Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oakland Hills Walk 1 - Montclair Village Steps - Saroni Loop - 3.7 miles

View Oakland Walk 1 Saroni - Montclair Village Steps Loop in a larger map

When I got up this morning, there was a slight smattering of snow on the ground, but trust me, this route is usually a very pleasant walk.

Sometimes I need a walking workout and am pressed for time, so just go out of my door and do some neighborhood walks. It is hilly so you can get a good workout. The only caution is that it is all hard surface walking, so pay attention to your feet. If you keep walking after soles of the feet are feeling sore, you are asking for plantar fasciitis. Build up distance over a number of weeks.

For this walk I have marked the starting point near the point of highest elevation, and then you walk down for about half the time. There is also some parking space at the starting intersection. You are walking down through forested residential streets, a mix of small remodeled homes and more recent construction.

In the early 1800s this was all a Peralta Land Grant, and was covered with a vast redwood forest known as the San Antonio Redwoods. By 1860 the original forest was completely logged off. As you walk along you will see pine and cypress, even at least one palm, but few redwoods.

The route follows Saroni for a while, then south on Sayre, and then back on Saroni for a short distance until it runs into Shepherd Canyon road. At the bottom of Shepherd Canyon, the original Shepherd Creek runs buried in pipes beneath the street, but it still nourishes some large buckeye trees that grow in the canyon bottom. Shepherd Creek eventually escapes its confinement as it crosses the Hayward fault and highway 13, but also loses its name. From that point on it is known as Sausal Creek.

At that point you follow the Shepherd Canyon trail down the canyon towards Montclair Village. The trail follows the old right of way for the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railway, which used to run up the canyon and through a tunnel to Moraga and points east. This later became the Sacramento Northern Railway.

As you walk west towards Montclair, you will see the groomed trail curve to the right, while a crude trail curves to the left (to the corporation yard and the soccer field), and a well worn but unofficial trail goes straight ahead up a small hill. If you take the trail up the hill - at the top you will find a kid's dirt bike wonderland - clearly unauthorized, but giving hope that some of the current generation are free of helicopter parents. When going on down the hill to rejoin the groomed trail, be careful. There is loose dirt and pebbles, giving a ball bearing effect when dry. When wet, probably slippery.

Continuing towards Montclair, you cross the footbridge over Snake Road, and about 50 yards after that, see a paved trail on the west, going down to the parking garage in Montclair. Go around the left side of the garage and down to Mountain Blvd. At the intersection, you can leave the route go left to visit Noah's or Peets, then return and continue north on Mountain Blvd, finally passing Luckys and the B of A on the left. In a moment you will see the concrete abutments on each side of the road where the railroad used to cross. At the next crosswalk, just before Colton Blvd, the Montclair Village Steps are on the right, going up the hill between the buildings.

Go up the steps and at the street above (Magellan), jog a few feet to the right to find the start of the next set of steps and continue up to Gaspar, the end of the steps.

Walk up Gaspar to where it makes a T junction with Snake Road, taking a break at the small picnic bench if you want. Now you have a short distance up Snake - maybe 50 yards until the next intersection on the right. Snake is quite busy, so walk on the left side against the traffic and be quite cautious.

The next intersection is where Drake Drive and dead end Krohn Lane hit Snake. Cross Snake carefully and continue on Drake Drive until you hit Aztec Way going to the left. Go up Aztec noting the large stucco house to the right - at one time they had great Halloween decorations.

At the top of Aztec, turn left on Asilomar. You will walk past Balboa on the left. Shortly after that, checkout the view through the gated garden door in a long hedge, again on the left.

Continue on Asilomar until you see Saroni going right. Follow Saroni back to your starting point.

If you want to preview the walk, watch my YouTube video of it:

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