The Bay County Summits

My Walk Around San Francisco Bay


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I walked from San Francisco Bay to the highest point in each of 10 Bay Area counties. Twenty-eight separate days of walking 290 miles with 46,650 feet of elevation gain (includes 52 miles and 3,250 feet for exits).

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Contra Costa County: Mt. Diablo: Walked the final segment on 3-11-06. Started at Lake Merritt. 38 miles plus 6 miles to exit. 6,000' total elevation gain. 4 days in transit. The East Bay Hills traverse was through Huckleberry Botanic Preserve.

San Francisco County: Mt. Davidson:
9-1-06: Started at Hunter's Point. 5 miles. 1,100 feet gained. Took the bus out.

Marin County: Mt. Tamalpais:
9-9-06: Started at Corte Madera Mall. 7.5 miles up and 7.5 down. Took a loop route. 3,000 feet total gain. Thanks to Lane for your company on this one.

Napa County: Mt. St. Helena East Peak:
6-9-07: Vallejo to American Canyon. 6-3-07: to Napa. 5-26-07: to Yountville. Pleasant walk on the dirt along the vineyards. On the road parallel to Hwy 29 on the west side, there is a persimmon tree about the size of a full grown live oak. I looked it up. It is a competitor for the world's largest persimmon.

5-20-07: to Calistoga. Severe foot pain - right foot. Had to hobble out the last 5 miles. Marathoner friend diagnosed as Plantar Fasciitis. Need to dig out my old notes on stretches. Would also help for on-going neck and shoulder pain. 44.5 miles from Vallejo (1 to exit). 1,300 foot gain.

5-27-06: Walked from Napa Valley up Oat Hill Mine Trail and across the Palisades Trail to the foot of St. Helena on Hwy 29. Special thanks to "Brah" for showing me the route. It solved one of my most difficult logistical issues -- How to avoid Hwy 29. Also, thanks to the nice family who gave me a ride back to my car - smart kids! 10.5 miles. Estimated total 3,350 foot gain.

6-19-06: Summited St. Helena East Peak. 5 miles up and 5 down. 1,950 elevation gain. I met a man who does it daily - rain or shine or snow.

Alameda County: Discovery Peak:
9-17-06: Mission Peak traverse. 10.5 miles. Gained 2,200 feet. More hikers should use the East side. I saw one person in 5 miles. -- Had to walk out another few miles to cell for pick-up.

5-4/5-07: Ohlone traverse. 22 miles with 5,750 feet of gain -- includes 8 miles and 1,200 feet for exit to Lake Del Valle. Merit badges for patience to Lane and Jim.

Santa Clara County: Copernicus Peak on Mt. Hamilton: Spring 06: Dixon Landing to Eastridge Transit Center: 12 miles. Elevation 100 feet.

4-6-07: Walked up Quimby Rd and thru Grant Park via Yerba Buena Trail to Twin Gates Parking area. 13.5 miles and 3,200 feet gained (includes 0.5 miles to exit). Thanks to the nice young couple who gave me a ride. I hope that wasn't your uncle rolling around in the trunk.

11-26-06: Walked off road from Joseph Grant Park to summit. 8.5 miles and 2,350' (includes 2 miles and 50' for exit). To do this, first check out the USGS and aerial images. You will see an abandoned fire road to the right of the driving road. The gate to that road is one full bend past the Smith Creek Ranger Station. Skip that one, and walk up to the second bend. Hop the fence on the right side of the road and walk straight up. This is grassland with scattered oaks and no brush. Easily passable, but very steep. In some places, you will have to scramble up the hill. You want to keep out of the line of sight of two ranch houses, one on the left and one on the right, each behind you. Also, there is a mobile home about 200 yards to your right. You might see a pond to your right. Just go straight up. Hop the next fence and scramble up a very steep hill. You have left the ranch and are now on U of C property. There is no evidence here of human passage or cattle. Just lots of pigs. You will probably see some. Over the ridge, you can join up with the old fire road which takes you to within a mile of the top. Or skip that exit to the driving road and continue off trail as far as you can go. Much of this puts you in view of residences at the top. Take your breaks behind trees. Merge with the driving road for the last half mile.

San Mateo County: Long Ridge: Last 100 feet blocked by fenced residence:

9-24-06: To Rhus Ridge trailhead at Rancho San Antonio. 11-12-06: To Skyline Blvd via Black Mtn, Indian Creek, Canyon, and Ridge Trails to Grizzly Flat parking area. 11-23-06: To Long Ridge. The last 100' was blocked by a fenced residence. 3 days, 21 miles, 4,800' gained (includes 2.5 miles and 250' for exit).
The Monte Bello and surrounding parks are spectacular. For maps, see my links to South Skyline Regional Parks. Near the Long Ridge summit is a concrete bench dedicated to Wallace Stegner.

Solano County: Mt. Vaca:
8-25-07: American Canyon to Fairfield Solano Mall. 16 miles (1 to exit) and 650 of gain. It took 5 hours to walk this, and 4 hours for public transit back to my car.

6-16-07: Fairfield to Gates Canyon Rd. Exit to Vacaville. 14 miles (4 to exit) and 700 feet gain (150 to exit).

10-8-06: Walked from Pleasants Valley Rd. up Gates Canyon to summit. 7 miles up with 2,600 foot gain. 1 mile down. Thanks to the nice people who gave me rides.

Sonoma County: Cobb Mtn. West Shoulder:
10-28-06: Mt. St. Helena parking lot to Middletown. 8.5 miles and 100 foot gain. To avoid walking down the narrowest parts of Hwy 29, there is an abandoned fire road immediately north of the parking area and on the east side of 29. It follows St. Helena Creek. Note that the access point is much closer to the parking area (and on the opposite side of the creek) than is shown on the USGS. This will take you through an abandoned summer camp. The last couple of houses are occupied. So be discrete and, if accosted, look confused and lost. Replenish water at Rattlesnake Spring on Hwy 29. Another 3 miles and 1,000 feet plus hitching back to the car.
3-9-07: Walked from Middletown to Whispering Pines. 8 miles with 1,500 foot gain. There is a severe, narrow and seemingly impassible bend in the road just before Whispering Pines. I did some recon on Socrates Mine Rd and another Rd, but it's all private and best avoided. I finally figured out that I could pass through the bend by walking just outside the guardrail on the downhill side. Had to hold on, but it was OK.

Thanks to Wes for the ride to my car.

10-21-06: Went up from Whispering Pines. This route is recommended only for those who are competent with map and compass. The tavern, noted in "California County Summits", is abandoned - you can recognize it by the deck on the left side. "The "dirt road" described in the same book and various web reports is also abandoned and disappearing in the upper reaches. It does not show on USGS or aerial images. Follow the directions given by the County Highpointers Association. Early in the walk, when the dirt road angles left, keep going straight. 3.5 miles to target destination with 2,250 feet total gain; and another 3.5 miles and 350 feet for the return trip. My calling card is in the mason jar. Thanks to Lane for your company.

Santa Cruz Count: Mt. Bielawski: 7-25-07: From Long Ridge. 6 miles ands and 450 gain (including 1 mile and 150 feet for exit to hitch to car).