You may have noticed Crockett as you whizzed over the Carquinez Bridge on Interstate 80, hellbent on reaching San Francisco. You know, it’s where that C&H Sugar sign stands. Yeah, that’s Crockett.
What you probably didn’t notice is that there’s a hilly, solitudinous trail awaiting you. It’s Crockett Hills Regional Park, perhaps the least-known gem in the East Bay Regional Park system. It’s open to mountain bikers, hikers with unleashed dogs, runners and equestrians. If not for the whine of freeway traffic in the distance and the curls of steam (one can only hope) coming from the oil refineries in nearby Rodeo, you can roam for hours in peaceful reverie.
Its trails are hilly, of course, but manageable. The views of the Carquinez Strait, San Pablo Bay and the distant peak of Mount Tamalpais are spectacular on sunny days. The ridgetops feature raptors soaring on the thermals; the ravines of Big Valley Trail shaded with oak and home to songbirds; the steep, lush grade before the tunnel under Cummings Skyway populated by deer.
One of the few people you’ll find is Crockett resident and ultrarunner Karen Peterson, 48, who warns to watch for the cows along the way and the divots and deposits they leave in their wake.
Trail length: 7 miles
Directions to trailhead: From Sacramento, take Interstate 80 west over the Carquinez Bridge. Take the first offramp past the bridge, Pomona Street. Go east, under the bridge, through downtown Crockett. Turn right on Crockett Boulevard and travel about a quarter-mile. The trailhead parking lot will be on the right.
Route: From the trailhead, go through the gate and veer right onto the Edwards Loop Trail (on some later signs called “Crockett Ranch Trail”). Go uphill for 0.8 of a mile to the tunnel passing under the Cummings Skyway. Emerging from the tunnel, veer left on the Sky Trail. Take the Sky Trail all the way until it becomes paved at the picnic tables. Make a brief right onto the Big Valley Trail, then an immediate left onto the Sugar City Trail. Follow the trail around a hillside to a three-way intersection. Turn left and go on the Kestrel Loop. Follow the loop around a hillside. At an unmarked trail to the right, stay straight, slightly left, on the Kestrel. After a distinct downhill, look for a signpost. Turn left at the post to stay on the Kestrel Loop. Follow the single-track trail downhill, then around a valley to a three-way intersection. Turn left and climb on the Big Valley Trail back to the picnic tables. Turn left on the Sky Trail and take it to the Soaring Eagle Trail. Turn left and follow the Soaring Eagle single-track back to the tunnel. Retrace your steps on the Edwards Trail to the trailhead.