With today’s hike, we explore some more of Redwood Regional park’s trails. We’ll be on the Skyline Trail (also part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail) on the way into the park, and on alternate paths part of the time on our return in order to have some variation.
We start from the MacDonald Staging Area off of Redwood Road, Oakland. Walk west on the narrow dirt path (approx. ¼ mile) paralleling the road to a second parking area (Big Bear Gate) and cross over the highway to start up the trail. Shortly you’ll reach a “T” and turn right onto Spike Trail. You’ll enjoy this shaded, gradual ascent through mixed forest. Continue on Spike until you come to the West Ridge Trail intersection and turn left onto it.
West Ridge Trail is a wide track. Now you get to do some moderately steep climbing (and keep to the right in case any bicycles come along). This section also has more sun exposure, so pause to drink some water a few times. At approximately three miles, you will come to a turnoff to the right onto Madrone. If you have completed hike #6 of this series, you will recognize this turnoff as the one where we turned around last time. (If you want to find a restroom, drinking water, or picnic tables, continue straight ahead on West Ridge Trail .09-mile to the Redwood Bowl sign and turn right and descend briefly to the picnic area.)
For today’s hike, we turn around at the Madrone sign and retrace our steps on West Ridge Trail for .38 miles and then turn right onto Baccharis Trail. It was in this area that we saw a Western Skink. A skink is a slim-bodied lizard; we knew the one we spotted was a juvenile because it had a vivid pattern on its body and a bright blue tail.
Baccharis, like West Ridge is a wide, rather dusty trail, but it is new territory. Continue on Baccharis until it rejoins West Ridge. Continue right on West Ridge approximately half a mile, until you encounter the trail marker, on the right, and take Toyon Trail.
In my opinion, this is the best part of the hike. The trail narrows, the trees form a shady canopy, and the vegetation is more varied and less trampled. Watch your footing as you continue switch-backing down the hill. It’s not treacherous, but you wouldn’t want to topple down a cliff into the poison oak.
Continue on Toyon until you reach an intersection with Spike, turn left on Spike until you meet the intersection where you encountered it at the start of our hike. Turn right and go downhill through a small pretty stand of Redwoods. When you reach Redwood Road once again, cross over, turn left in the parking area and take the narrow path back to MacDonald Gate Staging Area.
- Print out a trail map from home, there may not be any at the parking area. Click here.
- Distance: Approximately 6 miles.
- Carry water
- Sunscreen and hat
- Hiking poles optional
- No restroom or water at the trailhead. Both available in Redwood Bowl.
- Free parking/free park entrance
This series, when completed, will also have covered the 31 miles of the East Bay Skyline National Trail, which is also featured in this year’s EBRPD’s Trails Challenge 2011.