I did this Bay Area Ridge Trail segment hike as a companion hike to hiking the Hulet Hornbeck Trail in Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline: that is, I hiked the segments consecutively on the same day. This is a rather short segment through the city of Martinez from the Shoreline staging area through the downtown area and past an oil refinery. The far end of the segment connects, with a short gap, to the Ridge Trail segment that crosses the Benicia-Martinez Bridge.
Since the route is very near the shoreline of Carquinez Strait the elevation is quite flat, with a high point of just over 100 feet. This segment is also part of the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail.
From the entrance to the Regional Shoreline, the entire route is along city streets. Just outside the entrance, the route goes slightly uphill to pass the Alhambra Pioneer Cemetery, which is an interesting example of the history of the city. One area contains rows of numbered, but otherwise unmarked, graves of unknown early California pioneers reportedly of Chinese, Mexican, Scottish, and Irish descent.
As the route continues downhill there are brief views of the Carquinez Strait, with Benicia and southern Solano County on the other side.
There are some interesting older houses along the route.
I particularly noticed a pub, called the Creek Monkey Tap House, with an interesting legend (involving escapee circus monkeys) behind the name.
I also noticed these interesting-looking plants growing in someone’s front yard next to the sidewalk.
The last third of the route passes behind and through an oil refinery. This is an obviously industrial area, with tanks, piping, railroad tracks, and industrial odors that contrast sharply with the more woodsy smells typically found on Bay Area Ridge Trail hikes. But there was some nostalgia as well: For many years my dad was a chemist at a plastics industrial plant, and when my family drove past the plant my dad often inhaled deeply and remarked “ah, the smell of bread and butter on the table”. I can only hope that other families of today have some appreciation that the local refineries do provide jobs for many.
After reaching the far end of the segment, about 2.1 miles from the start, I turned around and headed back. The return route follows a slightly different path that passes through the historic downtown area which includes, among other things, an Amtrak station.
This Ridge Trail segment seems to be kind of a connector segment from the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, which gets you across the Carquinez Strait, to the Regional Shoreline, which then quickly gets back to a more typical open space environment. I was once again struck by the local history and variety of terrain along the Bay Area Ridge Trail.