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Month: January 2018

Coyote hills – Red Hill Trail

Coyote hills – Red Hill Trail

Total distance: 1.82 mi
Total climbing: 446 ft

Situated just by Highway 84 and a slew of office parks, Coyote Hills is an easily accessible get away. The Red Hill trail is a trail that runs along the bulk of the “Coyote Hills”, peaking at Red Hill and eventually terminating at the Alameda Creek Trail. It’s a steep hike that provides excellent views over the bay.

If you’re looking for a longer day, Coyote Hills also acts as a gateway to the Don Edwards refuge to the south and the Alameda Creek trails to the north. It’s even trails and proximity to urban areas makes it a popular spot for trail running.

Coyote Hills Red Hill Trail Essential Info

Length: 1.5mi
Time: 1.5hrs

Difficulty: Moderate (steep/narrow sections)

Address: 8000 Patterson Ranch Rd, Fremont, CA 94555
Hours: 8am – sunset
Entry fee: $5 per vehicle
Dogs allowed on non-marsh trails. Bikes allowed on major trails.

Website: East Bay Parks

Getting There

Coyote Hills Location

From highway 84 east, exit Ardenwood. Follow the road to commercial drive and turn left. You’ll pass a parking lot on the left which is free (and gets full fast!). Go through the entry gate and turn left and into the Quarry Staging Area. If you’ve arrived at the visitor’s center you’ve gone too far!

The Trail

This short, introductory version of the Red Hill trail starts with a gradual ascent on the southern side, taking you past the South Marsh and the salt ponds. It’ll peak with a steep ascent just shy of Red Hill and then return via the Glider Hill trail, down past the visitor center and the Main Marsh. As can be seen in the map, the many intersecting trails allow you to customize your experience and length of your hike.

Starting at the Quarry Staging parking lot, take the paved trail towards the South Marsh. You’ll pass the Dairy Glen camping area on your right taking the short spur closer to the marsh.

South Marsh Trail looking back towards Dairy Glen
South Marsh Trail looking back towards Dairy Glen

Checkpoint: South Marsh

Deer in the South Marsh
Deer in the South Marsh

The trail arrives at a crossroads with the Meadowlark Trail. Make a right towards the Bay View Trail. At the first intersection, veer right to the Red Hill trail which will begin a zig-zag ascent up the first hill.

Checkpoint: Salt Ponds

After ascending the first hill, you’ll get a great view of the Dumbarton bridge and former Cargill salt ponds.

Salt Ponds
Former Cargill Salt Ponds

With the levees broken to allow bay waters to naturally circulate, the salt ponds have begun to attract migrating birds who use the San Francisco Bay as a rest stop along their migratory routes.

From the salt pond view, the trail will begin to run directly along the ridge-line, following the ups and downs of the hills.

Hikers cautiously descending a section of the Red Hill trail
Hikers cautiously descending a section of the Red Hill trail

Along the peaks, small outcrops provide an exploratory break.

Checkpoint: Glider Hill Trail

After descending down the first peak, veer right to take Glider Hill Trail down to the visitor center. Alternatively, if you’ve got the energy, continue along Red Hill trail to the vista atop Red Hill.

Glider Hill trail will zig zag down the hillside and take you directly to the visitor’s center.

To return to the Quarry Staging area, cross Patterson Ranch road road and take the Bayview trail east, away from the bay. Here you’ll pass the Main Marsh before arriving back at the parking lot.

Checkpoint: Main Marsh


  • Bayview Trail
    • Easy hike around the Coyote Hills, closer to the water level
  • Alameda Creek Trail
    • Explore one of the major river outlets of the south San Francisco Bay
  • Chochenyo Trail
    • Explore the Main Marsh
Vargas Plateau – Golden Eagle Trail

Vargas Plateau – Golden Eagle Trail

Golden Eagle Trail  Essential Info

Total distance: 2.29 mi
Total climbing: 440 ft

Length: 2.3 mi
Time: 1.5hrs
Difficulty: Easy
Hours: 8am – sunset
Dogs (leashed), Bikes, Equestrian allowed

Trail map: Vargas_Plateau Map

Vargas Plateau Regional Park

Behind what is quickly becoming one of the most congested bottlenecks in the Bay Area, Vargas Plateau provides a critical corridor from the parks covered by the Ohlone Wilderness Trail (Sunol, Fremont Peak) to the bay wetlands (Coyote Hills, Don Edwards). Having resolved neighborhood issues regarding road traffic, East Bay Regional Parks re-opened the park in May, 2017.

This hilly area, covered by California’s familiar grassland and oak trees, provides ideal environments for bay raptors and their prey.

Getting There

Vargas Plateau Location

To get to Vargas Plateau Regional Park, exit at Vargas road along I-680. If going up 680 North, simply follow Vargas road until it turns into a one-lane road. If going down 680 South, turn left onto Vargas road; right will bring you back towards the entrance to 680N

About 1.5mi along, turn right onto Morrison Road. After another .5 mi, the parking lot and trail entrance are easy to find on the left hand side of the road past a highly visible barn (see pic below).

Parking at Vargas Plateau
Parking at Vargas Plateau

Golden Eagle Trail to Vista Point

Golden Eagle Trail


From the parking lot, the very gradual Golden Eagle trail brings you across the open hills, towards an outcrop of rocks seemingly sprouting from the ground. The rocks are just beyond the fork which splits into Deer Gulch Trail and the Upper Ranch Trail.


Rocky outcrop
Rocky outcrops at the fork between Deer Gulch and Upper Ranch trails. The Quarry Lakes loom in the hazy background.


The fork towards the Upper Ranch trail takes you past the open fields of the park residence. The flat open space provides plenty of habitat for rodents and their predators in the sky.

Curving around the base of the viewpoint, the trail upwards crosses the Upper Ranch trail loop at two points before a moderate climb up a gravel path.

Vista Point

The vista point provides views of Mission Peak as well as the Quarry Lakes area in Fremont.


From the vista point, you can return along the same path you came in, or do the Upper Ranch loop which will add about 3 miles to the overall hike.