This hike visits two Regional Preserves and one Regional Park, mostly on the jointly named scenic Bay Area Ridge/Skyline Trails. Except for two steep but fairly short sections the uphill portions are straightforward. The route serves as a good way to begin exploring the entire Skyline area and get ideas for future hikes. One portion of the hike, in Huckleberry Botanical Preserve, has a self guided hike pointing out rare relic plant species found there. Before setting out however, you’ll have to pick up the guided tour brochure at the Preserve entrance information kiosk off Skyline Blvd. Sibley Volcanic Preserve also has a self guided tour, but it is a much longer tour leaving on a separate trail from this hike. Begin our Skyline out and back hike at the Sibley parking lot, where maps, restrooms and an exhibit are available.
Begin by walking through the gate across the paved Round Top Rd. and following it uphill to an unmarked paved road leading right. Take this road to the signed trail junction of the Skyline Trail and again turn right, entering welcome shady woodlands finally on dirt trail. Stay right at a trail fork, and descend past an opening in the woods giving unobstructed views of canyons and hillsides. After passing an interesting low formation of sedimentary “ribbon chert” in the middle of the trail, the canyon bottom is reached and a trail sign announces this portion of trail is shared by the Bay Skyline, Bay Ridge and Juan Bautista de Anza Trails. Again stay right, ascending into the Huckleberry Preserve where the guided tour of the numbered plant sites can be started. If you are not taking the tour, just continue by hiking the Huckleberry Trail mostly contouring in and out of steep sided shady canyons with lush ferns and small creeks until you emerge out on to Pinehurst Rd. Walk across in the crosswalk again joining the Bay Skyline, this section signed as leading to the East Ridge Trail. A brief up, level section and then downhill leads to the wide dirt fire road which is the East Ridge Trail curving right to the Redwood Regional Park Skyline Gate parking area now visible to the west. At the Skyline gate area, stay left to the well signed Stream Trail. A quick descent leads to a meadow area containing “Girls Camp”. Stay left on the wide dirt Stream Trail, watching on the right edge of the trail for a series of wild miniature red plum trees. The first few trees contain the best tasting examples, ripe and ready in mid-July. Take a hand full down the trail as it passes the junction of the Eucalyptus Trail, enters redwood forest, and meets the Tres Sendas Trail at Redwood Creek. Enjoy lunch or break among this cathedral-like grove of redwoods on the convenient bench.
Return to the Eucalyptus Trail, take it up briefly steep trail, intersect the Phillips Trail and turn left. During the summer, contract goats can be seen eating grasses to lessen fire danger and remove over growth of non-native species. Note the fence alongside the trail is signed warning it is an electric fence to corral the goats! The Phillips Trail contains trees hanging heavy with more tasty wild plums, these being a yellow variety, as it leads to the East Ridge Trail where a loop is completed. Here you pick up the route on the Skyline Trail where you entered into Redwood Park. Return into and out of Huckleberry, enter Sibley, and after the final 400 foot elevation gain out of the canyon, make the short descent on paved roads to the starting point at the Sibley parking area. This hike has a lot to offer: a variety of woodlands, volcanic and sedimentary geologic features, plant relics of a wetter climate and signs of our rapidly evolving human culture all preserved in a compact urban hiking oasis. Special thanks to Roberta O'Grady President of the Contra Costa Hills Hiking Club who developed this outstanding survey hike.