Even a seasoned trail expert is never too old to learn, as I discovered hiking near Upper San Leandro Reservoir. The first lesson was to consult a map often when visiting new areas. And yes, maps are on phones now – amazing. This small oversight cost me extra miles and hours of hiking before I realized I made a wrong turn. Signage in this area is confusing and lacking in general, so come prepared with a map.
My goal was King’s Canyon Loop, a popular trail nestled near the town of Moraga. My early mishap put me on a detour to Redwood Trail, a pleasant surprise of a single-track that meandered through tall trees and moss on a shady hillside. I picked up East Ridge Trail and turned around at Pinehurst Road. (Help, I’m lost.)
Once back at the Valle Vista Staging Area, I followed a well-manicured gravel trail along Canyon Road, across a large bridge and then onto a lazy fire road.
Although the first part of KC Loop follows the water line, little can be seen from the trail high above in the dense trees. I hiked this loop counterclockwise to take advantage of the sunset along the ridgeline.
The well-maintained fire road is easy on footing, can handle crowds if needed and is dog friendly. My weekday hike revealed few people, so it’s great if solitude is your thing.
Rollercoaster dips and dives
Expect rollercoaster type dips and dives along the trail as you make your way out to the point – the best water views of the hike. You then turn up into King’s Canyon and head away from the water toward Rancho Laguna Park. You’ll encounter more uphill grinders as you top out along the ridgeline and surrounding neighborhoods. You can descend back toward the water or stay up high along Rimer Creek Trail and finish at the bridge.
Evening brought out an abundance of wildlife, with deer at almost every turn. I could hear coyotes in the distance and too many birds to name near the water far below. Luckily, I made a few smart choices before leaving my car. The head lamp and extra jacket were key as I made it back to my car in heavy winds and almost total darkness.
Don’t forget your permit
I would plan on 2.5 hours to complete the loop. Don’t forget to get an EBMUD permit for $10 online.
I chose Valle Vista Staging Area, but there are many hiker friendly access points along this trail. The days are getting longer, and you aren’t getting any younger – so get out there.
Also, please join me at 11 a.m. March 7 for a hiking program at the Clayton Community Library, 6125 Clayton Road, as part of the library’s 25th anniversary celebration. I am putting together a PowerPoint presentation.
- King’s Canyon Loop Trail
- Distance: 6.7 miles
- Duration: 2.5 hours
- Level: moderate
- Elevation gain: 1,110 feet
- Cost: $10 EBMUD annual permit at ebmud.com/recreation/buy-trail-permit/
- Getting there: Valle Vista Staging Area, with restrooms and parking
- Etc.: Dogs on leash OK
Contact Kevin Parker with comments or questions by email at LukeHollywood@gmail.com