Trail Notes

The idea behind this site is to share as much visual content as possible.  I carry a GPS recording DSLR and an HD Camcorder.  My first priority is photography, but I take out the camcorder when I can.  

If you'd just like to peruse the pictures, check out the image section, or the highlight reels.  

Trail notes are designed to help hikers and runners learn more about a specific hike taken.  Here is what you'll find here:

Trails Taken - Route of the hike  

Mileage- How far was the hike  (I wear a GPS enabled watch, which records distance traveled, pace, elevation changes, etc.  It works great when I remember to turn it on.  Occasionally I lose the satellite signal, so please take these mileage numbers as an approximation, not necessarily an exact distance.)

Trailhead - Where did I start and finish, location of bathrooms, water, etc...

Notes and Impressions - I usually carry a small digital recorder to record voice notes, and enter the transcript here.   

I'll include the images here as well.  If I've taken video, you'll see it at the end of the notes.  




Climb to Redwood Peak

Redwood Regional Park is one of my favorite places.  Drop down in to the valley and the rest of the world seems so far away.  In a normal winter, streams flow abundantly, and wandering through the trails here brings both peace and health.  A few weeks ago, I visited the park from the Moon Gate Trailhead, and climbed to Redwood Peak.  This hike offers a great variety of trails and terrain, so give it a try.

Location: Redwood Regional Park (Moon Gate)

Mileage: 3.97 miles

Trail Map

Photo Map (Photos from the hike on Google Earth)


From the Moon Gate, head left on the West Ridge Trail.  

Take a Right on to Tres Sendas Trail and descend in to the valley.

Nice mix of Bay and Redwood trees, with sword and forest fernsThe park is second growth Redwoods. The original inhabitants were used to build San Francisco

Take a Right on to Redwood Peak Trail.  

Redwood Peak Trail is a bit rocky in spotsYou'll see some nice clusters of Bay Trees on the Redwood Peak TrailDon't miss the sign to reach Redwood Peak.  

This is what you'll see on Redwood PeakOfficial marker at the top of Redwood Peak

Coming back down from Redwood Peak, you'll pass these sentries:

Take a Left on Madrone Trail

Nice Redwood cluster in Madrone Trail

Take a Left on French Trail

Take a Left on to Star Flower Trail

Take a Left on to Tres Sendas Trail

What a beautiful place to run!

Tread lightly, and avoid the roots

Left at the end of Tres Sendas to Moon Gate.

You'll have fun on this hike.  It's beautiful and great exercise, and you'll have the satisfaction of scaling Redwood Peak (1539 feet).  

Photo Slideshow: 


Hike to Las Trampas Peak

Hiking to Las Trampas Peak is a nice, hill climbing workout.  What's really nice is that when you reach the peak, you can enjoy a snack or lunch under a beautiful Oak and take in some spectacular views.  
This is the Oak at the top of Las Trampas Peak. It's a beauty that will give you some nice shade and a place to contemplate.This park gets crowded, but crowded in a big park like this means you might see a few people on the trails.  There are a few well traveled paths, and a number of the trails are equestrian friendly.  I probably passed about 15 people, a trail record for me.  It was nice to see so many people enjoying themselves on this beautiful day.
Take Hwy 680 to the Crow Canyon Road/San Ramon exit (in San Ramon) and travel west on Crow Canyon Road. Go Right on to Bollinger Canyon Road and go 4.5 miles to the very end of the road.  There is a parking area on your left that gets filled early on beautiful weekend mornings.  I got a spot, but people soon started parking on the dirt by the side of the road.  There is a toilet there, but bring water.  

Mileage: 4.5 miles
Chamise Trail
Left on to Las Trampas Ridge Trail
You'll pass through a gate to the last little climb to Las Trampas Peak
Backtrack to the Las Trampas Ridge Trail/Bollinger Creek Trail Split, and follow the Bollinger Creek trail back to the parking area.
Here is the photo map.  (Press "Play" to see where each image was taken on the trail.)


From the parking area, walk back on Bollinger Canyon Road until you see this gate (about 500'):
I noticed a lot of cows on this adventure, so please close the gate.  As you can see, this is the Chamise Trail, and this is where you'll start your hike.  The first part here is a quick climb, so you'll quickly get your heart rate up as you climb this switchback.  Looking back to your left as you climb, you'll see some nice views of rolling hills and the trails that start at the parking area.
You'll see signs for other trails, but stay on the Chamise Trail as it switches back through some thick shrubs that reach out to say hello.
I was passed by a couple of equestrians enjoying the climb, and it was a pretty sight.
There was a canyon to my right, with some interesting rock formations.  Above the canyon, hawks were circling, and I could just imaging the same scene 500 years ago.
Soon, you'll be at the marker for the Las Trampas Ridge Trail.  Take a left here, and you'll be on your way to Las Trampas Peak.
This image will give you an idea of how high you've climbed so far:

Las Trampas Ridge Trail takes you through some nice canopies.  You'll see some Oaks, Bay Trees and a whole variety of twisty shrubs and grasses.  


This Madrone cluster was spectacular.  

The trail opens up, and you'll be enjoying nice views along the ridge line.


Eventually, you'll get to the sign for Las Trampas Peak, and it's a short climb from here to the top.

Take a break here to enjoy the views and rest.  You deserve it, you just climbed to the summit of Las Trampas Peak, at 1827'.

After you enjoy yourself, turn around and backtrack down Las Trampas Ridge Trail to the split with Bollinger Creek Loop Trail, and bear right here.

Follow the Bollinger Creek Loop Trail past the cows and through the hills.

This last descent is a nice change from your uphill climb, so enjoy it.  There isn't much shade along the way in this section, so protect yourself.  On the descent, you'll pass another section of the Las Trampas Ridge Trail, but stay on the Bollinger Creek Loop Trail, bearing left,  until you get to the parking area.  

Photo Slideshow: 



Dublin Hills Regional Park

The Dublin Hills Regional Park is a pretty little hidden gem surrounded by highways and some new development. The trailhead/parking area is one of the more modern ones I've seen.  It's easily accessible and has plenty of parking, so it's worth a visit.  
The hills were unusually brown for this time of year, due to a lack of rain.
Location: To reach Dublin Hills: From I-680 southbound in San Ramon, take Exit 31, the San Ramon Valley Blvd. exit. Turn left on San Ramon Valley Blvd. San Ramon Valley Blvd. becomes San Ramon Road. Continue south to Dublin Blvd. and turn right (west). Continue west on Dublin Blvd. for two miles. The staging area is on the right. From I-680 northbound in Dublin, take exit 31, the Alcosta Blvd. exit. Turn left on Alcosta, and left again on San Ramon Road. Continue south to Dublin Blvd. and turn right (west). Continue west on Dublin Blvd. for two miles. The staging area is on the right. From I-580 eastbound or westbound, take exit 44A, the San Ramon Road/Foothil Road exit, and turn north on San Ramon Road/Foothill Road to Dublin Blvd. Turn west on Dublin Blvd. and drive for about two miles. The staging area is on the right.

Mileage: 4.07 miles
Ascent: 1553 feet
Descent: 1591 feet
Start out at the Donlon Point Staging Area.  Lots of parking here, and bathrooms.
Most of this hike is exposed, with a little canopy area to rest under at about the half way point.  However, you'll probably see some hawks hunting, and you'll certainly see cows.  The trail is dotted with their reminders, so step carefully.  You'll start out with a short (.13 miles) climb to the Caleveras Ridge Trail. Take a right at the top, on to the trail.  As you climb, you'll see the development being built on your left.  
There was construction going on during the hike, so this neighborhood is still being expanded.  Keep right at marker 2, on to the Calaveras Ridge Trail.  Keep left past markers 3 and 4. To your right is the short Donlon Point loop if you want to take it.  Otherwise, follow the Calaveras Ridge Regional Trail to marker 5.  On the Calaveras Ridge Trail, you'll have nice views of Dublin and Pleasanton across the valley.
The wind coming up from the valley was powerful, but it was wonderful watching the hawks ride this current. 
At marker 5, take a right to the Donlon Loop Trail.  You'll see the residents hanging out at the local watering hole, just chewing the cud.
At marker 6, you can go right or straight to complete this loop, I went straight.  You'll soon come across another split.  If you continue straight, you'll get on to the Martin Canyon Creek Trail, but go Right, on to the Donlon Loop Trail.  This starts a nice little climb that will bring some air in to your lungs.  The vista will open up as you climb, and you'll see more of Dublin and Pleasanton below you.  At the top, you'll take a sharp right and descend on to a single track trail.
Go through a gate, and soon you'll descend in to a nice little canyon full of Bay trees and Oaks.  
This is a nice place to rest in the shade and enjoy the beauty.  There is a stream bed here, but it was bone dry, not good for this time of year. The trail crosses on to a residential street for a short detour, but it's well marked, and you'll have no problems reconnecting to the trail.
After you reconnect with the trail, you'll enjoy a little more canopy and foliage.
There is a little bit of a climb as you hike back to the start of the loop.  The trail was heavily rutted here, so step carefully so you don't twist an ankle.  When the ground is wet, the cows make deep impressions in the trail, and when it dries out, these impressions leave deep holes that are hazards for hikers and runners.  
These hikers were enjoying the view from the Calaveras Ridge Trail.
Continue on the loop back to marker 6.  Take a left there, and at marker 5,  and continue back to the parking area.
Enjoy your hike, and be safe.



Temescal Regional Recreation Area

Lake Temescal is a little jewel nestled right next to Highways 13 and 24.  The park's 48 acres include trails that circle the lake.  The East Shore and Dam Trails are paved, while the West Shore and Oak Bay Trails are dirt. As you'll see in the photos, the trails include live oaks, willow, laurel, thimbleberry, hazelnut, ferns, blackberry, toyon, a few redwoods, and of course, poison oak.  
Location: 6502 Broadway Terrace Oakland, CA 94618
Total Mileage: 1.72 miles
Total Ascent: 830 feet
Total Descent: 786 feet
I started out on the Oak Bay Trail.  It's a pretty trail that makes a gentle climb along the west side of the lake.  
There is a nice variety of trees on this trail, including a few redwoods and a scattering of oaks.
You'll have some nice views of the lake from up here, and you'll also be able to see the Beach House (used for parties, weddings, etc.) highway 24, and the houses along the Oakland hills.  
Oak Trail is a bit of a steep drop down to the paved Dam Trail.  Along the north side of the lake, the paved Dam Trail is an access point from the north entrance of the park, and runs along a lawn area with a little playground and bathrooms.
Continuing on the Dam Trail, take a right on to the East Shore Trail.  This trail takes you along the beach, past the beach house, the little waterfall and some nice trees, and gives you a level view of the lake.
Beach House
Little waterfall next to the Beach House

"Big Rock" under some twisted old oaks further along the East Shore Trail
At the end of the East Shore Trail, there is another nice little lawn area.
At this point on my hike, I doubled back on to the West Shore Trail.  You may see quite a few fishermen on this trail, some carelessly smoking.  But, I had some nice views of the lake along this dirt trail, and there were more than a few pretty trees hovering above the lake.
I came back on the same trail, and finished this short but picturesque hike.  The total distance travelled was 1.72 miles.  Not much of a hike, but run this a few times and you'll have a great workout.  Enjoy!
Full Photo Gallery:



Sunrise Trail Loop Hike, Briones Regional Park

I had a wonderful hike on Saturday that surprised me with beautiful canopies and spectacular views of Mt. Diablo poking out from an ocean of fog.  Even though it was 36 degrees at the start of the hike, the nice ascent of the Sunrise Trail will bring out the heat in you.  
Mt. Diablo rising up from the fog
Location: Briones Regional Park. Trailhead is at the end of Springhill Road, in Lafayette, Ca. 
Total Mileage: 4.73 miles
Total Ascent: 2968 feet
Total Descent: 2737 feet

Starting at a secluded trailhead at the end of Springhill Road, you'll pass through the first of many cattle gates you'll encounter.  You'll see the first trail marker, which will point the way to the Buckeye Ranch Trail.  You'll shortly pass through another cattle gate, which will take you on the beautiful, canopied section of this trail.  The sun was streaming in through the trees when I went, and the only sound was the occasional Jay squawking about my disturbing their morning.  
Sun streaming in on the Buckeye Ranch Trail
This was a nice, peaceful forested trail, loaded with moss covered Oaks and Bay trees  There was a dry creek bed to my right, but during a normal winter that should be flowing nicely.  
You'll soon come to a Y split.  To your right you can access the Sunrise Trail.  But, keep to your left, as the Buckeye Ranch Trail will loop you back, and you'll want to enjoy a little more of this canopy.  There are quite a few trees and groves with a lot of personality.  Keep an eye out for this old giant that probably lived over 200 years before it collapsed:
As you loop back, you'll go through one more gate.  Make sure you close all the gates completely, because there were a few cows lounging around in this area. At one mile, you'll see the sign for the Sunrise Trail.  Go straight here, and soon you'll be wandering through this little cluster of oaks:
I came across the remains of a cow here, with signs that some nocturnal visitors had already started feasting on it.  Sunrise Trail is a climb, and this is where you'll start to feel your quadriceps tingling and your heart knock on your ribs.  You'll climb out of this little valley to follow a ridge line up along some rolling hills.  Look at the photo map to get some perspective.  On the morning of my hike the fog was heavy, and at this point I could see it still hanging around in the valley below me.  
Keep climbing, keep climbing, you've got a ways to go.  But as you climb, keep turning around to check out the view.  
At 2.65 miles, you'll come to the Briones Crest Trail.  Take this trail through some nice oaks, and enjoy the shade for a while.  It's a nice spot for a PBJ and an iced tea.  
It seems like I always make a few bovine friends on these hikes, and this crew was pretty cordial:
At 3.53 miles, you'll take a left on to the Lafayette Ridge Trail.  The curves of this trail looked like a giant anaconda resting in the California sun.  
At 3.66 miles, take a left on to the Buckeye Ranch Trail. Follow this trail through a few more scenic groves, and you'll come to the Sunrise/Buckeye Ranch Trail split.  This time, take a right to the Buckeye Ranch Trail and follow that back to the trailhead.  


Photo Gallery