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.

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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.

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The Presidio to Mt. Tamalpais on The Ridge Trail

The Bay Area Ridge Trail from the Presidio in San Francisco to Bolinas Ridge includes fog-shrouded cityscapes, windswept passes, Tennessee Valley vistas, shady redwood groves and grassy hillsides baking in the sun. It crosses the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands and Mount Tamalpais. We spread the eclectic journey across three days.

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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.

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Summer on the Ridge Trail from Saratoga Gap to Russian Ridge

The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Saratoga Gap, Skyline Ridge and Russian Ridge undulates through shady oak and bay laurel woodlands and exposed grasslands. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space preserves include classic views of the layered interior of the Santa Cruz Mountains and glimpses of San Francisco Bay.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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Almond Ranch Fills Ridge Trail Gap at Franklin Ridge

MAY 21, 2021 – The hike out Contra Costa Feeder Trail No. 1 on the Bay Area Ridge Trail includes a peaceful canyon hike to a dead end before boomeranging back across the grassy Franklin Ridge Ranches to the stunning oak-studded hillsides of Mount Wanda at the John Muir National Historic Site. The trail connecting the ranches to the historic site opened only last year, when the John Muir Land Trust purchased neighboring Almond Ranch. Find a trail map here.

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Fog to Forest in the Berkeley Hills on the Ridge Trail

MAY 15, 2021 – The Ridge Trail from Tilden Regional Park to Redwood Regional Park begins with magnificent views – unless it’s foggy – in the hills above Berkeley and Oakland before dipping into the grassy Siesta Valley and weaving through poison oak-laden woods at Sibley Volcanic and Huckleberry Botanic regional preserves. Find a trail map here.

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FOMO Powers Dinosaur Ridge Ascent on the Ridge Trail

MAY 5, 2021 – The trail through East Bay Municipal Utility District property north of Castro Valley and Cull Canyon Regional Recreation Area begins with a walk in the woods before ascending with increasing intensity, rising nearly 500 feet in less than half a mile below Dinosaur Ridge. The trail descends from the peak back into woods above Cull Creek, undulating intensely at times along the steep hillside. Find the trail map here.

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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.

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The Ridge Trail Kicks Our Butts in the Pinole Valley

APRIL 28, 2021 – The trail across the Pinole Valley Watershed from Pereira Creek to Sobrante Ridge undulates steeply through mostly shadeless grasslands. Our side trip through Fernandez Ranch included some welcome shade and a picnic area. We were too exhausted to tackle the Sobrante Ridge Trail, as planned, but returned three days later to enjoy the woods and view of San Pablo Bay.

  • Pinole Valley Watershed trail map here
  • Pinole Valley Watershed West and Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve trail map here
  • Fernandez Ranch trail map here

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Crockett Hills on the Bay Area Ridge Trail

APRIL 21, 2021 – Crockett Hills Regional Park rises into the hills southwest of the confluence of the Napa River and Carquinez Strait at San Pablo Bay. The park features stands of bay laurel and oak amid rolling grasslands with views of Mount Tamalpais, the Phillips 66 San Francisco refinery and the twin bridges that carry Interstate 80 across the strait at Crockett. Watch out for scary tall poison oak. Find the trail map here.

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Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve on the Bay Area Ridge Trail

APRIL 17, 2021 — Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve on The Coastside of the Santa Cruz Mountains features a second-growth redwood forest and ridgeline trails with views of the forest canopy and the Pacific Ocean. This segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail includes portions of the Purisima Creek, Craig Britton and Harkins Ridge trails. Find the trail map here.

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