Redwood Peak P300 CC / NN
Round Top P300 CC / NN
Grizzly Peak CC / NN

Sat, Jun 12, 2010
Round Top
Grizzly Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3

This was a quick visit to a few Alameda County peaks on the CC list. I had about three hours while my son was volunteering for a Red Cross event at Moffet Field, not exactly nearby. I spent most of the time driving, punctuated with a few short bursts of hiking and jogging to find the summits, not always obvious.

Redwood Peak is the highpoint of Redwood Regional Park in the hills just east of Oakland. With only the summit coordinates in my GPS, I managed to drive to within about a third of a mile to Redwood Peak on Skyline Blvd. I found a free parking spot on one side of the road and an unsigned use trail on the opposite side. The trail led to what looked like an unused rustic cabin rental area, complete with tatered volleyball nets and boarded up cabins. Past this I came across a signed trail for the West Ridge, but from the GPS (hard to read amongst all the tall trees here), I gathered I needed something further east. I dropped down and across Redwood Bowl, a nice group picnic area, then up some other trails until I ran across a sign marked "Redwood Peak Trail". This seemed to be a good sign. I followed this up to a confusing junction, picked the correct left fork following a fence along a nearby archery range, and soon found myself atop Redwood Peak. It offers no views due to the abundance of tall redwoods and other conifers about the summit, but the summit was unmistakable. It consisted of some large sedimentary summit blocks that have been amply carved into by several generations of visitors. A small family of three was there at the summit when I arrived, and save for the few minutes I took to climb to the highest boulder and take a few pictures, I left them almost undisturbed.

I next found my way to Robert Sibey Volcanic Regional Preserve a few miles to the north. Unlike Redwood Regional Park, parking in the ample lot was free. A paved road leading to the summit of Round Top was closed to vehicle traffic, so it was necessary to hoof it. I followed several groups up the road, seeing the peak with its unmistakable antennae crowning it ahead of me. I took the left fork in the road where I should have gone right. The left fork led to a large water tower on the northwest side and a use trail that led up the ridgeline and started off so very promising. This use trail led to some volcanic outcroppings of mild geologic interest, but not to the summit. A great deal of poison oak was found to infest the trail and I eventually had to abandon it and drop cross-country down to the right fork of the pave road (hopefully I didn't sustain too much PO damage on this foray). The right fork crosses the Bay Ridge Trail on its roundabout way to the summit of Round Top. Again, not much in the way of views, though with some effort in poking about the periphery one can see various views to the Bay and elsewhere. The highpoint appears to be a lump of concrete between two installations. Pressed for time, I jogged my way back to the car.

The third and last peak I visited was Grizzly Peak, yet a few more miles further north in the Berkeley Hills. Grizzly Peak Drive actually comes within a tenth of a mile of the summit, with small trail kiosk located roadside where I parked. The summit is entirely off-limits however, owned and developed by American Tower Corporation that seems to own many of the installations on the summits in this area. The first fence was easy to bypass by walking around the left side, but the one around the summit installation was considerably more formidable with razor wire atop barbed-wire high on the chain-link fence. I managed my way over this obstacle and then up to the summit where I found a large black rock that appeared to be the highest point next to the adjacent tower building. There was an open gate at the back of this fenced-in area that allowed me to exit easily enough without going over the razor wire, but it lead to forested slopes on the east side of the peak that forced me through more poison oak before descending onto the access road again.

There was a fourth nearby CC summit in Vollmer Peak, but I was already behind schedule and would have to save this for another time. Of the three summits I visited, two are publicly accessible, but none of them offer much in the way of views. Views are far better at any of the many turnoffs available along Skyline Blvd and Grizzly Peak Dr, but the hills and parks here offer wonderful hiking opportunites with miles upon miles of trails within a short distance of a large metropolitan area.

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