The Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline is a park managed by the East Bay Regional Park District and located on the south shore of Carquinez Strait. A segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail begins in the Nejedly/East Staging Area and follows the Hulet Hornbeck Trail for about 3 miles to the John Muir National Historic Site and the trailhead for the trail to the top of Mt Wanda. The day of my hike was about 80 degrees and breezy, and turned out to be a great day for this out-and-back hike.
The first part of the trail climbs quickly, gaining over 500 feet in just over a half mile, so the average grade is about 19%.
Fortunately, the steep part of the trail passes through a shady wooded area. While the climb was work, the shade made it rather pleasant.
After the steep climb the trail emerges from the trees to open grassland hills, with individual or clusters of oak trees.
I first heard meadowlarks singing, then saw how individuals seemed to like to perch on the top of any convenient post to vocalize.
At the top of the climb the trail turns to the southeast, affording clear views of Carquinez Strait, Suisun Bay, the Benicia-Martinez Bridge (which carries I-680 across the strait), and the Navy’s mothball fleet. The sensation is that you’re walking at the top of the world!
About 1 mile later there is a view across part of the city of Martinez, including an oil refinery and, in the background, a windmill farm in the Montezuma Hills area of Solano County.
The park is between parcels of privately owned land grazed by cattle that probably don’t appreciate the view of CA-4, also called the John Muir Parkway.
There are numerous places along the trail with in-your-face views of nearby Mt Diablo, less than 20 miles away.
Nestled in a fold between hills I found a farm, complete with red barn buildings and a small vineyard.
In other places the hills are open grassland with perhaps a solitary oak tree here and there, like this one perched on a hilltop.
After a gradual downslope, the trail descends more steeply for the last half mile of the Hulet Hornbeck Trail. The Bay Area Ridge Trail crosses under CA-4 and then goes up and over a small hill at the base of Mt Wanda, arriving at the parking area for the Mt Wanda Trail. At this trailhead I noticed signage indicating that the trail is part of the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail, a 300-mile work-in-progress roughly following the Mokelumne River from the Sierra to the Carquinez Strait.
On my return trip, as I approached the CA-4 undercrossing, I noticed colorfully painted panels, most likely masquerading as either a sound barrier or retaining wall.
Near the middle of the return trip, about 1.7 miles from the East Staging Area, there is a side trail (one of several side trails) that goes up another 100 feet or so to the west to a nearby hilltop, where there is a view of Mt Tamalpais. This view is almost perpendicular to the classic side views of Tam, so it looks a bit different from usual.
Although the climb from either end of this trail is rather steep, the climbs are relatively short, and the views are well worth the effort. In fact, when I got back to the staging area I felt so energized that I kept walking and continued to the next Ridge Trail segment along Martinez City streets.