Oakland was discovered some years ago, which means that the hills were also discovered, and the places I liked to go to get away are not so getaway-ish anymore. This is what has happened to Redwood Regional Park. I first hiked this park when I was, oh, probably about eight (I’m 56 now.) . The parks and recreation department in Alameda, where I grew up, had a day camp program during the summers. They were a week long and each morning for a week a couple of bus loads of kids were trucked up to the hills for a day of crafts, archery, fire making and cooking, and general outdoor shenanigans. On the way we sang folk songs. You know, classics like This Land is Your Land, If I Had a Hammer, and a song that I assumed was an old folk song, but actually wasn’t: Blowing in the Wind. For years that song was just a normal part of my life and I assumed it had been around forever. Well, the week culminated in a campfire with all the families. They stopped doing that years ago. Not sure why. Anyway, the point being that I am pretty familiar with Redwood Regional, its trails and its use.
All of this is to preface a statement, which is: A lot more people visit Redwood Regional Park on the weekends than ever before. I judge this by the number of cars that line the streets around the parking lot and the number of people you see on the trail that are strenuous to hike. So, if solitude and time away from humanity is what you are looking for (like you used to be able to do), don’t hike there on a warm weekend day (particularly if it is a warm three-day weekend day).
And it was a beautiful, warm weekend day today (Saturday 22 Feb) when Lucy and I did the West Ridge-French Trail/Eucalyptus-East Ridge Trail loop.
Redwood Regional is a valley that runs approximately north/south. At the high end of the valley is Skyline Boulevard gate, where I usually start my hikes. At the low end of the valley is the Redwood Road gate. Down the middle of the valley runs a stream and the trail alongside said stream is called, you guessed it, Stream Trail. The trail along the ridge on the west side of the valley is called, yep, West Ridge trail. The trail along the ridge to the east . . . anyway, you get the idea.
This hike is actually my favorite after work hike: about 3-3.5 miles, starting on West Ridge trail and dropping down the hillside via French trail into a primeval redwood forest (complete with stream that is not so babbling right now and fern covered hillsides) and then coming up a pretty hillside via Eucalyptus trail into a mixed woods that is, well, not nearly as pretty, then back to the parking lot on East Ridge trail. (By the way, East Ridge trail is dry and sunny and hot in the summer afternoons – I’m talking pounding heat – and the camp leaders used to hike us up there from the shade of the valley and back, troops of twelve or so little kids, and we were sure they wanted to torture us, that somehow we had done something that merited the hateful hike up to and along East Ridge, but in retrospect I realized that they did not want to break our spirit, only our energy levels. They wanted to poop us out and send us home tired.)