Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
6,071.00 ft (1,850.44 m)
Trail type
33.25 mi (53.51 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This journey will take adventurers on a strenuous but stunning hike through the East Bay Hills, connecting Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Regional Park, Siesta Valley, Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, Redwood Regional Park, and Anthony Chabot Regional Park. And even though it would probably be more sensible to reserve a camp in Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve at mile 15 and split this into a two-day backpacking journey, it is possible to finish the whole hike in one day.

Miles to next water: 10.5

Start, advisedly in the early morning, at the Alvarado Staging Area. Follow the paved road to the East and join Wildcat Creek Trail. Follow it for about half a mile and then turn left onto Belgium trail, which will lead you up your first, and certainly not last climb.

Follow Belgium Trail for a mile. Several other trails will branch off; make sure to stay on the right trail by following the signposts and/or referencing your map. After a mile, past a comparatively flatter part of the trail, turn right onto San Pablo Ridge Trail. Charge right up the hill and follow the trail for roughly 1.3 miles.

At this point, the trail turns into the paved Nimitz Way. Stay on the pavement, following Nimitz Way in its length for 4.5 miles until you arrive at Inspiration Point. There’s a bathroom there but no water. (About half a mile before Inspiration Point, there’s a beautiful view with a bench on the left side of the trail. It’s certainly worth a stop, as it offers magnificent views of Mount Diablo, San Pablo Reservoir, and the Diablo Range. Especially on early summer mornings, there are often wisps of fog flowing lazily in the valleys.)

From Inspiration Point, go right onto Curran Trail. After 0.1 mile, you’ll reach a junction — turn left onto a small singletrack. It will lead you to a road — cross it to get on Seaview Trail. There’s another climb ahead of you, rockier than the first one but with much more shade. The Seaview Trail will take you along the ridge past several beautiful vista points that offer views of Mount Tamalpais, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Francisco Bay. Follow it for roughly 2.3 miles until you reach its junction with Arroyo Trail

Turn right onto Arroyo Trail and then, after 0.2 mile, left onto Lupine Trail. After 0.15 mile, Lupine Trail joins Vollmer Peak Trail — stay to the right. This is the highest point of the whole hike. After 0.3 mile on Vollmer Trail, you’ll reach a parking lot. Walk straight through it until it brings you to a road. From the junction, you’ll see a parking lot off to the left. Stop by there for bathrooms and water.

Miles to next water: 3.5

Cross the Las Cantadas road and find Skyline trail dipping down on the other side opposite Seaview Drive. Follow Skyline for the next 3.5 miles. Keep to the right where De La Vega Trail branches off about 0.3 mile from the road crossing, and walk straight through the following trail junction. You will cross Fish Ranch Road and walk above the Caldecott Tunnel; that’s the 13-mile mark.

Shortly after Caldecott Tunnel, you’ll cross Old Tunnel Road. There’s a permanent porta-potty behind the curve of the road on the left. Stick to Skyline Trail by keeping on the right on the next path junction and climb up to Round Top. On the top of the climb, there are restrooms and the next water fountain. This one isn’t as reliable as the other ones, so plan accordingly.

Miles to next water: 3

Continue on Skyline Trail as it heads off into the trees right past the building. Keep right on the next junction and cross the paved trail to the right onto Round Top Loop Trail. Cross the paved trail once again and then stick to the right to rejoin the Skyline Trail. Follow the Skyline Trail down into the valley, entering Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve. You’ll cross San Leonardo Creek and begin the climb back up from the valley.

Shortly after you start the ascent, take a left onto the Lower Huckleberry Loop Trail. Stay on the trail by keeping left at the next junction. It will loosely follow the contour line of the hill, offering a bit of a break from the constant ups and downs. Soon, you’ll reach a road crossing. You’re now on the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Follow it and then take a right turn onto the wide East Ridge Trail. After 0.2 miles on this trail, you’ll reach the Skyline Gate Staging Area with bathrooms and water.

Please note that this is the last water fountain of the whole hike unless you’re camping in Redwood or taking a detour to refill.

No water after this point, not even at the end. 16 miles left to go.

Walk past the parking lot and onto West Ridge Trail. After roughly half a mile, turn left on the next junction onto French Trail. It will connect to Tres Sendas Trail for about 0.1 miles before branching off again on the left. You will cross a stream at this point. After this, stick to French Trail for the next 3 miles. 

The cell service reliability is questionable at best there, and GPS doesn’t perform at 100% either there. There are many other trails connecting to French Trail there, so make sure to stay on it by:

  • Staying straight on the top of the first climb, about 0.4 miles up.

  • Turning right after a short downhill. French Trail very shortly joins Starflower Trail there.

  • Turning left immediately after the right turn.

  • Going straight through the T junction with Madrone Trail.

  • Keeping to the right at the next trail crossing, about half a mile later and going straight where Fern Trail cuts through French.

  • Going straight (first keep on the left, then on the right) where Chown Trail cuts through French. 

While you’re navigating the trail, don't forget to take in the beautiful, fragrant redwood trees.

This is also where you can take a detour into the valley to get more water by going left on Orchard, turning left at the bottom of the hill onto Bridle Trail, then keeping right on the next fork and taking a right turn onto Stream trail. You’ll find a children’s playground shortly after you cross the bridge and the water fountain is right next to the play structure. Retrace your steps then but instead of turning right onto Chown Trail, you can avoid the climb by keeping straight on Bridle Trail and following it to the next fork. Keep to the left there to get on Golden Spike Trail and follow it; the main route will join Golden Spike Trail roughly half a mile later.

For those who didn’t take the detour, after getting through the mild maze that French Trail can be, take a right onto Orchard Trail. It will lead you up a hill; on the top, take a left onto West Ridge Trail. Follow West Ridge Trail downhill and avoid turning onto Toyon Trail by keeping to the left. After half a mile, turn right onto Golden Spike Trail and follow it for roughly 0.8 mile. Then take a sharp left to reach a road.

Cross it carefully; some people tend to drive fast here. You’ll walk into the Big Bear Staging Area. Turn left onto Big Bear Trail. Service is spotty at best here, too, and won’t get much better until the very end.

Keep left on the next fork and you’ll arrive at the MacDonald Gate Staging Area. Walk through the parking lot and directly on the MacDonald Trail. The following climb isn’t too steep nor too long but is certainly deceitful. It can drag on and on, especially in hot weather. You’ll hit mile 24 about halfway up. There’s less shade from here on. It’s not exposed in its entirety but there are long stretches without shade at all for the next few miles.

Stay on MacDonald for the next 3 miles. On the top of the climb, stay on the left; the right would take you to a suburb. Then take a sharp right onto an unnamed singletrack. (If you reach a staging area and Redwood Road, you’ve missed the turn.) Then take a sharp left which will connect you to Grass Valley Trail.

Follow Grass Valley Trail for 1.5 mile. It’s mostly flat and entirely exposed, except for one big tree where it joins Brandon Trail. Keep left to join Brandon Trail and follow it for 3.1 miles. After 0.4 miles, Brandon Trail turns right, while the service road keeps going straight. Take a right to stay on Brandon Trail, then keep left on the next juncture to stay on it. Theoretically, there’s a water spigot where Brandon Trail meets Loggers trail, however, don’t count on it; it’s been broken more times than not. On the next fork, take a sharp right turn to stick to Brandon Trail, and then keep left four more times, until you reach Marciel Road.

Cross the road. There’s a bathroom there. And then keep going straight, following Brandon Trail for 1.5 miles (it turns into Brandon Skyline Trail after 0.1 mile). At the bottom of the hill, you’ll see a sign. At 32.5 miles, you’ve just completed the East Bay Skyline National Recreational Trail.

Your journey, however, doesn’t end here. If you’re lucky, the bathrooms of the golf club are open — and the water there is, theoretically, drinkable. (This comes from a personal experience of not having any complications after gulping about a liter of it in one go; don’t place your bets on having the same kind of luck.)

Follow the road out of the golf club (there’s a singletrack between the parking and the golf course) until you get on Redwood Road. Stay on the right side of Redwood Road and follow the singletrack that runs alongside it. Get on the road where it meets with the road again at Proctor Staging Area. This is where you can have your car parked or arrange for a pickup. If you don’t have anything arranged, follow Redwood Road until you have phone service to call a friend or a carsharing service. Reliable phone service should kick in where Redwood Road meets Camino Alta Mira.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Beautiful vistas. Several road access points. Connects several parks in one adventure.


Little water access. Sections of exposure. No public transportation.

Trailhead Elevation

165.00 ft (50.29 m)

Highest point

1,720.00 ft (524.26 m)


Vault toilet
Potable water
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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