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.  




Kennedy Grove Trail Notes

Kennedy Grove is a beautiful surprise.  I visited the park on a cold, wet November morning.  Rainy skies usually provide the best light for photography, but it's tough to keep the camera dry.  When I got there, it was just me and the ranger in the park.  I was most interested in the trails around the recreation area, but it's a beautiful setting for picnics and gatherings.  

Picnic area at Kennedy Grove

The Eucalyptus trees in this part of the park were planted in 1910.  These trees grow fast, and as you can see above, they're huge.  

Location: Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area


Trail Map

There is a fee for parking and dogs.  

It wasn't raining when I got there, but started as soon as I got my camera out.  I pretty much had the place to myself, but I imagine this is bustling in the summer. Right off the parking lot, I got on to the Laurel Loop Trail.  This is a wide trail, and it runs along the side of the lawn area.  

You'll pass some of the Eucalyptus giants on this trail.  I have mixed feelings about these trees.  They are quite impressive, but they're non native and often poison the soil below them.  The one plant that does seem to like them is poison oak, which is often found wrapped around the base of these trees.  

After walking the Laurel Loop Trail, you'll see a sign that will guide you to the Lower Sea Foam Trail.  By taking the Lower Sea Foam Trail, you'll be able to get some spectacular views of San Pablo Dam the the reservoir.  At .70 you'll access the Lower Sea Foam Trail.

My GPS watch that tracks my elevation gains could not connect with a satellite, but the Lower Sea Foam Trail is a bit of a climb.  I had the added weight of a few pounds of mud on my boots.  

On this part of the hike, you'll go through mostly shrub, and the path becomes a single track trail.  

As you hike, make sure you enjoy the views of the San Pablo Reservoir.  

At 1.05 miles, I connected with the Upper Sea Foam Trail.  

This continues your climb, but it is incredibly rewarding when you reach the top.  The sight of a beautiful Oak grove took my breath away. 

Take some time up here, and look at the incredible twists and contortions of these old trees.  There are a couple of beauties with some real personality:

Follow the Upper Sea Foam Trail as it winds downhill through a dense army of Oaks that seem to reach out to you like green ghosts.

As you descend down the trail, you'll see more Bay trees, and the whole atmosphere, especially in the rain, reminds you of a scene from middle earth.   

Follow the trail down to Kennedy Creek Trail, and take a left to head back to the picnic and parking area.  There are still a few beautiful sights in this section.

You'll walk back to where you started, and you can tell your friends that they should have joined you on this hike. The total distance hiked was 2.28 miles, but be prepared for the climb to Upper Sea Foam Trail.  Have fun, and be safe!

Photo Gallery:

Photo Map




Rocky Ridge Trail Notes

The Rocky Ridge trail has been on my "to do" list for a while.  Certain parts are quite remote, but it offers beautiful views and a stunning grove of twisted and contorted Oaks.  

Location: Start at Rancho Laguna Park, in Moraga, California.  

Trail Map

Photo Map


Total Mileage: 6.01 miles

Total Ascent/Descent: 2461 feet

There are a lot of cows in this hike.  Starting out at Rancho Laguna Park, sign in at the station before the hike. Click on the Permit link to get a permit from East Bay Mud.  

You'll hike up to see some peaceful rolling hills, usually dotted with cows.  Follow the signs to the trail.  At .40 miles you'll come to a split where King's Canyon Loop Trail and Rocky Ridge meet, so keep to your left and hike along the fence.  You may see these trail sentries:

At .77 go through gate and get past this group of cows.  You'll enter in to a beautiful grove of Oaks.  In the winter, this next section has a nice stream through it.  This area is particularly lush during the winter and spring. 

At 1.14 miles, you'll leave this part of the forest and get on to a ridge trail.  There will be some nice climbing in this area.  You'll end up going through another cattle gate, and start a descent in to a valley.  

At 1.84 miles, you'll see where the trail leads to your left, on to a fire road type trail.  As you hike on this trail, you'll come to this sign:

It's confusing here.  The sign looks like it's pointing to stay on the fire road, but it's actually indicating a trail off to the right.  So stay to your right.  Not knowing this, I enjoyed a little detour up this trail to a locked gate, then doubled back to this point.  

I continued on this trail for just over 3 miles.  At that point, I took out a few slices of pizza and an ice tea and watched the hawks circle lazily above me.

I returned back to Rancho Laguna via the same route.

Don't let the remoteness of this trail scare you away.  It offers nice views,  some great Oak forests and a wide variety of wildlife.  

Have Fun!


Photo Gallery:


Shell Ridge Open Space Trail Notes and Video

Shell Ridge Open Space is a widely used area, where you'll often see people with dogs, group hikers, trail runners and bikers.  In the video below, you'll see that this area has a fair share of benches in nice locations, so you'll have a chance to rest and enjoy some great views.  There are no trail maps located at the staging area, but you can find a map on the Walnut Creek Open Space page.  

Location: Staging area is at the end of Sutherland Drive in Walnut Creek.  Small parking lot, but no bathrooms or water.

Trails Featured: Fossil Hill Trail, Briones/Mt. Diablo Trail, Ginder Gap Loop Trail, Ridge Top Trail

Trail Map

Photo Map


Route: Start at the staging area at the end of Sutherland Drive.  Follow Fossil Hill Trail to your right.  Take a right on to Briones/Mt. Diablo Trail.  At .97 miles, you'll see a sign that shows Coral Spring Trail and Briones/Mt. Diablo trail.  Keep left here, and don't continue on the Briones/Mt. Diablo Trail to your right.  The trail map has this trail listed as Ginder Gap Loop Trail, so it's a bit confusing.  At least there was a guide to show me the way:

Soon, you'll take a left on to Ridge Trail (1.18 miles), which offers great views of Walnut Creek.  When you look at the trail map, you'll notice that the Ridge Trail splits and reconnects a few times with some side trails.  Take what you prefer, and when you get to the Water Tower, don't go down the road.  Go past the tower and reconnect with the Ridge Trail on the other side (2.1 miles).

At the bottom of the ridge trail, take the Briones/Mt. Diablo Trail again.  You'll follow that until you get to an unmarked split at 2.62 miles.  Take the split to the right, which is the Fossil Hill Trail.  You'll pass some big rocks, nice oaks and a comfortable bench under an Oak tree.  Your hike is almost over, so break here if you want to.  Keep on the Fossil Hill Trail until you get back to the staging area.  Depending on which Ridge Trail splits you take, you're overall mileage may vary.  Don't forget to print out the map before you get there. 


Early part of the Fossil Hill Trail

I like this bench at .71 miles

Full Photo Slideshow:


Round Valley Regional Preserve - Trail Notes

Location: Round Valley Regional Preserve 

Directions to Preserve

Trails Featured: Miwok Trail, Hardy Canyon Trail

Total Mileage: 4.66 Miles

Total Ascent/Descent: 1518 Feet

Trail Map

Photo Map


This video follows the hike from start to finish, but read below for details. 



Round Valley Regional Preserve is a nice, secluded place with beautiful clusters of oaks and a wide variety of grasses, including rye, wild oats, foxtail chess, and wild barley.  This was once home to California Indians, and evidence of their past activity has been found in several areas at the preserve.  

I took a loop hike, which included only two trails, the Miwok and the Hardy Canyon Trail.  Along the route you may see rabbits (Audubon or desert cottontail), hawks, golden eagles and certainly some ground squirrel, which are food for the raptors.  In the rainy season, you'll see some nice streams and ponds, which are home to red-legged frogs, western toads, western pond turtles and Pacific tree frogs.  You'll pass through oak woodland, with pockets of blue, valley, coast and interior live and black oaks.  In my first visit, the buckeye was flowering, and the during the second visit, was dropping leaves.  (The photos below show the flowering buckeye, the video will show their later stage.)

About the hike

Round Valley Regional Preserve feels like it's in the middle of nowhere, but it's well worth the trip.  There is a nice parking area with toilets and an information/map board. 

Start out on the Miwok trail and cross the bridge.  You'll go through a cattle gate and start a rolling climb on a wide fire road type trail.  On your left you'll see clusters of Oaks, and on your right, you'll see a pleasant vineyard.  Be careful to avoid the horse poop and ruts on the trail left by cattle and horses.

You'll see some random trails shooting off Miwok, but I stayed on the main trail.  

At .6,  Cross a little cement bridge

At .72 Cross another cement bridge

At 1.14 Cross another Cement Bridge

At 1.28 Cross a heavier bridge

1.39 Stream on right is loaded with boulders.  Seeing Oaks, boulders and grasses with patches of canopy

1.49 Take a Left on to Hardy Canyon Trail

Hardy Canyon Trail is a climb as you start up.  To the right is a nice valley, to the left is an Oak studded hillside.

Hardy Canyon Trail is a narrow, single track trail.  I saw squirrels and rabbits, and the valley below is beautiful...Hardy Canyon Trail will give you a nice, heart pounding climb.  I saw a few runners coming down the trail, but I was the only one going up.  This must be the hard direction!  

2.35 on Hardy Canyon, almost all uphill, moderately steep

2.44 on Hardy Canyon Trail, hawks circling above, hunting ground squirrel

2.71 Trail here is in pretty bad shape, on right is a gulley, on left the dirt is rutted, but footing is precarious, but doable

2.97 Pond on right

3.25 Clusters of Buckeyes

3.83 Trail splits - take the trail to your left.  The last time I was there, someone had blocked the trail on the right with a few logs.  I think it goes past the ranch, but keep to the trail on your left.

Continue on through a few more forests of oak, and pass through another cattle gate.

4.66, cross back over the bridge to the parking area.

Photo Slideshow:



Old San Pablo Trail - San Pablo Reservoir

Location: East Bay Mud North Watershed - Orinda

Trails Featured: Orinda Connector Trail, Orsan Trail, Old San Pablo Trail

Photo Map

Trail Map

Total Mileage: 3.31 Miles

Total Ascent/Descent: 940 Feet


This hike was taken on May 17, 2011.  

This is a nice out and back hike or run with limited elevation change and a beautiful canopy on most of the trail.  There is a place to park just at the trail head, right off the intersection of Bear Creek Road and Camino Pablo.  You'll see the trail, and you'll have to sign in and enter your EBMUD permit number and license plate number.  

Starting out at the Orinda connector Trail, you'll see this:

At .22 Go straight on to the Orsan Trail.  There are some beautiful old trees along the trail, with lots of bird activity.  Also, much of the hike is along the San Pablo Reservoir, so you'll hear and see quite a few water birds.  

At .57 Trail turns in to Old San Pablo Trail.  On your right is an EBMUD maintenance site.

At 1.22 Cross the gravel road and continue

Nice Canopies throughout this hike

At 1.47 Cross Bridge

At 1.64 Old San Pablo Trail ends.  At this point it turns in to Inspiration Trail. Turn around here.

On return, at 3.07, continue on to Orinda Connector Trail.  Continue on until you're back to the start of your hike, at 3.31 miles.