Anza Trail Blog

East Bay Hills Thru Hike & Ride on the Bay Area Ridge Trail

by Steven Ross

Tagged as:   Alameda County , Bay Area Ridge Trail , California , East Bay Regional Park District , Recreation Trail , equestrian , hiking

Both equestrians and hikers shared in the adventure

The weather at daybreak was very foggy and wet, but we felt no chill, as it seems this country is a more temperate one and, judging from the heat we felt during the march today, there is still more heat as one goes onward. . .  The fog lasted halfway through the morning and then proceeded to clear, leaving the sky open and the sun rather hot.  The route was varied, now plain, now hills- the whole country, however, was very green and flowery and with lilies in plenty.  - Father Pedro Font, Monday, April 1, 1776

On Saturday, August 31st, I had the pleasure of hiking with a group of 75 sturdy hikers and equestrians who were participating in the 6th annual East Bay Hills Thru Hike and Ride, a fundraising benefit jointly organized by the Bay Area Ridge Trail and the Tilden Wildcat Horseman’s Association.  Much of their journey was along newly signed segments of the Anza Trail.  At the start of our hike, I read Font’s diary entry, and our party chuckled and nodded in agreement with his note about the East Bay climate – some things never change!!  

While I only joined the group for Saturday’s hike, many participants started their adventure on Wednesday, and would hike approximately 55 miles by the time they finished on Monday.  Their trek started at Briones Reservoir in central Contra Costa County and finally ended at Lake Chabot in Oakland (Click here for an area map).  Each morning, hikers and equestrians would have breakfast, and then pack up their tents and gear to have it shuttled to the next campsite, where they would again set up camp.  They carried daypacks with all the essentials they would need for the day, such as extra clothing, sunscreen, lunch, snacks, water, and map.   In the evenings, the group enjoyed a variety of programs, including naturalist talks and an up-close look at the stars and planets during a visit to the Chabot Space and Science Center.   Former Anza Trail Superintendent Meredith Kaplan also stopped by for a visit.

I had the opportunity to speak with many of the hikers as we walked between Joaquin Miller Park and Anthony Chabot Regional Park. Many had participated in the event in previous years, and all were very fit and loved to explore the outdoors.  I also met one of the Ridge Trail “circumnavigators” who were to be honored at the campfire that evening.  Circumnavigators have hiked all of the completed segments (350+ miles!) of Ridge Trail.

In 1776, Anza’s team explored to the East Bay from San Leandro Creek to the Carquinez Strait by navigating the grassy flatlands between the hills and the bay.  However, the modern recreational retracement route our group was following aligns with Bay Area Ridge Trail through much of the East Bay Hills- the most pragmatic route for a continuous long distance recreation trail in a densely populated area. 

In his description of the Anza Party’s trek in the East Bay, Pedro Font wrote “This place could be considered tierra caliente because of the combination of the heat and the plague of mosquitos that began stinging us from the camp here at this stream onward and that pursued us the whole way to our halting place, particularly in the low spots and at the streams where there were trees.”  Font also remarked that the party “. . . saw four bears upon a slope.  We surmised that there are a good many of these here also, since we have seen a number of Indians upon both sides of the inlet who are heavily marked by bear bites and scratches.”  Fortunately for our group, this modern landscape has very few mosquitos, and no grizzly bears!

Because we’d been engaged in conversation and the scenery, we arrived at Bort Meadow, Saturday’s campsite, sooner than we had expected.  The thru-hikers found their gear and set up tents and chairs in a redwood grove, grateful for a spot to rest in the shade.  Equestrians dismounted and began grooming their horses.  We savored our lunches (and popsicles!!), reflecting on the day’s walk, and then made plans for more afternoon adventures, or a good nap.  As I was shuttled back to my car, I thought about how nice it would be to spend the night in a tent in the redwoods, beneath the stars.


Both equestrians and hikers shared in the adventure


Thank goodness for the gear shuttle!

New Anza Trail signs

Camping under the Redwoods

« Back to Blog Home