Continuing right along on our next section of the East Bay Skyline National Trail (which is also part of our amazing Bay Area Ridge Trail, we’ll be walking through one of my favorite parks – Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve. We start our loop hike from the adjoining regional park, Sibley Volcanic (where we left on in part 4).
To make it a (approx.) 4-mile) loop rather than an out-and-back, we do a short walk downhill on Skyline Blvd. from the Sibley parking lot to the Huckleberry parking area. You will probably see more bicyclists than cars on this approximately .03-mile stretch, but take care as you walk along the road’s shoulder.
You can enter Huckleberry before you reach the park’s parking lot by taking a narrow dirt pathway through an opening in a wooden fence signed “fire road”. Follow the trail, keeping to the left as you climb a short rise and then continue on the level to the entrance to the park with its picnic table, toilet, and parking.
From the parking lot, follow the trail to the right. Stop at the signboard (.05 mile) to pick up the pamphlet, “Huckleberry Self-Guided Nature Path,” and a trail map (or click here). Another .05 miles along, stay right at the fork and on the Huckleberry Trail.
This is a jewel of a trail – mostly gentle and level as it progresses through a canopy of bay trees and occasional Pacific Madrone, and with ferns, currant and other graceful shrubs lining the way. In the fall, you may manage to find some juicy, purple-blue huckleberries that the wildlife hasn’t already taken.
Part of what makes Huckleberry a preserve is that it is a “island” as far as vegetation is concerned. It contains many native plants that are found nowhere else in the Bay Area. Click here for Wilde Legard’s 16-page color guide to the wildflowers.
For our walk, we will ignore the turns along the way that would take us downhill, and continue straight ahead. Of course, if you want to see some of the rarer plant specimens, you can take a couple of the short spur trails. At signpost 8-10, for example, a short detour takes you out to a clearing with Manzanita – and a fine view of Mt. Diablo.
Continue on the Huckleberry Trail until you reach Pinehurst Road. You’ll likely see a few bicyclists taking a break here because this is a favorite route for serious riders heading to Moraga and other points east.
After a short rest, turn back and retrace your steps approximately .15 miles to the first right turn, and descend to Skyline Trail/Bay Area Ridge Trail. Continue on this lower path. Once again you’ll enjoy the shaded walk with bay trees, ferns, wildflowers, and seasonal streams. At approx. I mile, you will come to a “T” and a wide path. Turn right, downhill; then left to cross the small stream.
After the stream, you will get in your aerobic workout. It’s a steep climb, with a few “false” plateaus (you think you’re finished climbing, but you’re not!) as you continue up the canyon’s side into Sibley. Now that you leave the shade of the Huckleberry, the vegetation changes to oaks, pine, and sticky monkey flower, grasses, and poison oak (generally kept trimmed).
When you reach Sibley’s paved pathway with eucalyptus alongside, turn left at each opportunity and head back to the parking lot where you started.
If you have been walking the Skyline Trail in the segments as described in parts 1-4, you will have completed 16.52 miles of the trail and you have covered more than twice that amount in total miles because of the nature of the loops. Congratulations!
- Sibley Volcanic Regional: 6800 Skyline Blvd, Oakland, CA 94611
- Huckleberry Preserve: Skyline Blvd, Oakland between Grizzly Peak Blvd. and Snake Road.
- Park Hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. unless otherwise posted
- No bicycles in Huckleberry; dogs allowed only to pass through the preserve on the Skyline Trail.
- You can fill water bottles at Sibley’s water fountains
- Flush toilets at Sibley trailhead, privy at Huckleberry.
- Free parking/no entrance fees at either park