At the bottom of Redwood Regional Park is the Serpentine Prairie, an open, hilly area where the ground is chalky white because of the outcropping of the official state rock underneath. A trailhead on Skyline Boulevard just above Joaquin Miller Road overlooks this prairie, and, beyond a hillside of late-twentieth-century rooflines, the San Francisco Bay.
From this point, you can choose to go up or down on the Dunn Trail. To your left, past a sign marking the intersection with the lower and less-traveled section of the Sequoia-Bayview Trail, the Dunn Trail curves gently uphill and through a mixed forest of pine and lichen-covered oak.
The first part of the trail offers views of the bay spectacular enough that you may feel guilty you didn’t work harder to see them. But the farther you go from the trailhead, the more the trees begin to shade the trail, which is broad, firm and in some places, rocky. Bicyclists share it comfortably with dog walkers and hikers. (Off-leash dogs are allowed on the Dunn Trail.)
About a half mile along, you come to the intersection with the Graham Trail, which would take you to Roberts Regional Recreation Area. Staying to the right will keep you on the Dunn Trail and lead you down a moderate hill into a stand of young redwoods. Heading around a switchback around a steep, ferny valley, you catch a glimpse of the Golden Spike Trail below. Should you keep hiking another mile along the Dunn and Montiero trails, you would join the Golden Spike and could return to the trailhead that way — about a three mile loop, but with some steep climbs. Fall afternoons being short, an out-and-back route seems more sensible today.
Getting there: Buses run along Joaquin Miller, and there is some parking on Joaquin Miller and Skyline Boulevard.
Cool stuff in the neighborhood: Two equestrian centers are nearby on Redwood Road.
More information: From the East Bay Regional Parks website.