This starts a project of mine - to run the length of North Bay, from Vallejo to the Marin Headlands, unsupported and in a single, multi-day push, staying on trails and off the pavement for as much as possible, and connecting as much of the Bay Area Ridge Trail System as practical.
Vallejo Ridge is my name for the Vallejo-Benicia Buffer, a section of Open Land that runs from I-780 to Lake Herman Road. BARTS has a sections of designated trail running from the corner of Columbus Parkway and Rose Drive to the last block of Ascot Parkaway in between Georgia Street and Newcastle Drive.
So last Thursday my girlfriend joined me for a run of the ridge, from the south to the north. She only wanted to run 3 miles, so she planned on doing an out-and-back run, then rake the car around to the other end of the ridge to pick me up. The area is not dog-restricted (something hard to find around here), so we brought our 12-year old, Montana, along to keep her company.
The run south to north features a series of three hill climbs, each with a shorter descent off the backside then climbing again a little higher than before. Great switchbacks, showing some intelligent trail building, keeps the climb reasonable and allowed me to keep a running pace uphill. Just before Channing Circle Park, which intersects the trail, is the 1.5 mile mark, so I stopped there to see my girlfriend and the dog turn around and head back to the car - I'd see them again at the corner of Columbus Parkway and Lake Herman Road.
The trail contours around the ridge before climbing long switchbacks up the south-west slope of the highest point, 719 Mountain, then along its long summit spine, before dropping down its north-west side. The trail drops down into a basin at 560 feet, then climbs one last hill before descending to Ascot Boulevard.
I stepped off the official trail in this basin and headed north, following the ridge. I quickly found an old farm road that followed, off and on, a fence-line along the ridge. Two hill climbs led to the only piece of pavement on the ridge: a single lane road leading to two water tanks at the summit of the northern-most high point of the ridge. But instead of following the pavement I crossed the road and continued along the last steep track that also lead to the tanks.
The road turns left at the west side of the tanks, leading almost directly to the south-east corner of the Columbus Parkway and Lake Herman Road intersection. But I ran around the fenced-in water tanks to the north-east corner, then dropped straight down the hill to Lake Herman Road.
I think next time I will follow the road to the intersection, or head further east to reach Lake Herman Road just past the quarry. Another run for another day is to to turn off at Channing Circle Park and run to Benicia Community Park and Lake Herman Recreation Area.
Statistics: Vallejo Ridge. 4.5 miles total distance, 2.5 miles on maintained trails, 1.75 miles on non-maintained trail, 0.25 miles cross-country. 960 feet elevation gained, 660 feet elevation gained. 0:44 minutes.