Lawson Hill P300
Abrott BM P500
Radach Hill
Peak 832ft P300
Peak 750ft P300
Pinole Ridge P300
Nickols Knob P300

Mon, Jul 10, 2017
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 Profiles: 1 2 3 4 5 6


I was on a roll, so I went back to Contra Costa County for a third straight day, working through the list of 46 ranked summits found on LoJ. Today's collection were grouped in the northwest corner of the county, most of them inland where it got quite warm before the morning was half over. The last peak was the highpoint of Point Richmond on the edge of the SF Bay, a much cooler and far more picturesque affair. The peaks were found on a collection of EBMUD, EBRPD and private lands, often mixed and sometimes confusing. Once again, the hikes were short, but (mostly) sweet.

Lawson Hill

This is found on EBMUD property north of Briones Reservoir, accessed from Hampton Rd, permit required. There is a fire road going over the summit but it is gated closed to public use with the generic "Protected Watershed" sign that basically means cattle grazing. There are two summits to Lawson Hill, the official one to the east and what appears to be a slightly higher one (by two feet) to the west, separated by a quarter mile. The fire road goes over both summits. There is a nice view of Briones Reservoir from the summit. I did this one first, starting before 6a since I had no permit and was wandering off the permitted trails.

Abrott BM / Radach Hill

I had thought this was an all-legal summit, but it appears I didn't read the descriptions on PB that accompanied the GPX track I grabbed. Starting from the end of Patra Dr and going through the Kennedy Grove Recreation Area, I followed the Sea Foam Trail up to the park boundary with what appears to be EBMUD property with grazing cattle. A good ranch road connects nearly to the summit with a last bit of steep climbing up grassy slopes on a use trail. I failed to find the benchmark, but didn't look too hard. I checked out both sides of the fence there, took a few pictures and headed back. The park map I saw at the beginning of the hike showed a Radach Hill, so I made a detour on the way back to check it out. There is no trail going to the summit and there is a good deal of poison oak strategically guarding access. Those who believe they are immune to the stuff can take a more direct route, but the route I took from the west appears to have the least amount to deal with. The summit is a nicely shaded under some oak trees. It would be swell with a picnic bench and a nice use trail leading to it. Just to piss off anyone who thinks they've already climbed everything in the area, I added this minor hill to PB, and shortly to be found on LoJ, too.

Peak 832ft

One of only two completely legal hikes today, this one is found in the Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve. No trespassing, no permit needed. Like Lawson, it has two closely spaced summits. I visited both in a small loop, part of which was easy cross-country going over the two tops. A coyote on the trail darted off when it spotted me, leaving me little more than its ears to catch on camera before it was over the hill and out of sight.

Peak 750ft

Interesting one here, but private property. An exceedingly short hike under oak forest cover with lots of poison oak to dance around, it leads uphill from where I parked in a residential neighborhood. Marcus Sierra has a track on PB which appears to stop short of the highpoint. What at first looks to be a house at the top, turns out to be a large water tank with a shingled roof. A tall wooden fence surrounds the property. The land under the tank was hollowed out to hold the structure, but the highpoint appears to be seen just right of the tank under some trees inside the fence. A small breach in the fence might help one get over the other side. Just sayin'.

Pinole Ridge

Clement Guillaume has a nice GPX track available on PB that approaches from Pinole Valley to the west of the summit. I ignored this, at my own peril, and picked out a route from the north at the end of Refugio Valley Rd, which appears to be the same route described by Andrew Kirmse. I thought this was rather sucky. Most of the route takes advantage of the EBMUD trail that runs up to the summit, the problem being there is no legal access from Refugio Valley though a dirt road runs right up to the property boundary. I ended following a freshly rototilled break along the edge of the property, up against the back of the neighborhood houses where small, bored and obnoxious dogs took turns yapping their stupid heads off as I walked by. Up and over a small hill with more freshly churned, loose dirt and I eventually landed on the hard-pack ranch road that serves as the EBMUD trail. I went up to the top, found a small benchmark, took a few photos and headed back. I bypassed the loose dirt by better following the EBMUD route. Ran into a woman in a white truck who didn't seem bothered by my presence but I had to wait for her to check out through three locked gates before exiting back to Refugio Valley Rd.

Nickols Knob

You can't help but think that "Nichols" was mispelled on this one. This was the most popular of the bunch, not surprisingly. It's the highpoint of Kelly Beach Park and Point Richmond, overlooking San Francisco Bay with fine views of San Francisco, Angel Island, Oakland and a host of Bay Area sights when the fog has burned off and appears to see high traffic. There is a large network of trails with at least three directions from which the summit can be approached. On a Monday morning there was ample parking on the west side where I headed up. The summit is home to a small telecom tower along with a view bench and a picnic table. The cool breeze blowing off the bay was a welcome relief to the warmer temperatures earlier. Today was a rest day on the Tour de France, so I had no DVR'd episode to watch in the afternoon, but a nap would do nicely in its place. I had gotten up at 4a to avoid the Bay Area morning rush hour traffic and could use a few more hours' sleep.

Marcus Sierra comments on 07/10/17:
Thanks Bob. Now someday I'll have to go back to PK 750 for the summit proper. I only got as far as the boundary fence....rookie mistake.
I'd call the fence good enough on this one. It's kinda creepy around that neighborhood.
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