Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wildcat Canyon Regional Park

"Wilderness is the raw material out of which
man has hammered the artifact called civilization."
-Aldo Leopold

Locale: Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, San Pablo, Contra Costa County, CA
Date: Sunday, June 1, 2008
Duration: 7 miles (3.5 hours)
Price: Free
Activity: Moderate with a strenuous uphill section
All in All: A great hike with wonderful views of the best of the bay area.
Rating: ***1/2
Maps and More Info:

The hike is fairly easy to get to and also fairly easy to follow as well. If you are coming from San Francisco on I-80, turn on the Amador/Solano exit at San Pablo and drive a few blocks east on Amador and then right on McBryde. If coming from the north on I-80 go on the McBryde exit and turn left onto it. After about .5 mile you'll see Wildcat Canyon park. Parking is a bit sparse but maybe you'll get lucky as we did. Admire the goats before starting. Start the hike at the entrance cattle gate on paved road. For those of you who do not like hiking on paved or blacktopped roads, I'd suggest not going here but it's maybe for about 2 or 2.5 miles of the hike.

The trailhead is on wildcat creek trail, follow this for about half mile and turn left onto Belgum Trail, that's Belgum, not BELGIUM. Belgum is named after a nurse named Belgum who used to work at the sanitarium which was along this trail. Stop and read the signs to find out more. In the early 1900's a sanitarium for those with "nervous disorders" as they were called before the DSM came out, was located near a few palm trees (which are still there now). Long after it was abandoned, vandals just had to burn it to the ground. You will continue on Belgum for a few miles and climbing up to the summit. Behind you, you will start to see expansive views of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate, Mt. Tam and even northwards.
Once you think you're at the top you are not. Past the bench on the left, you will see two hills. One fairly close and one in the distance. You will be climbing both of these hills. The first hill has the steepest stretch. Turn right on San Pablo Ridge Trail right before the first hill. Climb upwards, rest a bit, and climb a bit more and then take in the view.

Follow San Pablo Ridge for awhile as it flattens before you reach the second hill in the distance. You'll pass by cattle which are grazing the land. But don't try to frighten them as they may grunt at you or even charge.

Continue up the second hill and shortly after you'll reach a cattle gate. You will then be on Nimitz Way Trail. After about a mile, turn right on Havey Canyon Trail. This will take you into the woods for some comfort shade. One thing to note on this hike is that it can get very still and warm in certain areas, cold and windy at the top of the hills and then cool in the shaded woods. On Havey Canyon, you'll also cross a small creek and follow this trail for around 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Wildcat Creek Canyon for the last 2 miles. The last bit is paved and familiar but is mainly flat the whole time. This hike is pretty convenient for East-Bayers and offer some great views at the top of the hills. Recently, a mountain lion and her cub were located so if you are looking for wildlife, this may be the right place. We saw some wild turkeys. The hike may not be the most traveled nor the most beautiful but it is unique.

No comments: