Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Getting back on the trail: Tilden Regional Park

View of Mount Diablo from tree swing on Volmer Peak

Well, well, well. It's been a long time for this blogger! I've been discouraged by some foot issues in the last couple of years, but finally decided “To hell with it. I'm gonna start doing some real hiking again.” Also, I have one of those milestone birthdays coming up and I wanted to do a trip-to-remember sort of trip, so I'll be hiking Mount Whitney in September and need to start training and get into some assemblance of backpacking shape.

Since it was a nice day, but not too hot, and because I'm still recovering from a twisted ankle, I decided a double-track fire trail up on a ridge with views may be a good option. I pulled out my Tilden map and opted to go with a trail and trailhead I had never tried before. Plus I would get to visit Volmer Peak for the first time which I've often viewed from a distance at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve.

I found the Seaview Trail to be quite pleasant for a fire trail (I generally hate fire trails due to the greater sun exposure) and there were many spots with wide views easterly and westerly including: Oakland, San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais, the Pacific Ocean, Mount Diablo, the San Pablo and Briones Reservoirs, and beyond. Every once in a while the trail would be shaded by monterey pine and eucalyptus groves. There were spots of sticky monkey flower, lupin, sage, poppies, yerba santa, bright red berries of coast elderberry, blackberries, and of course poison oak.

The Lower and Upper Big Spring Trails were unspectacular, but it was nice to get on some single track trail for variety. They were partially shaded in spots by eucalyptus groves. I also made a side trip to the top of Volmer Peak which, like many Bay Area peaks, is covered in radio/cell towers. However, there were definitely good partial views east, west, and south, but not 360 views, and there was a homemade swing hung from a pine that has a very nice easterly view (see photo above).

Trailhead: Stream Trains area; Water, toilets, and poster trail map (sometimes there are free paper maps available).
Mileage: ~5.5
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,300 feet
Hike Type: Lollipop loop
Trails Hiked:
  1. Seaview Trail (a.k.a. Bay Area Ridge Trail/East Bay Skyline Trail);
  2. Lower Big Springs Trail;
  3. Upper Big Springs Trail;
  4. Seaview Trail with spur up to Volmer Peak (paved).
Trail Type/Terrain: Double track/fire road, paved in beginning; single track. Lots of small cobbles in spots.
Trail Users: Hikers, mountain bikers, horses, dogs.
Official Park Website: Tilden Regional Park