JMLT: Rocky Ridge-Carr Ranch Loop Trail Hike

Thursday, November 30, 2017

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A stunning 604-acres adjacent to Lamorinda, Carr Ranch is now permanently protected watershed, essential wildlife habitat and (soon) beautiful open space for public enjoyment. Owned for over 100 years by the Carr family, it exemplifies the cultural legacy of California ranches and the families that have taken care of them. An outpouring of donations from individuals, foundations, agencies, and corporations achieved the $7 million goal needed to complete JMLT’s successful Campaign to Save Carr Ranch in November, 2016.

Carr Ranch is home to an exceptional diversity of foliage including coastal live oak, riparian woodlands, coastal scrub and annual grasslands. Nearly all of the property is critical habitat for the threatened Alameda whipsnake. Likewise, Buckhorn Creek and numerous ponds on the property provide breeding and foraging habitat for the endangered California red-legged frog. The ranch is also home to golden eagle, mountain lion, American badger, western pond turtle and many species essential to the region’s ecosystem. *1

This hike explores the new public open space at John Muir Land Trust’s Carr Ranch. The route goes along a No Name cattle trail to Rocky Ridge Trail followed by a counter-clockwise loop around Carr Ranch Trail along with a return on Rocky Ridge Trail to Rancho Laguna Park.

Begin this hike from Rancho Laguna Park in Moraga. Follow the paved path along the playground towards the redwood grove.

Turn right at the first split and make your way to the EBMUD trailhead. Cross the creek and make your way up to the trail gate.

Stay on the trail to the Kings Canyon/Rocky Ridge/Carr Ranch junction.

Go straight onto the No-Name cattle trail, it cuts across the low hillside with fabulous views of the surrounding ridges.

At the trail split, turn right, the cattle trail comes to an end onto Rocky Ridge Trail.

Turn left onto Rocky Ridge Trail, it travels eastward along EBMUD watershed boundary to the cattle gate. The trail cuts through the beautiful riparian woodland along the tributary of King Canyon Creek.

Rocky Ridge Trail continues with a gentle uphill through the woodland before exiting out onto the open grassland.

The trail continues eastward across the lower hillside with views of the chaparral-covered hills and ridges. Rocky Ridge Trail cuts across the grassland with open views of Rocky Ridge at Las Trampas and San Ramon Valley!

Follow the trail sign to the next gate, it winds down through the scattered woodland to the Rocky Ridge/Carr Ranch trail junction.

Go left into the woodland to the next junction.

Turn right at Rocky Ridge/Carr Ranch Loop Trail junction, Rocky Ridge Trail horseshoes through the lower foothill area before dropping down into the canyon.

Cross the creek and make your way uphill to the next trail gate.

Rocky Ridge Trail continues with a gentle uphill to Carr Ranch Loop Trail junction.

Carr Ranch Loop Trail turns northward across the open hillside before dropping through the woodland to the next junction.

At the T junction, turn right to begin the counter-clockwise loop around Carr Ranch Open Space. The gentle uphill turns eastward into the serene riparian woodland along Buckhorn Creek to the next trail gate.

Carr Ranch Trail continues through the beautiful shaded woodland as it winds uphill out of the canyon to the open clearing.

At the next junction, turn left to stay on Carr Ranch Loop Trail, it turns northerly along the eastern boundary of the open space area through two cattle gates.

The trail drops down across a creek followed by a stiff uphill climb towards the ridge.

Enjoy the panoramic views!

Carr Ranch Trail continues rolling along the gorgeous ridgeline across the expansive upper grassland area.

Enjoy the magnificent vistas!

Visitors to Carr Ranch will marvel at beautiful ridgelines, unique rock formations, gorgeous valleys and sweeping views of the eastern Bay Area, the nearby Delta, and surrounding hills. Creeks and streams on the ranch drain into the Upper San Leandro Reservoir, a vital source of clean drinking water for tens of thousands of East Bay families. *1

The trail turns westward with amazing panoramic views!

Stay on the rolling ridgeline to the next trail gate.

Carr Ranch Loop Trail continues along the ridge with spectacular 360 views.

As you cross the next trail gate, the trail turns southward across the open grassland with phenomenal vistas!

Carr Ranch Loop Trail drops downhill into the woodland followed by a steep uphill.

The trail levels out as it continues south across the grassland to the next junction.

Turn left to complete the loop around Carr Ranch. The trail drops downhill towards the creek to the Rancho Laguna Park junction.

Turn right at the trail junction and climb out of the creek area to the next junction.

Follow the trail sign to Rancho Laguna Park, turn right and go downhill to the next trail gate.

Return through the woodland, cross the creek and wind uphill to Rocky Ridge Trail junction.

Go straight onto Rocky Ridge Trail followed by another right turn. Retrace the steps back on Rocky Ridge Trail to the top of the ridge.

The trail travels across the grassland before winding down through the riparian woodland.

Rocky Ridge Trail returns west along the EBMUD boundary to the King Canyon junction.

Go straight to stay on Rocky Ridge Trail to Rancho Laguna Park.

In 2016 JMLT partnered with East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) to protect the property in perpetuity. Holding title, EBMUD’s ongoing role is to preserve the watershed on the property, protect wildlife habitat, maintain open spaces and natural scenery, and preserve historical ranching heritage. JMLT manages permanent public access to Carr Ranch for light recreation such as hiking, wildlife viewing, dog walking and equestrian activities. *1

This is a wonderful beautiful hike around the new JMLT acquired open space at Carr Ranch, hit the trails and explore……..

*1 https://www.jmlt.org/carrranch.html

Stats:
8.18 Miles with 2194′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1291′
Time: 4 hrs with multiple stops
Hike: Strenuous
Parking: No fee at Rancho Laguna Park at the end of Camino Pablo in Moraga
Facilities on site with water & restrooms
Dogs on-leash only
EBMUD trail permit required and EBMUD rules apply.

At Rancho Laguna Park: The EBMUD trailhead is at the fence behind and to the left of the play area. Follow the signs for Rocky Ridge Trail and Carr Ranch Loop Trail.

Weather: Sunny and cool. Temps ranged from the high 50’s to the mid 60’s with NE winds.

Print Trail Map

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