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.  




Sobrante Ridge Hike

Location: Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve

Trails Featured: Sobrante Ridge Trail, Broken Oaks Trail, Manzanita Trail (Manzanita Loop), Heavenly Ridge Trail.

Photo Map

Trail Map

Total Mileage: 3.31 miles (includes side trips to Hidden Oaks Trail and Heavenly Ridge Trail).

Total Ascent/Descent: 1069 feet.


Start out at the trailhead at the end of Coach Drive, a nice, quiet residential area.

Follow the gravel trail to your left.  The paved trail to the right is to the water tower.

The initial Sobrante Ridge Trail starts out uphill on a wide, fire road trail.  You'll see brush and the invasive French Broom plant on both sides. 

You'll soon see a nice grove of Oaks on your right, off the trail.  Pass the Morningside Trail on your right, and continue on the Sobrante Ridge Trail.  

You'll soon see the Broken Oak Trail on your left.  On your right is a picnic table, but continue on to the Broken Oak Trail.  This is a very short side trail to a beautiful picnic setting under a grove of old and twisted Oaks.  Sit here and enjoy the sounds of Hawks, Jays, Quail and other birds.  

Climb back out via the Broken Oak Trail and continue on the Sobrante Ridge Trail.  You'll pass another picnic table to your right, with some nice views.  

Eventually, you'll see a sign for the Manzanita Trail on your right.  Take this trail.  You'll get to a point where the trail splits, and there is no sign.  The trail on your right is the Heavenly Ridge Trail, which leads through a nice grove of Oaks, to another trail head and parking area.  

If you don't want to see the Oaks, bear left on the Manzanita Trail.  You'll soon see a trailpost and signage describing the Manzanitas.  Take the short but spectacular Manzanita Loop.  You'll pass wonderful old Oaks, and of course, the twisted and muscular Manzanitas.  If you follow the loop starting counter clock wise,  you'll go down hill a little.  You'll have a nice view of a residential area, then climb back up a bit.  In the last part of the trail, you'll hike under a little canopy of Manzanitas.  

When you are pleasantly relaxed, continue back up the Manzanita Trail, take a left on the Sobrante Ridge Trail, and head back to the parking area.  

Trail Video:

Trail Images:


Stream Trail Loop

Location: Redwood Regional Park, East Bay Mud Watershed (Redwood Trail)

Trails: Redwood Trail, East Ridge Trail, Canyon Trail, Stream Trail, Prince Trail

Trail map(s): East Bay Mud, Redwood Regional Park

Photo Map

Mileage:  5.3 miles, Total Ascent: 5152 feet, Total Descent: 5232 feet

Details:   I thought we were going to have one of those storms that comes and goes quickly, but it rained throughout this hike, sometimes heavily.  However, it was a great hike, with over 5000 feet of elevation change and wonderful scenery.  I decided to try something new this time.  I carried a video camera along with a still camera, and filmed the intersections where trails met.  The video below is a combination of video and still images.  

I started out by parking at the intersection of Canyon Road and Pinehurst Road.  You can park just off the road there, or you can add .5 mile of trail by parking at the Valle Vista Staging Area and hiking from the start of Redwood Trail.  This hike traverses on both East Bay Mud land and East Bay Parks land.  So, you'll need an East Bay Mud trail pass, which you can get here.   The first part of this hike is a serious but beautiful climb through Redwoods and Bay Trees.  At the end of Redwood Trail, you'll find a gate in to Redwood Regional Park.  Going through the gate takes you on to East Ridge Trail, a wide, fire road type trail. Take a Left on to East Ridge Trail You'll hike the East Ridge Trail until you get to Canyon Trail.  Taking a right on to Canyon Trail takes you down in to the lush, Redwood heavy part of the park.   Canyon Trail is downhill, and you'll end up at the Orchard parking area, which is loaded with picnic tables, barbques, bathrooms and a map stand.  Keep to your right, and get on to the Stream Trail.  This part of the Stream Trail takes you through some nice Redwoods,  Bay Trees, and an assortment of play areas, shelters, bathrooms and picnic areas.  This is a very tame part of the park, and part of Stream Trail is paved.   If you plan your trip right, you should stop and eat your lunch or a snack here.  Continuing on Stream Trail, you'll cross a bridge and come to the intersection of Stream Trail and Prince Trail.  Take Prince Trail to the right, and it will lead you back up to East Ridge Trail.  Take a right on East Ridge back to the original gate you came through, at Redwood Trail.  Go through the gate again (Left here) and follow Redwood Trail back to where you started. This last bit of hiking is pleasurably downhill.  

Video: This video follows the route, and incorporates some still images as well:

Images: While the rain made it difficult to take pictures, the light was nearly perfect, so I'm happy with the images I did get:




Huckleberry Botanic Preserve

 Huckleberry Botanic Preserve is a beautiful 240 acre gem tucked away in the East Bay hills of Oakland.  The diversity of tree and plant life, the exotic sounds of numerous birds, and the twisted, narrow trails make this hike a treasured experience. 

See the Photo Map here.  (Oddly, several of the images were tagged to a residential area. Just a GPS hiccup.)

Trails Taken: Huckleberry Path, Skyline National Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Mileage: 1.7 miles for the self guided tour.

Trailhead:  From Hwy 24 in Oakland, take the Fish Ranch Road exit just east of the Caldecott Tunnel. Continue .8 miles to Grizzly Peak Blvd.  Turn left, and go 2.4 miles on Grizzly Peak to Skyline Blvd. Turn left and drive about 1/2 mile to the park entrance on the left, past Sibley Volcanic Preserve.

DirectionsYahoo Map 

More Information: East Bay Parks Page

Notes and Impressions:  

Huckleberry Preserve has a nice guided tour, if there are any of the brochures available.  Several of the times I've visited, they were all gone, and some of the signposts had been knocked down.  If you don't see any of the brochures, here is what you will find:

1. Pacific Madrone

2. California Hazelnut

3. Western Sword Fern

4. Wood Fern

5. Latent Successional Stage (Describing how Bay Trees are shading out the competition.)

6.Manzanita Barren

7. Douglas Iris

8. Western Leatherwood

9. Jimbrush

10. Canyon Live Oak

11. Coast Huckleberry

12. Intermediate Successional Stage (Describes the tall, dense canopy of leaves.)

13. Chinquapin

14. Brittleleaf Manzanita

15. Pallid Manzanita

16. Coast Silktassel

17. Pink Flowering Currant


The parking lot at the trailhead is fairily small.  There is a picnic table and a pit toilet.  The trail starts on your right, where you'll find the maps and guides.  You can take the upper or lower path, but the self guided tour starts on the lower path.  At 1.7 miles, it's not a strenous hike, and I've seen numerous parents with young children on the trail.  At Interpretive station 6, in the Manzanita barren, there is a nice bench where you can enjoy a break or lunch.   

Taking the lower trail will lead you through a beautiful and lush Bay forest.  Many of these trees are covered in a soft green moss, which seems to glow when hit by sunlight.

According to the brochure, there are flowering plants nearly year round. I spotted this beautiful lilac on the path:

Perhaps because of the abundant flowers, I could hear the buzz of Hummingbirds throughout the path.  I was able to film one briefly:

You'll also see some spectacular spooky faces in the trees, like these:

This is an easy and beautiful hike, so get out there!



Hike to Stone Bridge

This is a nice hike, but the Eucalyptus Trees (Eucs) own this place.  Expect to hear gunshots from the rifle range, and squeaks and moans from the Eucs as they welcome your presence.

See the Photo Map here

Location: Anthony Chabot Regional Park, 9999 Redwood Road, Castro Valley, CA 94546

Yahoo Map

Trail Map

Trails Taken - Starting out at the Marciel Gate, at 9999 Redwood Road, I took the Redtail Trail.  Next, I took a right on the Deer Canyon Trail.  I continued to the left on to Brandon Trail.  (You can take Brandon Trail to the right for a more direct route to Stone Bridge).  Next, I took a right on the Escondido Trail.  That zigzaged along until I reconnected with the Brandon Trail.  I kept to my left and followed the Brandon Trail to Stone Bridge.  I ate some Trader Joe's Scotty Dogs at the bridge and turned around.  I took the same trail back to where it split, and followed Cottontail Trail on my left back to the gate and parking lot.  

Mileage- 4.53 miles, Total Ascent/Descent: 2953 feet

Trailhead - Moon Gate staging area, off Skyline Blvd. in Oakland.

Notes and Impressions -

It's an auditory experience hiking through this Eucalyptus Forest.  You hear the snaps and cracks of branches falling, the moans of trees rubbing together, and the not so distant pop of gunshot at the rifle range.  

Starting out on Red Tail Trail, I hear gunshots from the rifle range.

So far, fairly wide path. 

.11 some Eucs on right, heavy brush, Oak, Pine, on left, a lot of shrubs, Spring is definitely popping here. New growth on a lot of the plants, loud, enthusiastic birds, scattered gun shots from the range.

.22 Walking on path along, but not right on the road.  

.30 Path has little stream in middle, birds flying across, but no canopy, brush on both sides, poison oak,  and I am walking along Mericel Road, which leads in to the rifle range and the campsites. 

.35 Cross the Mericel Road to continue on to Red Tail Trail.

.40 Take a Right on Deer Canyon Trail.

.41 Forest of Eucs on Right, they are making a lot of noise as they rub against each other from the wind, lots of squeaks and haunting moans.

.44 Deer Trail is starting to descend, trail is really wet, and I'm in a Euc Forest.  

.48 I can see San Francisco Bay from the top of this hill.

.54 Giant Euc has come down partially on the trail, but easily passable.  This is all Euc here, they're giant, big old trees, some over 100' tall and very wide around the base.

.60 Taking left on to Brandon Trail from Deer Canyon Trail.

On Brandon Trail, I see some Oaks, but not too many.  The Eucs are like an invading army here. 

.66 There are some Oaks, Bay Trees, but mostly Eucs.

.73 On Brandon Trail, on hillside with wide fire lane road. Down to my right is a valley full of mostly Eucs, but some Oaks.

.86 This is a dense Euc Forest, I've never seem them this jam packed together, and they seem to be different types as well.  They go straight up, so there is not a lot of canopy over the trail. 

1.0 The rifle range is getting louder, storm is looking like it's going to hit me, so I have to pick up the pace. Just over 1 mile in, about 1.02, there is a little bench which has great vistas and overlooks the valley and the bay.  

1.04 Taking a right on the Escondido Trail

Coming down the Escondido Trail, seeing more Eucs and hearing rifle range a bit more

I don't know what it is about Euc Forests, but they seem to be a bit haunted almost, maybe it's because they leave a lot of debris hanging off their branches, waving like ghosts, and the trees rub and grind against one another, making noises all along the trail.  I think the Eucs are talking about me...  

1.26 on Escondido, the trail is narrow, but the cleared space around it is wide enough for a car almost, full of grasses. Eucs and shrubs on the left of me, Euc Forest on the right.  Birds fluttering around, I see some Towhees, Chickadees, and some Jays. 

1.59 Just stumbled upon a flock of Wild Turkeys, but they moved away too fast for me to catch them with my camera.  There are some boulders on the right of the trail, just past a dense Euc grove.  

1.88 On Escondido, starting to see a few more Oak trees, but still quite a few Eucs.  I just saw the Turkeys again.

Taking the descent on Escondido, as you wind around through these giant Eucs, I'm heading down to the valley floor, and I see some Bay trees, and a Redwood trying to break through the Eucs.  Also, plenty of poison oak wrapping itself around the Eucs like protective sisters.  

2.07 Now I'm in the Oaks, and there is a big boulder up a hill next to me.  But, it looks like I'm about halfway down in to this valley on the Escondido Trail.  Now I'm starting to go up just a bit. 

Rifles at range are going off quite loudly in the distance.  

2.22 Nice little valley to the left, where you'll see a nice Oak grove.   

2.23, There is a little canopy.

2.45 I'm at intersection of Brandon Trail and Escondido Trail, and I'm going to take a left on the Brandon Trail, so I can take some pictures of the Stone Bridge 

2.65 Some beautiful Oaks on my left here as I descend down this trail, really pretty Oaks, and a Madrone too. Oaks seemed to have held this spot from the Eucs

2.94 Heading down Brandon  .4/mile  to see the Stone Bridge.  

As I head to Stone Bridge, I'm seeing a few more Redwoods to my left, but still mostly Eucs

3.22 More moaning Eucs.

3.35 On Stone Bridge, heavy, flowing stream below. 

3.37 Heading back via Brandon to Cottontail Trail.

3.77 On Cottontail Trail heading to Maricel Gate.

3.83 Cottontail has my heart beating a bit, nice incline here.

This Cottontail Trail is a big slab of rock.  I'm seeing Rolly Pollys wander across the trail,  and Cottontails scattered on hill. 

4.04 The Cottontail Trail is a powerful uphill.  I'm taking a break to take some pics.

4.35 At top of Cottontail Trail, on my way to my car, still hearing guns at the range. 

4.45 At end of hike, in parking lot at Maricel Gate.  Picnic table here, but I don't see water or toilets.  

4.35 At top of Cottontail Trail, on my way to my car, still hearing guns at the range.

4.45 At end of hike, in parking lot at Maricel Gate.  

Image Gallery


Redwood Forest Hike

This is such a beautiful hike any time of year, but in the spring it really bursts with life and beauty.  The streams are spectacular, and they form little waterfalls after a period of heavy rain.  

See the Photo Map here

Location: Redwood Regional Park

Trails Taken - Starting out at the Moon gate, off Skyline blvd, I took the West Ridge Trail to the left.  Not too far up the trail, I took a right on the Tres Sendas Trail.  Next, I took a right on the French Trail, another right on the Redwood Peak trail, and a final right back on the West Ridge Trail back to the Moon gate.   

Mileage- 2.34 miles (Heavy canopy) Total Ascent/Descent 4013 feet

Trailhead - Moon Gate staging area, off Skyline Blvd. in Oakland.

Notes and Impressions - 

Starting out at Moon Gate

Took a left on West Ridge, Valley below, trail is muddy after a week of rain, but not too bad, houses on left, heading to Tres Sendas Trail.

Just getting started, .11, and there is a stream across the trail, and path is the width of a car

.14 Taking a Right on Tres Sendas Trail

Heading down Tres Sendas, and there is a stream going down it, following the curve of the trail

Sun is peeking out after a night of rain, but trail is muddy, and stream is loud and vibrant

Some Eucs on my left, some mossy Bay Trees on right

The middle of the trail is a stream, at .25, and on the right of the trail is the stream

.37 Trail is incredibly lush and bursting with life, trees are covered with moss, ferns everywhere, and the stream is raging

.41 Stream is going right down the side of the trail

.44 Steam is right next to the trail, trail is muddy with exposed roots and rocks, but beautiful in this weather

.48 Still on Tres Sendas, but stream dug out a gully in the trail, then it goes across the trail in to a larger stream on the left

.53 On Tres Sendas a giant Bay Tree has fallen across the trail, and I have to climb through it

.60 Taking a Right on French Trail from Tres Sendas

.59 Stream goes right across the French Trail, and there is a pretty little waterfall about 5 feet tall

Everything is rich and vibrant, ferns are lush and clean from the rains, streams are flowing like crazy, rocks are covered with moss, and I'm climbing up the French Trail

.69 On French Trail, crossing stream again

.76 Still on French Trail, left the stream area, nice soft path right through the Redwood Forest

.77 Away from stream now, I can hear some Jays squawking, don't hear stream as much anymore

.87 This part of the trail is a Redwood Forest, with lots of Bay Trees and Redwoods, very quiet and beautiful, everything looks green and lush from the rains

.97 This part of French Trail is a bit rocky, Bay Trees are covered in moss, lots of Redwoods

1.02 On French Trail, taking a right on to Redwood Peak Trail

1.04 On Redwood Peak Trail, there is a little bit of mist and fog, creating a stunning setting with ferns, moss and Redwoods

1.07 on Redwood Peak Trail, climbing up some steps of rock and root

1.12 As I climb Redwood Peak  Trail, nice clusters of Bay Trees, and trees with red bark

Seems that a lot of Redwood Peak Trail is exposed rock and root, pretty technical trail, but the Bay Trees have that haunted forest look, they're twisted, clustered and covered in moss,and it's kind of dark, so it's a bit eerie in the fog

1.17 on Redwood Peak Trail, and the trail is very narrow here, lots of Bay Trees, seeing fewer Redwoods

Watching a couple of Chickadees taking a bath in a little puddle on the trail

1.33 Following the trail marker to the West Ridge Trail, at this point there are still Redwoods, Bay Trees

1.45 Taking a Right on West Ridge Trail

1.61 Just past the Redwood Bowl, and passed a class of kids out on a hike with Teachers and a Naturalist

1.78 Just crossing the road leading to Chabot Science Center

1.85 West Ridge Trail is right behind the Chabot Science Center, you can literally touch it

1.90 This part of West Ridge Trail is a bit noisy with cars from the road, seeing some Eucs, Bay Trees, Pines

1.97 This part of West Ridge Trail is partially exposed

2.05 West Ridge Trail crosses an road to the back parking lot of Chabot Science Center

2.07 Little grove of Eucs on left, somebody left their dog poop in a bag on the trail

2.34 End of Hike


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