge, the watershed trail undulates past coastal chaparral with views of The Peninsula, San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean before reaching a forest of Douglas fir. The watershed includes three reservoirs: San Andreas Lake, Crystal Springs and Pilarcitos.

Watershed hikes and bicycle rides require reservations with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and are led by volunteer trail leaders. Book a reservation here.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “Ridge Trail by Reservation at San Francisco Peninsula Watershed”
Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve

A Cobblestone Legacy at Mount Burdell on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve rises steadily from San Marin High School in Novato through bucolic cow pastures and past giant oak trees. About a mile from the peak, the trail levels off with a sweeping view of the preserve and surrounding mountains before rising steeply on the aptly named Cobblestone Trail to the summit. Stone walls at the apex were built by Chinese immigrants who quarried cobblestones used to pave the streets of San Francisco in the late 19th century.

We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.

Continue reading “A Cobblestone Legacy at Mount Burdell on the Ridge Trail”