Crockett Hills Regional Park

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This Bay Area Ridge Trail segment hike was in Crockett Hills Regional Park in Crockett, just south of the Carquinez Bridge across Carquinez Strait and part of the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop.  The day was partly cloudy, about 65 degrees, and breezy at the start of the hike; breezy became windy once I go up into the hills for the main part of the hike.  The park extends south to CA-4, currently a barrier to connecting the Ridge Trail to the next segment at Fernandez Ranch.

GPS track

GPS track

The first mile of the trail passes through a pretty, wooded area from the Crockett Ranch Staging Area via the Edwards Loop and Wood Rat Trails.  On hot days the shade would be very welcome, in contrast to the open, grassy hilltops of most of the park.

image along the Edwards Loop Trail

Along the Edwards Loop Trail

The trial climbs about 400 feet before passing under the Cummings Skyway.

Elevation profile

Elevation profile

Just before the underpass, if you turn around there is a wonderful view of the Carquinez Strait with the Carquinez Bridge crossing it.

photo of Carquinez Strait and Bridge

Carquinez Strait and Bridge

Just after the underpass there is a junction with Sky Trail and Soaring Eagle Trail.  On my outbound trip I thought I was “supposed” to follow Sky Trail, but then determined on my return trip that the current Ridge Trail route follows Soaring Eagle Trail.  The two trails are roughly parallel, but Soaring Eagle passes to the San Pablo Bay side of the land contours with more interesting views on clear days.  Here is a glimpse of Pinole Point, in San Pablo Bay, between the hills.  On a clearer day Mt Tamalpais would be visible in the background, about 20 miles away.

picture looking across San Pablo Bay toward Mt Tamalpais, lost in the haze

Looking across San Pablo Bay toward Mt Tamalpais, lost in the haze

Near the junction with Big Valley Trail there is a vista point with two picnic tables.  From Big Valley Trail, the Ridge Trail route immediately takes off on the parallel Sugar City Trail (another Ridge Trail re-routing compared to the write-up in the official Ridge Trail Guide, but shown on the current map available on the web site).  Along the way there are a few wildflowers that bloom throughout the summer, including this one, which is sometimes pure white, other times tinged with pink.

image of pink-tinged wildflower

Pink-tinged wildflower

The entire park area south of the Cummings Skyway is open grassy hills, with clumps of oak trees often marking the location of seasonal streams.  In the summer the hills are golden, in contrast to a typical winter green.

photo of view across Crockett Hills

View across Crockett Hills

Another wildflower I found frequently along the trail is the beautiful purple thistle, which seems to bloom throughout the spring and summer seasons.

picture of thistle

Thistle

The Big Valley Trail leads, naturally, to a valley, where the trail follows an intermittent stream before climbing once again.  Just at the beginning of the climb you make a slight jog to the left to pass through a gate at a fence-line.  On my outbound trip there were several cows that happened to block my view of the signage, and I ended up taking a short detour to another junction, where I realized I had made an incorrect turn.  Fortunately, when I returned to what I called the cow junction, they had moved far enough away that I felt that I could pass by without disturbing them.

From this junction the Ridge Trail climbs and then loses about 300 feet in elevation.  Along the way the trail passes below a small ridge whose top is dotted with oak trees.

image of oak trees dotting a nearby ridge

Oak trees dotting a nearby ridge

Near the end of the trail I saw several hawks on the lookout for a meal, and was able to get a pretty good picture of the underside of one to confirm the identification as a red-tailed hawk.

photo of red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

After reaching a locked gate across the trail just before an undercrossing beneath CA-4, I turned around and returned to the trailhead.  As I mentioned above, on the return trip I took Soaring Eagle Trail and was treated there to tantalizing hazy views that hinted of spectacular views across San Pablo Bay in clear weather.  I do plan to return another time, perhaps in a different season, to experience this park again.

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One Response to Crockett Hills Regional Park

  1. Pingback: Crockett – downtown | trailhiker

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