No. 23: Joaquin Miller Park, Sequoia-Bayview, Sunset and Fern Ravine Trails

Sunset Trail, Joaquin Miller Park

The Sunset Trail follows the ravine cut by Palo Seco Creek.

If you know only one trail in Oakland, odds are good it is the Sequoia-Bayview. Level, broad and mostly shaded by young redwoods, it boasts several spectacular outlooks that give it its name. Normally, there is plenty of room for bicyclists, dog walkers, hikers and runners to co-exist, but on a sunny summer weekend, it can get hectic.

I decided to trade off view for relative solitude by hiking on a misty morning. Even so, a dozen cars were parked at the trailhead by 9 a.m. Most of them, it turned out, belonged to a Scout troop that was improving trail signage.

At the first sharp bend in the trail, turn off onto the Sunset Trail, which drops down a ravine cut by Palo Seco Creek. The first hundred feet have been badly eroded, but the rocky scramble quickly levels off to a gentle one-and-a-half track. Although well-used, it is less crowded than the main trail.

After a pleasant stroll through ferny grottos by the creek, look for the sign to the Sunset Loop trail heading uphill to the right. Here the trail narrows, and in one spot passed through a city of dewy cobwebs. Once you turn right and uphill on Fern Ravine trail, you begin a short but steep climb to rejoin the Sequoia-Bayview. Two Steller’s jays scatter, but the only other sound is the patter of dew falling from the leaves in the light breeze.

Getting there: The trailhead is on Skyline Boulevard, just east of Joaquin Miller Road. If you drive, be aware of “No Parking” signs on many stretches of Skyline.

Cool stuff nearby: The Roberts Regional Recreation Area has individual and group picnic areas, a swimming pool, and accessible playground.

More information: The best trail map is the Sausal Creek Watershed one. The Joaquin Miller Park website tells about other services and features.

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