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Over the Hills: Orinda BART to Claremont Ave





by Transit & Trails


Wildlife Sightings

by iNaturalist


Length: 6.87 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Duration: Halfday
Created by Dan Rademacher

Dan was editor of Bay Nature from 2004 until 2013, when he left to work for SF-based Stamen Design. A onetime professional cabinetmaker, he considers himself a lifelong maker of things and teller of stories. Dan has been working at the intersection of journalism and technology since, at age 16, he began learning reporting, page layout, and database design. His enduring interest in environmental issues crystallized into a career path in 1998 when he assisted former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass in a cross-disciplinary nature writing and ecology course at UC Berkeley, from which Dan received a Masters in English literature. In 1999, he became Associate Editor of Terrain, the erstwhile quarterly magazine of Berkeley's Ecology Center. In addition to editing and art-directing Bay Nature magazine, he was also Bay Nature’s chief technology strategist, fixer of broken things, and designer of databases and fancy spreadsheets. And he was even known to leave the office and actually hike outdoors.

Good for:
  • Birding
  • Views
  • Wildflowers
  • Chaparral
  • Forests and Woodlands
  • Transit Accessible


This is a great introduction to the joys of transit hiking: Hop on BART at Rockridge, ride 5 minutes to Orinda (really!) and you're set up for a fun 6.5-mile hike, much of it through little-used sections of EBMUD and UC lands.

Two notes: First, you have to get a permit from EBMUD. You can do that online easily here. Second, when you get to the point where the Skyline Trail gets closest to Grizzly Peak, you need to hop a gate to cross over to UC lands. Otherwise you end up at the intersection of Fish Ranch / Claremont / Grizzly Peak with no good trail links down (though you can hoof it all the way to Merritt College from there, and bus it to Fruitvale, which is another cool transit hike).

So, from Orinda, you'll hike on the De La Veaga Trail on EBMUD lands, then hang a left on the Skyline Trail. When you almost intersect with Grizzly Peak, hop the green gate and cross over to UC lands on the other side. When I did the hike, there was a large open field here with big eucalyptus logs stacked up. From here, mostly stay left as you head down, down, down (very steep!) to Stonewall Drive, which connects to Claremont Ave and takes you back to Rockridge BART.

The EBMUD side is the highlight here. There just aren't that many people, and there were decent wildflowers even in late spring during a dry year. That said, the views of Oakland and SF on the Clarmeont side are remarkable. Plus you can ponder the many flavors of habitat management and controversy as you ascend through oak woodlands, grasslands, small stands of eucalyptus, then descend through logged areas, decent chaparral, then tons of broom, dense stands of eucalyptus, more open stands, and on and on.

Plus you can stop for ice cream at Tara's on Telegraph near Alcatraz. Or for coffee if the weather's cold. And all without driving. That's tough to beat!


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