Lovely loop through hills outside Crockett.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 4.7 mile loop hike is moderately easy. Some short stretches of trail are steep. Trailhead elevation is 123 feet and the trail's highest point is 732 feet.
First and last stretches mostly shaded, otherwise full sun.
Dirt trails and fire roads.
3 hours or less.
Best in spring.
From I80 in Contra Costa County, exit Pomona Street (going north this is the last exit before the Carquinez Bridge).
At the base of the exit ramp, turn left. Drive east on Pomona 0.6 mile through town, then turn right onto Crockett Boulevard. Drive south on Crockett Boulevard 0.2 mile, then turn right into the signed trailhead.
Public transit option:
Transit and Trails info
GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth
data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Pay phone, gas, stores, and restaurants in Crockett. No camping.
No parking or entrance fees. Small parking lot.
Pit toilets, water fountain, and paper maps at the trailhead. There is designated handicapped parking but the trail is gated and not wheelchair accessible nor wheel friendly.
Trails are multi-use. Dogs on leash (near the trailhead) and under voice command are permitted.
The Official Story:
EBRPD's Crockett Hills page
Map Choices/More Info:
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
brochure (including map) from EBRPD
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
Crockett is a charming town tucked beneath the Carquinez Bridge in northern Contra Costa County. It takes about a minute to drive from the I80 exit through downtown, and although there are refineries in the area and the town's signature sugar factory perches on the shore of Carquinez Strait, once you're out of town civilization fades away and narrow country roads lead into undeveloped hills.
Crockett Hills Regional Park preserves a large chunk of this countryside. Bisected by Cummings Skyway, the property stretches south to CA4 -- there's lots of land to roam here. This is classic East Bay cattle-grazed grassland laced with old ranch roads and some new singletrack trails. On my Saturday morning hike I saw only 3 other hikers and no cyclists at all; these trails seems to be used mostly by locals.
Begin from the staging area and pass through (and close) the gate. Immediately there is an easy-to-miss junction. Turn right onto Edwards Loop Trail. The multi-use path starts out narrow, but quickly widens as the route turns left and begins a mostly steep climb through a mostly open woodland of California bay, buckeye, and coast live oak, with copious amounts of poison oak in the grassy understory. California hoptree blooms along the trail in April. Some sections of trail exceed a 12% grade -- if you need a breather, be sure to look back to the north for views of the Carquinez Bridge. Edwards Loop Trail bends left and descends to cross a seasonal creek, then climbs again to a junction at 0.8 mile. Traffic noise from Cummings Skyway is audible. Turn right and pass through a tunnel beneath the roadway.
Once out of the tunnel, miles of grassland unfold at your feet. Here is another easy to miss junction -- Sky Trail heads off to the left, but instead go straight on Soaring Eagle Trail, a Bay Area Ridge Trail segment. The narrow path edges across a sloping hillside where blue-eyed grass and mule ear sunflowers bloom in April. As the trail sweeps to the right, chaparral dominated by coyote brush takes over, but you'll soon return to grassland. The trail bends left near an elderberry tree, offering views southwest to rolling hills and, further off, a refinery on the west side of I80. The grade here is easy, following the hill's contour at a slight ascent. Poppies cheerfully add a burst of orange to the grass in spring, but the most common flowers are non-natives: mustard, fennel, and two types of filaree. The later are tiny-flowered plants that can tint a hillside light purple. You might see a few bluedicks, yarrow, lupine, and coyote mint in late April, and soap plant in May. At 1.9 miles, Soaring Eagle Trail crosses a trail which dead-ends at the property boundary to the right. Continue straight.
A few coast live oak shade Soaring Eagle Trail briefly before the path returns to pure grassland, running near a high-tension power line. I heard turkeys yodeling nearby on my hike, but I never saw them. The trail curves around a stock pond downhill on the right (a shortcut path heads off to the left) then ends a junction at 2.6 miles. If you care to explore further, continue to the right -- Big Valley and Sugar City trails loop around one of the park's highest hills, adding about another 2 miles to this hike (this option is not included in this hike's 4.7 miles). When ready, at the junction of Soaring Eagle and Sky Trail, turn left onto Sky Trail.
The broad fire road descends at a steady but easy grade, through grassland occasionally dotted with coast live oak. Unobstructed views include the Carquinez Bridge and Benicia to the north. You may hear trains running on the tracks which front the Carquinez Strait. I watched swallowtail butterflies flutter by on an April hike. At 3.4 miles you'll return to the junction with Soaring Eagle Trail, near the tunnel and Cummings Skyway. Retrace your steps through the tunnel, then at the junction bear right onto Edwards Loop Trail.
At first the trail weaves through coyote brush (ignore the path leading to the side of Cummings Skyway, on the right). At 3.6 miles, turn left at a signed junction.
Edwards Loop Trail begins a swift descent through mixed woods. Switchbacks ease the drop, but some sections are more than a 9% grade. You may see a few springtime flowers here, including common trillium and mugwort. California buckeyes bloom in late April, drawing their namesake buckeye butterflies to their sweet flowers. Beware of poison oak which crowds the narrow trail in places. A few woodrat nests nestle in the deeply shaded hillsides along the trail. Edwards Loop Trail levels out in a small grassy meadow, then meets Edwards Creek Trail at 4.3 miles. Turn left.
The broad fire road runs at a nearly straight course gently downhill. Coast live oak, California bay and buckeye trees screen the views somewhat, but in some spots you will be able to see the tips of the Carquinez Bridge towers. Buttercups and fiddlenecks bloom in grassy patches along the trail in spring. At 4.7 miles you'll return to the gated trailhead.
Total distance: 4.7 miles
Last hiked: April 12, 2014