Edgewood County Park From Cañada College

February 6, 2010 2 comments

This car-free trip takes you to Edgewood County Park, a favorite spot for wildflower viewing in the Spring and a pleasant hiking spot year-round. Starting at Cañada College, you will hike a portion of the Crystal Springs Trail to connect with Edgewood. After looping through Edgewood and stopping at a viewpoint, you’ll exit the park on a different trail to head back to Cañada College.

Places visited: Edgewood County Park, Crystal Springs Trail
Approximate Length: 9.75 miles
Hiking Time: 5 hours
Map: Edgewood County Park (PDF), Cañada College
Terrain: Mix of flat sections and moderate climbs on dirt trails
Transit schedule: SamTrans 274 (PDF)
Start and end point: SamTrans stop at Cañada College, Redwood City

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take Caltrain south to Redwood City. Walk to the bus stop area adjacent to the train tracks to the waiting area for SamTrans 274. Take the bus to the end of its line at Cañada College.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to Redwood City. Walk to the bus stop area adjacent to the train tracks to the waiting area for SamTrans 274. Take the bus to the end of its line at Cañada College.
  • From the East Bay, take a Millbrae BART train. Depending on the day and time, you may need to transfer to the Millbrae train. At Millbrae, go to the southbound Caltrain waiting area. Take Caltrain south to Redwood City. Walk to the bus stop area adjacent to the train tracks to the waiting area for SamTrans 274. Take the bus to the end of its line at Cañada College.
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Howard and Fourth Street, and walk south on Fourth Street to the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets. (Note that on the way back you will pick up the Golden Gate Transit bus on Folsom rather than Howard. Take Caltrain south to Redwood City. Walk to the bus stop area adjacent to the train tracks to the waiting area for SamTrans 274. Take the bus to the end of its line at Cañada College.

Notes:

  • Make sure to pack a lunch for this hike, as there are no food options near the start and end point on Saturdays and limited options at campus food vendors during the week. If you take the bus from the Redwood City Caltrain station, the adjacent shopping center has a Safeway and takeout food options. Across the street from the shopping center (on El Camino Real) is a Whole Foods market and deli.
  • The hike as described can be done on weekdays and Saturdays. The SamTrans 274 route does not run on Sundays. As of this writing the last bus leaves Cañada College at 5:05 pm on Saturdays.
  • You can use this basic route to get to Edgewood County Park, but vary your route through the park. The suggested route is ideal for wildflower viewing. The Sylvan Trail loop is a nice shady option during the summer months. It would also be possible to take trail along Cañada Road to or from Edgewood, but I don’t recommend this option. The trail runs right alongside Cañada, which is a very popular bike route on the weekends. Along portions of the Crystal Springs Trail you’ll have some freeway noise, but you may have the trail to yourself save for the occasional equestrian.

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Transit Tip: Eating and Drinking on Bay Area Transit Systems

January 31, 2010 4 comments

Until I started using public transit to get to hiking trails, I never thought too much about which systems allowed food consumption. If anything I preferred being on a bus or train that didn’t allow food; between the food odors, crumbs, and spills, it doesn’t make for a pleasant riding experience. But timing your food consumption is often critical when exercise comes into the picture. Awhile back, I had taken BART and then Golden Gate Transit to get to a hike in Marin. After a small breakfast at home and a long transit ride, I started getting hungry with a half hour or to go on the bus. What to do? Should I sneak a bite or two of an energy bar and hope the driver doesn’t notice? In the end I waited until the bus arrived at my destination and then got some food before embarking on the hike.

After a couple of instances of feeling hungry on the way to or (more often) on the way back from a hike, I started considering the options a bit more carefully before heading out the door. You’ll note that for most of the hike descriptions given here at Car-Free Outdoors, I mention food options along the route. Along with those ideas, you will want to note stores and restaurants on the way from your home to your local transit stops. I also recommend taking more snacks/food than you think you will need so that you will have something to eat while you are waiting at the bus stop.

Below you will find a list of Bay Area transit systems that do allow food and beverages on board. If your trip uses one of these systems, you will not have to worry as much about when to eat. Some of these have food available for purchase However, I recommend bringing your own food if you have dietary restrictions or preferences, as the selection is limited. If you are on a budget, you will also want to avoid purchasing too much food from the on-board vendors. If you enjoy relaxing with a cold beer after a long hike, you can do so as well on these systems. Don’t forget that you can only legally be drinking on the train, ferry, etc., though – you won’t want to open a drink in the waiting area or carry an open container when you off-board unless you feel like risking a ticket! You will notice that BART is not on this list, but if you want to have a drink after your hike and before catching BART, the Beer by BART listing has some good suggestions. Wet Your Whistles lists brewpubs along the Caltrain line.

Caltrain

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed. “However, consumption and open alcoholic beverage containers are prohibited on post-event and regular trains beginning at 9 p.m.”

Food and Drink Sold on Board: No. However, note that snacks and beer are available from the vendors in the San Francisco Caltrain station. San Carlos station has breakfast and lunch at its Depot Cafe (Mon.-Sat. 6 a.m.-2:30 p.m., closed Sunday). Caffe del Doge has coffee drinks and snacks available in the Palo Alto train station (Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., closed Sunday). Mountain View Caltrain has a snack cart.

Amtrak Capitol Corridor

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Light meals, snacks, and alcoholic beverages

Golden Gate Ferries

Food: Allowed

Alcoholic: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Snacks and alcoholic beverages.

Blue and Gold Fleet Ferries

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Snacks and alcoholic beverages. For Angel Island, food is available from Angel Island vendors near the ferry dock.

East Bay Ferries: Alameda/Oakland Ferry and Alameda/Harbor Bay Ferry

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Snacks and alcoholic beverages

Angel Island/Tiburon Ferry

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed

Food and Drink Sold on Board: No, but food and alcohol are available from Angel Island vendors near the ferry dock.

Additional Notes: This is a very short ferry ride, so you probably won’t have much time to eat or drink!

Baylink Vallejo Ferry

Food: Allowed

Alcohol: Allowed. “In accordance with California State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) rules, only alcoholic beverages (liquor, wine, beer) purchased onboard may be consumed onboard. Opening or consuming alcoholic beverages purchased elsewhere is strictly forbidden. Vallejo Baylink will not serve passengers who appear to be intoxicated. Alcohol will not be served on trips that return to Vallejo from AT&T Park after Giants baseball games.”

Food and Drink Sold on Board: Snacks and alcoholic beverages.

This is part of a series of tips on using the San Francisco Bay Area public transportation system, with an emphasis on details that are useful for outdoor trips on transit.

Categories: Transit Tips

Western San Francisco Hike: Presidio, Lands End, and Sutro Baths

January 24, 2010 1 comment

Starting at the N Muni Metro stop in Cole Valley, this route takes you north to the Presidio via stairways, through the Presidio on the Presidio Promenade path, along the Coastal Trail to Lands End, and on through the Sutro Baths to end at the N-Judah’s final stop at Ocean Beach. You will have a chance to walk on the nicely constructed stairs of the Batteries to Bluffs Trail and will pass many of San Francisco’s beaches on this journey.

Places visited: Presidio, Lands End, Sutro Baths, San Francisco stairways
Approximate length:
11 miles
Hiking time:
5-6 hours
Map:
Presidio (PDF), Lands End and Sutro Baths (PDF)
Terrain:
Mix of flat stretches and moderate hills, with a few steep stairway sections.
Transit schedule:
Muni Metro N Judah
Start point: N Judah stop at Carl and Cole
End point: N Judah stop at Judah and La Playa

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take the Muni Metro N Judah to the Carl and Cole stop.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to the Millbrae station. Transfer to BART, taking a train to San Francisco. At the Civic Center BART/Muni station, transfer to Muni, taking Muni Metro N Judah to the Carl and Cole stop.
  • From the East Bay, take a San Francisco BART train to Embarcadero station. Transfer to Muni Metro inside the station, and take the N Judah (Outbound) to Carl and Cole.
    From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Hyde and Grove streets (just before Market Street), and walk to the Civic Center BART/Muni station on Market Street. Enter the Muni Metro station, and take the N Judah (Outbound) to Carl and Cole.

Notes:

  • This route offers many chances to pick up lunch or a snack: the Carl and Cole area at the start of the walk, Haight Street (one block north of Waller), Geary Street, and near the N Judah line at the end of the route. This is a nice route to pack a lunch for a stop in the Presidio or along the beach areas of the Coastal Trail.
  • I provide a suggested route through Lands End and Sutro Baths, but both of these areas  have additional trails and areas to explore. They are contained enough that you can wander a bit and easily get back to the main route. Be extremely careful in the Sutro Baths area along the crumbling walls and always keep your eye on the water for changing surf conditions. You will also pass Baker Beach and China Beach on this route, where you may wish to stop for awhile (an extended stop at the beach is not included in the time estimate).
  • As of this writing (January 2010), construction has begun on the Doyle Drive replacement in the Presidio. Because this route goes near the construction area, it is possible that you could encounter a detour from 2010 to early 2013; print the current map to bring with you, and check the project website for any updates.

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Categories: Hike, Muni, San Francisco

Bayside Berkeley: A Stroll Around the Berkeley Marina and Cesar Chavez Park

January 15, 2010 1 comment

This mostly flat hike takes you over the Berkeley bicycle-pedestrian bridge and around the western-most land of Berkeley to visit the Berkeley Marina, Cesar Chavez Park, and part of Eastshore State Park. Much of the route is on paved paths, making it a good rainy season destination. It’s also an ideal hike for summer days when you want to escape the heat further inland. This route includes views across the Bay, boat watching opportunities, and birds and other wildlife.

Places visited: Berkeley Marina, Cesar Chavez Park, Eastshore State Park (portion)
Approximate Length: 8 miles (9 miles total with optional side trip; also see notes for shorter version starting from Berkeley Amtrak station)
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Map: Berkeley Marina, Cesar Chavez Park
Terrain: Mostly flat
Transit Schedule: BART
Start and end point: North Berkeley BART

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take a Richmond BART train to North Berkeley station.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to the Millbrae station. Transfer to BART and board the SF/SFO/Bay Point train (on weekends). Transfer to a Richmond train at 12th Street/Oakland City Center, and take the train to North Berkeley station. (On weekdays, you do not need to transfer BART trains; a direct Richmond train leaves from Millbrae.)
  • From the East Bay, take a Richmond BART train to North Berkeley station. (If you are on the Pittsburg/Bay Point or Dublin/Pleasanton lines, you will need to transfer to a Richmond train.)
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit (GGT) Route 42 (from the San Rafael Transit Center) to El Cerrito Del Norte BART. Take a Fremont or San Francisco BART train two stops south to North Berkeley station.

Notes:

  • If you would like to pick up some lunch for a picnic, Sea Breeze Market and Deli is a convenient option along this route. You will pass the market when you cross over the pedestrian/bicycle bridge on your way to the Marina. On 4th Street between University and Addison is Grocery Outlet, a discount grocery store. Several restaurants can be found along 4th Street in West Berkeley. You will pass some of them on your route; continue north of Delaware for one block for more options.
  • This route starts from BART, which is convenient for people coming from most parts of the Bay Area. If you are near an Amtrak Capitol Corridor station, you could take the train to the Berkeley station and start the hike from this point in the directions instead. The hike will be a couple of miles shorter, but just as pleasant.
  • The Berkeley Kite Festival is a popular annual event held at Cesar Chavez Park in the summer. If you would like to watch some kite-flying and don’t mind crowds, you may wish to do this hike on the weekend of the event.

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Categories: BART, East Bay, Hike

Larkspur Loop: King Mountain, Dawn Falls Trail, Paths and Stairways

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

This tour of Larkspur trails and open space offers plenty of variety, from paved bike and pedestrian paths, to a mostly flat and shady walk on the beautiful Dawn Falls Trail (in Blithedale Summit and Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserves), to an invigorating climb up King Mountain. You will also travel through downtown Larkspur and climb a couple of Larkspur’s stairways.

Places visited: King Mountain, Blithedale Canyon, and Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserves, Larkspur paths and stairways
Approximate Length: 9.25 miles (10 miles total with optional side trip)
Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
Map: Baltimore Canyon, Blithedale Summit and King Mountain Open Space Preserves (PDF), Larkspur Walk Bike path map (PDF)
Terrain: Mix of flat sections and moderate to challenging climbs, dirt trails and paved pathways and stairways.
Transit schedule: Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80, Larkspur Ferry
Start point: Golden Gate Transit 70/80 stop at Lucky Drive, Larkspur
End point: Larkspur Ferry Terminal

Getting to the starting point:

  • From San Francisco, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70 or 80 bus from Mission Street and 1st Street (stop is right in front of the Walgreens on Mission). You can also pick up Route 70/80 at different points along its route along Mission, up Van Ness, and west on Lombard to the Golden Gate Bridge. Check the current San Francisco System map to see if there is a stop closer to you. Take the Route 70/80 to the Lucky Drive Bus Pad in Larkspur.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to the final San Francisco stop. Walk on 3rd Street towards Market, turn right on Mission, to the Golden Gate Transit stop at Mission and 1st. Or, from BART, take a San Francisco BART train to Montgomery Street station. Exit the station, walk Market Street towards the water/ferry building, turn right on 1st Street, and walk one block to the corner of Mission and 1st. Take the Golden Gate Transit Route 70 or 80 bus from here (stop is right in front of the Walgreens on Mission) to the Lucky Drive Bus Pad in Larkspur.
  • From the East Bay, take a San Francisco BART train to Embarcadero station. Walk on Market Street away from the water/ferry building to 1st Street, turn left on 1st Street and walk one block to the corner of Mission and 1st. Take the Golden Gate Transit Route 70 or 80 bus from here (stop is right in front of the Walgreens on Mission) to the Lucky Drive Bus Pad in Larkspur.
  • From the North Bay: Take Golden Gate Transit Route 70, 71 or 80 from any of the stops along its route. If you are coming from Petaluma/Cotati/Rohnert Park/Santa Rosa, you will be taking Route 80. From locations in Novato, San Rafael, and Marin City, you can take any of the three buses.

Notes:

  • The open space trail map for this hike is useful, but also somewhat confusing due to missing street-trail connections on the map. Likely these details are not shown because of limited or non-existent street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. I recommend printing and bringing the two maps listed above, and using them in conjunction with the directions and Google Map below.
  • Food is available in downtown Larkspur along Magnolia. You will be on sections of Magnolia at two points in your route, so feel free to wander further down the street and then return to the route. Restaurants can also be found at the Larkspur Landing shopping center across from the ferry terminal (take the overpass to reach the center). The shady Dawn Falls Trail has some spots to stop and eat a bag lunch, particularly along the optional sidetrip section.
  • While most ferries from Larkspur go directly to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, note that the final ferry on the weekends (at 5:30 pm) makes a stop to pick up passengers in Sausalito. This ferry trip is quite a bit longer than the others, so you may wish to plan your outing so that you can catch an earlier ferry. If you miss the final ferry or would prefer to take Golden Gate Transit on the return trip as well, you can make the short walk back to the Lucky Drive Bus Pad. The path you want is marked in purple as “18” on the Larkspur path map; you will see a sign for the turn along the final path to the Larkspur Ferry.

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Pacifica Coastal Hike: Mori Point and Beaches, Three Ways

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

This trip to the Pacifica coastal region demonstrates the flexibility of using transit to do hikes that would normally require a car shuttle. Three options for this hike are described: one-way up the coast, an out-and-back trip, and up the coast and over the ridge. On all of the hikes, you’ll have the chance to walk out to the tip of Mori Point and to enjoy the beaches of Pacifica. The third option adds a vigorous hike up to Sweeney Ridge for additional views.

Places visited: Linda Mar Beach, Rockaway State Beach, Mori Point (Golden Gate National Recreation Area), Sharp Park State Beach, Sweeney Ridge
Approximate length: 6 miles (option 1), 8.5 (option 2), 8.75 (option 3)
Hiking time: 3 1/2 to 4 hours (option 1), 4 to 4 1/2 hours (option 2), 5 hours (option 3)
Map: Mori Point
Terrain: Paved and dirt paths. Mostly flat with a couple of moderate uphill sections (options 1 and 2), Flat sections and moderate to steep uphills (option 3)
Transit schedule: SamTrans (download current schedules for routes 110, 112, and 140)
Start point: SamTrans 110 (and 112) stop, Linda Mar Park and Ride Lot, Pacifica
End point: SamTrans 112 stop, Westport and Lundy (option 1), Linda Mar Park and Ride Lot (option 2), SamTrans 140 stop, Skyline College (option 3)

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take BART to Daly City. Walk to the bus area just outside the station, and transfer to SamTrans 110. Take the bus to the Linda Mar Park and Ride stop.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to Millbrae station. Transfer to BART, and get off at Daly City. Walk to the bus area just outside the station, and transfer to SamTrans 110. Take the bus to the Linda Mar Park and Ride stop. SamTrans 112, leaving from Colma BART, is another option for those living near the station or near Serramonte Shopping Center.
  • From the East Bay, take BART to Daly City. Walk to the bus area just outside the station, and transfer to SamTrans 110. Take the bus to the Linda Mar Park and Ride stop.
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Hyde and Grove streets (just before Market Street), and walk to the Civic Center BART station on Market Street. Take BART to Daly City. Walk to the bus area just outside the station, and transfer to SamTrans 110. Take the bus to the Linda Mar Park and Ride stop.

Notes:

  • The hike options are described in order of difficulty. The first two hikes are mostly flat with a couple of moderate climbs. Option 3 is more challenging, requiring a steep hike up to the ridge. Even if you think you know which hike you plan to do, I recommend printing or noting the times from all three SamTrans transit schedules (110, 112, 140). That way you can easily change your mind and do one of the other hikes.
  • Pacifica can be foggy, particularly in the summer. Fall and early winter are your best options for clear views and mild weather. The hikes can still be enjoyed on foggy days; as with all coastal hikes, bring warm clothing. For wildflower viewing at Mori Point, do this hike in the spring.
  • There are number of options for food along the route through Pacifica: at the beginning of the hike in Linda Mar Shopping Center, in Rockaway Beach, and a couple of options when your route reaches Highway 1 and Reina Del Mar. If you are doing the shortest hike, you may also want to wander inland from the pier/turnaround point to find additional options between the coast and Highway 1. If you plan on doing option 3, I recommend bring extra snacks, as there will not be food options at the end of this hike.
  • On my visit in 2009, the current Mori Point trail system did not exactly match the brochure’s map due to restoration efforts. The park is well-signed and mapped, however; you can easily check your map and adjust the route accordingly or explore other trails that have been opened since the time of this writing. If you are looking for more information beyond what is offered in the park brochure, Bay Nature magazine has a very nice history of the land.

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Mission to Haight Hike: Corona Heights, Buena Vista Park, Golden Gate Park Oak Woodland

December 10, 2009 3 comments

Connecting the busy Mission and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods of San Francisco, this urban hike offers several opportunities to experience natural areas and bay and city landscape views. On this route you will walk on some of San Francisco’s stairways, climb to the peaks of Corona Heights and Buena Vista Park, and hike through a quiet oak woodland area of Golden Gate Park.

Places visited: Corona Heights, Buena Vista Park, Golden Gate Park oak woodlands area, Panhandle paths, San Francisco stairways
Approximate length: 7 miles
Hiking time: 4-5 hours
Map: No official online maps; see link to route on Google Maps, below
Terrain: Stairways, moderate hills (paved and dirt), and some flat sections
Transit schedule: BART
Start and end point: 16th and Mission BART station, San Francisco
Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco: Take BART to 16th and Mission station. Or take Muni to 16th and Mission; routes 14, 22, 33, and 49 serve the station. If Muni Metro K/L/M/T are the most convenient lines, you may wish to take Muni Metro and get off at Castro Street station to start the walk from this point. The route will be shorter, but will still include the major points of interest.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay: Take Caltrain to the Millbrae station. Transfer to BART, and take a San Francisco train to 16th and Mission station.
  • From the East Bay, take a San Francisco BART train to 16th and Mission station.
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Hyde and Grove streets (just before Market Street), and walk to the Civic Center BART station on Market Street. Take a Daly City, Millbrae, or SFO train one stop south to 16th and Mission station. Alternately, take the Sausalito or Larkspur ferry to San Francisco. Walk down Market Street to the Embarcadero BART/Muni station. Take a Daly City, Millbrae, or SFO train one stop to 16th and Mission station.

Notes:

  • Although this hike can be done any day of the week, I recommend Sunday for the full car-free experience. On Sundays, Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park is shut to car traffic, and the street is full of walkers, cyclists, and inline and roller skaters. If you want to experience more of Kennedy Drive, continue on Kennedy past the route’s turn-off spot at the Conservatory of Flowers (see directions) and then turn around and come back to continue the route.
  • To take advantage of the views from Corona Heights and Buena Vista Park, you may wish to plan this hike during the fall, winter, and spring, when there is less fog. If you do go in the summer, you could try starting the hike around mid-morning for your best chance of avoiding the fog at the view spots. Regardless of fog, this will still be a nice hike any time of the year. Remember to bring extra clothing layers; temperatures in the Haight can often be significantly lower than in the Mission where you start the hike.
  • There are numerous variations on the routes through Corona Heights, Buena Vista Park, and the section of Golden Gate Park through which you will be traveling. You may wish to vary the route a bit or take side trips to do some more exploring of any of these areas. None of these areas are too big, so you can easily reorient and return to continue the original route. If you get lost wandering through Buena Vista Park, walk downhill until you get to a street. If you are at Haight Street, turn left to continue the route. If you are at Buena Vista West, turn right, then turn left at Haight Street to continue the route; if you are at Buena Vista East, turn left and then take another left at Haight Street to continue the route.
  • Numerous choices for food and snacks are available along this route, particularly in the 16th and Mission area (start and end of hike) and in the Haight. The route includes a walk along upper Haight Street, where you can either eat lunch or take some food to go for a picnic in Golden Gate Park.
  • As noted, the estimated hiking time for this route is 4-5 hours; start early and add extra time if you also plan on doing some shopping in the Haight or Mission or visiting the Conservatory of Flowers (open Tuesday-Sunday; admission fee) or the Randall Museum (open Tuesday-Saturday; free admission).

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Categories: BART, Hike, San Francisco

Albany Bulb Adventure

December 3, 2009 1 comment

This urban hike explores the unique East Bay shoreline area know as the Albany Bulb. This piece of land that sticks out into the Bay is home to a rotating collection of sculpture and other art pieces fashioned from concrete, wood, rebar, bicycles wheels, and other construction materials and items from the area’s time as a city landfill. Also popular for dog walking and wildlife viewing, the Bulb is a great destination for a wide variety of people. On this hike, you will also get a chance to walk along a portion of the Ohlone Greenway, a rail-trail built alongside the BART tracks, and to stop by Schoolhouse Creek Common in Berkeley.

Places visited: Albany Bulb, Eastshore State Park (portion), Ohlone Greenway (portion)
Approximate Length: 7.5 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Map: No official map; see Google map of route, below
Terrain: Mostly flat
Transit Schedule: BART
Start and end point: North Berkeley BART

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take a Richmond BART train to North Berkeley station. (On Sundays, take a Pittsburg/Bay Point train and transfer to a Richmond train at 12th Street.)
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to the Millbrae station. Transfer to BART and board the SF/SFO/Bay Point train (on weekends). Transfer to a Richmond train at 12th Street/Oakland City Center, and take the train to North Berkeley station. (On weekdays, you do not need to transfer BART trains; a direct Richmond train leaves from Millbrae.)
  • From the East Bay, take a Richmond BART train to North Berkeley station. (If you are on the Pittsburg/Bay Point or Dublin/Pleasanton lines, you will need to transfer to a Richmond train.)
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit (GGT) Route 42 (from the San Rafael Transit Center) to El Cerrito Del Norte BART. Take a Fremont or San Francisco BART train two stops south to North Berkeley station.

Notes:

  • Although the Albany Bulb can be enjoyed at any time, a trip at low tide will allow you to explore more of the area. If you are checking tide tables, Berkeley (or sometimes Richmond) is the nearest location usually listed. If you go at high tide, two alternate routes are provided at the end of the hike directions. Sturdy shoes with some traction are recommended for the rocky sections, and to provide protection from sharp objects. Feel free to vary your route through the Albany Bulb from what is described here. However, I don’t recommend wandering into overgrown areas; at times people have set up campsites in some of the remote areas of the Bulb.
  • Pack a lunch or dinner to eat out at the Bulb, or stop for food along the route. Near the beginning of the route, turn off on Gilman Street for food (bagel shop, natural foods store, and a deli) in the Westbrae shopping district. On the way back, several options can be found in West Berkeley along or near Gilman Street and San Pablo Avenue.
  • The beginning of this route travels along the Ohlone Greenway, a paved rail-trail built beside the BART tracks. Although the trail is off the street, you will be crossing several intersections along the way. Exercise caution crossing at these streets, as cars may be traveling at high speeds and/or not be aware of pedestrians crossing the street.
  • Adjacent to the Albany Bulb is Golden Gate Fields, the only remaining live horse racing venue in the Bay Area. The track sometimes promotes “dollar days” on Sundays, with $1 admission, $1 beverages, etc. On days that the track is closed, the walk through the parking lot will be quieter and easier; at other times, watch for cars entering, exiting, and parking on your walk through here.

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Categories: BART, East Bay, Hike

Headlands for the Holidays (and Sundays): Rodeo Beach to Tennessee Beach

November 20, 2009 1 comment

This hike takes advantage of the Muni 76 bus, which runs from San Francisco to the Marin Headlands on major holidays and on Sundays. Starting at Rodeo Beach and Fort Cronkhite, this hike’s route travels up and out of the Rodeo Valley on the Coastal Trail and down into Tennessee Valley to Tennessee Beach and back. Optional side trips offer additional views on this scenic coastal hike.

Places visited: Rodeo Beach, Tennessee Beach (both part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area)
Approximate Length: 7.5 miles (8-8.5 with optional side trips to the SF-88 site and to Tennessee Point)
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Map: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Marin Headlands
Terrain: Paved and dirt trails, some steep sections
Transit schedule: Muni 76 Marin Headlands
Start and end point: Muni 76 stop, Fort Cronkhite
Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, catch Muni 76 anywhere along its route through San Francisco. The 76 route map shows the connections with numerous other Muni bus and Metro lines. Get off at the final stop in the Marin Headlands, which is in the Fort Cronkhite parking lot.
  • From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain north to its final stop at Fourth Street and King Street in San Francisco. Catch the Muni 76 bus outside the Caltrain depot. Get off at the final stop in the Marin Headlands, which is in the Fort Cronkhite parking lot.
  • From the East Bay, take a San Francisco BART train to Embarcadero station. Exit the station on the south side of Market Street. Turn left at Fremont Street, and cross the street to the Muni bus island to catch Muni 76. Get off at the final Muni 76 stop in the Marin Headlands, which is in the Fort Cronkhite parking lot.
  • From North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit 10 or 70/80 southbound over the Golden Gate Bridge. Get off at the toll plaza stop. Head down and underneath the toll plaza, and up to the transit stop on the east side of the bridge. Take the Muni 76 to its final stop in the Marin Headlands, which is in the Fort Cronkhite parking lot. If you want to avoid going over the bridge and back, another option for Golden Gate Transit 10 riders or those in south part of Sausalito would be to walk through Fort Baker and take the trail underneath the bridge to the west-side parking lot, then continue a short distance to the Muni 76 stop at Conzelman Road.

Notes:

  • The Muni 76 line runs only on Sundays and on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I recommend taking one of the first two buses (arriving around 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.) so that you have plenty of time to spend exploring and relaxing at the beaches. The last bus leaves at 6:30 p.m.; there are no other nearby transit options, so plan on being back in time if you do not want a long hike back to San Francisco or Sausalito! Also note that based on my experience and that of other frequent Muni 76 riders, this bus may not be running on schedule. Luckily, it is probably one of the most scenic places you’ll have to wait for the bus; but be prepared to wait awhile and remember to bring warm layers on this trip.
  • Bring food with you on this hike, as there is nowhere to buy food near the trailhead. If you are connecting to the Muni 76 from BART, you could walk to the Ferry Building first for some food; many of the other take-out restaurants in the Financial District are closed on the weekends. If you are connecting to Muni 76 from Caltrain, there is a Safeway half a block east on King Street.
  • This hike can be done year-round, but if it has rained expect some mud on the Coastal Trail between Wolf Ridge and the Tennessee Valley Trail. On sunny days, the views are excellent on this hike. On the other hand, the beaches will be less crowded on colder and foggier days.
  • This is a well-signed hike. Despite the posted warning signs and the past injuries and deaths, you may see hikers off the trail in the cliff-side areas between Tennessee Point and the Fort Cronkhite. I highly recommend staying on the main trails here and heeding the warning signs.
  • If you are interested in military history, you may wish to plan your trip on the first Sunday of the month when Battery Townsley is open to the public. On other days, you can use the National Park Service’s Fort Cronkhite History Walk brochure to take a self-guided tour of the grounds near the bus stop.

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Categories: Hike, Muni, North Bay

Rancho San Antonio Trails to Black Mountain Peak

November 13, 2009 5 comments

Black Mountain Trail -- by Jen English

This challenging hike uses the Rhus Ridge and Black Mountain trails in Rancho San Antonio to reach the 2810-foot peak of Black Mountain just across the border in Monte Bello Open Space Preserve. The route from Foothill College also provides a small sampling of the extensive Los Altos Hills town path system.

Places visited: Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, Monte Bello Open Space Preserve (small portion), Los Altos Hills paths
Approximate Length: 11.75 miles (see notes for shorter option)
Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
Map: Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, Foothill College campus map
Terrain: Steep and very steep trails in Rancho San Antonio; flat paved streets and paths to and from the trailhead
Transit Schedule: VTA Route 40
Start and end point: VTA Route 40, Foothill College stop

Getting to the start point:

  • From San Francisco, take Caltrain south to the San Antonio stop. Walk out to the street in front of the Caltrain, which is Showers Drive. Cross at the crosswalk (Pacchetti/Showers) and turn left on Showers. Stay on Showers as it veers right. Cross California and continue on Showers to the VTA bus stop (make sure you are at the one marked with line 40) on your right. (The walk from Caltrain to the VTA stop takes approximately 10 minutes.) Take VTA route 40 to Foothill College, getting off at the first stop (Campus Center) after the bus enters the campus.
  • From the Peninsula, take Caltrain to the San Antonio stop. Walk out to the street in front of the Caltrain, which is Showers Drive. Cross at the crosswalk (Pacchetti/Showers) and turn left on Showers. Stay on Showers as it veers right. Cross California and continue on Showers to the VTA bus stop (make sure you are at the one marked with line 40) on your right. (The walk from Caltrain to the VTA stop takes approximately 10 minutes.) Take VTA route 40 to Foothill College, getting off at the first stop (Campus Center) after the bus enters the campus. Mountain View and Los Altos residents should check the map to see if they can pick up VTA Route 40 elsewhere along its route.
  • From the East Bay, Take BART to its final stop in Millbrae. Walk to the southbound Caltrain platform, and take Caltrain to San Antonio station. Walk out to the street in front of the Caltrain, which is Showers Drive. Cross at the crosswalk (Pacchetti/Showers) and turn left on Showers. Stay on Showers as it veers right. Cross California and continue on Showers to the VTA bus stop (make sure you are at the one marked with line 40) on your right. (The walk from Caltrain to the VTA stop takes approximately 10 minutes.) Take VTA route 40 to Foothill College, getting off at the first stop (Campus Center) after the bus enters the campus.
  • From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit Route 70/80 or 10 to San Francisco. Get off at Howard and Fourth Street, and walk south on Fourth Street to the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets. (Note that on the way back you will pick up the Golden Gate Transit bus on Folsom rather than Howard. Take Caltrain south to the San Antonio stop. Walk out to the street in front of the Caltrain, which is Showers Drive. Cross at the crosswalk (Pacchetti/Showers) and turn left on Showers. Stay on Showers as it veers right. Cross California and continue on Showers to the VTA bus stop (make sure you are at the one marked with line 40) on your right. (The walk from Caltrain to the VTA stop takes approximately 10 minutes.) Take VTA route 40 to Foothill College, getting off at the first stop (Campus Center) after the bus enters the campus.

Notes:

  • This is a strenuous hike, with especially steep sections near the top of the peak. Bring plenty of water, even in cool weather. If you have not been hiking in some time, you may want to work up to the full hike gradually by going part of the way up and coming back down again. You will still get plenty of exercise and enjoy good views along the way!
  • Please note that this trip as described can be done on weekdays and Saturdays, but not on Sundays. On Sundays, the VTA route does not run all of the way up to Foothill College. Although you could find an interesting route from bus route’s Sunday endpoint (San Antonio and Lyell) using more of the Los Alto Hills paths, it would add more distance and elevation to an already challenging hike. Therefore, I have not included an option from the Sunday endpoint for this particular hike. I will include a link here to any future hikes posted here that describe the route from the Sunday endpoint. On Saturdays, the last bus leaves Foothill College at 6:23 pm. Weeknights the last bus leaves at 10 p.m., making this is a potential evening hike during daylight savings time.
  • This hike’s starting point is most easily reached from the Peninsula/South Bay and San Francisco. It is a long transit ride requiring three modes of transportation for East Bay and North Bay residents. If you are interested in visiting the Bay Area’s highest peaks, it’s definitely worth the trip!
  • If you are not familiar with Foothill College, I recommend printing and bringing along the campus map. Note on the map that Foothill has three bus stops. Although you can get on and off at any of these stops for this hike, I recommend exiting at the first campus stop (campus center) at the beginning of the hike. There should be plenty of students getting off at this stop, but you can always ask the bus driver if you are uncertain. This gives you a chance to visit the restrooms (none at the trailhead), apply sunscreen, etc. On the way back from the hike, you can wait at the third of the three bus stops (at the edge of campus in Lot 8), which is a shorter walk.
  • You will notice some additional paths on your route back to Foothill College. Feel free to explore these paths if you have the energy, or you could make a separate trip to wander and explore the Los Altos Hills paths. The path map is not available online, but you can pick up a printed copy at Los Altos Hills town hall.  The entrance to a Los Altos Hills path is generally indicated with a wooden post engraved with “PATH”.  Avoid wandering down other unmarked paths as they will very likely take you onto private property.
  • Pack a lunch for this hike. Food vendors at Foothill College are closed on the weekend. Near the VTA bus stop at Showers and California there are plenty of options for food before or after your hike: Trader Joe’s, Safeway, the Milk Pail Market, Whole Foods Market (all of these indicated on the Google Maps map of the area) and several takeout chain restaurants. If you are connecting with Caltrain on the way back, you can eat your food on the train.

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