Wildcat Canyon: San Pablo Ridge-Havey Canyon-Wildcat Creek Trail Hike

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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Wildcat Canyon Regional Park encompasses 2,427 acres along the Wildcat Creek watershed and the surrounding hills and ridges. The park extends from the Tilden Nature Area above the Berkeley hills in the south to historic Alvarado Park at the north end in Richmond. It includes a significant portion of the paved Nimitz Way extending from Inspiration point in Tilden Regional Park. Easy access from the busy cities of the East Bay makes Wildcat Canyon a popular place for hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and those simply looking for a quiet place to spend an afternoon. Wildcat Canyon has 25 miles of trails (mostly fire roads) and affords spectacular views from the crest of the East Bay Hills.(http://www.ebparks.org/parks/wildcat)

This hike climbs up along San Pablo Ridge from the north end of the park at Alvarado Staging Area in Richmond. The loop continues south on Nimitz Way before dropping down through gorgeous Havey Canyon. Head north through Wildcat Canyon and follow Wildcat Creek back to the parking lot.

Begin at the Alvarado Staging Area parking lot and enter through the trail gate onto Wildcat Creek Trail.

Mile 0.3-at the Monte Cresta/Bonita Rd junction: turn left and head north, follow the gravel trail along the NW edge of the park. You’ll cross two trail gates before reaching an unsigned trail split. Go straight towards Monte Cresta Ave.

Some wildflowers!

Mile 0.7-turn right onto Monte Cresta Ave and head west on the unsigned McCosker Trail. The trail winds along the expansive golden hillside towards the pine grove.

Enjoy the magnificent panoramic views of SF Bay and beyond!


McCosker Trail enters through the fragrant pine grove as it climbs up along the park boundary towards the ridge.

The vista point bench offers superb views of the Bay Area!



Mile 1.8-at the Belgium Trail junction: go straight onto Belgium Trail; the trail levels out for a short section to the fork in the road. Look west across the bay and you can see the Golden Gate Bridge-WOW!

Mile 2.0-at the Dead End junction: turn left and head towards the next junction at Clark Boas/San Pablo Ridge Trail.

At the Clark Boas/San Pablo Ridge Trail junction: go straight onto San Pablo Ridge Trail. The narrow single track trail rises uphill with steep rolling climbs along the ridge.

Views open up to the north, south and west. You can see Mt Tam, the Golden Gate Bridge, the SF skyline and San Pablo Bay! It’s a great distraction to the steep pitches along the ridge!



Wildflowers along the ridge!

The trail takes you up to a high point along the ridge before dropping down for another climb up to the highest point at 1060 feet.

Catch your breath and take in the spectacular vistas! Mt Tam, San Pablo Reservoir, Golden Gate Bridge, Sutro Tower and more!

San Pablo Ridge Trail continues along the ridge to the next  junction at Mezue Trail.

Mile 3.3-at the Mezue Trail junction; go straight to stay on San Pablo Ridge Trail. The trail quickly comes to the next junction at Old Nimitz Way.

Mile 3.4-at the Old Nimitz Way/Nimitz Way junction: go straight onto Nimitz Way. Pass the corral and enter through the trail gate, follow the trail to the vista area with the single bench overlooking San Pablo Reservoir, Briones Hills and Mt Diablo!


Mile 3.6-* Optional-turn right on the trail and follow the well worn narrow path up to the old Nike Missile Site which was decommissioned in the 1970’s. Continue on the paved road, it leads you back down to Nimitz Way. The road opens up to views of the homes nestled around the Berkeley Hills with GG Bridge and Mt Tam in the background! (*you can forgo the short climb and stay on Nimitz Way)

Mile 4.1-at the next trail split-turn right onto Havey Canyon Trail. The narrow single track trails cuts across the tall grasslands into the woodlands.

Havey Canyon Trail enters under the woodland through the lush canyon and riparian landscape to a trail gate.

The trail narrows as it crosses Wildcat Creek; you’re under a canopy of trees and completely surrounded by dense brush and blackberry bushes-it makes you feel like a kid going through a rabbit hole-what an adventure! The blackberries are very sweet too!

Havey Canyon Trail continues through the beautiful canyon before exiting through the dense woods towards Wildcat Creek Trail.

Mile 5.5-at the Wildcat Creek Trail junction: turn right onto Wildcat Creek Trail. The broad fire trail goes along the edge of Wildcat Canyon to the picnic area with a water fountain at the Mezue Trail junction.

Continue straight on Wildcat Creek Trail: the wide road parallels Wildcat Creek with beautiful bays and oaks nestled near the creek on the left. Look up at the trees and you’ll find a few huge nests along the branches!

Mile 6.6-at the fallen tree on the right: the trail curves to the left onto a wide two lane paved road.

Gorgeous wildflowers: sweet peas, spanish brooms, sweet clovers, coneflowers and more-WOW!

Wildcat Creek Trail travels along the edge of the canyon homes around East Richmond Heights with a steady background hum of traffic, lawnmowers and other equipment-it’s all white noise. The trail leads back to the parking lot at Alvardao Staging Area.

This trail hike offers amazing ridge top vistas along San Pablo Ridge! On a clear day,views open in all directions-San Francisco, Mt Tam, the Golden Gate Bridge, SF skyline, Sutro Tower, Mt Diablo, San Pablo Reservoir, Briones Hills, San Pablo Bay, Carquienz Bridge, Carquinez Strait and eastern Contra Costa County! Late spring wildflowers are scattered throughout the trails and blackberries are abound along the gorgeous shaded Havey Canyon area. Put on your hiking boots and walk the trails!

Wildflowers seen on the trails: smooth hawksbeard, meadowfoam, poison hemlock, fuller’s teasel, wild radish, lupine, tarweed, california broom, purple vetch, california poppy, common madia, mustard, scarlet pimpernel, bird’s foot deerweed, pearly everlasting, bull thistle, gilia, california blackberry, red berry, bush monkeyflower, california buckeye, pink sweet pea, ithuriel’s spear, western coneflower, white sweet pea, butter lupine, sweet yellow clover and a wildflower in shades of red, pink and white

8.2 Miles with 1348′ of elevation gain
Time: 3.5-4 hours
Hike: Moderate
Dog friendly

Parking: No fee at Wildcat Canyon Staging Area off Park Ave in Richmond. Pit toilets-NO WATER
Bring plenty of water & food/snacks
Weather: Overcast, breezy and warm. Temps ranged from the low to high 70’s with high humidity.

Print Trail Map

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

San Pablo Ridge 2

San Pablo Ridge


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