Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Exploring Oakland's Redwood Regional Park

Distance: 8.7 miles
Elevation: 1,627 feet
Time: 3.5 hours 
Route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1012052562

The wide Stream Trail
Yesterday, two friends, my dog Jodie, and I headed to Redwood Regional Park across the bay from San Francisco in Oakland. I'd wanted to visit this park for years to see redwoods in a less busy and hectic setting than Muir Woods.

For our route, we chose two longer trails that would create a large loop around the park. We started our hike on the southern side of the park near the Wayside Picnic Area. (You can click here for a trail map.) The entry fee was $5 for our car and $2 for the dog. 

From the parking lot, we picked up the wide and peaceful Stream Trail that took us on a 3-mile ascent to the northern edge of the park. Along our way, we found plentiful restrooms and groves of redwoods to duck into.


Redwood grove off the Stream Trail
The trail ended at a parking lot, the Skyline Gate Staging Area. To return to our start, we climbed 0.5 miles on the West Ridge Trail and then turned left onto the French Trail. For about 0.5 miles, the trail was narrow, downhill, and covered with rocks and roots.

After this section, the trail widened and we encountered a number of rolling hills through more redwoods. As we were on higher ground here, there were no more restrooms in sight. We continued on the French Trail for another 3.5 miles, passing a number of trail junctions on our way.

At 7.7 miles total, the French trail met up with the Orchard Trail, where we turned left, dropping 400 feet in just 0.3 miles. At 8 miles, we turned right on the Bridle Trail, and continued back to our car for a flat last 0.7 miles of the hike.

Jodie on the French Trail
This hike was a nice break from the hustle of the city. It was a cool summer day in the Bay Area, so I could imagine this trail being much more crowded on a warmer typical summer day. 

As this is a dog-friendly trail and we saw a number of off-leash dogs running around, I'd avoid this trail if you're not a lover of our four-legged friends.