We start on this moderately-easy, 4.34-mile loop hike in the popular Redwood Regional Park, high in the Oakland hills. As with the other hikes in this series, we’re going to be on East Bay Skyline National Trail (also the Bay Area Ridge Trail) part of the time, and on alternate trails the rest so that we can see more of the park and also avoid the need for two cars.
Street parking near the trailhead at Pinehurst, Skyline Blvd, and the top of Shepherd Canyon Road is easy. Start on the trail on the southeast corner of the intersection on a narrow dirt trail. You’ll soon pass behind some colorfully-painted contemporary homes – one a Kelly green, the other a bright red. On your left, you’ll pass Chabot Space and Science Center.
At approximately .25 miles, you’ll come to a “T” intersection at East Ridge Trail. Turn right onto East Ridge for approximately .18 miles. You’ll near Redwood Regional’s Skyline Gate entrance and continue onto the West Ridge Trail. Both this trail and the East Ridge trail are very popular with dog-walkers and others, but the crowd thins as you move away from the parking area and trailhead.
Follow the wide West Ridge Trail, passing a couple of smaller trails branching off, until you reach the sign, on your left, indicating Redwood Bowl and Redwood Peak. If you want to reach the “bowl,” where you can enjoy a snack at one of the picnic tables, use the restrooms (flush toilets) and refill your water bottles, this makes a nice stop. To make the gradual descent to Redwood Bowl, follow the trail a short distance to another split. Ignore the Redwood Peak trail; we’re not climbing it today. Continue the gradual descent to Redwood Bowl.
It is possible to reach our next trail, Madrone from Redwood Bowl, but if you have stayed on West Ridge Trail, you’ll continue downhill until you reach Madrone Trail on your left. This is a lovely narrow trail and one of the more gradual descents into Redwood canyon. You’ll enjoy the shaded grove and not having bicycles interrupting your stroll.
Continue downhill. Turn left onto French Trail for .12 mile, then left on Star, and right on Tres Sendas. You are going to be crossing the narrow Redwood Creek at the bottom of the canyon. Turn left to pick up the Stream Trail for your ascent. While it may be disappointing that the creek is not alongside the trail, keep in mind that it’s better for the health of the native Rainbow Trout. Trail erosion can destroy their habitat.
Even without the creek alongside you, you’ll still enjoy being on this shaded path most of the way out of the canyon. There’s another opportunity for lunch or snack and a break at Girl’s Camp (a small clearing with table, drinking water, and restroom).
Continue uphill until you reach Skyline Gate staging area, walk through the parking lot until you reach the street (Skyline). Turn right and you should reach your car within a five-minute walk.
If you have been walking the East Bay Skyline Trail in the segments as described in parts 1-6, you’ve completed almost 19 miles of the trail and you have covered more than twice that amount in total miles because of the nature of the loops. Congratulations!
In the next installment, we’ll complete our exploration of Redwood Regional Park.
- Trail map, click here. http://www.ebparks.org/files/Redwood_map_north_8-10-11.pdf
- Park Hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. unless otherwise posted.
- Bicycles are allowed on West Ridge Trail and the upper portion of Stream.
- Dogs are allowed throughout our hike, but must be on leash in protected areas (includes Stream Trail).
- Free parking/no entrance fees at this entrance