Carquinez Strait: Rankin Park-Hulet Hornbeck-Franklin Ridge Loop Trail Hike

Friday, May 8, 2015

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Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline comprises 1,415 acres of bluffs and shoreline along Carquinez Scenic Drive between the town of Crockett and the hillsides overlooking Martinez. This parkland provides a gateway to the river delta region along the northern edge of Contra Costa County. The coastal hills rise steeply up to 750 feet above Carquinez Strait.  From the highest elevations the view includes the marshland of Benicia State Recreation Area to the north across Carquinez Strait. From atop Franklin Ridge along the Franklin Ridge Loop Trail and the California Riding and Hiking Trail, the horizon is pierced by the peaks of Mt. Tamalpais to the west and Mt. Diablo to the east. Looking south from this high point are the ridges of Briones and Las Trampas regional parks.

The topography of this park 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 Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline include 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/carquinez)

Begin this hike from Carquinez Strait Regional Park Nejedly Staging Area off Carquinez Scenic Dr/George Miller Trail in Martinez.

Enter through the trail gate near the picnic tables. At the Rankin Park Trail junction: turn left onto Rankin Park Trail. The narrow single track trail pitches uphill under the shaded woodlands and levels out on the approach towards the cemetery and park boundary.

Wildflowers!

Mile 0.2-Rankin Park Trail turns right and continues to climb up along the park boundary. The trail bends left towards the cattle gate: enter thru and turn right onto the fire road, you’re still on Rankin Park Trail-continue uphill to the next cattle gate. The broad fire road climbs at a moderate grade as it winds up towards the ridge.

More wildflowers!

Look around and take in the views of Mt Diablo, Carquinez Strait, the Benicia-Martinez Bridge and our lovely local refineries!

Rankin Park Trail opens onto the ridge top grasslands and meadows with wonderful views!

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Mile 0.75-at the Rankin Park Trail/California Riding & Hiking Trail junction: turn left onto California Riding & Hiking Trail. The trail goes along the ridge for a short distance to the next trail split.

Mile 0.85-at the Hulet Hornbeck Trail/California Biking & Hiking Trail junction: turn left onto the unsigned Rankin Park Trail. The trail cuts across the grasslands and heads eastward to the cattle gate.

Enjoy the wildflowers!

Rankin Park Trail drops down from the ridge into the shaded woodland onto a narrow trail.

More wildflowers!

Mile 1.2-at the unsigned trail split: turn right and climb up on the single track trail through the woodland to the park boundary line.

Mile 1.45-the trail exits the woodland out towards the open ridge to the shaded picnic area.

Enjoy the sensational panoramic ridge top views!

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Wildflowers!

Head south from the picnic area to the main road ahead and make a right turn followed by an immediate left turn-head towards the cattle shelter.

Mile 1.64-at the hiking sign: turn left onto the unsigned Hulet Hornbeck Trail/California Biking & Hiking Trail. The trail descends from the ridge with fabulous views of Mt Diablo!

Mile 2.0-at the trail split-turn right onto the unsigned trail-the trail rises up through the grasslands towards the ridge with wonderful views of Hwy 4, Franklin Canyon and Franklin Hills!

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Mile 2.3-at the trail split-turn right for the short climb back up towards the cattle shelter. Enjoy the great views of cattle at the stock pond and Carquinez Strait!

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Wildflowers!

Mile 2.48-at the hiking trail junction: turn left onto the unmarked Hulet Hornbeck Trail/California Biking & Hiking Trail. The trail stretches along the ridge to the cattle gate with scenic views of the rolling grasslands. Stop at the vista point bench to take in the fabulous views of Carquinez Strait!

More wildflowers!

Mile 2.9-at the trail junction: go straight to stay on Hulet Hornbeck Trail/California Biking & Hiking Trail and continue straight to the next trail junction.

Mile 3.1-at the Franklin Ridge Loop/California Biking & Hiking Trail junction: turn left onto Franklin Ridge Loop Trail. The trail descends through grassland before reaching a saddle at the next trail junction.

Mile 3.3-at the Park Boundary/Franklin Ridge Trail junction: turn right to stay on Franklin Ridge Trail. The trail descends steadily along a seasonal creek with dense brush and trees on the left and grassy slopes on the right.

Enjoy the wildflowers!

Mile 4.0-at the Carquinez Scenic Dr/Franklin Ridge Loop Trail junction: turn right to stay on Franklin Ridge Loop Trail. The trail continues with a very steep climb through oak woodland with views of the surrounding Franklin Hills.

More wildflowers!

The trail eases to a moderate climb as it winds up towards the ridge with open views of Carquinez Strait and Benicia’s waterfront area.

More wildflowers!

Mile 4.2-*optional-at the unsigned trail split: turn left onto the narrow path leading up to a hilltop and bench. Stop and enjoy the outstanding views! Retrace your steps back to Franklin Ridge Loop Trail and turn left.

The trail continues winding up and around the ridge with stunning views of Solano County, Carquinez Strait, the Benicia-Martinez Bridge and Suisun Bay!

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Enjoy the wildflowers!

At the next trail post-go straight to stay on Franklin Ridge Loop Trail. *Optional-along this section of the ridge, there are several left hand dead-end paths off the main trail that lead out to scenic view points.

More wildflowers!

Mile 5.1-at the Franklin Ridge Loop Trail/Hulet Hornbeck Trail junction: turn left onto Hulet Hornbeck Trail. The trail descends steeply along a seasonal creek under the shaded woodland.

The trail maintains a steep grade as it continues downhill on a narrow single track followed by another stretch under the canopy of trees before reaching the trail gate back to the staging area parking lot.

This is a fabulous local hike along the network of trails around the east section of Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline. You’ll enjoy the stunning ridge top views of Carquinez Strait, Suisun Bay, Mt Diablo and Solano County! The wildflower displays are gorgeous too!

Wildflowers seen on the trails: purple vetch, bush monkeyflower, dandelion, ithuriel’s spear, rose clover, silver puffs, yarrow, winecup clarkia, scarlet pimpernel, white clarkia, purple owl’s clover, broadleaf filaree, yellow sweet clover, blow-wives, mule’s ear, bellardia, morning glory, mustard, blue wildflower, blue-eyed grass, blue dicks, gumweed, bull thistle, milk thistle, rigid betony, pink wildflower, california poppy, silver lupine, california buckeye, california buttercup, sunflower, smooth hawksbeard and true baby stars

Stats:
5.7 Miles with 1381′ of elevation gain
Time: 3 hours with a couple of stops
Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranged from the high 50’s to the mid 70’s with N winds.

Parking: Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline-Nejedly Staging Area off George Miller Trail/Carquinez Scenic Dr in Martinez. No Fee-Pit toilet-No water.
Hike: Moderate with a steep climb and descent
Dog Friendly

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View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Franklin Ridge Loop

Franklin Ridge Loop (2)

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