Fortified with the huge lunch and a little daylight left I went for a short hike. The Bay Area's eastern hills are blessed with a system of parks covering thousands of acres of open California hillsides traversed by miles of trails. These parks are managed for our benefit by the East Bay Regional Park District. I've always loved the Bay Area and these parks are a good reason why.
I only had a general idea of where I was going. I had narrowed it down to Tilden Regional Park. To get there, I drove around the backside on San Pablo Dam Road and then wound my way up and over San Pablo Ridge on Wildcat Canyon Road. I made a left onto South Park Drive and stopped at the first trailhead I found. I found it interesting that South Park Drive is closed from November 1 through March 31 to protect migrating newts.
The hike I did was a short one up the gentle climb of the Upper Big Springs Trail, which was more fire road than trail. Soon after starting up the trail I spotted a short side trail to the left that led to a small quarry or borrow pit where the underlying basalt rock of the Moraga Formation was extracted and likely used for fill and roadbed material for the network of local fire roads turned to trails. Soon I was at the crest of San Pablo Ridge with slit views of San Francisco Bay under the encroaching deck of evening low clouds, so typical a pattern of coastal California. It was time to turn around as darkness approached.
EDIT: On Twitter the kind folks at East Bay Regional Parks routed me to the folks at Regional Parks Botanic Garden who helped with this one. As it turns out, this lovely plant is oblong spurge, Euphorbia oblongata, a California Department of Food and Agriculture class B noxious weed. I did not recognize because it doesn't grow in Washington, except for two locations in the San Juan Islands and it apparently has not been found in southern California. More here: RPBG - February 2011 Newsletter
More eucalyptus trees. They're everywhere.
At the crest of San Pablo Ridge where the Upper Big Springs Trail meets the Bay Area Ridge Trail.
San Pablo Reservoir from San Pablo Ridge.
Under the cloud deck, San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge from San Pablo Ridge.
Tree skeletons left after a fire some several years ago.
The route, just a mile and half, round trip (adapted from gmap-pedometer.com).
Satellite view (adapted from gmap-pedometer.com).
Oblique view (adapted from Google Earth).