I took advantage of an afternoon seminar in Berkeley to hike another section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail in the East Bay hills, this time in the Oakland – San Leandro area. I decided to approach the trailhead from the south, taking Redwood Road north from I-580 in Castro Valley. This resulted in a beautiful drive for about 6 miles along the eastern edge of Anthony Chabot Regional Park before arriving at the Bort Meadow Staging Area trailhead. Due to the local microclimate there is often some residual overnight fog in the morning, and I found that the skies cleared up as my hike progressed.
The first part of the hike goes northwest along the MacDonald Trail to the MacDonald Staging Area on Redwood Road near the confluence of two small streams. Along the way the trail presents many views of row after row of the hills that separate the San Francisco Bay from the San Ramon Valley through which I-680 passes.
The trail continues around kind of a wavy loop on the Big Bear Trail before crossing Redwood Road into Redwood Regional Park. The Golden Spike Trail goes up the ridge to the West Ridge Trail, which again goes northwest generally along the line of the folds of hills. Here and there are stands of eucalyptus trees.
There are several side trails that lead down canyons toward the Bay, interspersed with peeks through the trees of the Bay and Peninsula.
Due to time constraints I turned around near one of the side trails. When I need to turn around at an intermediate place that isn’t a well-signed intersection, I load a waypoint into my GPS so that I can find the same location on a later hike coming from the opposite direction.
On the north-bound leg of the hike I had followed the Big Bear and Golden Spike Trails, which are for hikers and equestrians. On the return trip I decided to follow the designated mountain bike route. I figured that it would be a little more level and therefore a bit quicker. As it turns out, I think I opted not to take the correct trail to get to a short-cut way to cross Redwood Creek at the Fishway Interpretive Site. Instead I continued farther than necessary along the Bridle Trail before I found a good way to cross the creek on a bridge. This probably added a half mile to my return trip. The outbound and return paths are illustrated on my GPS track.
My return path is shown in blue, and the outbound path is yellow; where there is overlap, the yellow is hiding under the blue. Coming back along Redwood Road, I also got a little confused about where to find the trail at the MacDonald Staging Area and ended up continuing to the Big Bear Staging Area nearby before returning to find the correct trail. The map and GPS were helpful in sorting out where I needed to go. Later I obtained paper maps published by the East Bay Regional Park District and they were also very helpful.
Along the Bridle Trail I passed among some beautiful redwood trees.
The stature of the trees is magnified by looking up along one of the trunks. I feel blessed to live within an hour’s drive of many beautiful hiking trails.