Hiddenbrooke Trail,
Greater Vallejo Recreation District,
Solano County
In brief:
4.1 mile out and back on hills above Hiddenbrooke development. A Bay Area Ridge Trail segment.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 4.1 mile out and back hike (4.9 miles if you start at the park and ride lot) is on the moderate side of easy. Trailhead elevation is about 600 feet, and the trail's highest point is about 1112 feet. The hike is short, but the trail undulates considerably, and you'll face a total elevation change of about 600 feet.

Exposure:
Full sun throughout.

Trail traffic
:
Light.

Trail surfaces
:
Narrow dirt trails.

Hiking time
:
2 hours.

Season:
Spring is best.

Getting there:
From Interstate 80 in Napa County, just northeast of the Vallejo city limits, exit American Canyon/Hiddenbrooke (exit 36). Head southwest toward the Hiddenbrooke development, then park in the park and ride lot to the right of the entrance gate (or continue on Hiddenbrooke Parkway to an informal 2 car pullout 0.4 mile up the road, at the start of the Ridge Trail segment).

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
http://www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/200

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 38 9'46.24"N
Longitude
12211'49.42"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phones, stores, and restaurants south along 80 in Vallejo. No camping.

Trailhead details:
No parking or entrance fees. Parking in a small park and ride area, and in an informal 2 car pullout 0.4 mile up the road, at the start of the Ridge Trail segment, where parking seems to be tolerated. No restrooms, drinking water, maps, or designated handicapped parking. Only the initial 0.5 mile paved sidewalk/connector along Hiddenbrooke Parkway, from the park and ride lot to the trailhead, is suitable to wheelchairs. There is no direct public transit to this trailhead.

Rules:
Trail is open from 6 a.m. to dusk. No dogs. The single trail is multi-use.

The Official Story:
Bay Area Ridge Trail Hiddenbrooke page (with map)

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail, by Jean Rusmore (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and descriptions of the Hiddenbrooke segment of the Ridge Trail.

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

View photos from this hike.




Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page



HiddenbrookeRoadside parking along Hiddenbrooke Parkway  Trail departs from the parkway of a golf/housing development near the I80 corridor, and heads south toward Benicia. The slim, multi-use trail dead-ends on the slopes of the Sulphur Springs Mountains, a range of gentle grassy hills still partly grazed by cattle. Eventually, Bay Area Ridge Trail planners hope to connect Hiddenbrooke Trail south to Benicia's Blue Rock Springs Park, and north to Lynch Canyon, but those extensions are likely years away. Besides providing decent exercise along a series of hills, Hiddenbrooke Trail offers sweeping views to most of the bay area. On clear days, you should be able to see parts of Napa, Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties, all from humble elevations just over 1000 feet. The first crest on Hiddenbrooke Trail
     I admit that before my initial visit I was biased against the trail, originating as it does on the outskirts of a golfing development. I'm not a golfing fan, and development names based on natural features obliterated by construction really stick in my craw. It turns out that it doesn't take long to climb away from the development, and the views really make the trip worthwhile, particularly if you live in nearby Vallejo or Benicia.
     Start from the roadside pullout on Hiddenbrooke Parkway (if parking is unavailable, or if the legality of parking in the pullout seems uncertain, start at the park and ride lot near I 80, and walk 0.4 mile on the sidewalk). A small Ridge Trail symbol and a sign stating the trail rules marks the trailhead. A straight uphill stretchMulti-use Hiddenbrooke Trail ascends a few feet, then runs at a level grade parallel to a fenceline. Young planted coast live oaks and olive trees on the left buffer the street noise somewhat. After about 200 feet, the trail turns right and starts uphill. Watch out for a patch of poison oak on the right. The trail climbs easily through grassland dotted with mustard and fennel. Hiddenbrooke Trail presents the first short steep uphill segment, then crests at a hilltop. After only a few minutes of hiking, there are already fine views, particularly to the north and west. The trail begins a moderate descent, then climbs across the hillside on a broad switchback. As it reaches the fenceline again, you'll face a long straight moderate ascent which tapers off at a hilltop. Climbing to the tallest hillThere's a v-shaped stile to squeeze through, then Hiddenbrooke Trail travels through cattle range, in an area which appears to have been quarried in the past. California-bay shaded rock outcrops stand off to the right. In autumn after the season's first rainstorms, grassland grazed down nearly to dirt quickly greens up with next year's seedlings. Unfortunately, yellow star thistle, a pest plant common in cattle rangeland, is spread through the grass along the trail. At 1.00 mile the trail bends left and climbs easily across the flanks of the ridge's tallest hill. There's a deep gash on the hillside to the left. Hawks and harriers may be spotted soaring overhead, and when I visited coyote scat was abundant through here. At 1.30 miles you'll reach a signed junction with minor paths leading downhill. Turn right.View southeast on the return from the hilltop
     You may see deer as you ascend somewhat steeply through grassland, on another straight uphill section. Purple lupine brightens the hillside in summer. Hiddenbrooke Trail crests and then immediately descends. The deep artificial green of Hiddenbrooke's golf course, tucked in the valley below, stands in sharp contrast to the surrounding grassland, dried brown from summer to late autumn. Mount Diablo looms in the distance, to the southeast. It's not much of a surprise to see, rounding a corner, that the trail rises again, but this time the grade is easy. At 1.64 miles, you'll reach a signed T junction. Turn left.
     Hiddenbrooke Trail descends, keeping a moderate pace. Off the right side of the trail views stretch an amazing distance -- on a November hike when the skies were somewhat hazy, I could see the Golden Gate Bridge and Sutro Tower in San Francisco. At 1.87 miles, the trail reaches a saddle and signed junction. This is the end of the Ridge Trail segment, but you can extend your hike a little by continuing east (left) to a viewpoint, then backtracking to here. Retrace your steps to the previous junction.Returning
      If you've had enough of climbing you can turn right here and head back, but the ascent to the hilltop is an easy one. Enjoy views southwest to the marshes of San Pablo Bay and Mount Tamalpais on the way up. At 2.30 miles you'll reach the hilltop. An old boxcar is a bit creepy. Note the windswept California bays on the west side of the summit. You may see military planes taking off and landing at nearby Travis Air Force base. When you're ready, retrace your steps back downhill to the previous junction, then turn left and backtrack to the trailhead.

Total distance: 4.23 miles
Last hiked: Monday, November 18, 2002