Friday, April 17, 2015
Located outside of the town of Crockett, the 1,939 acres of Crockett Hills Regional Park were likely hunting and gathering grounds for Native Americans, later were nineteenth century ranchlands, and more recently were part of the industrial history of the region. The original ranch barn, milkhouse, and corrals can still be seen in the Crockett Ranch staging and picnic area. The park ranges in elevation from 150-800 feet, offering views of San Pablo Bay, the Delta, Mount Tamalpais, and Mount Diablo. Trails include a 4.5-mile segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
The topograpy of Crockett Ranch Regional Park and the adjoining Carquinez Regional Shoreline consists of open, rolling grasslands, wooded ravines, eucalyptus-shaded meadows, and river shoreline. Multi-purpose trails provide access to canyon views and ridgetop vistas.
The major plant communities that occur in Crockett Hills Regional Park includes plant species typical of annual grassland, oak woodland, and coastal scrub vegetation. Localized wooded communities composed of oak and oak/bay woodland and buckeye can be found in protected east-facing slopes and ravines. (http://www.ebparks.org/parks/crockett_hills)
This hike explores the network of trails around Crockett Hills Regional Park from the Crockett Ranch Staging Area. Take Edwards Loop Trail to the tunnel crossing under Cummings Skywy and continue on Soaring Eagle Trail to Big Valley. Head further south on the Kestral Loop Trail and drop down into Big Valley. Climb Big Valley Trail up to the ridge and return to the tunnel from the Bay Area Ridge/Sky Trail. Complete the hike with a jaunt along Wood Rat and Edwards Creek Trails.
Enter through the trail gate up to the Edwards Loop/Edwards Creek Trail junction: go right onto the Edwards Loop Trail. The trail climbs up through the woodlands to the top of the ridge.
Enjoy the wildflowers!
Mile 0.5-at the Edwards Loop/Bay Area Ridge Trail junction: go right and enter through the tunnel crossing under Cummings Skwy to Crockett Ranch Trail.
Mile 0.6-at the Crockett Ranch/Sky Trail junction: the road splits three ways-go straight on the unsigned narrow single track Soaring Eagle Trail. The trails winds around the open ridge with scattered sections of brush woodlands.
Mile 1.5-at the trail junction: go straight to stay on Soaring Eagle Trail. The trail continues rounding the rolling hills through the open grasslands and woodlands.
Enjoy the scenic views!
Mile 2.4-at the Sky Trail junction: turn right onto Sky Trail. The trail goes along the ridge to the water tank/cattle feed area.
Stop at the picnic area adjacent to the water tank.
Head south across the picnic area to the Big Valley/Bay Area Ridge Trail junction at mile 2.47-turn right onto Big Valley Trail. The trail drops down the ridge through a short section of buckeye and continues winding around the hill to a trail gate.
Mile 2.8-at the Big Valley/ Kestrel Loop Trail junction: go straight onto Kestrel Loop Trail. The trail weaves through the open grasslands around the rolling hills with fabulous views of Mt Tam and our local refineries.
The trail switches to white sandstone as it continues down the hill towards Big Valley.
Mile 3.6-at the Kestrel Loop Trail junction: turn left to stay on Kestrel Loop Trail to Big Valley.
Mile 3.8-at the Kestrel Loop Trail junction: turn left to continue on Kestrel Loop Trail into Big Valley. This less traveled trail cuts across the valley floor through tall grass-watch for ticks!
Mile 4.0-at the Kestrel Loop Trail/Bay Area Ridge Trail junction: turn left to stay on Kestrel Loop Trail.
Mile 4.2-at the Big Valley/Kestrel Loop/Bay Area Ridge Trail junction: turn left onto Big Valley Trail. The trail climbs back up to the trail gate at the top of the hill.
Mile 4.6-at the Big Valley/ Kestrel Loop Trail junction: turn right and enter thru the trail gate to stay on Big Valley Trail. The trail goes up the hill to the top of the ridge back towards the water tank/cattle feed area.
Mile 5.0-at the Big Valley/Bay Area Ridge Trail junction: go straight towards the Bay Area Ridge Trail to the next trail junction.
Mile 5.08-at the Big Valley/Bay Area Ridge Trail junction; turn left and continue on the Bay Area Ridge/Sky Trail. The trail cuts across the open grasslands along the top of the ridge.
Enjoy the stunning views!
Mile 6.0-at the Bay Area Ridge/Crockett Ranch Trail junction: turn right and take the tunnel across Cummings Skywy to the other side of the park.
Mile 6.1-at the Edwards Loop/Bay Area Ridge Trail junction: turn right and continue on the Bay Area Ridge Trail. The trail heads SE through dense brush and fields of purple veitch.
Mile 6.2-at the Edwards Loop/Bay Area Ridge/Wood Rat Trail junction: go straight and continue on Wood Rat Trail. The trail continue through the open brush area into the shaded woodlands before exiting out onto the open hillside.
Mile 6.6-at the Edwards Creek Trail junction: turn left onto Edwards Creek Trail. The trail drops down the hill through oak woodland out to the open meadows.
Enjoy the wildflowers!
Mile 7.1-at the Edwards Creek Trail junction: go straight to stay on Edwards Creek Trail. The trail continues down the hill with sounds of traffic on Crockett Blvd and views of the Carquinez Bridge.
The trail leads back to the Crockett Ranch Staging Area parking lot.
Wildflowers seen on the trails: purple veitch, morning glory, scarlet pimpernel, rose clover, false baby stars, california poppies, ithuriel’s spear, broadleaf filaree, california buckeye, silver lupine, bellardia, pink thistle, mule ears, spring veitch, gaping penstemon, blue-eyed grass, california buttercup and dandelion.
This scenic hike around Crockett Hills has fabulous ridge top vistas! It’s easy to shorten or lengthen the hike as you meander along the rolling hills and valley. Take the time to enjoy the springtime display of wildflowers! It’s best to come out here during cooler weather conditions-the open ridge has full sun exposure with little pockets of shade. Bring plenty of water, wear a hat and sunscreen. At the end of the hike-remember to check for ticks on yourself and your dog companion. Post hike-Michael found 8 ticks on Shadow.
7.6 Miles with 1342′ of elevation gain
Time: 3.5 hours with a couple of stops
Sunny and warm. Temps ranging from the mid 60’s to the low 80’s with SW winds
Parking: Crockett Ranch staging area at Crockett Hills Regional Park off Crockett Blvd in Crockett. No Fee-Water & pit toilet available.
*Bring plenty of water & food/snacks. No facilities/water on these trails.
Dog friendly-watch out for ticks