Madrone and Manzanita at Indian Tree Preserve on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Novato climbs south from the Vineyard Road trailhead through Indian Tree Preserve until it ends abruptly at a hillside trail junction. The forested segment is most notable for its many stands of madrone trees and manzanita bushes. Traveling north from Vineyard Road, the Ridge Trail passes through the Verissimo Hills and Little Mountain preserves to Novato’s O’Hair Park, with views of Stafford Lake, the Indian Valley Golf Club and the back yards of homes adjacent to the trail.

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

Continue reading “Madrone and Manzanita at Indian Tree Preserve on the Ridge Trail”

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.

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

Continue reading “A Toe-Stubber at San Geronimo Ridge on the Ridge Trail”
View of San Francisco, Loma Alta Open Space Preserve

Paying it Forward at Loma Alta on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail through Loma Alta Open Space Preserve climbs two miles and 1,000 feet up to a grassy hilltop before descending a similar number of miles and feet to the opposite trail head. On a clear day, the view from the peak includes San Pablo Bay, Mount Diablo and the San Francisco skyline.

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

Continue reading “Paying it Forward at Loma Alta on the Ridge Trail”
San Francisco Skyline, from Lucas Valley Open Space

Hiking Magic above Skywalker Ranch on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Lucas Valley Open Space Preserve involves a moderate climb past Skywalker Ranch to Big Rock Ridge. The ridge tops out at 1,800-feet, Marin County’s second-highest peak. The trail is mostly open but includes a woodland or two. On a clear day high on the trail, hikers can see the San Francisco skyline roughly 25 miles to the southeast. Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm post-production unit, is based at the ranch southwest of the ridge.

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

Continue reading “Hiking Magic above Skywalker Ranch on the Ridge Trail”
Bolinas Ridge

Atop Bolinas Ridge on the Bay Area Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Bolinas Ridge begins in a shady hilltop forest and ends in a canyon filled with redwoods at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. A plateau of grassy pastureland with views of the Point Reyes Peninsula and Tomales Bay lies in between. The trail undulates gently for the first five miles before gradually descending into the state park.

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

Continue reading “Atop Bolinas Ridge on the Bay Area Ridge Trail”
Castle Rock State Park

Casual Hiking at Castle Rock on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail gently dips and rises through a shady mixed-growth forest and sandstone outcroppings at Sanborn County Park and Castle Rock State Park. The well-used path roughly parallels Skyline Drive along the eastern ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains above the Silicon Valley.

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

Continue reading “Casual Hiking at Castle Rock on the Ridge Trail”

A Hillside Ridge Trail Hike above Saratoga

The Bay Area Ridge Trail follows the path of the John Nicholas Trail at Sanborn County Park. The wooded trail on a hillside above Saratoga drops 1,200 feet from Skyline Drive to Lake Ranch Reservoir. The Ridge Trail portion of the route ends at the reservoir. The nicely crafted footpath opened in 2014. It still holds a hint of new trail smell.

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

Continue reading “A Hillside Ridge Trail Hike above Saratoga”

Trouble in Napa’s Palisades on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park traverses rugged volcanic terrain as it travels southeast from the Mount St. Helena Trailhead across the Table Rock, Palisades and Lower Oat Mine trails. Table Rock includes a pair of natural amphitheaters and a manmade labyrinth. The Palisades Trail runs along the edge of a ridgeline with an often steep slope to one side. From there, the rocky Lower Oat Mine Trail plunges downhill to the edge of Calistoga. This is a difficult trail. Only one of us completed it.

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

Continue reading “Trouble in Napa’s Palisades on the Ridge Trail”

San Jose to Morgan Hill via Coyote Creek on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail parallels more than 20 miles of riverbed on the Coyote Creek Parkway. The northern half of the flat, paved trail is a shady stretch of green that meanders through San Jose neighborhoods and local parks. The southern half begins at the wetlands adjacent to Metcalf Park before transforming into a more open and rural hike through riparian habitat between San Jose and Morgan Hill.

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

Continue reading “San Jose to Morgan Hill via Coyote Creek on the Ridge Trail”

Rain Greens Up the Ridge Trail at Garin Regional Park

The Bay Area Ridge Trail bobs and weaves through neighborhoods, past schools and beneath freeways on its 2.6-mile journey south from Cull Canyon Regional Recreation Area through Don Castro Regional Recreation Area to Five Canyons Parkway. The trail subsequently rises into the rolling hills above Hayward at Five Canyons Open Space and Garin Regional Park, crossing a golf course before ending abruptly seven miles later high on a ridge. The ensuing three-mile downhill serpentine on unaffiliated trails to the park entrance in Hayward includes nice views of San Francisco Bay and an optional scary steep final descent.

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

Continue reading “Rain Greens Up the Ridge Trail at Garin Regional Park”

Napa with a View Atop Mount Saint Helena on the Ridge Trail

The hike up Mount Saint Helena on the Bay Area Ridge Trail begins with a mile-long ascent on shaded, sometimes rocky switchbacks at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. The single-track trail connects to a broad fire road that winds the last four miles through the slowly healing burn scar left by the 2017 Tubbs Fire. The views of Northern California wine country from the 4,342-foot volcanic summit are magnificent. This hike marks the northern-most point of the Ridge Trail.

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

Continue reading “Napa with a View Atop Mount Saint Helena on the Ridge Trail”

Easy Ridge Trail Miles at Vargas Plateau

The short, disconnected segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail Trail at Vargas Plateau Regional Park rests in the hills above Fremont. The trail passes through open pastureland and features rugged stone outcroppings. It also features panoramic views of East Bay suburbs and hills, and the San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds.

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

Continue reading “Easy Ridge Trail Miles at Vargas Plateau”

City Streets And Twin Peaks on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail trail climbs north from the Pacific Ocean at Mussel Rock Park past rows of boxy Daly City homes before crossing into San Francisco at Lake Merced and proceeding to Stern Grove. The trail then moves northeast to Twin Peaks and Buena Vista Park before cutting back across The Panhandle and turning north to the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge. Highlights include a sampling of city neighborhoods and parks, and views of San Francisco and beyond from the 900-foot peaks.

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

Continue reading “City Streets And Twin Peaks on the Ridge Trail”

Hiking the Ridge Trail with Friends at Windy Hill

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve is an easy hike through the woods in the Santa Cruz Mountains above the Portola Valley. The trail breaks into open grassland shortly before reaching the 1,900-foot summit and its sweeping view of San Francisco Bay. Bring your friends.

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

Continue reading “Hiking the Ridge Trail with Friends at Windy Hill”

Urban Vistas & War Relics on the Ridge Trail at Pacifica

The Bay Area Ridge Trail traverses the northern tip of the Santa Cruz Mountains on Sweeney and Milagra ridges before descending to the ocean at Pacifica. Connected by Skyline College and the steep staircases that distinguish the mile-long Notch Trail, the two ridges include views of suburban San Mateo County, the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. Shade is sparse. Historic relics are not.

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

Continue reading “Urban Vistas & War Relics on the Ridge Trail at Pacifica”

A New Path at El Corte de Madera on the Ridge Trail

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.

Continue reading “A New Path at El Corte de Madera on the Ridge Trail”

Country Roads at Chabot Park on the Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Anthony Chabot Regional Park features a wide path winding through grassy meadows and eucalyptus groves, with views of San Francisco Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west. The final mile narrows to a single track as it winds down a hillside and into a canyon before paralleling Redwood Road. Find a trail map here.

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

Continue reading “Country Roads at Chabot Park on the Ridge Trail”

A Well-loved Path in Oakland’s Redwoods on the Ridge Trail

The Ridge Trail through Redwood Regional Park to the Bort Staging Area in Anthony Chabot Regional Park passes through the East Bay’s only redwood forest of consequence before descending sharply into a wooded canyon and rising again into hilltop meadows. The trail is wide and heavily used. Find a trail map here.

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

Continue reading “A Well-loved Path in Oakland’s Redwoods on the Ridge Trail”

Clouds Shroud Hike to Kennedy Grove on the Ridge Trail

JUNE 2, 2021 – The Ridge Trail from Inspiration Point at Tilden Regional Park to the Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area features views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate and Mount Tamalpais to the west, and views of the San Pablo Reservoir and Mount Diablo to the east – unless it’s foggy. In case of morning murk, expect a damp walk on a paved trail until you descend from San Pablo Ridge to Kennedy Grove, where you can dry out with a walk in the woods. Find a trail map here.

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

Continue reading “Clouds Shroud Hike to Kennedy Grove on the Ridge Trail”

Desolate Beauty above Martinez on the Ridge Trail

MAY 26, 2021 – The Ridge Trail crosses rolling pastureland atop the bluffs at the Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline, with views of the strait, Benicia-Martinez Bridge and city of Martinez. The trail then dips from the bluffs to city streets on the northwest end of town and tacks east to the 880-acre Martinez Refining Co. operation at the foot of the bridge.

Trail Maps:

  • Carquinez Strait National Shoreline (Hulet Hornbeck Trail) here.
  • Martinez City Streets here.

(Note: We had hiked Mount Wanda during our ramble across the Franklin Ridge Ranches earlier in the month. We deferred the walk across the Benicia-Martinez Bridge to another day.)

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

Continue reading “Desolate Beauty above Martinez on the Ridge Trail”