Winter in Augustin Bernal Park

2 -toyon

Toyon berries (also known as Christmas berries), along Golden Eagle Trail

Wednesday, 12/18/2013 — I am off to find the Sinbad Creek Trail again. (See my first try here.) It’s 2:10 p.m. and I’m just starting out. Too late to complete the 14-mile trip out and back but I can at least travel along sections of the creek. I haven’t done that before.

Today’s hike begins in Augustin Bernal Park, not Pleasanton Regional Park like the last time. Although both parks are open to the public, access to the former is controlled. Non-Pleasanton residents must obtain entry permits from the Pleasanton Community Services office to enter via the main gate to Golden Eagle Farms, a gated residential community.

  • Hike type: moderate to strenuous
  • Distance: about 8 miles round trip (exact distance to be determined at a future date).
  • Time to complete: 4 hours round trip
  • Trails: Take (1) Golden Eagle to (2) Chaparral to (3) Valley View to (4) Ridgeline to (5) Bayleaf to (6) Sinbad Creek. Reverse order to return.

PART I

  1. From the trailhead by the parking lot/staging area, go uphill along Golden Eagle Trail. Moderate trail. (5-10 minutes)
  2. Make first LEFT onto Chaparral Trail. This trail is steep. (5-6 minutes)

    3

    Soap plant (aka California soaproot), along Chaparral Trail

  3. Make LEFT onto Valley View Trail. (45 minutes-1 hour)
  4. Continue straight on Valley View Trail, past the wooden bench and Blue Oak Trail (both on the right).
    Coyote brush in bloom

    Coyote brush in bloom, along Valley View Trail

    In about 2-minutes you will come to a pond, down to the LEFT, off the trail. This is a good place to bird watch and enjoy the reflections in the water. As I sat by the pond, the scent of California Bay drifted down to greet me.

  5. Head back up onto the Ridgeline Trail, go past the water trough and faucet on your left. A copse of oak trees stands at attention before you. You are now nearing the border between Augustin Bernal and Pleasanton Regional Park.

    9 -oaks

    Oak trees along Ridgeline Trail lead into Pleasanton Regional Park

  6. Continue straight on Ridgeline Trail, past the second Blue Oak Knoll Trail junction on your right. (1/2 minute)
  7. You are now at the connector gate to Pleasanton Regional Park.

*****          *****          *****

PART II

As you enter Pleasanton Regional Park you will begin seeing directional markers. I have listed the ones on my route.

  1. A little past the gate, inside Pleasanton Regional Park, is Marker 21. Continue on straight ahead, going down and around an enormous green water tank on your left. (8-10 minutes)
  2. At Marker 22 there are small trails leading hither and yon. I chose to stay on the trail I had been following, the largest one (Ridgeline Trail, i.e.). From my map it seems that you can also take the smaller trail to your left to get to Sinbad Creek Trail. (Since I haven’t tried it yet, I don’t know for sure.)
  3. In about 2 minutes you’ll come to the Brett Whitelow memorial bench. Here you get a lovely overview of the valley below and the town of Pleasanton.

    View from Whitlow memorial bench, overlooking the valley and town of Pleasanton

    View from Brett Whitelow memorial bench, overlooking the valley and town of Pleasanton

  4. Continue straight, on Ridgeline Trail. (5-6 minutes)
  5. Now you are at Marker 26. Continue straight ahead; ignore the trail on your right. Although not indicated on the marker, Ridgeline Trail has now become the Bayleaf Trail. My only way of knowing this is (a) the pervasive smell of the bay trees that surround me and (b) the steep drop below that is Sinbad Creek and Kilkare Canyon. (5-6 minutes)
  6. Wallah! Here is Marker 25 announcing the beginning of the Sinbad Creek Trail. It is now 4:11 p.m. I scan the skies. It is already starting to get dark. Even if I quicken my pace and get back to the trailhead in under two hours, it will still be totally dark when I get there. Sure hope no mountain lions or bobcats are prowling about tonight. The Chaparral Trail looks like a good place for them to be!

4:59 p.m. Sun is setting over the Pleasanton ridge.

Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, and the best of the season for now and the coming new year. See you in two weeks.

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2 thoughts on “Winter in Augustin Bernal Park

    • Yeh, you’re right. I should have started earlier (or turned back at 3:00 p.m. instead of pushing on till I got to marker 25). Oh, it was super dark for the last 40 minutes of the hike. Could barely see. Won’t do that again. Thanks for worrying! P.S. Your earlier “chickens” blog post made me think of my kid — His last two years at Stanford he was in Synergy House. Turns out that that house/yard is the only place in Palo Alto zoned for raising chickens. Crazy kids wanted to raise chickens to get fresh eggs, that is, until they researched and found out how difficult it would be to tend to the birds over the winter. They used the yard (huge) to plant veggies and peas instead.

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