When I set out to hike the East Bay Skyline National Trail, I had two goals – enjoying the trail a section at a time and completing it without having to use two cars each time. The 31-mile trail, which extends from Richmond in the north to Castro Valley in the south, is beyond my limit for a pleasurable day hike. Breaking the trail into shorter segments, each one done either as an out-and-back or as a loop hike, however, makes it manageable.
In part 1 of Hiking the East Bay National Skyline Trail, I described the northern-most section, which begins and ends in Wildcat Canyon in Richmond. The next section of the trail to the south is on the Nimitz Way trail in the Berkeley Hills and travels through parts of Tilden and Wildcat Canyon Regional parks.
Here is how it goes on the Nimitz Trail:
We start in Tilden Park at the parking lot at Inspiration Point. We can readily see why it might have been named that – we already have amazing views of the area to the east including Briones Reservoir.
Pass the gate and the restroom to begin the hike. Depending on the time, day, and weather we may have plenty of company or only a few hearty souls on the trail. On the weekends, there are usually several family groups with young kids because the wide, paved, gentle trail is very accommodating to beginning riders.
There are many things of interest along the Nimitz: the intriguing exposed, uplifted sedimentary rock near the start, the beautiful views of the Golden Gate and other points to the west as we proceed, the creaky eucalyptus grove and the Rotary Peace Grove farther along.
At the four mile point, the paved path ends. If you have already taken part 1 of this series, you will recognize that this is the point where we turned around last time when coming from the other end (the Wildcat Canyon/Alvarado Park staging area).
To continue our present hike, you have a couple of options: you can retrace your steps to the parking lot (easier route) or retrace a short way to take the Havey Trail (moderately-steep) downhill 1.5 miles and the Conlon Trail (moderately-steep) uphill 1.95 miles until it rejoins the Nimitz Trail.
Distances: out and back on Nimitz Way Trail (paved): 8 miles
Distance: out on Nimitz (4 miles): return on Havey (1.5); Conlon Trail (1.95) + retrace sections of Nimitz Way (.68 and 2.24) Total 10.37 miles.
- Bring plenty of water. There is no water at the trailhead or along the way.
- Wear sunscreen and appropriate clothing. There is very little shade; it also can be quite chilly along the ridge tops.
- Location: Tilden Park’s Inspiration Point is along Wildcat Canyon Road.
- Driving directions, click here.
- Bring both maps: Tilden and Wildcat Canyon Regional Parks.
In the next installment of Hiking the East Bay National Skyline Trail, we’ll continue to the south and explore more of Tilden Park.