What are we going to do with all these oak trees?
Having turned around last time at signpost 27,
this ride was intended to be the continuation into the far reaches of Kilkare Canyon.
Apparently, there is a landowner (with a shotgun, according to mtbREVIEW.com)
that holds a parcel right in the middle of the Pleasanton Ridge reserve,
who won't allow anybody on the portion of Sinbad Creek Road that goes through his property.
So, only twisty narrow singletrack circumvents his property to connect the main portion of the park
with the loops in the distant northern section.
It is the only singletrack in the East Bay Regional District that I know of where bikes are allowed.
The first part is doable heading up to the crest,
but gets very steep with tight switchbacks going down the other side.
The deciduous species of oaks had just unfurled their leaves this time last year at
Almaden Quicksilver, so we headed out this year to Pleasanton ridge hoping for some similar intensely green action.
The last time we rode Pleasant Ridge, which was at the beginning of fall about a year and a half ago,
I complained about there being nothing but just a bunch of grassy hills and oak trees.
I hoped the lush green might boost the score a little.
Click to expand
Starting out from the trailhead, up to the summit of the ridge. Spring grasses are always so pretty,
but where are the oak leaves?
Heading up into the hills, overlooking 680. Oak trees and grassy hills, just like last time.
There are fireroads, and then there are fire superhighways.
The second shot is almost to the top of the initial climb,
where the road branches into the Ridge Trail and the Thermolito Trail.
Plenty of grassy hills and oak trees.
What do you know-- we're even heading up the "Oak Tree" trail.
There was a rather laughable sign at the trailhead which explained that
cows are actually GOOD for the native ecology.
Something about how they eat weeds or some crazy nonsense like that.
Yeah, you can remember that sign while dodging cow patties, fighting off the flies, passing mucky ponds,
traversing churned up mud flats, smelling cow urine whereever you go,
seeing wildflowers NOWHERE (there weren't any yet at this time anyway, but see
East Bay photos),
and recalling how much more pristine are places like Henry Coe, where cows
are not allowed on "nature preserves."
Dang, oak trees everywhere-- what are we going to do with them all?
For this ride, to save time, we rode out toward the far end of the park on the Thermalito
Trail, rather than the more typical Ridgeline Trail. Down below runs Sinbad Creek through Kilkare Canyon,
and beyond that is the lofty Sunol Ridge.
Not another oak tree!
Yep, nothing but a bunch of grass and oak trees, just like I remember it from before.
The leaves on the perenial oak were out, green as always, but on the deciduous oaks they were still tightly
Probably the long winter had delayed things a bit, and the trees were waiting for some more calm, sunny weather.
Here we are at the top of the Bay Leaf Trail, heading down toward the Sinbad Creek singletrack.
And there it is: the only singletrack I know of to be legal in the East Bay Regional Preserves.
And this is the easier side going up.
Eventually the initial tight switchback spread out to long mellow stretches up to the ridgecrest.
Heading out to signpost 27, where we stopped last time.
The second shot is looking up into the distant, northern section of the park, cradled by remote hillsides.
After the rather hairy descent into Kilcare Canyon, the shadow of Sunol Ridge obsures the valley as the
sun is starting to quickly set.
The end of the road. Knowing we were running short on time, we abandoned our plan to ride
some of the loops in this section, and simply headed out on the Sinbad Creek Trail, which was a fast straight and
mellow ascent that followed the valley floor. How quickly pleasant afternoons turn to dusk.
Knowing darkness was probably less than an hour away, we were hoping we might find a country road here to
take us back quickly. But this is in the middle of nowhere, and it's about 10 miles and at least two significant
climbs getting back to the parking lot.
Uh oh, looks like we didn't put time management skills into good practice.
Somewhere along the Ridge Trail we lost the battle against nightfall.
We took the ridge route back hoping to get a little ambient light from the cities below. Here we are
looking over Pleasanton and probably Danville, toward Mount Diablo.
There was no moon anywhere out tonight,
and for the last part of our ride the main source of light probably came from Venus.
way back to the parking lot was a slow and tricky affair. Fortunately, there is a little parking lot off to the side,
right at the entrance, which doesn't close at 5:00 as posted.
I guess this is why I've de-emphasized the whole rating system,
since the general experience on any ride varies widely season-to-season, and even day-to-day depending on the conditions.
Last time I was so unimpressed I only snapped a handful of shots.
Maybe the deciduous Oak leaves hadn't quite unfurled yet, but still, there could hardly have been a better day to go.
(b. March 14, 2004)
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