Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hiddenbrooke - Bay Area Ridge Trail

Locale: Hiddenbrooke Community, Vallejo, CA
Date: Sunday, September 21, 2008
Price: Free
Duration: approx. 5 miles (2.5 hours)
Activity Level: Easy/Moderate
All in All: A lesser known trail which is a great way to burn off calories in Solano County.
Rating: ***
Maps & More Info:

Living in Solano County for two years now, I figured that hiking would involve a lot of driving. After checking out local hikes, I realized this was only a few miles away from where I lived and didn't know it. Conveniently, it's right off of I-80 E coming from San Fran/Oakland and Vallejo. Just passed Vallejo and shortly before Fairfield, look for HIddenbrooke/American Canyon Rd exit on the right. Take it and take the first right off the exit right before the Hiddenbrooke exit. There's a little parking lot alongside the highway. This will be the nearest parking.

Head onto the sidewalk along the road going through the entrance of Hiddenbrooke. Unfortunately, you'll have to walk uphill on blacktop for about .5 miles to get to the trailhead. On the right will be a sign of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Start here just left of the fence. You'll be climbing upwards initially on cracked soil.

The trail continues mainly uphill for 2.5 miles or so before reaching a dead end. You can alternately go on some of the trails off of the main trail but these also become dead ends. Not too much wildlife on this hike. Simply come cattle in the distance and feisty meerkats.

But yet the hike like all hikes, is rewarding. Though the sound of the highway traffic may seem inescapable and the affluent neighborhood of Hiddenbrooke is nearby, the hike offers sun, excellent breezes and different terrain for this time of the year. Most of the hike is easy but there are a couple of steep uphill sections which can be taxing. I opted for poles though it was a short hike and I was glad I brought them for the steep sections. For those of you who are lucky enough to live in the heart of the Bay Area and have hiked plenty of the well known park hikes, then this may be a nice change of pace. We only saw one other hiker with his small sons and other then them and some golfers down below, we were completely isolated, well, to some extent - civilization is still within the naked eye. And for those of you, like I, who live on the edges of the Eastern North Bay and dislike commuting, this lesser known hike is simply in your backyard waiting for you to take advantage of it.

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