Started doing training runs with my backpacking equipment this weekend. Took my blue Osprey (“Trusty”) and a gallon of water and explored some moderate hikes of elevation. There are a ton of scenic open preserves along Highway 35, and I also made it over to the tallest peak in the Bay Area, Mount Diablo.
Friday at Windy Hill Open Preserve
Windy Hill is a great one for solitude, as it’s beautiful with two great viewing peaks, and not that many people. The perimeter of the park is between a seven to ten mile hike. Along the trail are clear views of Stanford University and the Dumbarton Bridge. There was also a lot of shaded areas that winded down by a creek, and at night it got foggy and cold. Slight wind while on the peak, beginner to medium elevation challenges.
Saturday at Castle Rock State Park
The sandstone boulders iconic of the park are a huge draw for families and rock climbers. There are a lot of little paths surrounding the boulder attractions which make navigating confusing, but once deeper into the forest the trail becomes more clear. The Saratoga Gap trail originates inside a dark green forest speckled with sandstone boulders filled with intriguing shapes and crevices. As it winds deeper into the park, it opens out against this rock cliff and I walked a few miles along this edge at about 2800 ft elevation, looking out over an amazing view of rolling pine covered hills. Hitting the major landmarks, Castle Rock, Goat Rock, and half of the Saratoga Gap trail, I walked about 7 miles on this moderate family friendly hike.
Sunday at Mount Diablo
The highest peak in the Bay Area, this state park sports majestic views and indigenous mysticism. Easily the most challenging hike of this weekend, at about 10 miles and climbing to an elevation of 3800 ft above sea level, the soaring landscape of Mount Diablo SP is a must see. I started at the Junction Campground and took the trail through Juniper Camp to the top. Along the Trail-Thru-Time are signs educating about the history of the peak, as well as its geology and political significance. From the top cities in all cardinal directions can be seen. And getting to the top is just the beginning from where I could see miles of more trails winding off in all directions.