Trailhead: Waterloo Staging Area at approx. 9300 Skyline Boulevard, Oakland, CA
Parking: Parking is free, but lot (if you can call it that) is small—about 4 or 5 spaces—and there is additional parking street side.
In a Nutshell: A deep woods hike with several ascents and descents, some of which you may find strenuous. Overall, a moderate trail with abundant shade and spectacular changes of scenery.
Approximate Length: ~1.7 mile loop
[For a longer hike, turn right onto French Trail the second time you run into it, and left on West Ridge Trail back to Waterloo (~2.3 mile loop). For a longer and sunnier hike, from Starflower, go right on Tres Sendas, left on Stream Trail and left on West Ridge Trail back to Waterloo (~3.1 mile loop that somehow seems less strenuous than the others).]
Approximate Time: 45 min. – 1 hr.
Terrain: A winding narrow gauge trail with some strenuous ascents and descents below the canyon ridges.
This hike was the location for last week’s photo series entry, Fallen Dragons.
From the Waterloo Staging Area, walk down a path (passing the red house on your right) down to the trail marker. Take a right onto Tres Sendas which will immediately take you down into lush woodlands. The path follows a currently dried up creek which I can’t find on any map. I have rarely seen anyone on this portion of the hike, although you’re sure to hear a thriving squirrel community rustling around on the other side of the dry creek.
The trail continues to descend into a valley of mossy oaks, bays and ferns. And while I am always delighted by the verdant beauty along this trail, in the mornings, the sun shines down the hillside, its light dispersed into a multitude of rays by the density of trees in its path. And the leaves caught in those rays glow in astonishing shades of green against the background of their shadowed neighbors. Nothing like starting your day with such a spectacular symphony of trees and light.
After about 1/3 of a mile, turn right onto French Trail where you’ll begin ascending. From this point forward, the trail winds up and down several slopes along a valley floor with redwoods and ferns cascading down the hillsides. The scene is otherworldly here, and I can’t help but feel like I’ve tripped through a portal into some pristine prehistoric period. The sad and ironic fact is that the redwoods here are 2nd and 3rd generation forests, their ancestors having been harvested in the mid-1800s and again in the early 1900s. (More on this subject will be coming in a separate blog entry.)
In just over half a mile, you’ll come to the Starflower crossroads. Turn left here, and then left again once you reach Tres Sendas.
This section of Tres Sendas is a little more popular than the previous trails. And it’s easy to see why with its redwood trees and large rocks closely bordering the trail. After ¼ of a mile, you’ll pass French Trail (this is where you can turn right for longer hike mentioned above). In less than another 1/10 of a mile, you’ll come to another French Trail marker—turn right to stay on Tres Sendas and to climb back up the trail you initially took down to the valley floor.