This post actually covers 2 hikes, done on different days, that combine to make up the western portion of the Bay Area Ridge Trail segment along the Benicia waterfront west from Benicia State Recreation Area to an overlook near the Carquinez Bridge. I originally intended to do this entire hike in one day, but wasn’t able to finish.
The first part started at the Benicia State Recreation Area entrance, curved around Southampton Bay to Dillon Point, and continued along the shoreline to Glen Cove Waterfront Park, a small neighborhood park just to the west of Benicia SRA. This section was about 7 miles long (out and back) and included about 350 feet of elevation gain and loss.
The Ridge Trail curves around the Southampton Bay Wetland Natural Preserve on Dillon Point Road for about 1¼ mile. Shortly after leaving pavement for single-track trail (following the signage) there was a pretty view across Southampton Bay toward the eastern portion of the Benicia waterfront.
The Ridge Trail follows Benicia Bay Trail, which climbs about 125 feet to Dillon Point and overlooks the Carquinez Strait. From this higher vantage point, there was a nice view almost due north along a row of hills called Sulphur Springs Mountain. I think the hill in the left background in this picture is at the south end of Hiddenbrooke Trail.
Looking roughly southeast, directly along the Carquinez Strait, Mt Diablo loomed high over the industrial area of Martinez. Mt Diablo is about 20 miles away.
As the trail curves around the little peninsula containing Dillon Point, it descends about 25 feet and then climbs again to a vista point that looks across the strait toward Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline, on the Martinez side of the strait.
There are numerous locations along this section of trail with views of the Al Zampa Bridge, the newer portion of the Carquinez Bridge, over which I-80 crosses the Carquinez Strait. The bluff at the right end of the bridge is the end point for this Ridge Trail segment.
The trail descends, passing along a narrow open space area with a residential area just inland. At the eastern tip of the Recreation Area the Ridge Trail passes into Glen Cove Waterfront Park, a delightful neighborhood park. Here I explored a spur trail and then ended up returning to the trailhead, since I was running out of daylight. During my return trip an Amtrak train came through, tooting its horn, along the Martinez side of the strait.
I was reminded of an interesting phenomenon that occurs during out-and-back hikes: the views can be different on the return trip, because you are going the opposite direction. You can generally see those views on a one-way trip if you frequently turn around and look behind you, but that is hard to do and distracting. In any case, from the vista point near Dillon Point I could see the Benicia-Martinez Bridge across Point Benicia and the old, historic section of Benicia. The Benicia Bridge carries I-680 across the strait.
As I walked past the Southampton Bay Wetland Natural Preserve I heard and saw quite a few redwing blackbirds. They seemed to be particularly active and vocal in the late afternoon. Here is one that I managed to catch mid-vocalization, with its distinctive red epaulet fluffed out.
I returned several weeks later to complete my hike. This time I started at Glen Cove Waterfront Park and hiked to the bridge overlook, passing the Glen Cove Marina. This section was about 4 miles round trip, with about 500 feet of elevation gain and loss. Most of the climbing was from the marina up to the overlook.
The first ¾ mile or so was along S Regatta Dr and Glen Cove Pkwy, passing Glen Cove Park, and then down Glen Cove Marina Rd to Glen Cove Marina. As I approached the marina area I was surprised to find a large sign announcing the Glen Cove Marina Merlot Vineyard. But sure enough, there were a few rows of grape vines overlooking the marina proper.
I took a short detour to explore around the marina. Along the path there were several varieties of native flowers, including both orange and more unusual white poppies.
There was also an Anna’s hummingbird flitting about, visiting flowers, and pausing on small branches to sing its distinctive “rusty gate” song. After returning to the Ridge Trail route to cross the parking area, I continued along the trail that started to climb up the bluff. Looking back, there was a nice view of the boats docked at the marina.
I happened to notice that a power boat was about to leave the marina and motor into the strait. It was a pretty sight along the strait, with Dillon Point at the left and Mt Diablo in the background, peeking out from behind the Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline at the right.
After climbing the bluff there was a spectacular up-close view of the Carquinez Bridge, both old and new (Al Zampa) portions.
After enjoying the view I returned to Glen Cove Waterfront Park. This segment of the Ridge Trail is in a somewhat unusual location, with views of several other Ridge Trail segments nearby. One of the things I’m enjoying as I hike on different trails around the Bay Area is getting a better understanding of how the many parks and open spaces are connected. At times it seems like assembling an amazing jigsaw puzzle!