I met Zack on Reddit. He was new in town and was looking for someone who could show him around the San Francisco Bay Area trail systems. I was free, I was bored, I said “sure”.
We agreed to meet at the trailhead of Joaquin Miller Park. Located in the hills just east of Oakland, California, this park offers visitors a variety of trail styles and amenities. From picnics to events to hiking and biking, Joaquin Miller Park is a great way to waste half a day.
There were more people on the trails than I was comfortable with. We veered off in other directions when we saw the many hikers and bikers that were there to enjoy the redwoods with us. We ended up getting a little bit too close a couple of times, but I went off the trail whenever that happened and I’m pretty confident that I didn’t place anyone in any danger.
We dropped into the redwoods at about 4:30pm. The redwoods gave the hills a “fresh air” smell, and the dusty trails felt just a little bit like Soquel Demo or Wilder Ranch. California dirt is some of the best in the world.
Although we wandered aimlessly through the park for the first half-hour or so, we stumbled upon a few trails that gave us a run for our money. Zack is probably 20 years younger than me, and in decidedly better shape, but we both attacked these trails like we were in high school. Lots of chatting, laughing, and bombing down blue and black trails.
The last big run of the day was up, and back down, the Chaparral trail. This is a gnarly, rooty mess of an uphill that is impassable on a bike. We ended up hiking to the top (most of the way). Once we got there, the fun began.
This trail easily falls into the “black diamond” category Its drops, boulders, roots, and steep grade make it challenging and difficult. For those who can brave all that it has to offer, it is a wild ride and a confidence builder. I cleared all of it (without going very fast, mind you) and waited for Zack to drop in behind me.
He had impacted a rock about halfway down and dinged his rim. It was pretty bad – necessitating a repair in order to get back to the car. He dispatched a new tube and we were on our way in about ten minutes.
It was a good climb back up to the parking area at the top of the ridge. We took a detour around the road and hit some side trails to the lot. I must say, I was tired enough to call it a day, but the fun trails made me want to stay.
I’m thankful that Zack made the call and offered up this park for a day of riding and friendship. He’s a great guy and I hope we have a chance to ride together again soon.