The Goldenrod Trail clings to the eastern edge of Anthony Chabot Regional Park, running from the City Stables in the north all the way to the dam at Lake Chabot in the south. The two-mile stretch between the City Stables and the Chabot Equestrian Center is gently rolling, with intermittent views through the oaks and Monterey pines of Grass Valley and the ridges around the Upper San Leandro Reservoir.
Starting at the Equestrian Center on a crisp fall morning, the sound of your footsteps may startle a flock of goldfinches into the pines. A horse’s hooves can be heard ringing against the pavement in the paddocks below; very far in the distance is the scattered booming of guns on the shooting range, like the crackle of faraway surf.
The trail is broad and firmly packed, and despite last week’s rain, offers good footing. Tall stalks of cow parsnip have dried into ghostly picket fence, and in places, the trail is shiny with dropped acorns. The bright red of a lonely penstemon flower stands out against the pale green lichen on the twigs behind, and the sagebrush, though fragrant, has gone gray and sere.
Although you are never very far from Skyline Boulevard, the trail is quiet and not too crowded. Two horsewomen pass, a handful of hikers, one man with a dog and a couple of runners. Only a few of the grades feel steep at all, and you are rewarded with views for accomplishing them.
Getting there: The Chabot Equestrian Center is at 14600 Skyline Boulevard, just north of Keller Avenue. There is a small day-use parking lot outside the gate.
More information: A trail map is available at the East Bay Parks website.