Hike or Bike at Fernandez Ranch in Martinez East Bay
Green rolling hills studded in oak trees, wildflowers like poppies, lupine and the Mount Diablo sunflower—exclusive to Contra Costa County ... the landscape at Fernandez Ranch in Martinez is electrifying right now! For a highlight reel of wildlife, wildflowers, and wowing panoramas, do a 6-mile hike or bike ride combining the Windmill, Woodland, Franklin Ridge, Woodrat, Whipsnake, and Black Phoebe Trails.
Thank the John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) and the Fernandez family, who tended to their private land for over 150 years before JMLT initiated an effort to preserve and restore much of the ranch. Today, the general public also gets to enjoy the multi-use trails at this gem of a place to hike, bike, picnic, and experience glorious vistas.
From the Fernandez Ranch Trailhead, take the Windmill Trail for a gradual ascent winding past an old dairy farm and windmill. Turn onto the Woodland Trail for a beautiful forest ramble including bay trees and oaks. The trail rises to a plateau at the intersection of Canyon Loop Trail. Wildflowers up here are currently blooming, especially poppies and lupine.
The views are outstanding, with green hills galloping in every direction out towards Mount Tam and San Pablo Bay. Head west to connect onto Franklin Ridge Trail for more flowers and a lone bench overlooking the landscape. There’s also a solo picnic table up on a knoll for those who bring some provisions. On clear days you’ll spot the peak of Mount Diablo looming in the distance. Cattle here dot the landscape too.
Complete the route descending via the Woodrat Trail and Whipsnake Trail, enjoying expanses of quiet grasslands punctuated by giant oaks, more vistas, and a brief ascent to Black Phoebe Trail and the Homestead Picnic Area. Fernandez is fabulous.
There are some cattle ranch gates to pass through on this trail. The Black Phoebe Trail is ADA accessible. Dog-friendly! Maps are available at the trailhead, but we recommend printing one out or taking a photo of the map, in case the brochures need to be replenished. There’s a large map at the trailhead and you can also find the Trail Map on the JMLT site.
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