EBMUD: Pinole Valley Watershed-Sludge-Goat-Woodrat-Whipsnake-Windmill-Ridge Trail Hike

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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EBMUD’s Pereira Road Trailhead provides access to over 10 miles of trails as well as a back entrance into John Muir Land Trust’s Fernandez Ranch and a connector to EBRP”s Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve. The trails are mostly on historic ranch roads, some very steep, climbing over 400 feet through rangeland and oak woodlands, from Alhambra Valley Rd to the top of the northern ridge, to provide sweeping views from Mt. Diablo to the distant Solano hills, across the Carquinez Strait.*2

This scenic hike takes you along the trails in EBMUD’s Pinole Valley Watershed areas and into the parkland at John Muir Trust’s Fernandez Ranch. The return includes a fabulous stretch along the Bay Area Ridge Trail with panoramic views of the surrounding hills and ridges from Mt Diablo and across San Pablo Bay and beyond!

Begin this hike from the Periera Rd Trailhead off Alhambra Valley Rd. Follow the main trail across the bridge to the next trail gate.

At the first signpost, go left onto the unmarked Sludge Rd, the broad fire road heads NW with views of Alhambra Valley.

At the next trail split, follow the right arrow sign to stay on Sludge Rd, it continues through the valley with views of the surrounding hills.

The fire road leads to the first cattle gate, go straight to stay on Sludge. At the next cattle gate, follow the straight arrow sign and continue across the open valley floor.

The fire road leads to an old weathered barn with views of grazing cattle dotting the hillsides.

Stay on Sludge Rd and follow the arrow signpost, the trail continues across the expansive valley to the next cattle gate.

Grazing cattle!

Continue on Sludge, it rounds the valley floor to the next trail split.

Turn right at the arrow signpost onto the unmarked Simas Rd, it turns northward across Alhambra Valley to the next trail split.

Turn right at the arrow signpost onto the unmarked Ridge Rd, the trail continues northward across the valley. At the next two trail splits, go right to stay on Ridge Rd.

The trail continues along a dry creek towards the transmission towers.

Snake!

At the next trail split, go straight onto the unmarked Goat Rd, the fire road tilts up for a moderate climb along the creek under the shaded woodland.

Goat Rd reaches 760 feet at the top of the ridge at the back gate of Fernandez Ranch.

The hike continues into Fernandez Ranch, make an immediate right onto Woodrat Trail. The single track travels under the shaded oak/bay woodland up to the open clearing.

Woodrat trail drops back through the woodland to the junction at Whipsnake Trail.

Turn left onto Whipsnake (even though the sign is marked Woodrat Tr), the trail continues through the shaded woodland to the Fernandez Ranch signpost.

Go straight to stay on Whipsnake, it stays along the lower hillside to the junction at Windmill Trail.

Turn left onto Windmill, the fire road climbs back up to the ridge to the EBMUD gate.

Return through the gate, make an immediate left onto the Bay Area Ridge Trail. The single track travels southward along the hillside to the next junction.

Enjoy the views!

Go straight to stay on the Ridge Trail, the rolling terrain provides sweeping views of the surrounding valley, hills, and ridges!

Enjoy the panoramic vistas!

The trail kicks up with a super steep climb-enjoy the panoramas!

The trail drops downhill followed by another steep climb up to the next high point.

Enjoy the views!

The trail drops down from the ridge to the next trail junction.

Turn right to stay on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, it cuts across the open hillside and through the scattered oaks to the scenic overlook bench.

The single track continues along the hillside to a cattle gate.

The Ridge Trail continues downhill as it winds around the lower hillside to the next scenic overlook bench.

I discovered a praying mantis clinging onto my hiking pants!

Turn left at the bench area and follow the trail downhill into the valley.

Return across the bridge to Periera Rd.

This is a fabulous hike around the less traveled trails around the Pinole Valley Watershed with stunning panoramic ridge top views! lace up the boots and take a hike!

*1 http://hiking.bondon.com/Main.cfm?Page=HikeDetails&ID=1450
*2 http://ridgetrail.org/pinole-watershed/

Stats:
7.9 Miles with 1351′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1044′
Time: 3.75 hrs with multiple stops
Hike: Moderate
Parking: No fee at Periera Rd Trailhead off Alhambra Valley Rd
No facilities along the route.
No dogs allowed
Bring plenty of water & snacks

Weather: Sunny & warm. Temps ranged from the mid 60’s to the mid 70’s with NW winds.

EBMUD Trail Permit Required-PURCHASE & PRINT PERMIT HERE

Directions: Periera Rd Trailhead > cross bridge > L-Sludge Rd > S-stay on Sludge Rd > R-Simas Rd > R-Ridge Rd > S-Goat Rd > R-exit EBMUD into Fernandez Ranch > R-Woodrat Tr > L-Whipsnake Tr(Woodrat Tr) > L-Windmill Tr > S-exit Fernandez Ranch into EBMUD > L-Bay Area Ridge Tr > S-stay on Bay Area Ridge Tr > R-stay on Bay Area Ridge Tr > L-stay on Bay Area Ridge Tr > L-cross bridge > Periera Rd Trailhead

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