The McGary Rd segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail runs along the shoulder of McGary Rd between the Park & Ride at the beginning of the Hiddenbrooke Trail Ridge Trail segment and Red Top Rd, along I-80 just west of Fairfield. McGary Rd is kind of a frontage road to I-80 and passes by the entrance to Lynch Canyon Open Space Park. The northeastern end of McGary Rd is not too far from the Rockville Hills Regional Park Ridge Trail segment.
Since McGary Rd is so close to I-80 (the road is just off to the right out of the picture) I was somewhat uncertain about what the scenery would be like. However, it was surprisingly easy to look right past the busy traffic to the golden hills in the background.
Also, I had planned this 6.8 mile (round trip) segment as a training walk for Bay to Breakers, so walking on the paved shoulder of a not-too-heavily-traveled road was suitable. The elevation change is only a few hundred feet, so the grade is very gentle.
The day was sunny and breezy with the temperature around 65 degrees. I think the wind picked up during my walk, since it was noticeably more effort on the return trip – and it wasn’t just comparing a headwind to a tailwind! I found that there were gaps in the I-80 traffic: here’s another view toward the Lynch Canyon hills.
I also found that there were quite a few interesting flowers and plants right along the road. Here is a brilliant pink-purple specimen.
The entrance road to Lynch Canyon Open Space Park is about 1.6 miles from Hiddenbrooke Parkway. Near the side road I found a mini-forest of evergreen treelets just off the shoulder. I didn’t see more of them anywhere else, but they obviously all sprouted the same season, and I wondered how many pine cones had burst open to start the process.
Later on I noticed some thistles in bloom. I had recently learned how to use a super-macro setting on my camera, so it has been fun to experiment with wildflower close-ups.
I also noticed a pretty fern-like plant that was prevalent along the roadside. Although difficult to capture in a still image, the fronds were actively waving as breezy gusts came through.
In addition, I noticed a number of thistle-like flowers that had apparently finished their blooming phase and were perhaps getting ready to shed seeds. The fluffy tops were quite pretty in the breeze.
On the other side of the road were more hills covered in grasses, either private lands or western Fairfield. The trees in this picture presumably denote a stream bed.
In several places there were clusters of cattail-like plants. It was interesting to get some close-up pictures that showed off the “hairy” surface. I haven’t yet determined what these interesting plants are called.
Shortly before the intersection with Red Top Rd two distinctive hills come into view to the north. I think they may be called Twin Sisters, with Rockville Hills Regional Park to the right.
At the end of McGary Rd at Red Top Rd I turned around and returned to the Park & Ride at Hiddenbrooke Parkway. All in all I enjoyed the views of the hills on both sides of the road, as well as interesting wildflowers from more of a close-up perspective.