Bort Meadow Staging Area,
Anthony Chabot Regional Park,
East Bay Regional Park District,
Alameda County
In brief:
5.4 mile loop along the length of a little valley, then climbing up and down a ridge. Hosts a Bay Area Ridge Trail segment.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 5.4 mile loop hike is easy, with a total elevation change of about 800 feet. Trailhead elevation is about 680 feet. The featured hike drops to about 435 feet, then climbs to a high point of about 950 feet, before descending a bit, then climbing back to the trailhead.

Almost totally exposed, with some shade toward the end of the hike.

Trail traffic

Trail surfaces
Dirt fire roads and trails.

Hiking time
2 1/2 hours.

Too hot in summer. Best in late winter and early spring.

Getting there:
• From CA 24 in Alameda County, exit south CA 13 (exit 5). Drive about 4 miles south and exit Redwood (exit 1c). Turn left onto Redwood and drive uphill about 0.5 mile, to the junction with Skyline Boulevard. Stay in the left lane, and continue straight on Redwood about 4.3 miles, to the trailhead on the right side of the road.
• From westbound Interstate 580 in Alameda County, exit Redwood Road (exit 36a). Turn left on Castro Valley Blvd., then right on Redwood Road. Drive north about 8 miles to the trailhead on the left side of the road.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3746'39.16"N
122 7'30.03"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phones, stores, and restaurants back near CA 13 -- there are also limited facilities at Lake Chabot. Camping info from EBRPD: "Overlooking the lake is Chabot Family Campground, a year-round getaway only minutes from the city (camping fee). The camp has 75 trailer, tent, or walk-in campsites, hot showers, naturalist-led campfire programs, an amphitheater, and hiking/fishing access to Lake Chabot. There are reservable youth group campsites within the park as well. Telephone (510) 562-2267 for camping information or reservations."

Trailhead details
Large dirt parking lot. No entrance or parking fees. Maps available at the information signboard located just off the parking lot. Pit toilets and drinking water located at the edge of Bort Meadow. There is no designated handicapped parking, and trails are not well-suited to wheelchairs. There is no direct public transportation to this trailhead, but AC Transit will bring you within walking distance of the park; visit for details.

Most trails are multi-use. Some are open to equestrians and hikers only, and a few short trails are designated hiking only. Dogs are permitted. Park is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Official Story
EBRPD's Chabot page.
EBRPD headquarters 510-562-PARK

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
This hike is described and mapped in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco, by Jane Huber (yup, that's me, the creator of this website). Order this book from
Map from EBRPD
A Rambler's Guide to the Trails of the East Bay Hills: Central Section, published by The Olmsted & Bros. Map Co. (order this map from
The East Bay Out, by Malcolm Margolin, has a useful map and park descriptions (order this book from
The Bay Area Ridge Trail, by Jean Rusmore (order this book from has a simple map and park descriptions.
East Bay Trails, by David Weintraub, has a good map and descriptions of 2 Chabot hikes (order this book from

Chabot in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

View 86 photos from the featured hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

Chabot Park is a nice companion to its neighbor, Redwood Park. TrailheadThe two parks are separated only by narrow Redwood Road, and with an interconnected trail system, you can hike for hours on a long segment of the the Bay Area Ridge Trail, through both parks. While Redwood is dominated by its namesake trees, and a riparian corridor, with just a bit of chaparral, Chabot features a lake, meadows and grassland, eucalyptus forests, and lots of chaparral. At the southeastern end of Chabot, Lake Chabot is a focal point, and the area has been developed with a public golf course, family campground, and marina. The northwestern edge, which borders Redwood Park, and the middle of Chabot are less developed, although there is a campground at Bort Meadow.
     With 9 trailheads (the EBRPD calls the largest of these staging areas), Chabot offers many choices when it comes to hiking. Trail down to Grass ValleyMacDonald Staging Area, on the park's northeastern edge, serves both Chabot and Redwood Parks. Going south, Marciel Gate, and the other trailheads off Marciel Road, are the last subdued set-off points before you reach the developed parking areas at Willow Park Golf Course and Lake Chabot Marina. Starting from Bort Meadow Staging Area allows you to wander southeast or northwest, and it's my favorite trailhead at Chabot. From here you can take an out-and-back hike west through chaparral on MacDonald Trail (a segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail), or just wander downhill to Bort Meadow and lie in the grass. Grass Valley Trail (another segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail) meanders levelly south through the valley and joins with Brandon Trial on a march through eucalyptus forests. Brandon runs all the way to the eastern edge of the park, ending near the Proctor Staging Area. Grass Valley Trail
     Equestrians are commonly encountered on the trails at Chabot, although less so in the winter, when the equestrian center on Skyline Boulevard is closed. Trails can get quite hot in the summer, so spring and autumn are the best times of year to visit. Some wildflowers bloom throughout the park, and a hike through the grassland and chaparral-lined slopes can be an education in bay area plants.
     For the featured hike, head downhill on the paved road near the entrance to the staging area. Coyote brush and poison oak line the route. A glance to the left reveals the valley you will soon be hiking through. At 0.10 mile, the trail splits at a signed 3-way intersection. The paved trail right goes to Bort Meadow. The trail straight is a spur to Brandon Trail. Turn left, on Grass Valley Trail.
     Grass Valley, a wide multi-use trail, is curvy and almost flat.This segment is part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail and the East Bay Skyline National Recreation Trail. Jackson Grade In spring, the grassy hillsides of this valley are dotted with wildflowers, most notably yellow suncups, and tiny purple-blossomed filaree, which produces a carpet effect in places. Cows graze through the valley, so the grass is kept short and neat. A few oaks produce shade on the edge of the trail, but for the most part you'll walk under full sun. Coyote brush and poison oak continue to be prominent plants along the sides of the trail, although some occasional broom shrubs lend a sweet aroma and yellow flowers in the spring. At 1.04 miles, Redtail Trail sets out from the left side of the trail at a signed junction. (Redtail climbs to the Marciel Gate; you can make an extra loop by taking Redtail to Cottontail, and then turning right onto Grass Valley Trail, after which you can pick up this featured hike at the stone bridge.) View from Goldenrod Trail Continue straight on Grass Valley Trail.
     The dirt path winds slightly downhill, and the grass gives way to tall eucalyptus and redwood trees. At 1.52 miles Grass Valley Trail comes to a junction near the stone bridge. Grass Valley Trail continues uphill to the left. Turn right and cross Grass Valley Creek (a good rest spot), then pass the signed entrance to Cascade Trail on the left and walk uphill to the left on Jackson Grade.
     Jackson Grade is a multi-use dirt fire road that climbs pleasantly through partial shade. You may see white slim solomon's seal and wood strawberry, orange sticky monkeyflower, and purple bush lupine in spring. Maple, creambush, hazelnut, blackberry, wild rose, toyon, coast live oak, and coffeeberry mix together on the sides of the trail. Eucalyptus towers over all. After an easy climb to the ridgeline, Jackson Grade ends at a signed junction at 1.93 miles. Turn right onto Goldenrod Trail. Goldenrod Trail
      Goldenrod, a dirt multi-use trail, climbs a bit. Tall, scrawny eucalyptus trees tower above the chaparral-covered ridge. To the right views encompass the eastern section of the park. Goldenrod is mostly level, but occasional uphill stretches persist. Very little shade makes for hot hiking in the summer. Blue witch nightshade grows on the side of the hill, along with blue elderberry, toyon, poison oak, and monkeyflower. Yellow-blossomed broom, an invasive pest plant, has a strong foothold among the plants in this chaparral community. In spring, you may see checkerbloom, bluedicks, blue-eyed grass, scarlet pimpernel, California poppy, and purple bush lupine. Goldenrod Trail nears Skyline Boulevard and then stays close to the road. Eucalyptus trees fade away as you continue to hike northwest, and they are replaced by some pines. The buildings of the equestrian center come into view just before a junction at 3.60 miles.The signpost stands among a bunch of yellow broom and may be hard to see if the trail hasn't been brushed recently. Buckeye TrailTurn left to stay on Goldenrod before the gated trail crosses into the equestrian center.
     After a tight squeeze through the broom, the trail cuts through some grass right beside Skyline Boulevard, then drops away from the street, crosses the access road to the equestrian center, and returns to chaparral. At 3.74 miles a path to the right leads to Horseshoe Trail, which drops down and meets Brandon Trail in the valley. Continue straight on Goldenrod.
     Cow parsnip pushes up white flowers on tall thick stems on the side of the trail in spring. Look for the delicate white woodland star flowers in the shade, and colorful scarlet pimpernel and redmaids growing close to the ground in the sun. To the right (east), if it's clear you should be able to see all the way to Las Trampas Ridge. In the foreground Grass Valley Trail and Redwood Road are visible. To the north MacDonald Trail stands out as it traverses the ridge. At one point the trailhead is obvious, and you can check to see if your car is still there! Back on Goldenrod Trail, purple bush lupine thrives in the sun alongside California sagebrush and California poppies. The trail curves across the hillside where blackberries and creambush are abundant. At 4.43 miles, the trail appears to end at an unsigned junction with a service road. Turn right, and walk on the pavement past the water tank. The trail resumes on dirt at 4.49 miles. A few maples accompany hazelnut and creambush on the left side of the trail. At 4.70 miles, Buckeye Trail begins at a signed junction just before Goldenrod shoots uphill. Turn right onto Buckeye.Bort Meadow
     After miles on multi-use trails, hiking-only Buckeye is a pleasure. Some tricky, downward-sloping steps descend sharply along a creek, then the narrow trail twists under some coast live oaks and California bays, and crosses a bridge. Edging along the creek, the path tends to crumble toward the water, so watch your step. You may see hound's tongue and fringecups among the ferns. A dramatic patch of forget-me-nots is a froth of delicate light blue blooms in spring. You might enjoy a rest stop under the shade on a wooden bench standing off the right side of the trail. I was sitting here on a hike in April when I think I heard a mountain lion shriek. I've never heard this sound before in nature (I've listened to audio clips), and it was loud and distinctive, but probably not closer than 1/4 mile away. When I've heard audio snippets I thought they sounded kind of fake, but as soon as I heard whatever this was, I was struck by the resemblance to those clips. I certainly wouldn't say for sure that this rather unearthly screech was a mountain lion, but I will be on alert at Chabot from now on. Shortly after you pass the bench Buckeye Trail crosses a second bridge and ends at 5.03 miles, at the edge of Bort Meadow. Cross the grass and look for a junction near a row of pit toilets. A group of picnic tables sprawl in the grass to the right. Returning to the trailheadA paved road makes a sharp curve on its way back to the trailhead, but instead take the trail, signed horses OK/no bikes, to the right of the gate.
     This slip of a trail passes through coyote brush, poison oak, and eucalyptus. There are quite a few plum trees along the trail, and when the fruit is ripe you might see animals ranging from birds to coyote gorging on the sweet plums. In spring California buttercups and blue-eyed grass draw your attention to their colorful petals. At 5.34 miles the trail splits; stay to the left and continue uphill. At the crest of a hill, the spur ends at a signed junction with MacDonald Trail, at 5.40 miles. Turn right and walk the few remaining steps to the gate at the edge of the parking lot.

Total distance: 5.44 miles
Last hiked: Monday, April 22, 2002