John Muir NHS: Mt Wanda-Nature Trail Hike

Monday, May 11, 2015

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Take the Mount Wanda trail and enjoy views of the Carquinez Strait and surrounding hills. Coast live oak, blue oak and valley oak line the trail as it ascends the summit. Once at the top, Mount Diablo and the surrounding hills become visible. The more gradual John Muir Nature Trail provides views of Mount Diablo, the Carquinez Strait and Briones Park. On a clear day, you might also spot cows across the valley grazing in the sunshine. (

“Another lovely day, mostly solid sunshine. Took a fine fragrant walk up the west hills with Wanda and Helen, who I am glad to see love walking, flowers, trees and every bird and beast and creeping thing. Buttercup, clover, gilia, Brodiaea, Allium, Dodecatheon, larkspur and portulacas are in flower. The oaks are in full leaf. A fine fragrant walk, the babies are delighted.” John Muir, April 12, 1895

Begin this hike from the Park & Ride lot at the corner of Franklin Canyon Road and Alhambra Ave in Martinez. Take the dirt path at the north end of the lot towards Muir trestle-it leads to the John Muir NHS-Mt Wanda trailhead on Franklin Canyon Rd. Walk up the steps, turn left and enter thru the trail gate onto Mt Wanda trail.

The trail winds uphill on a moderate grade under the beautiful oak woodlands with sounds of local traffic and views of the surrounding hills and residential communities.

Enjoy the wildflowers!

The wide fire road climbs out from the dense tree cover to the dry grassy slopes.

Mile 0.61-at the Nature Trail junction: go straight to stay on Mt Wanda trail. The trail continues to ascend with hilltop views of Alhambra Valley.

Mile 0.82-at the unsigned trail split-go straight to stay on Mt Wanda Trail.

Mile 0.87-at the unsigned trail split: turn left and continue across the open grasslands towards Mt Wanda. The road opens up to wonderful views of Carquinez Strait and the surrounding hills.

Some wildflowers!

Mile 0.99-at the next trail unsigned split: turn left to Mt Wanda-the gentle rise takes you up and over to the summit.

Mile 1.04-Arrive at Mt Wanda’s summit-640 feet.

Enjoy the magnificent 360 degree views of the entire area! You can see the waters along Carquinez Strait, Suisun Bay and the Benicia-Martinez Bridge to the north. To the east, you’ll spot Mt Diablo and the Montezuma Hills. From south and west, take in the views of the hills around Las Trampas, San Pablo Ridge and Briones-WOW!


Panoramic views!



Retrace your steps back to the trail split.

Mile 1.15-at the unsigned trail split: turn left and continue towards the main fire road. Make another immediate left at the next trail junction-the trail gently drops down from the ridge towards the Strenzel Creek watershed area.

Mile 1.34-at the red trail junction-turn right onto the Nature Trail. The single track Nature Trail snakes through the gorgeous oaks around the slopes of Mt Helen on a fairly level terrain.

Keep an eye out for the wildflowers!

The trail drops down to a set of stairs leading to a mini bridge crossing; it continues through the riparian landscape to another creek crossing.

More wildflowers!

The Nature Trail ascends from the ravine and make its way around the oak woodland to the junction picnic area.

Mile 2.0-at the trail junction/picnic area: turn left onto Mt Wanda Trail and retrace your way back down the fire road to the trail gate.

Exit the trailhead area and follow the dirt path back to the parking lot.

Wildflowers seen the trails: ithuriel’s spear, smooth hawksbeard, dove;s foot geranium, elegant clarkia, yarrow, thistle, broadleaf filaree, morning glory, rose clover, california poppy, scarlet pimpernel, false dandelion, mustard, mule’s ear, pink wildflowers, blue dicks, chinese houses and california buckeye

This short scenic hike around Mt Wanda and Mt Helen offers vast views of the surrounding hills and Carquinez Strait from a hilltop often visited by John Muir and his daughters-it’s a walk through history! Stay on the main trails-all the unsigned fire roads dead-end at private property. Even under our current drought conditions-wildflowers are still in bloom. Check it out before they all fade away!

2.7 Miles with 610′ of elevation gain
Time: 1-1.5 hours with a stop at the summit
Hike: Easy-moderate with one long climb
Weather: Sunny, warm and breezy with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the low 60’s to the mid 70’s with brisk SW winds.

Parking: CalTrans Park & Ride lot at the corner of Franklin Canyon Rd and Alhambra Ave in Martinez. No Fee-No facilities
*Bring water & snacks. No facilities along the trails
Dog Friendly-On-leash only

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Mt Wanda

Print-Mt Wanda Map

Mt Wanda 2



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