Thursday, September 22, 2005

Contra Costa Canal Trail 4: Concord

As I was in the Ygnacio Valley today anyway: I thought it was time to hike out to the Concord end of the Contra Costa Canal Trail.

We’ve walked part of this stretch before, from Via Montanas down to the junction with the Ygnacio Canal Trail and the California Riding and Hiking Trail. Today I’m on my own so I can stretch out for a longer hike.

Parking on Citrus Avenue near the trail crossing, I take the Contra Costa Canal Trail north towards Concord, past the City of Concord portion of Lime Ridge Open Space. After Via Montanas, the trail runs alongside a trailer park for about a mile. At Tioga Road, there’s a sharp contrast: on the left of the canal, run-down trailers. On the right of the canal, and occupying the higher ground, a smart—and gated—apartment community. Haves and have-nots; the census data for Concord gives a fair clue as to who is which. (The per-capita income statistics are particularly revealing.)

Satellite view of Tioga Road: apartments to the right, trailers to the left.

The Canal Trail continues to run north, crossing Clayton Road and Concord Boulevard, before ending at Willow Pass Road, just below the Concord Naval Weapons Station. This stretch is nondescript; flat, but not terribly interesting, and not a part of the trail I’d seek out again.

On the way back, I veer off the trail up into Lime Ridge, which is worth it for the views over the valley. My plan was to hike trails in Lime Ridge until Treat Boulevard and then walk down Treat to rejoin the Canal Trail. Well: not a good plan. Treat’s signposted at 45mph and traffic often flows considerably faster than that; and there are no sidewalks. Change of plan; I’ll cross Treat and head uphill into the Walnut Creek side of Lime Ridge.

The signage at the parking lot here verges on dangerous, directing hikers down Treat for “Trail Access across Treat”. Not so. The trail access is directly opposite to the Lime Ridge Community Center entrance, up Treat from the parking lot.

Satellite view of Treat Boulevard, Lime Ridge Open Space on either side.

Once safely across Treat, I head uphill, taking the trail which we totally failed to find going downhill last time. There’s a surprise at the top: at the very peak of the hill, a group of about 20 horses cropping the dry grass. They’re friendly, even curious. Two of them approach, give the back of my outstretched hand a good sniffing, and allow me to pet them.

My backup plan: head downhill on the California Hiking and Riding Trail, which meets the Contra Costa Canal Trail back at my start point. Well, I fail this one too, judging the correct turn as heading back too sharply towards Treat and instead heading off downhill on the Lime Ridge Trail. No big deal, I recognise my mistake and head back on the Woodlands West Trail instead; but a little annoying to have made two mistakes at the end of the hike and to have extended it a little further, and a lot more uphill, than I’d anticipated.

A touch over nine miles; and although I lost track of time a little, about three hours. Not a bad hike. But not a great one.

I now have only one stretch of the Contra Costa Canal Trail to go, out to the far end in Pleasant Hill; I have a cunning plan for accomplishing this. More later.

Previous hikes on the Contra Costa Canal Trail:
  1. Contra Costa Canal Trail/Ygnacio Canal Trail loop (April 2005)
  2. Heather Farm–Citrus Avenue (June 2005)
  3. Walden Park–Lockwood Lane (August 2005)
and see also:
Categories: Hiking