Hike San Pablo Ridge and Wildcat Loop in the East Bay
Sure, peak-bagging hikes are great, but ridge trails? Well, those might be the best. It’s not just about the summit but the wide-open trail that traverses a ridge with abundant views. The East Bay’s Wildcat Canyon Regional Park is home to a fantastic ridgetop rolling trail. This 6.5-mile hike starts out easy, meandering through shady eucalyptus forest on the Wildcat Creek Trail. But after a half mile the trail begins ascending a grassy slope on the Belgum Trail.
Soon the forest gives way to cows and views, not necessarily in that order. Make sure you look over your shoulder as you hike up; the views of San Francisco Bay become increasingly panoramic as you continue on the San Pablo Ridge Trail. The hardest part of the hike is a memorable steep shot up to the top of a hill, but the views spread out from San Pablo Reservoir to hulking Mount Diablo and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Soon you link up with the Nimitz Way Trail. But you’ll turn off of this and descend the Havey Canyon Trail through a forest of eucalyptus, oaks, and bay laurels. This is the shadiest part of the hike and a welcome respite. The final 1.5 miles along the wide-open Wildcat Creek Trail is flat and easy.
Park at Wildcat Canyon Regional Park’s Alvarado staging area (map). Hike for half a mile on the Wildcat Creek Trail, then turn left on the Belgum Trail. Make a big clockwise loop connecting with San Pablo Ridge Trail, Nimitz Way, Havey Canyon, and Wildcat Creek Trail again. Dog-friendly!
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