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Miller Knox Highlands Hike





by Transit & Trails


Wildlife Sightings

by iNaturalist


Length: 2.94 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: Halfday
Created by Ken Dyleski

Ken Dyleski helps Save Mount Diablo with mapping and on-the-ground stewardship work. He collaborated on producing the first edition of the Mt. Diablo map published by Save Mt. Diablo. His GPS enabled digital trail map of the Diablo Grand Loop was published on the National Geographic Topo site. He has a California State Certificate in Geographic Information Science from Diablo Valley College. Mr. Dyleski's previous articles on the outdoors have been published in Sierra magazine, Northern California Explorer, and the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Good for:
  • Beaches/Shore
  • Birding
  • Dogs
  • Views
  • Wildflowers
  • Bay and Estuary
  • Grasslands
  • Marine
  • Urban Hiking


Most visitors to this shoreline park will be surprised to find hiking available on great view trails high above our Bay Area. Public input is currently being taken on the future development of this park by the East Bay regional parks, and after you try this hike, you may like to voice an informed opinion. While picnic, play areas and a beach get much public use, hiking trails could use a little restoration. The highlands are an island surrounded by historic shipyards, railroad tracks, vast parking lots and nearby storage tanks. With a bit of trail repair and vegetation replanting, local residents and visitors seeking a nearby respite from the visual impact of a highly industrial area would be drawn to explore the quite accessible hills.

Enter the shoreline park at the main entrance. Cross back over Dornan Dr. at the entrance sign to a dirt surface trail, and cross over a zigzag series of wooden bridges over a meadow. As soon as you enter the woods on the edge of the meadow, the trail begins a rapid ascent on a series of wooden steps reinforcing the dirt trail. A “T” in the trail is quickly reached, so stay right now and enjoy the upcoming views out to Angel Island, Mt. Tam, Marin, the San Rafael Bridge and Chevron’s long pier. It’s a pleasant start for a hike, wandering through mostly pine woods, and a good wildflower display including walls of Sticky Monkeyflower, vetch, and Ithuriel’s Spear. There’s a trail sign informing that you’re on the “Old Country Road Trail”. Upon arriving at an unmarked trail sign missing information in the recessed circles on the pole, stay right and follow the trail on a gradual climb. At the next trail junction marked with a trail sign West Ridge and Old Country Rd. continue upward, don’t take the fork leading down and to the right. The views continue to improve as altitude is gained. East Bay cities, Brooks Island, the old Kaiser Shipyard #3 in the distance and the Richmond Yacht Harbor directly below are some of the eye catching sights. If you’re there at the right time, you may hear the distant 19th Century vintage air powered “diaphone” fog horn on East Brother Island when the caretakers show off its classic sound.

Return back down the trail the short distance to the sign with unmarked circles and cross Old Country Tr., heading uphill and straight ahead. Just ahead you’ll arrive at a badly eroded hillside where the trail widens to 3 tracks. Stay in the left most track, stair casing upwards finally reaching a bench and level rest area at a mound, circled by a paved blacktop road. The mound is labeled on park maps as “False Gun”, a past war dummy gun relic site. Turn right, following the paved road as it runs along the ridge back. Take a dirt path veering right and descending gently down the ridge back to a nearby spectacular 360 degree birds eye viewpoint. The WWII Victory Ship Red Oak can be clearly seen at the nearby dock.


Now return back to “False Gun” and continue to head roughly North on the ridge back. Stay on the road as it reaches steeper more eroded trail and a sign directing you up the Marine View trail. Pass a trail junction and take the steep wooden steps to the right. The section soon becomes rocky, steep and rutted but not for long. Arrive at a paved road near the summit of Nichols Knob marked by a sign “Crest Trail”. Follow the paved road right, to the true summit with picnic tables and jaw dropping views.

Return to the trail head by exiting the summit plateau heading northwest towards the San Rafael Bridge visible in the distance, at the trail sign marking the descending Marine View Trail. At a soon reached trail “T” go right. Almost immediately reach another junction and rejoin the Old Country Rd. Trail and go right, yet again. At a small paved road, stay left to the immediate dead end, and descend down a very short trail to another paved road, Western Dr. Turn right, walk a short distance to a gate blocking a road descending off Western Dr. There’s a stair case by the gate, dropping down to a picnic area and restrooms just above Keller Beach. Swimming is allowed if you have the time and it’s a warm day. Otherwise, take the paved path with an iron hand rail heading left, and follow the trail on the right side of the railroad tracks as it runs parallel to the shoreline. Eventually you’ll pass through a fence and then around a second fence across the trail. Look immediately left for a trail through a short section of grass leading into the Miller Knox Regional Shoreline Park and a lagoon. Join the paved trail, stay left around the lagoon shoreline to the entry parking area and reach the end of the hike. It’s been a scenic hike with amazing over views even the local residents are unlikely to have seen.


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