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Bay Nature magazineJuly-September 2012

A New Take on Sibley Preserve

by on July 01, 2012

View of Round Top at Sibley Regional Preserve

Photo by Dan Hill.

Every day, east of Highway 24’s Caldecott Tunnel, thousands of commuters hurtle–or crawl–past a fine swath of the East Bay’s glorious greenbelt, where just off the highway, the north trailhead of Sibley Volcanic Preserve invites exploration.

Skyline Trail climbs to cross over the tunnel a few yards back from its portal, hidden in dense foliage. Part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, it’s a narrow track linking Sibley Preserve to Tilden Park two miles north, over forested and grassy watershed slopes, offering long views of Mount Diablo and Sibley’s Round Top, with a good chance of spotting a jackrabbit or a coyote.

Or go south on Skyline Trail to reach Sibley Preserve’s main entrance in less than a mile. Another trail, Quarry Road, climbs open hillsides directly to the fascinating Round Top volcanic area. (Using both routes, a three-mile loop is possible.) A map and self-guided tour brochure are at ebparks.org/parks/sibley. Take in (or walk) the human-built labyrinths in the quarries. And there’s a short side trip down to a stock pond overgrown with cattails and populated by blackbirds and (in winter and spring) frogs and newts. It’s peaceful though never silent, out of sight of, but less than one-third of a mile, from the highway.

Getting there: Exit Highway 24 at Fish Ranch Road east of the Caldecott; follow Old Tunnel Road one-third mile to parking area. Toilet provided; no bikes on trail to Tilden.

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