Berkeley to Clayton backpack

MtDiablo-foothills

Mt. Diablo foothills

Continuing my repeat trips on the American Discovery Trail, this time I backpacked from Berkeley to Clayton, along American Discovery Trail segments 8 and 7. I skipped the walk from Jack London Square to Berkeley, as I knew my feet did not need all that walking on pavement. So I started from the Berkeley BART station, heading up Bancroft to the Jordan Fire Trail up through Strawberry Canyon on the UC Berkeley campus. I deviated from the route to follow what I’m calling Panoramic Ridge, along Panoramic Drive and then the ridge top trail, sometimes quite steep, up to Grizzly Peak Rd and over into Tilden Park near the steam train. I walked along Skyline Trail north to Inspiration Point and then down to cross San Pablo Creek and up to Briones Reservoir, to Bear Creek staging area for for a late lunch, and then up onto the ridge. All along the trail today there was coyote scat with plum pits in it. Plums are abundant this year, and there are quite a number of either historical or feral plums along the trail. I camped near Russell Peak, where there happens to be a flat spot to sleep and picnic table. There are no legal spots to camp along this route, so I just pick less obvious spots. The night was cold and windy.

The next day I went down along the ADT to Walnut Creek and stopped by a Starbucks to recharge my phone and iPod (which I’d left playing during the night and depleted) and have a cup of iced tea. Then along the canal, through Heather Glen Park, and up onto Shell Ridge which heads southeast into the foothills of Mt. Diablo. Though the grass is all dried and the flowers few, this is a still a beautiful ridge. I camped again at Wall Point, where I’d camped in January 2014. That being a warm winter and this being a stretch of cool weather during the summer, the temps and wind were about the same.

In the morning clouds were hanging about the top of Mt. Diablo. I thought the climb to the top would be hard, about 2300 feet from campsite to peak, but it turned out to be easy in the morning when I was fresh. It was too cold to hang around on the peak, but the views in nearly all directions are worth going on any day. Heading down the north side, I took the Bald Ridge trail instead of the road, avoiding the steep loose surface, though the trail itself was pretty steep and I had to dance around poison oak. Mt. Diablo is simply steep, and if there are non-steep trails there, I haven’t been on them yet. I walked down Mitchell Canyon, and into the town of Clayton. Took the bus to Concord BART, BART to Richmond, and the Amtrak Capitol Corridor home to Sacramento.

This is my third time on the ADT-CA-8 segment, and second on the ADT-CA-7 segment. I did not do the part from Clayton to Antioch, though it would have been a good day to do so with the much cooler temperatures on this very sunny route. I am making an effort to take my feet to the point where they are uncomfortable and sore, but not to the point of damage, and Clayton seemed like a good balance.

This trip is a strange mix of urban and wild lands. It is not just that it starts in Berkeley, crosses through Walnut Creek, and ends in Clayton, but that from any vantage point there are views to the suburbs and often even to San Francisco. But closer to hand, or to foot, the country can be quite wild, and seem like it is miles away from anything. At night, looking out, the lights of some city or another are very visible, but looking up, there are the stars and in this case the first quarter moon. This is also a trail with a number of entry and exit points, if desired, including Orinda, Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Clayton. It could be done as day hikes as well, and in fact I will likely to back and explore some of the side trails that look interesting but are not the main route.

Photos on Flickr

About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.
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