A Few of My Favorite Things: Wildcat Canyon’s Monte Cresta Trail

A few of My Favorite Things: Wildcat Canyon’s Monte Cresta Trail
All photos by Kathy Chouteau.

By Kathy Chouteau

Want a memorable way to spend time with your peeps? Check out the Monte Cresta Trail in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, where stunning views and quality time in the great outdoors await.

On a beautiful Easter Sunday, I paid my own return visit to the Richmond section of trail with a crew of visiting family members. My parents—avid hikers who had my sister and I hiking into the Grand Canyon at ages 4 and 8—love the much mellower Monte Cresta Trail because of its extraordinary Bay Area vistas. The rest of us love it, yes, because of the views, but also because we can experience this natural wonder without too much toil.

When you live in the Bay Area, and get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to take our region’s natural beauty for granted. When visitors come, they bring into focus the exceptional scenery surrounding us at every turn.

The Monte Cresta Trail is not only a chance to get some exercise outdoors, but also enjoy that Bay Area beauty all at once. Plus, it’s pretty family-friendly for the littles. Right now, you’ll catch the emerging California poppies and other wildflowers, along with small pools of water still remaining from the rain.

“As I always tell our visitors, the best views in the Bay Area are from Richmond.”

The trail stretches across upper Wildcat Canyon—part of the East Bay Regional Parks system—above Alvarado Park and beyond. After traversing an easy dirt trail, you’ll pass through a shady grove of trees and then arrive at a park bench. There, your payoff awaits, with views of Mt. Tam, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Richmond, the Bay Bridge and San Pablo Bay. Yep—all at once.

As I always tell our visitors, the best views in the Bay Area are from Richmond.

NOTES: Take Amador St. to Alpine Rd. (uphill) at the Richmond/San Pablo border. Follow phone directions leading to the dead-end at Monte Cresta Ave. in El Sobrante (The nearby trail section is in Richmond). Hike the upper trail through the grove of trees to the park bench to enjoy the views (this trail section is about 1 mile long, one way). For those feeling energetic, continue onward as you wish. The park is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dogs on leash if cattle is present.