Monday, February 14, 2011

Martinez Hills Loop - Feb. 13, '11

Walking Distance: 4.13 mi.
Walking Time: 2 hrs. 50 min. (11:56 a.m. - 2:46 p.m.)
Start and End Point: Nejedly Staging Area parking lot, Martinez, CA

If you can find the end/beginning of Carquinez Scenic Drive (that is NW of Talbart in downtown Martinez), you're in for a treat. First, pass two cemeteries (a Catholic cemetery on your left, and an historic cemetery on your right), then look for a public park parking lot, also known as the Nejedly Staging area, on your left ("P" shown on the right on this map).

I had previously walked West along Carquinez Scenic Drive (shown as double yellow lines on map) -- a walk I'd recommend to anyone. Today we chose to hike up a trail that is part of/connects to the Bay Area Ridge Trail in the hills (shown as a purple figure-eight line on the map).

Warning: It's a bit of a scramble uphill in the first mile on the way to the loop trail. You'll be climbing up a steep slope partially shaded by oak trees. However, you'll be rewarded by great views of Carquinez Strait below -- and ships passing by in the Strait, the Benicia-Martinez bridge, and on a clear day you'll be able to spot the mothball fleet (of ships) from wartime yesteryears. There are benches located in scenic overlook locations.

This entire area is very scenic, and you'll have the option of going through wooded and open terrain during a roughly 4-mile hike that includes a ~ 2-mile loop trail. Part of this trail is shared grazing land with cattle. Although it is required to have dogs on a leash, make sure to observe this rule in grazing areas to avoid upsetting cows.

Wildlife Sightings:
1 woodpecker; 8 little brown jobs (LBJs); 7 turkey vultures soaring above; 35 cows; 6 butterflies; 1 beehive in a tree; 2 crows; 2 blue jays; 1 hawk + sound of red-tailed hawk(s); sounds of frogs (but no sightings)

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