Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline (west),
East Bay Regional Park District,
Contra Costa County
In brief:
1.5 mile partial loop on hills above Carquinez Strait.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 1.5 mile partial loop hike is very easy. Total elevation change is about 210 feet.

Totally exposed.

Trail traffic

Trail surfaces
Dirt fire roads.

Hiking time

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

Getting there:
From Interstate 80 in Contra Costa County, exit Cummings Skyway (exit 5). Drive south about 1.5 miles, then turn left onto Crockett Boulevard. Drive north on Crockett Boulevard about 1 mile, then turn right onto Pomona Street. After about 0.5 mile Pomona ends at a three way intersection. Bear right onto Carquinez Scenic Drive. Continue east less than 1 mile, then turn left into the Bull Valley Staging Area. Once inside the gate, turn right into the small parking lot (the road continues downhill to Eckley Pier).

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 38 2'56.54"N
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phones, stores, and restaurants in Crockett. No camping.

Trailhead details:
No parking or entrance fees. Small paved parking lot. There's no drinking water, but there is a pit toilet, and maps are available at an information signboard. No handicapped parking, and trail access for wheelchairs is blocked by a cattle gate. There is no public transportation to the trailhead.

Carquinez Strait is open from 8 a.m. to dusk (unless otherwise posted). All trails in this part of the park are multi-use. Dogs are permitted.

The Official Story:
EBRPD's Carquinez Strait page

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Map from EBRPD
• 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area, by Ann Marie Brown (order this book from has a simple map and descriptions of a featured hike.

In a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to this hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline is comprised of two separate parkland parcels, both fronting their namesake waterway. Parking lotThe eastern portion, on the outskirts of Martinez, offers hikes that climb from the staging area to loop around grassy Franklin Ridge, with a series of dead-end paths hanging off the loop like charms on a bracelet. The park's western section, squeezed between Crockett and the tiny settlement of Port Costa, hosts a handful of short trails, most of which directly overlook Carquinez Strait. The two parts of this shoreline used to be linked via Carquinez Scenic Drive, but a landslide closed the road and now you must travel from west to east via CA 4.
      Begin from the parking lot, and walk north on the paved park road to a gate. Once through the gate, pass the pit toilet and you'll reach a T junction. The path to the left drops to Eckley Pier. Carquinez Overlook TrailTurn right onto Carquinez Overlook Loop Trail. The broad multi-use trail heads east just downslope from a series of grassy rolling hills on the right. To the left, the poison oak-dotted hillside slopes toward Carquinez Strait, revealing sweeping views of the Carquinez Bridge and Benicia. Although I arrived far too late in the year for wildflowers, yellow star thistle's distinctive spikes were conspicuous, mixed through dried stalks of fennel and yarrow. Butterflies fluttered about in September, often landing on the coyote brush shrubs that punctuate the grassland. Buckeyes were particularly abundant, but I also saw a green/yellow butterfly, most likely a cabbage white, a butterfly that prefers plants in the mustard family -- mustard is a common plant along the trail, blooming in summer. At 0.10 mile, an unsigned fire road departs off to the right, a spur which ends at "downtown" Port Costa. Bench looking north across the straitContinue to the left, and ignore the well-worn path climbing to the hilltop on the right. Carquinez Overlook Loop Trail continues at a nearly perfectly level grade, sweeping around the hill. A bench off to the left is the first of several good stops for lunch or quiet contemplation -- look for vultures and hawks riding the thermals overhead. Bush lupine, coyote brush, and poison oak spread across grassland on the right, as the trail approaches a eucalyptus forest. An unsigned fire road breaks off to the left (not on the map) at 0.36 mile. Continue straight to the next junction, at 0.50 mile (this one is signed), where the loop begins. Turn right.
      A picnic table sits off to the right, near where the shortcut path (the same one which departed to climb the hill back at 0.10 mile) crosses the fire road. Carquinez Overlook Loop Trail passes through eucalyptus woods, then emerges on the southern flank of the hillside, where views extend to the surrounding rolling hills, still almost completely undeveloped. Bench looking east You may hear traffic downhill on Carquinez Scenic Drive. At 0.72 mile you'll pass the first of two dead-end spurs on the right. Continue straight past both, then climb easily to an overlook on the right. Follow the short path to a bench with a knock-out view east, encompassing Mount Diablo, Carquinez Strait, Martinez, and Benicia. If you walk a few feet down a worn path continuing down the hill, you can also see the railroad tracks that cling to firm ground just above the waterline. Walk back to Carquinez Overlook Loop Trail, and continue, now heading west.
     The fire road weaves through eucalyptus, soon returning to close the loop at 1.0 mile. Continue straight, and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: 1.50 miles
Last hiked: Tuesday, September 16, 2003