Garin and Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks

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After completing a nearly 6-mile hike in Chabot Regional Park, I decided to continue celebrating National Trails Day by doing a second hike in Garin and Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks. This second hike was basically another loop, on the High Ridge Loop Trail, with a short side trip on the loop trail to Gossip Rock. There were great views of San Francisco Bay and the nearby hills, and there were still some wildflowers, though this is clearly nearly the end of the spring wildflower season.

The GPS track shows an overview of the route, in which I went clockwise around the loop. The orange dot denotes the trailhead and main parking area for Garin Regional Park.

GPS track

GPS track

Garin and Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks are adjacent to each other, and there aren’t even signs that indicate the park boundaries, just cattle gates. I previously hiked in the central part of Garin Regional Park, so this was an opportunity to explore much of Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park. The High Ridge Loop Trail climbs about 700 feet in elevation from the trailhead, and then after about 2 miles at the top of the ridge descends to an elevation lower than the start before climbing up and over a smaller hill to return to the parking area.

Elevation profile

Elevation profile

As the trail began to climb away from the trailhead I passed morning glories, mustard grass, poison hemlock, filaree, and poppies. I noticed spider burrows: basically small holes in the ground covered by thick webs. At one point I startled what I believe was a 1-inch-across spider that paused next to a plant on the trail – well-camouflaged – before scuttling to the next one and off into the grasses. There was some harvest brodiaea (Brodiaea elegans) among the grasses next to the trail.

image of harvest brodiaea

Harvest brodiaea

Before long I started passing yellow mariposa lilies (Calochortus luteus), perhaps some of the last of the season.

photo of yellow mariposa lily

Yellow mariposa lily

Over the hills farther inland from San Francisco Bay, a few high clouds accentuated the blue sky.

picture of cloud


Occasionally airplanes passed overhead on approach to Oakland International Airport, and a few hawks floated around looking for prey. Across the Bay to the west fog peeked over the Santa Cruz Mountain tops. Through a gap between hills on the east side of the bay I could see the downtown Oakland skyline about 18 miles away. At other places I could see the very top of Mt Tamalpais, about 35 miles away, just above the top of the fog layer. About 2.1 miles from the trailhead the trail passes an intermittent stream, and a small pond down the hillside was not-quite-dry.

At 2.2 miles from the trailhead there is a junction with Gossip Rock Trail, which goes east about ¼ mile and makes a loop around Gossip Rock. On the way out to the loop there was a nice view of Mt Hamilton, 25 miles and several rows of hills away to the southeast.

image of Mt Hamilton from Gossip Rock Trail

Mt Hamilton from Gossip Rock Trail

Gossip Rock itself is a small rocky outcropping on a knoll with a couple of stately trees growing among the rocks.

photo of Gossip Rock

Gossip Rock

From the loop trail there was an especially nice view across the southern tip of the Bay, with Quarry Lakes Regional Park (I believe) in the foreground 1000 feet below.

picture of view across southern tip of San Francisco Bay

View across southern tip of San Francisco Bay

After the Gossip Rock Trail, the High Ridge Loop Trail begins a steady descent. About ½ mile past Gossip Rock there is a T junction, where High Ridge Loop Trail goes right and enters a shady, forested area. In the shade I found some elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata) still blooming.

image of elegant clarkia along a shaded portion of High Ridge Loop Trail

Elegant clarkia along a shaded portion of High Ridge Loop Trail

Another ½ mile beyond the T junction is a junction with Tolman Peak Trail. Sometime I would like to return and hike the Tolman Peak Trail, which climbs back up to over 1000 feet elevation and makes a loop around Tolman Peak. After passing Tolman Peak Trail, High Ridge Loop Trail descends a bit more to May Trail, and traffic noise from nearby, busy Mission Blvd becomes more apparent – and a bit jarring, since the surroundings still appear quite rural. High Ridge Loop Trail climbs up almost 300 feet on the way, parallel to Mission Blvd, back toward the trailhead. Along this section of trail I noticed some pincushion plants (Navarrietia) at the edge of the trail.

photo of pincushion plant

Pincushion plant

The ridge where I had just hiked was above a series of hills that were nicely illuminated by the late afternoon sun, with concentrations of trees along seasonal streams.

picture of hills and the high ridge of High Ridge Loop Trail

Hills and the high ridge of High Ridge Loop Trail

I found some lupine (Lupinus) almost hiding in the tall grass. The blossoms seemed a bit past their prime.

image of lupine


A small bird, unidentified, serenaded me, flitting among a couple of bushes and perching on a fence post. I got a picture but am not sure of the identification.

photo of small bird on a fence post

Small bird on a fence post

About 6 miles from the trailhead I approached Jordan Pond as I got closer to the parking area. The trail passes fairly close to the edge of the pond, but a view of the pond is mostly blocked by bushes. I noticed that some of the bushes were Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor) rather than the more common native California blackberry. The petals of Himalayan blackberry are rounder and the stamens form kind of a spray: very pretty.

picture of Himalayan blackberry near Jordan Pond

Himalayan blackberry near Jordan Pond

After passing the pond I arrived back at the parking area. This loop hike to the ridge above Mission Blvd was very enjoyable and seemed to be a suitable way to celebrate National Trails Day.

This entry was posted in Alameda County, East Bay, East Bay Regional Park District and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Garin and Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks

  1. Pingback: Chabot Regional Park: central park loop | trailhiker

  2. Pingback: Bay Area Ridge Trail: North Garin to Garin Regional Park along Walpert Ridge | trailhiker

  3. Pingback: Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park – High Ridge Loop and Tolman Peak | trailhiker

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