Of all the places you’d expect to see a trail leading to hilltops with soaring views, it’s probably not in a suburban housing development. Yet this is exactly what the Hiddenbrooke Trail offers. The trail is so named for the nearby housing community, an outpost of the city of Vallejo. It’s a fairly short out and back or semi loop trail that heads up into the open space that separates Hiddenbrooke from the rest of Vallejo and offers great views from the top of Vallejo/Benicia, San Pablo Bay, and beyond.
The only bad part about this hike is there’s no parking at the trailhead, so you’ll have to park down the hill at the small park-and-ride lot at I-80 and McGary Road. Walk up Hiddenbrooke Drive to the east and the trailhead is 0.4 miles up the road. The trailhead is on the right side of the road marked by a large signboard with a Bay Area Ridge Trail map.
Immediately, you’ll start to climb into the hills, with views of Hiddenbrooke to your left and behind you at times. The trail is fairly easy to follow, though at times it seems to disappear into the grass. Climb the first hill and you’ll start to get a taste of some of the views you’ll experience at the top. About half way you’ll see a fork where the trail splits. Take the left split and go around the hill. You’ll climb around the side and eventually loop around it and summit.
From here you’ll get your best views of the hike. Vallejo/Benicia and San Pablo Bay come into view, as well as most of the East Bay, Mt. Tam, Mt. St. Helena, and other nearby landmarks depending on how clear it is. I spent several minutes at the top just soaking it in. It helped that there was a nice breeze rippling the wildflowers around me; a very peaceful scene. You’ll also notice an old boxcar at the summit of the hill, which is a bit odd and curious when one thinks about how it must have gotten up to the top of this hill. At this point you can head back the way you came, or the trail continues downhill in the opposite direction and eventually dead ends among houses at the bottom of the hill. I chose to make it an out and back hike and headed back the way I came. Total hiking time was only about 90 minutes; a nice, quick sojourn into the hills with big payoffs in terms of views. I’d recommend it for those who are in the area but want something quick, or if you live in Vallejo/Benicia. It’s also a great after work hike during the warmer months with more daylight.
Distance: 4.12 miles
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Elevation gain: 600 feet
Fees: None, parking and entrance are free
Directions: From I-80, take the Hiddenbrooke Rd/American Canyon Rd exit and turn right (from eastbound), or turn left (from westbound). Turn right onto McGary Road and park in the small lot to your right. Walk up Hiddenbrooke Drive for 0.4 miles to the trailhead.