This short hike was a second hike on my way from the Lake Tahoe Area to the San Francisco Bay Area. The first hike of the afternoon was at nearby Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve, and from there it was a 10-11 mile drive along pleasant back roads to the southern outskirts of Martinez, where the John Muir National Historic Site is located. The NHS is run by the National Park Service and includes the home where John Muir lived and raised his family as well as the adjacent Mount Wanda area. A segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail starts across CA-4 from the homestead and goes just over the top of Mount Wanda.
In the Mount Wanda area there are 2 peaks, Mt Wanda and Mt Helen, named for Muir’s daughters, with whom it is said he walked the hills for relaxation. Though the climb is relatively steep, about 500 feet in 0.8 mile, the views from the top are well worth the effort.
I want to note that different sources label the two hilltops differently: some label the hill over which the main Bay Area Ridge Trail passes Mount Wanda, and some label it Mount Helen. Since there is an official NHS sign at the far/upper end of the trail on the hill to the west, I’d assumed that that hill was Mt Wanda, as indicated on AAA maps and my GPS mapping software.
However, the trail map on the Bay Area Ridge Trail web site and Google Maps name the eastern hill Mt Wanda. In any case, I hiked to the end of the Bay Area Ridge Trail segment and, on my return trip, went over to the other hilltop. In John Muir’s time perhaps the only portion of the view that was essentially the same as today was toward Mt Diablo, whose top was hiding in a cloud following a rain storm earlier in the afternoon.
Almost due north is the George Miller Jr Bridge, which carries I-680 across the Carquinez Strait.
To the northeast a wind farm can be seen in the distance, the Shiloh Wind Farm in southern Solano County. I saw what I presume to be the same wind farm last year while hiking the Hiddenbrooke Trail, which is about 12 miles north of Mt Wanda as the crow files.
This short hike provides a quick escape from the town bustle below, as well as wonderful views of the surrounding areas. It seems fitting that this portion of the Muir landholdings has been set aside to honor the father of the National Parks system and co-founder of the Sierra Club.