Bay Area Ridge Trail

Recently, I found out about a gem in my own back yard. Literally, it's about 3 miles from my house (in Oakland). In my book, that is walking distance (in case it's not, there is a bus). It's called the Bay Area Ridge Trail. It's 325 miles of trails around the San Francisco Bay, with a proposed future distance of 550 miles, as you can see from the map below. I think this is great, since I grew up living ON the Pacific Crest Trail (2,663 miles from Mexico to Canada, through CA, OR and WA) and hiking, hikers and trails have always been a big part of my life.

I decided then and there that I was going to try to hike, walk, or run as much of it as I can. I found a trail tracker, where you can track your miles.

So, right now, since I am was living in Oakland, I started out with a few sections near my house. It was beautiful. The first day, I went for a 17 mile out and back trail run, which included sections of redwood forests and open grassland and had views of the bay area, including San Francisco and the headlands beyond. It was great. The only downside was that I took a wrong turn around mile 4 and ended up running through a grassland area (for about 8 miles. Oops). I only realized I was lost when I wasn't arriving at my destination when I thought I was supposed to.  Day 1: Skyline Gate to Robert Sibley, including sections of Redwood Regional ParkHuckleberry Botanical Garden Preserve and Robert Sibley Volcanic Preserve. (4.3 miles)

Tilden Regional Park

The next day I took a walk with my friend and then ran back to the house via the trail I was supposed to have used the day before instead of getting a ride back with her. The walk was on a nice flat path and the run was a lot of ups and downs on a single track with some really good views of the Bay. I got lost once but followed, stalked was helped by an older gentleman with a 100 miler shirt on. Day 2: Nimitz Way to Robert Sibley, including sections of Robert Sibley and Tilden Regional Park. (5 miles)

Robert Sibley

On the third day, I was going to meet up with my friend for a walk at 9 a.m. I decided to run from my house to meet her. From what I could tell, it was about 9 miles. I left at 7, which should have given me plenty of time. However, you may have guessed this already, but I got lost. I ended up doing an extra 2 miles, rounding out this run at 11 miles (but only 9 of it was on the BA Ridge Trail) Day 3: MacDonald Staging Area to Procter Staging Area, including Redwood Regional Park and Anthony Chabot Regional Park. (9.1 miles)

Chabot Regional Park

Total to date: 18.4 miles**

**I will have to do a more through calculation later, because I have also been on some additional portions of this trail without even knowing it (see stars on map above).

So, the general theme of the Bay Area Ridge Trail Exploration Project (that is the official name and has been approved by the FDA and the USDA) is my getting lost. I am not sure if it's my map reading skills or my navigation skills, or their lack of signage/good maps. Or all four maybe? I have had a lot of fun finding out the routes and making a point to try a new route, rather than the same one that I always do and am comfortable with.

I think it's a great way to see new areas near my home as well as to push my boundaries a little bit. I also feel that it keeps running FUN (or hiking/walking). And the views have been fabulous! I also love the fact that within the city there are such beautiful green spaces. It's like you are all alone running along a trail. I barely saw any other people and there are rarely even commercial structures in view. I can't wait to try some of the other sections!

Do you have any hiking trails near your house? Have you ever done any hiking on the PCT, Appalachian or Continental Divide Trails? Do you like to try new running/hiking/walking routes or do you stick to the tried and true?


  1. This is great. I guess this goal is similar to me trying to walk the Thames Path although I expect your trail to be more challenging (hills, valleys etc that you don't get walking along the banks of a river). It's great fun though to have a go to path when you want to head out without having to plan or think too much. Good luck!

  2. That is a great challenge! We have some trails near where I live, but I have only gone trail running once. As you know, I am not a big fan of it due to the feeling of being lost. I constantly felt unsure of where I was or where I was supposed to go and I just hate that disoriented feeling! But it was a pretty trail and it was definitely challenging as there were lots of hills, so it was a nice change from road running.

    I haven't been on any of those trails you mentioned! I did a lot of hiking in the Steamboat Spring, CO area when I lived out there for a summer during college, but that's the only hiking I've done!

  3. Wow. That is a gem! I can't believe that's tucked into the city!

  4. We've got Umstead State Park, which has a ton of trails in there and also hosts a 100 mile race every april. I will be exploring more of them through the summer and fall. great call!

  5. Wow what a great thing to have so nearby! My bf went to school in the smokies and used to be out on the AT every weekend, hiking, running, or camping. I'm so jealous! We have a few good trails in Pittsburgh but none of them are very long.

  6. That is a neat trail. I totally see an ultra type group setting up a race that covers the whole thing someday.

    I don't do secluded trails like that (worry wart here), but there are tons of horse trails around here and I do see runners/hikers heading to them.

  7. That is so awesome to have that right outside your door! When we lived in CA we hiked almost every weekend. There were so many places to explore all within an hour or so drive. Since we moved to OH we haven't explored much of the hiking. My husband and I would both like to run a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

    Love finding new running routes!

  8. That is so awesome! Beautiful and so nice and close. In order to get a good hike in I have to drive at least 45 minutes, so not real convenient, but once summer comes around I hit the trails a couple times a week. It is so worth it!

  9. What a great trail! We have a ton of hiking trails in our area and even though I've lived here for ten years I still haven't discovered them all.

  10. Looks like a great trail and a great find that it is (well, was) so close! I've been on few small sections of the Appalachian Trail but that's it!

  11. I love that you attempt to keep running fresh and interesting. I think it's really easy for a lot of people (myself included) to stick to the same routine, because it becomes comfortable. We don't have a ton of great walking/hiking trails around here, but when Sweets and I committed to biking more this summer, we realized how many amazing bike trails there are that can take us from the city to the burbs and the burbs to state lines. We're excited to explore this summer!

  12. What a great idea. I think it is so neat that you can keep track of different parts and how much you have done. Love that.

    I love to hike in the mountains and have done a lot in the Banff/Jasper/Yoho area and also into Montana and BC.

  13. Oh, I wish we had trails nearby! We had lots in upstate NY, and did parts of the AT. Awesome that it's so close by!


Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!