Run the Circumnavigation of Redwood Regional Park's Ultimate Trail Loop
San Francisco › Redwood Regional Park
Added by Rachel Davidson
Hike or run a clockwise circumnavigation of Oakland's Redwood Regional Park. Combine the West Ridge Trail and East Ridge Trail for a challenging and enjoyable day loop. Enter on Redwood Rd on east entrance, not Skyline Gate on west entrance.
It’s difficult to have a car in San Francisco, but oh-so worth it when it comes to weekend getaways, especially with all the Bay Area has to offer. This is a super accessible trail system just 30 minutes outside of the city that makes for a fun, easy trail run or hike.
Redwood Regional Park, part of the East Bay Regional Park District, is a huge open space that's tucked away in the East Bay hills just a short drive from Oakland. From San Francisco, take 580 East off of the Bay Bridge and turn left off of the 35th Ave exit. This road turns into Redwood Road, which will take you to the east entrance of the park. There’s plenty of parking for a $5 fee, or you can squeeze in between other cars on the side of the main road just outside the entrance, which is how I entered the park today.
The following loop is an entire circumnavigation of the park in a clockwise direction. You can view each trail and loop more closely on Mappery.
Near the entrance of the park, jump on a trail to your left and run along a creek bed. This area of the park is lush with green plants and glows under a canopy of trees, with a very small single-track trail lined with rocks and roots. Eventually the single-track trail merges with the West Ridge Trail and continues higher up. The path widens here to accommodate equestrians, bikers, and more hikers, and goes for miles and miles – and steeper and steeper. The West Ridge Trail narrows and widens again, snaking through thick forests and leveling out at look points with stunning views. I passed through so many ecosystems, from the thick green forest you see above through tall redwoods and up above dusty pastures covered in wildflowers.
These first few miles were the steepest of the day, and the bulk of your elevation gain will be condensed into just the first third of your run or hike. At the highest point of the West Ridge Trail, the path crosses a road that leads to Chabot Space and Science Center, and from then on, it’s pretty much all downhill.
Just about halfway through the day, the windy trail through the redwoods evened out to a gaping valley on the right, and a parking lot up emerges ahead on the left. This is where the West Ridge Trail becomes the East Ridge Trail, and where I found many more people either starting or ending their day. There are a lot of leisurely trails that fork off of the main one and many people wander down these for shorter hikes or picnic spots. It’s easy to get stuck here, enjoying the views.
The last half of the hike is easy, and mostly downhill. The East Ridge is unlike its other half in that it’s largely exposed, dusty, and out of the redwoods. But both of these things also mean that you're able to see farther because of the lower tree line, and you can pay more attention to the hills on the horizon since you're looking their direction, heading down.
This is a beautiful, easy day that wasn’t completely inundated with crowds (unlike other Bay Area hiking options), and it reminded me of how lucky San Franciscans are to have so many options in this area.
- Trail shoes (running or hiking)
- Sun protection
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Fitness, Hiking, Running
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Great Trails At This East Bay Park
I love running at Redwood! The west ridge and east ridge offer very different worlds that you can mix and match depending on the weather and time of day. If you are looking for a nice shaded canopy then stick with the west ridge and drop down into the canyon of redwoods. If you are looking to warm up in the sun and get some great views of the east bay hills then check out the east ridge. It's all good in Redwood!
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