I love exploring the not-known and underdog parks of the Bay Area. A couple weeks after we had recovered from our last backpacking trip in early Julywe decided to go on an local hike. I had already completed the five required trails the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) lists in the 2013 Trails Challenge but my husband needed one more to complete the challenge, so we headed out to Miller Knox Regional Shoreline in Richmond.
When I think of Richmond lots of negativity pops up in my mind, gangs, shootings, high murder rates so when the EBRPD listed this hike of course I was very interested because I didn't even know there was a shoreline park in Richmond and second of all after reviewing Miller/Knox's website I saw that it had a beach! Just because a place has a bad reputation don't be scared to go exploring and in this case urban hiking!
Urban hiking might mean different things to people but to me it means exploring parks in the immediate urban area, such as the San Francisco Bay Area as well as "hiking" in large cities like San Francisco! You can definitely get some good hikes and elevation change with the hills in San Francisco!!
Driving to Miller/Knox was a little different because as soon as we got off the freeway it was very industrial, followed by million dollar homes, boats on the Marina and then a pond/playground park at Miller/Knox.
The hike began at Old Country Road Trail with an immediate somewhat steep climb (20%). We had decided after our last backpacking trip that my son's time of being carried in a carrier had ended, so we were going to choose easier hikes, but somehow we keep ending up picking "steep" hikes. Oh well, my little three year old boy is a crazy good hiker for his age. This section was very tiny and my daughter was also very determined to hike so we let her slowly climb the "mountain".
The views going up Old Country Road were fantastic. It was still a little foggy around the coast but we could see the tops of Golden Gate Bridge, city views of San Francisco, Angel Island, Mount Tamalpais, San Rafael Bridge and the actual Bay was looking great that day. Hiking by the Bay is a little tricky because the weather is so finicky, when the wind is blocked it gets rather warm, then it's very cold and breezy, then the fog could roll back in at any moment. So even if it's a sunny day I always dress in layers, bring sweaters and jackets when hiking along the Bay.
We made it to the top of the first hill and took a little break and enjoyed views of the marina below us. My son climbed the only tree at the top of the hill while my daughter played in the dirt and my husband decided to Zillow the houses in the marina, quite expensive I might say. There were apartments, townhouses and single family homes in this tiny marina.
We had seen the hill we were going to come down when we first started the hike and I had wished we had brought our hiking poles but we hadn't. At the steepest point it was a 42% grade (down hill) hike and our kids were determined to hike it themselves, so while my husband and son made it down pretty quick I spent my time trying to help my daughter to not slide down hill. I am notorious with falling down on the trail, even when I'm just standing still, I know it's ridiculous.
At this point, I know why the EBRPD categorized this hike as moderate due to all of its hills. I read a little later that this used to the a Richmond Rambler Motorcycles trails, which makes sense with all the hills. Now it's open to hikers (w/dogs), equestrian riders and mountain bicycles on specific trails. We huffed it up to the second hill, called False Gun with even more great views of the Bay but didn't stay too long because the wind was almost knocking us over!
We left False Gun and headed on to a "hiker only" trail called Crest Trail. We had a little confusion there because there was fence blocking an obvious trail that had the "Restoring Land" sign and hikers hiking on the forbidden land. We didn't go over the fence...headed on the correct trail that had a switch back that took us back to where we thought we were going to in the first place the radio towers.
It was much less windy once we came off the ridge so we were able to warm up, but once we started up to the radio towers again the wind picked up with a furry! My son is a great hiker but if temperature is a little to warm or he's a little out of sorts then he will drag his feet.. The second he saw the radio towers, he yelled "Mommy let's go see the spaceship!!". Sure enough that helped him get to the top.
It was almost all down hill after the radio towers so my son got into his hiking groove and my daughter fell asleep in my ERGO carrier. With all that cool wind blowing in her face she had no other choice than to fall asleep! It was a really gentle down slope on Marina View Trail, behind a large water tower all the way down to the old Richmond Ramblers Motorcycle building off of Dornan Grove Trail. Dornan Grove Trail ends on Dornan Dr (paved street). We continued hiking on the street for a few minutes before getting back on Old Country Road (trail) again.
There were small sections through the hike where we found blackberries, but once we got back onto Old Country Road, we were surrounded by a forest of blackberry bushes!
It was a quick easy up hill again towards the Old Country Road spur we started on and soon we were off to explore Keller Beach, which will be coming soon!
I'm sure glad that we decided to do a family hike in this urban park. Miller/Knox is just another reminder that you really don't have to drive far our of the urban environment to enjoy the outdoors. Have you found treasure parks like Miller Knox Regional Park in your urban world? What did you like the most about your urban hike? Please leave your comments below!
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