Sunday, February 9, 2014

Trail: West Ridge Trail, Redwoods Park

By: Maggie

First off, I LOVE the East Bay Parks. There are four main parks that you can run through continuously (Tilden, Sibley, Redwood, and Chabot - listed North to South and weblinked for your convenience). My go-to park is Redwood, just because it's the most convenient for me to get to, but I've run through Chabot and am working my way up into Sibley. Also, Redwood has a great variety of trails. There are shady, wet, fern-covered trails down in the canyon. There are sunny, dry, scrub-brush trails up on the ridges. All of the trails are dirt, which is great.

My go-to trails in Redwood are the Ridge trails: there's an East Ridge trail and a West Ridge. There are several points of access for these trails- my favorites are the Skyline Gate, Moon Gate, or Big Bear Staging Area. Skyline and Moon Gates are at the top of the park, so if you're running from here, be prepared for a lot of downhill on the way out, and a lot of uphill on the way back. Big Bear is at the bottom of Redwood Park, so visa versa- be prepared for climbing up into Redwood and a lot of downhill on the return. Big Bear is also right on the border of Redwood and Chabot parks, so this is a great exploration point.

I like to carry water when I'm running more than 10 miles or I plan on dilly-dallying out there for 2 hours or more. I recommend the same for everyone… when in doubt, carry water. Redwood Park is amazing because there are plenty of water fountains if you know where to look for them. Skyline Gate has water and bathrooms. There are water and bathrooms down on the Stream Trail (bottom of the canyon). Once you cross into Chabot, water is more spread out (located at the "Chabot Equestrian Center" or "Clyde Woolridge Staging area") to the next fountains.

There are horses on the West Ridge trail and offshoots, and there are lots of horse facilities on this side of the park. As a runner/walker, you must yield to horses and it's courteous to give them a heads up before running past (I just holler hello!) Bikes must yield to everybody. Just be mindful; the trails aren't usually too busy, and I've only ever seen horses twice.

The West Ridge trail gives you a great sample of all of the beautiful parts of the park - you get the Redwood Bowl, the windy ridge, and a good mix of "flat-ish" trail and very steep trail. My favorite off-shoots are the Baccharis Trail and the Toyon Trail. There is a marshy part of Baccharis where you can hear bullfrogs croaking- it's incredible! Toyon is a narrow horse trail that twists down the side of the ridge- watch your ankles!

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