Joaquin Miller: Lower Palos Colorados-Cinderella-Fern Ravine-Big Trees-Sequoia Bayview-Sinawik-Lookout Point Trail Hike

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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Joaquin Miller Park is named for one of the late 19th century’s more colorful figures, Cincinnatus Hiner (“Joaquin”) Miller. Joaquin Miller Park covers more than 500 acres. Its trails connect downhill to Oakland’s Dimond Canyon Park, and uphill to Roberts and Redwood East Bay Regional Parks, and the Bay Area Ridge Trail. (http://www.fojmp.org/history/)

Begin from the Lower Palos Colorados Trailhead at the end of Joaquin Miller Ct off Mountain Blvd in Oakland.*You’ll be rewarded with lovely views of the gurgling Palo Seco Creek as well as occasional small waterfalls in season. But it’s not for the casual hiker, as this scenic route follows a steep, narrow trail with some sharp drop offs as it climbs from the bottom of a canyon to join the Sunset Trail. 

The trail cuts through the lush riparian landscape under the gorgeous canopy of trees along the Palo Seco Creek. As you hike further into the canyon, the noise pollution lessens and you’re able to hear the wonderful sounds of birds chirping!

The narrow trail leads to a steep staircase climb that winds up from the canyon floor into the beautiful dense forest with small redwoods and overhanging bent bay laurel trees.

At a high point, the narrow trail follows the creek bed on gentle rolling terrain up to the wooden trail fence.

At the Sinawik Cabin junction: go left and hike up the steps to the ruins of the old Sinawik Cabin. All that’s left standing is the concrete foundation of the cabin. Future FOJMP projects include restoring the Sinawik Cabin site.

Stay to the left-the unmarked path connects to the Sunset Trail. Continue left on Sunset to the Cinderella junction.

At the split-go right onto Cinderella Trail: the trail traverses up along the hillside with gentle grades through the eucalyptus groves before heading into the woodlands.

The trail kicks up with a steep rocky climb to a T junction.

At the Sequoia-Bayview Trail junction: turn left for the short uphill to the next junction, turn right to stay on Sequoia Bayview. The trail leads up to the flat hilltop near the horse arena.

At the Fern Ravine/Sequoia Bayview Trail junction, go straight towards the picnic area and turn right onto Fern Ravine Trail.

The Fern Ravine Trail leads you underneath the shade of the beautiful towering redwoods and lush ferns to the next junction at Orchard Trail. *A little-used hidden gem, the Fern Ravine Trail is well named as it carries you among ferns following the ravine bearing Fern Ravine Creek. The steep, narrow trail starts at a parking lot just off Skyline Blvd. and follows Fern Ravine Creek downhill until merging with the Sunset Trail. Don’t miss the old wooden bridge just above the junction with the Sequoia Bayview Trail. No bicycles allowed on this trail. 

Cross the little wooden bridge and exit the trail; at the Fern Ravine/Seqouia Bayview Trail junction, go left onto Sequoia Bayview Trail. The short hike under the woods leads to Big Trees Trail.

At the Big Trees Trail junction: go left and head up the trail to the small flat top area, go left at the fallen tree and follow the trail through the dense forest for a short climb up to the hilltop plateau.

*Taking the Big Trees Trail gives you an opportunity to see a fine strand of huge Pacific Coast Redwoods, planted during the early 1900s after much older redwoods were felled as ship masts in the 1800’s. Those who walk the winding, narrow, up and down loop that connects to the Sequoia Bayview Trail at two spots will be well rewarded. Be cautious of bicycle traffic, although it’s prohibited in the winter. The broad trail takes you through the gorgeous second growth redwoods with a cathedral like quality of an older growth forest.

Sit for a while on the memorial bench and enjoy the peaceful surroundings!

At the next Orchard Trail junction: go right to stay on Big Trees Trail. Continue through the redwoods for a lunch stop at the second picnic area; this part of the hike can get a bit noisy with the trails’ close proximity to Skyline Blvd.

Stay on Big Trees Trail-it gently winds down from the redwoods to the Sequoia Bayview Trail Trailhead off Skyline Blvd.

Turn right onto the Sequoia Bayview Trail. *Probably the most popular route in the park, the Sequoia-Bayview Trail is mostly flat and wide. It winds in and out of canopied trees in dappled sunlight, making several 180-degree turns around the canyon below before suddenly opening up to two vistas with gorgeous views of downtown Oakland, the Bay and the San Francisco skyline.

At the Fern Ravine Trail junction: make a sharp left turn onto Fern Ravine. Watch your footing on the unstable surface-the narrow trail is currently very dry with loose slippery dirt. *Follow Fern Ravine Creek downhill until merging with the Sunset Trail.

At the Sunset Loop Trail junction: turn left onto Sunset Loop to Sunset Trail.

At the bottom of the hill, turn right onto Sunset Trail. Go pass the Ranger Station junctions and travel along the open meadow and picnic areas near the main park entrance to the Sinawik Trail junction.

At Sinawik Trail junction: turn left and cross over Palo Seco Creek on the low concrete bridge to the Sinawik Loop junction. The trail comes to a split with a tree at its dead center-go left to the upper Sinawik Loop Trail.

The gentle grade on the upper trail takes you underneath the canopy of the gorgeous bay woodlands with lush ivy covered hillsides. At the high point, the trail drops down on a steep decline with loose dirt-watch your footing!

At the bottom of the hill, turn left at the Sinawik Trail junction: the short uphill jaunt takes you to the Sinawik Lookout Point.

Sinawik Lookout Point-enjoy the spectacular bay views!

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Retrace your steps on the Sinawik Trail to the junction: go straight onto Sinawik Trail. The trail takes you through the shaded woodland along the lush riparian landscape along Palo Seco Creek.

Cross the Palo Seco Creek at the little wooden bridge to the Palos Colorados Trail junction.

Turn left at Palos Colorados Trail for the scenic return to the trailhead at Joaquin Miller Ct.

This is another beautiful loop around Joaquin Miller Park! You’ll love the quiet calm of the woodlands and the gorgeous lush riparian habitat along Palo Seco Creek and the magnificent redwoods surrounding Big Trees Trail! There’s plenty of options to shorten or lengthen the hike-check out the trail map and explore this wonderful park!

*http://www.fojmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/JMP-5-trails-brochure-2013.pdf

Stats:
6 Miles with 1000′ of elevation gain
Time: 3 hours with a couple of stops
Hike: Easy-Moderate with a few steep climbs
Parking: No fee at the end of Joaquin Miller Ct off Mountain Blvd in Oakland. NO FACILITIES
Water & Porta-potties/restrooms at trail gate near Sequoia Arena off Castle Park Trail, at Big Trees north junction & along the Sunset Trail near the open meadow off Fern Ravine Trail *check locations on trail map
Dog Friendly-On Leash Only
Bring plenty of water & food/snacks

Weather: Sunny & warm with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the mid 70’s to high 80’s with SW winds.

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