Pleasanton Ridge: Woodland-Ridgeline-Bay Leaf-Sinbad Creek-Thermalito-Oak Tree Trail Hike

Friday, March 3, 2017

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This beautiful 5,271-acre parkland is on the oak-covered ridge overlooking Pleasanton and the Livermore Valley from the west. Parkland development has been intentionally limited to preserve the pastoral atmosphere. The park occupies Pleasanton Ridge and beyond. To the northwest it spills down off Pleasanton Ridge into upper Kilkare Canyon, where it continues up onto Sunol Ridge, finally terminating at its westernmost corner in Stoneybrook Canyon. Inside the park, elevations exceed 1,600 feet. From the main staging area on Foothill Road, you can follow a multi-purpose trail system, which accommodates hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists provide canyon views and ridgetop vistas, and access to remote, deep-canyon streams. *1

Begin this hike from the Foothill Staging Area parking lot at Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park off Foothill Rd in Pleasanton. Enter through the main trail gate onto Oak Tree Trail (1), it gently ascends the grassy hillside to the Woodland Trail junction (2).

Turn left onto Woodland Trail, it traverses the hillside under the shaded woodland to the upper open grassland meadows. Woodland Trail roughly parallels Oak Tree trail, providing an alternate route for hikers and equestrians only.*2

At the Oak Tree/Ridgeline junction (5), go straight onto Ridgeline Trail. Continue uphill, the broad fire road enters through the cattle gate as it turns northwards across the beautiful open grassland to the Olive Grove Trail junction (10).

Enjoy the glorious ridgeline views! To the south, unbroken views of ridgetops extend to Sunol Valley and then rise back up to Mission and Monument Peaks.*2

Go straight and stay on Ridgeline Trail, it travels along the east side of the old olive groves to the ridge top picnic table and water fountain near post #11.

Ridgeline Trail levels out as it continues past the north end of the olive groves with open views of valleys below.

The trail gently rolls along the ridgeline as it cuts through the gorgeous open grasslands.

At the Thermalito junction(16), go straight to stay on Ridgeline Trail. It continues past the scattered oaks along the east edge of the park.

At the next Thermalito junction(18), go straight to stay on Ridgeline. The trail winds its way around the soft rolling hills to the trail gate.

Ridgeline Trail drops down from the ridge with the occasional glimpse of the valley floor to the park boundary line.

Ridgeline Trail continues through the south end of Augustin Bernal Park as it gently winds back uphill towards the ridge to the Thermalito junction. (notice the change of signage posts)

Stay on Ridgeline as it travels north through the scattered oak stands at Augustin Bernal Park.

At Valley View trail junction, go straight to stay on Ridgeline. It continues along the rolling grassland and mixed woodland to Blue Oak Knoll Trail junction.

Go straight to stay on Ridgeline Trail, it exits Augustin Bernal Park and re-enters Pleasanton Ridge park boundary to post#21.

Ridgeline Trail continues through the gorgeous oak woodlands to the Sinbad Creek Trail junction(22). Grassland is the dominant plant community of Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park. The woodland communities are made up of mixed stands of coast live oak, Californa bay laurel, blue oak, black oak, valley oak and Oregon oak. Like the grasslands, the woodland undergrowth contains numerous grasses and wildflowers.*2

Stay on Ridgeline, the rolling terrain leads to the vista bench with spectacular ridge top vistas!

The northern sections of the Ridgeline Trail afford magnificent panoramic views to the north, east, and south.The San Ramon, Pleasanton, and Livermore valleys lie spread out below, while Mt St Helena and the Diablo and Hamilton mountain ranges appear in the distance.

Enjoy the fields of shooting stars wildflowers!

Continue on Ridgeline to Bay Leaf Trail junction(26).

Turn left onto Bay Leaf Trail, it drops down from the ridgeline into the beautiful shaded woodland towards Sinbad Creek to post#25.

Go straight to stay on Bay Leaf Trail, it crosses over Sinbad Creek to the Sinbad Creek Trail junction(24).

Turn left and head south on Sinbad Creek Trail, it travels under the gorgeous wooded riparian landscape along Sinbad Creek at lower Kilkare Canyon.

Riparian woodland occurs in a narrow band along Sinbad Creek and in some of the steep canyons and ravines.*2

At the next Sinbad Creek trail junction(23), turn left. It crosses over the creek before tilting up for a moderate climb out of Kilkare Canyon to the water tank.

Sinbad Creek Trail continues with a moderate climb up through the woodland with views of the chaparral-covered Sunol Ridge.

The trail leads back to the Ridgeline Trail junction(22).

Turn right onto Ridgeline Trail and retrace your steps back through the mixed woodland into Augustin Bernal Park.

At the Thermalito Trail junction, turn right and enter through the cattle gate. Thermalito Trail runs along the west side of the park, overlooking Kilkare Canyon. The trail is named after the Thermal fruit Company, which cultivated non-irrigated orchards of apricot, cherry, prunes and almonds in the southern area of Pleasanton Ridge above the town of Sunol.*2

Thermalito Trail drops downhill as it cuts across a small dam followed by a climb up through the woods.

The trail leads out across the grassland to the next Thermalito Trail junction(17).

Go straight to stay on Thermalito, it continues along the west edge of the park as it cuts in and out of the woods to the Ridgeline Trail junction(15).

Go straight to stay on Thermalito, it winds around the expansive rolling hills to the Olive Grove Trail junction(13).

Continue straight onto Olive Grove to Ridgeline Trail junction(10). Olive Grove Trail, running just north of the intersection of Ridgeline and Thermalito trails, passes through lovely historic olive tree orchards. The orchards were planted between 1890 and the 1920’s. There is no historic record of who planted the trees.*2

Turn right onto Ridgeline Trail and descend the ridge to Oak Tree Trail junction(5).

Turn left onto Oak Tree Trail, it descends Pleasanton Ridge at its southern end.

The trail winds down into the beautiful open green valley meadows.

At the Sycamore Grove Trail junction(3), go straight to stay on Oak Tree Trail. It continues winding around the grassland towards the Woodland Trail junction(2). 

Oak Tree Trail drops downhill for the return to the parking lot.

This is a fabulous hike up to Pleasanton Ridge with a scenic trek along Sinbad Creek at lower Kilkare Canyon! You’ll enjoy the spectacular ridge top views of Sunol, Pleasanton, and Livermore valleys!


*2 Pleasanton Ridge brochure

12.5 miles with 2554′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1594′
Time 6 hrs with multiple stops
Hike: Challenging
Parking: No fee parking at Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park Foothill Staging Area.Water & restrooms available.
Water fountains available along Ridgeline Trail
Dog friendly

Weather: Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the low 50’s to the high 60’s with E > SW winds.

Print Trail Map

Directions: Foothill Staging Area > Main Trailhead off parking lot-Post #1> Post #2 > L-Woodland Tr > Post #5 > S-Ridgeline Tr > Post #10 > S-Ridgeline Tr > Post #16 > S-stay on Ridgeline Tr > Post #18 > S-stay on Ridgeline Tr > S-enter Augustin Bernal Park-stay on Ridgeline Tr > Post #21 > L-stay on Ridgeline Tr > Post #22 > S-stay on Ridgeline Tr > Post #26 > L-Bay Leaf Tr > Post # 25 > L-stay on Bay Leaf Tr > Post #24 > L-Sinbad Creek Tr > Post #23 > L-Sinbad Creek Tr > Post #22 > R-Ridgeline Tr > R-Thermalito Tr > Post #17 > S-stay on Thermalito Tr > Post #15 > S-stay on Thermalito Tr > Post #13 > L-Olive Grove Tr > Post #12 . stay on Olive Grove Tr > Post #11 > S-to Ridgeline Tr > Post #10 . R-Ridgeline Tr > Post #5 (missing #) > L oak Tree Tr > Post #3 > R-stay on Oak Tree Tr > Main Gate parking lot

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