Carquinez: Mokelumne-Hulet Hornbeck-CA Riding Hiking-Franklin Ridge Loop Trail Hike

Thursday, May 31, 2018

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Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline comprises 1,415 acres of bluffs and shoreline along Carquinez Scenic Drive between the town of Crockett and the hillsides overlooking Martinez. This parkland provides a gateway to the river delta region along the northern edge of Contra Costa County. The coastal hills rise steeply up to 750 feet above Carquinez Strait. From the highest elevations, the view includes the marshland of Benicia State Recreation Area to the north across Carquinez Strait. From atop Franklin Ridge along the Franklin Ridge Loop Trail and the California Riding and Hiking Trail, the horizon is pierced by the peaks of Mt. Tamalpais to the west and Mt. Diablo to the east. Looking south from this high point are the ridges of Briones and Las Trampas regional parks.*1

The topography of this park consists of open, rolling grasslands, wooded ravines, eucalyptus-shaded meadows and river shoreline. Multi-purpose trails provide access to canyon views and ridgetop vistas. At the northwestern edge of the shoreline park, the remnants of a former brickworks, grain wharf and resort, dating back to the turn of the century, recall the historic character of the site. The sights and sounds of tugboats along this broad waterway are also part of the charm and excitement of Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline.*1

Starting at Mt. Wanda Staging Area route will be Mokelumne Trail, No Name Trail #1, Hulet Hornbeck Trail, No Name Trail #2, California Riding & Hiking Trail, Franklin Ridge Loop Trail stopping to rest/snack at the overlook bench. Return continues around Franklin Ridge Loop Trail, then along the ridge top fire roads back to the parking area *2

Begin at the Mt Wanda Trailhead off Franklin Canyon Rd, turn right onto the CA Riding & Hiking Trail. It goes under the train trestle before dropping down to Franklin Canyon Rd.

Cross the street and enter through the tunnel between the colorful murals. Make a left at the opposite end of the tunnel onto Mokelumne/Hulet Hornbeck Trail. The trail begins with a moderate climb out of the canyon to the first trail post.

At the trail split, go left onto the unmarked No-Name Trail #1. The single track winds around the golden hillside to the ridge top grassland with views of grazing cattle.

The No-Name trail re-joins CA Riding & Hiking/Hulet Hornbeck Trail, go left to stay along the top of the ridge.

At the next trail post, go straight to stay on Hulet Hornbeck Trail to the next cattle gate. The rolling terrain provides great views of the surrounding valley and Mt Diablo!

At the next trail split, go right to stay on Hulet Hornbeck Trail, it gently winds around the golden hills before tilting up to a climb towards the cattle barn.

At the trail post, turn right and follow No-Name Trail #2 towards the picnic area adjacent to the single palm tree.

At the high point; pause for a moment to take in the splendid views of Carquinez Strait, the Mothball Fleet in Suisun Bay and the Benicia-Martinez Bridge!

The No-Name Trail continues northwards on a faint single track towards the dense woodland down to the park boundary fenceline.

The trail continues through the shaded oak woodland up to the open hillside.

Follow the trail uphill past the windmill to the CA Riding & Hiking Trail junction.

Go straight onto CA Riding & Hiking Trail, it continues with an uphill to the Franklin Ridge Loop Trail T-junction.

Turn right onto Franklin Ridge Loop Trail, the broad multi-use trail winds down and around the hills with ridgetop vistas!

The trail levels out along the ridge with three spurs heading out to the scenic viewpoint areas. Enjoy the views!

Franklin Ridge Loop drops down from the open ridge towards the wooded canyon. The steep descent leads to the trail junction with Carquinez Scenic Dr.

At the T junction-turn left to stay on Franklin Ridge Loop; the trail meanders along a seasonal creek through a gorgeous shady oak/bay woodland.

The trail kicks up with a steep climb back towards the ridge.

At the Park Boundary junction-go left to stay on Franklin Ridge Loop; the trail winds around and through the grassy hillsides to the next trail junction.

At this junction-turn right onto the CA Riding & Hiking/Hulet Hornbeck Trail.

At the next trail post, go straight to stay on CA Riding & Hiking/Hulet Hornbeck Trail. The uphill climb leads back to the ridge top cattle barn.

Stay on CA Riding & Hiking/Hulet Hornbeck Trail, the broad fire road winds down along the ridge top with gorgeous views!

The trail continues up towards the transmission followed by a downhill back to Franklin Canyon and Mt Wanda Staging Area.

This fabulous hike around Franklin Ridge rises to a high point at 700 feet and provides spectacular panoramic views of Carquinez Strait, Mt Diablo, Suisun Bay, Benicia and beyond! Rise to the occasion and hit the trails!



Stats: 7.53 Miles with 1743′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 674′
Time: 3 hours with a few stops
Hike: Moderate with steep climbs and descents
Parking: Free at Mt Wanda Staging Area parking lot at the corner of Alhambra Ave & Franklin Canyon Rd
Ample street parking on Franklin Canyon Rd
No amenities along the trails
Bring plenty of water & food/snacks

Weather: Sunny and breezy. Temps ranged from the high 50’s to high 60’s with brisk WSW winds.

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View the interactive RGPS route map & profile


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