Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline,
East Bay Regional Park District,
Contra Costa County

In brief:
Easy loop on hills above Point Richmond.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 1.3 mile loop hike is easy. Trailhead elevation is about 12 feet, and the hike's high point is about 312 feet. Total elevation change is about 400 feet.

Exposure:
Almost completely exposed.

Trail traffic:
Light.

Trail surfaces:
Dirt trails.

Hiking time:
Less than 1 hour.

Season:
Can be muddy, but nice anytime.

Getting there:
From Interstate 580 in Contra Costa County, exit Canal/Garrard (exit 8). Drive south on Canal (if you've exited from westbound 580, turn left at the base of the exit ramp/from eastbound 580, turn right at the base of the exit ramp) one block to West Cutting. Turn right and at the first stop sign turn left onto South Garrard. Drive through the tunnel and then about 0.3 mile more (now you'll be on Dornan Drive), to the first signed park entrance on the right side of the road.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
http://transitandtrails.org/trailheads/40

GPS Coordinates* for Trailhead:
Latitude 3754'59.89"N
Longitude
12223'2.94"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Pay phones, gas, restaurants, and stores about 0.6 mile northwest in Point Richmond. No camping.

Trailhead details:
No parking or entrance fees. Lots of parking. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms throughout the park's developed western area. Maps at information signboard. Drinking water available in the park's lagoon area. The park has handicapped-designated parking spots, and the western, lagoon-area of the park is highly wheelchair-accessible. There is no direct public transportation to the park, but AC Transit bus #73 will drop you within walking distance: visit the Transit Info website for details.

Rules:
The trails on the eastern side of this park are designated hiking only. Dogs are permitted. Park is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Official Story:
EBRPD's Miller/Knox page
Park office: 510-235-1631

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region (or better yet, West Contra Costa Communities) map to get there.
Map from EBRPD
• David Weintraub's East Bay Trails has a simple map and trail descriptions (order this book from Amazon.com).
Simple map from the Bay Trail website (another Bay Trail webpage has more info on the park and some photos).

View photos from the hike through the park's eastern area.
View photos from the walk around the lagoon.




Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline is a 260 acre grassy hillside and shoreline park, Park entrancedivided by Dornan Drive. Rarely in the bay area will you find a park with two such split personalities. The west section is dominated by a lagoon, and borders San Francisco Bay (although fenced Santa Fe Railroad tracks keep you away from the shoreline). A 1-mile paved walking trail levelly winds through a manicured park with attractive shade trees, picnic tables, and a playground. Across the street, Miller/Knox presents a completely different face to the visitor. Trails are unsigned, and shortcuts are frequent; it's no wonder considering the inappropriately graded "official" paths. Even though the trails are narrow, they climb up hillsides as if they were fire roads (this is why switchbacks are smart management tools; give hikers an easier grade up a hill and they will take it, at least most of the time). With no switchbacks, hillsides are eroded and scored throughout this area of the park. From a hillside, the lagoon area of the park is visibleWhile the western half of the eastern section (if you can follow my logic) looks out on San Francisco Bay, Mount Tamalpais, Angel Island, and San Francisco, once east of the ridgeline the views take a decidedly urban turn. Industrial Richmond, with all its attendant noises and sights, sprawls right up to the park's boundary. You can check out the trails in this part of Miller/Knox if you are curious, but I recommend that you stick to the area west of the ridge.
     With only a few miles of trails, Miller/Knox won't hold the attention of most bay area hikers. It's convenient if you live nearby (especially if you have dogs), but it's a small park. Some folks use the paved trail around the lagoon as a lunchtime exercise loop. If you enjoy easy shoreline strolls, check out spacious Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, a few miles north. Families will probably appreciate the attractive facilities, and use Miller/Knox for picnics and romps around the lagoon. Climbing through grasslandIf you are a train buff, you could combine a visit to Miller/Knox with a tour of the Golden State Railroad Museum, right across Dornan Drive from the park. There's also a small bit of shoreline access at Keller Beach, which is off Western Drive, the first street to the right as you come out of the tunnel.
      Somehow it seems appropriate that an industrial buffer such as Miller/Knox boosts such charming wildflower displays. What better contrast to drab industrial Richmond than a hillside of colorful flowers? When I visited in mid-February, California poppies were blooming, and milkmaids, buttercups, johnny-jump-ups, and bluedicks were just unfurling. Spring is definitely the season to visit.
     Start at the parking lot, cross the street, and look for a trail behind a small roadside pullout, marked by a "park curfew" sign (you should be to the south of the Richmond Ramblers building). After a few feet, the slight path, open to hikers only, crosses a marshy area on a wooden boardwalk. View from West Ridge PointYou might see dock, an edible plant common in wet areas, along with coyote brush and willow. Once through the damp marsh, the trail begins a brief climb through coast live oak, toyon, poison oak, and coyote brush. Shortcuts make the navigating tough. There are a few stairs, and then you'll reach an unsigned T junction at about 250 feet. Turn right.
     The hiking only path climbs to an exposed drop-off, revealing initial views of the lagoon area, the bay, and Point Richmond. Then the trail descends through a grassy area, dotted in winter with flowering broom and California poppies. Spur paths from the right join the trail as it cuts across a hillside populated with toyon and pine. At 0.3 mile, the trail forks at an undersigned junction (a signpost with a walking stick figure caption doesn't help much). Bear right and head uphill through toyon, blackberry, and monkeyflower to West Ridge Point. At 0.4 mile, you'll reach a flat hilltop, and the end of this trail. From here there are unobstructed views of San Francisco,Angel Island, Mount Tamalpais, and San Francisco Bay. When you're ready to continue, retrace your steps to the previous junction, and bear right.Beginning a descent
     The trail begins to climb slightly, through grassland where you might see wild radish and California poppies in the winter. Then the path shoots sharply up the hillside; several paths have been worn through the grass, so just pick one and head uphill. The ascent is steep, but short, and the trail eases up a bit, then reaches an unsigned junction at 0.9 mile. A bench is a welcome sight for weary lungs. At about 300 feet, there are pleasant views in all directions (well, to the east there are views of Richmond, and that's not so pleasant). When I visited after the snowstorm in February 2001, it was fun to scan the surrounding hills for snowfall. Vollmer Peak and Mount Tam were dusted, and the mountains to the distant north (Napa and Solano Counties) were liberally coated with white. I watched two kestrels perching on power lines and hovering while they searched for prey (maybe they should give the squirrels near the lagoon a buzz). Poppies and other wildflowers bloom throughout these hillsides in springFrom this junction, you can head east on Crest Trail (there's no sign, but that's what the map calls the wide paved trail) to East Vista Point, or continue downhill to the park's border and back uphill to the west, joining the featured hike at the octopus junction described below. It's an easy loop that will add on about 1 mile to your hike, but be warned, this section of Miller/Knox blurs the distinction between blank industrial land and park. So for this hike, walk north (left if you're standing facing Richmond) from the junction behind the bench.
      The hiking-only trail ambles across False Gun Vista Point, then plummets downhill to the north. A few steps don't help much, as they are steep and the earth around them eroded. At about 1 mile, you'll reach a real octopus junction. The first path to the right heads down to the industrial area, and then path to the left of that (with the steps), climbs to Nicholl Knob. A rough path, the first on your left, also descends, but choose the second clockwise path.A rough bridge crosses a washed-out section
      This charming trail, open to hikers only, angles along the hillside, where you might see bluedicks and California poppies in the winter. At 1.05 miles, there's another of the park's undersigned junctions. (You can extend this hike by continuing straight on what the map shows as Marine View Trail.) Turn left.
      After just a few steps downhill, the trail splits at an unmarked junction. Bear left. The land around here is prone to landslides, so watch out for sudden drop-offs. The path squeezes through some willow and coast live oak. A primitive board bridge guides you across a washed-out area, then you pass through a moist hillside with toyon and coyote brush lining the trail. Look for milkmaids, johnny-jump-ups, and California buttercups in winter. At 1.25 miles, you'll reach a previously encountered junction. Turn right and retrace your steps to the trailhead.

Total distance: 1.3 miles
Last hiked: Tuesday, February 13, 2001