On this hike, the 360-degree views we had on the earlier sections of the East Bay Skyline National Trail (also part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail) disappear, but we continue to enjoy both scenic vistas and a good workout. We can start this out-and- back hike from two different trailheads – one from Tilden’s Lomas Cantadas, one in Sibley Preserve on Skyline – both part of East Bay Regional Park District. We’ll be hiking 6.8 miles total.
Trailhead at Sibley Preserve: After parking (free), head over to the wooden building that houses the restrooms. Take a moment to study the adjacent geologic exhibit, then fill your water bottle at the nearby faucet, and pick up the narrow dirt path near the parking lot on the same side as the women’s restroom. A sign points to Tilden Park.
We descend initially through grasses, eucalyptus and scrub. Pass through a canopy of some fine oak trees. Cross a wooden bridge under which a seasonal creek flows. No telling what might be under the bridge; once, in springtime, we spotted thousands of ladybugs covering some fallen branches.
We come to a lane of sorts – berry bushes taller than we are lining the way – you may spot a bush bunny nibbling on tender shoots.
Shortly before you come to a paved road, the Old Tunnel Road, you’ll notice a signboard explaining the importance of this swath of the park: that it’s an important wildlife corridor passageway for animals. Cross the road and resume the trail.
With the exception of a couple of short, but steep ascents, we are on a gradual descent to a second paved road, Fish Ranch Road, which we carefully cross to enter East Bay Municipal District land (EBMUD). You are more than about 60% of the distance to Lomas Cantatas.
We don’t need a permit from EBMUD on this section of the trail, but are reminded to stay on the path. We’ll soon be switch backing up the hill through grassland. Lizards zip across our trail (occasionally a snake). A solo oak tree near one of the turns makes a nice stop for a snack.
Further along we will have views to Mt. Diablo and a welcome bench for resting. We encounter another change in vegetation – probably as a result of the no-mechanized equipment regulation that fosters native plants. Poppies, valerian, and other natives appear in season. The intriguing strata of rock alongside the footpath were exposed when the trail was created.
We start to hear the steam trains (operating every day during summer, weekends all year). We leave EBMUD land and enter Tilden Park through another wide gate. Cross Lomas Cantatas to the picnic tables, or cross over into the parking lot for the trains and refill your water bottles. If you are a purist about hiking every inch of the Skyline Trail (recommended), continue along another .01 mile to the parking lot where part 3 of this series left off. After your break, retrace your steps to Sibley.
Sibley Preserve is at 6900 Skyline Blivd. Oakland, CA
- Flush toilets and drinking water available at both trailheads
- Hiking poles recommended
- Sibley map, click here.
- Tilden map, click here.
- Close up map of Lomas Cantadas area/steam trains/parking, click here.
Review: Part 1 of this series was from Wildcat Canyon into Tilden and provided some strenuous climbs on the way into the park. Part 2, starting on the Nimitz Trail in Tilden, was an easy hike if completed as an in and out, but had a moderately steep climb out of the canyon if you completed it as a loop. Part 3 linked two trailheads in Tilden Park — one at Inspiration Point and the other near the popular steam trains. (Click sections: part 1, part 2, part 3 to get the details of where we have been.)