Since I crashed my car in January, I've learned that it is possible to survive in the East Bay with only a bike, even with a job that sends me all over Alameda County and beyond. One drawback, however, is that I can't hop in my car and drive to hiking trails throughout the Bay Area. But when it comes to weekend excursions, totaling my car turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I've since gone on a number of spontaneous cycling trips, quickly discovering that the best rides are the ones that lead me to hiking trails where I can lock up my bike and continue on foot.
With my newfound love for these multimodal adventures in mind, I asked local cycling, hiking, and park enthusiasts about the best East Bay trips for people who want to leave their cars behind and bike to a hike.
Point Isabel Regional Shoreline
2701 Isabel St., Richmond
Renee Rivera, the executive director of Bike East Bay, doesn't own a car and regularly goes on bike-hike trips with her dog, an eighteen-pound Jack Russell mix that she carries in her bike basket. She suggested the bike ride from downtown Oakland to Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond — a scenic, roughly hour-long trip that offers a quick getaway from the city. The destination is right along the San Francisco Bay Trail, which cyclists can access from Bay Street near Ashby Avenue in Berkeley. In addition to being a massive dog park with great views of the bay, the 23-acre Point Isabel park offers convenient bike parking and several miles of flat hiking by the water. Altogether, it's a fairly easy trip that can be completed in a single morning or afternoon.
Hayward Regional Shoreline
3010 West Winton Ave., Hayward
One of the best moderate hikes included in the 2014 East Bay Regional Parks Trails Challenge guidebook is a 9.94-mile round-trip at Hayward Regional Shoreline, according to parks spokesperson Emily Hopkins. To make the sixteen-mile trek to the trail from Oakland, start in Jack London Square on Embarcadero, hugging the shoreline via the San Francisco Bay Trail to the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park. From there, ride down Doolittle Drive to Monarch Bay Drive, past the Tony Lema Golf Course in San Leandro. The final portion of the bike trip is the Hayward Regional Shoreline parking lot, where the hiking trail begins at Grant Avenue. The route continues south, passing Oro Loma Marsh, Cogswell Marsh, and Hayward Marsh toward the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center at Breakwater Avenue. The marshes are a particularly good location for bird-watching — visitors are likely to see egrets, avocets, willets, and hawks.
Lake Chabot Loop
17930 Lake Chabot Rd., Castro Valley
East Bay Bike's Rivera said some of her favorite bike-hike combo trips involve a third mode of transportation: BART. For this trip, she takes BART to the San Leandro station, then bikes the short distance to Lake Chabot Regional Park. The roughly four-mile ride to the park and the lake is easy and very bike-friendly. Head east on Estudillo Avenue, which has a bike lane and passes under Interstate 580. The street turns into Lake Chabot Road, which will lead right to the Lake Chabot Marina and Cafe. There, cyclists can park their bikes and start the Lake Chabot Loop, a moderate 9.71-mile hike around the body of water.
Briones Regional Park
Happy Valley Rd. at Panorama Dr., Lafayette
This BART-bike-hike trip (another Rivera recommendation) actually involves fairly minimal cycling, which is good because you'll want to conserve energy for the steep hike. Ride BART to the Lafayette stop and then cycle north on Happy Valley Road for just over a mile until you reach Panorama Drive, where you can lock your bike. It's not marked as a park entrance, but Panorama Drive leads to a fire road that takes you straight into the park. The path leads to a number of good trail options, including the Briones Crest Trail and the Lafayette Ridge Trail.
Wildcat Canyon Regional Park
5755 McBryde Ave., Richmond
Wildcat Canyon Regional Park offers hikers one of the more difficult routes on the 2014 East Bay Regional Parks Trails Challenge list — an 8.03-mile loop that rewards travelers with a spectacular view. The challenging hike begins on a fire road and passes through native woodlands and shaded creek beds, eventually leading to breathtaking vistas of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, San Pablo Bay, Point Pinole, Mount Diablo, and more. The hike can be tough, but fortunately, getting to the trail by bike from Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito, or Richmond isn't too draining. Cyclists can take the Ohlone Greenway for much of the route, then take McBryde Avenue toward Alvarado Park. The road will lead to Park Avenue, which takes cyclists right to the Wildcat Canyon parking lot, where the trail begins.