Friday, October 24, 2014

Trails: East Bay Madness!

By: Maggie

I *love* running in the East Bay. The network of trails is incredible - and offer an endless combination of long or short runs. During my training, I find it fun, but challenging, to string together long trail runs that have a good variety of terrain and available water refills. I've started running with a hydration pack, so the water is less critical, but it's still good (on a 3 or 4 hour run), to know you can refill if needed!

Anyway, that's a long introduction to a simple post. Here is my favorite long-run loop in the East Bay.  It strings together runs through Redwood Regional Park and Anthony Chabot Regional Park. Both full maps are available online:

This loop is 20 miles. I can't remember the elevation gain - I'm guessing around 4500'. 

I have annotated them here with mileage:

MILES 1 - 5.62

Click map for larger image.
  • I like starting at Skyline Gate. There are restrooms, water fountains, and benches. 
  • Head south on the West Ridge trail. It's a gradual uphill to the Moon Gate, at mile 1.2
  • Take a hard left to stay on the West Ridge trail. There is one significant climb as you enter the Chabot Space Center property. 
  • Cross the road after the climb and enjoy rolling hills down to the Redwood Bowl at mile 1.96.
  • Lots of trails peel out of the Redwood Bowl, so pay attention here. Veer left and follow signs to stay on West Ridge - it will be the left-most trail and a slight uphill climb out of the bowl. 
  • West Ridge opens up here, and it's a beautiful stretch with great views - or mist blowing over the ridge. The eucalyptus trees smell amazing - great spot!
  • Several trails split off of this stretch of West Ridge. The Baccharus trail is a variation of West Ridge. It is a nice mixup and connects right back to the West Ridge trail. A couple trails peel off to the left and take you down to the bottom of the canyon and will return you to Skyline. A couple peel off to the right - take the third one, Toyon Trail, at mile 4.5.
  • Toyon is a rutted, skinny single track trail that careens down the side of the hill. It's fun to run and has beautiful views. I've never seen anyone on this trail, so it seems like a hidden gem!
  • At the bottom of the hill, take a left on Golden Spike at 5.32 miles. Golden Spike skirts the bottom of the ridge, along the road. It will take you to a road crossing at 5.62 miles. There's a small bridge. Watch for the steps and for traffic!

MILES 5.62 - 15.5

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  • Across the road, you enter the Big Bear Staging Center and Anthony Chabot Regional Park.
  • It starts with a steady climb up the MacDonald Trail. There are trail signs and only a couple loop offshoots.
  • Once you reach the ridge, the trail rolls along for a couple miles and then drops into a steady decline to Bort Meadow Group Camp at 8.15 miles.
  • The trail has a few horse gates, and it will pop onto a paved road/driveway. Run down and to the right on this paved road. It leads to dirt parking lot that trails split from.
  • I like to take the Brandon Trail on my way out - it's on the south side of the creek (Grass Valley Creek). It's always been chilly on this trail because it's tucked in the shade near water. 
  • There is a really pretty Stone Bridge at mile 9.5. Head up to the right (south) on Jackson Grade. At the top of this grade is WATER at 9.8 miles! It's a spigot near some parking. 
  • The Goldenrod Trail continues south from The Woolridge Staging Area (where the water was), and will hit a turnaround point at about 10.5 miles and the Columbine Trail
  • The Columbine connects to the Cascade Trail, which will bring you back to the Stone Bridge. From here, take the Grass Valley trail (instead of Brandon), to get a view from the other side of the creek.
  • At mile 12.7, you'll be back in the Bort Meadow parking area, climb back up the paved driveway, and climb gradually up the MacDonald Trail. Follow this back to the Big Bear staging area, where you first popped into Chabot Park. This should be about 15.5 miles.

MILES 15.5 - 20

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  • Back in Redwood Park, get back onto Golden Spike, and head south (do not retrace back to Toyon). Golden Spike will follow the road and curve around into the canyon. 
  • At 16.3 miles, Golden Spike connects back with West Ridge. West Ridge quickly turns into Stream Trail, which is the main canyon-bed trail. 
  • Stay on Stream Trail the rest of the way. At 17.14, there is a WATER spigot in a picnic area (to the right).
  • At 18 miles, Stream Trail crosses to the right over a bridge. Another trail continues straight and is BRUTAL climbing out (and it adds a couple miles). 
  • Once you've crossed the bridge, take a left and follow Steam Trail for 2 more miles to Skyline Gate! The last .5 mile is a decent climb - I usually hike a lot of it. But it's good to end on a tough note ;)

I hope this helps you enjoy Redwood and Chabot Parks as much as I do! And if you do, please consider making a donation or becoming a member of the Regional Parks Foundation at

Happy running!

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