Dates: April 20 and 30, 2015
Place: Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Oakland, California
Coordinates: 37.847599, -122.199023
Length: about two miles
The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most fascinating places I know in terms of its natural history. I wasn't all that surprised, therefore, to find out that there is also a volcano in my relative neighborhood, even if an old and extinct one. The area of that volcano is no within the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, and it is a fine place for hiking, sightseeing and for a geological study.
There are quite a few trails in the relatively small area of this park, some even connect to other, nearby regional parks. The trail I post about here is a nice and easy, 2-miles loop that begins (and ends) at the main park entrance, off Skyline Blvd in Oakland.
Leaving the staging area towards Round Top, the trail plunges immediately into the woods. The trees, many of which were budding deciduous, had their roots all across the trail.
California coastal forests are home to the banana slug. It was very damp and I did see them out and about, although they weren't as yellow as I've seen them in other places.
Half a mile uphill the trail intersects with an asphalt road leading to a large water tank. It is worth going up to the water tank because behind it there is a very nice area of exposed lave flow that froze in time. The 4Hers enjoyed pointing out the round ebbs and eddies that remained in the rock's time capsule for millions of years.
After descending from the water tank I took a right turn to go around Gudde Ridge. It was green everywhere. Lush and wet.
And more strawberries on the ground.
One of the most familiar: the tall and fancy Ithuriel's spear.
|Ithuriel's Spear (Triteleia laxa)|
|Western Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californium)|
There were more flowers along the trail. Not too many - the scenery was heavily dominated by green grasses - but enough to add some happy colors to my hike.
|Round Top Quarry and the Mazzariello Labyrinth|
While the labyrinth was unauthorized and clearly not part of the place's nature (as is the quarry itself!), it does, in a strange way, belong there, and has been unofficially sanctioned by the East Bay Regional Park District. It is now as much a part of this place as cultural sites of older ages.
After walking the labyrinth I took the time to look around. The grove of trees grows there and nowhere else on Round Top because, of course, there is more water down there. Water that collects at the bottom of the quarry in a little pond, thus creating a mini-wetland area with cattails and willows.
The quarry's bottom is also a wonderful place to rest and eat. But after that, it is the same trail going back up. On the way up, there is a nice view of Mount Diablo to the east.
|Sky Lupine (Lupius nanus)|
That trail too was decorated with wildflowers, many of them immigrants from overseas.
As I was going back westward the vegetation got higher and thicker until eventually I found myself back in the woods.
|Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)|
|Silverleaf Cottonaster (Cotonaster pannosus)|
After going back to the road leading to the water tank I chose to take the overview trail back to the parking lot. That trail goes by a lookout porch with large information signs. The view from there must have been nice when the lookout place was built. When I was there, however, the vegetation was so high that I couldn't see any view behind it.
|Common Cowparsnip (Heracleum maximum)|
|California Manroot (Marah fabaceus var. agrestis)|
|California Phacelia (Phacelia californica)|
|California Wildrose (Rosa californica)|