Thursday, April 17, 2008

O Richmond, My Richmond...

Wildcat Creek Trail
(4+ miles)

First, that's the city, not the district (note the lack of article). Many people might not associate Richmond with trail runners... and you would be correct. There aren't a whole lot of us out here, and I think it's too bad, because Wildcat Canyon is a great place to run. It's true that it does not have the wealth of trails that grace Marin, for example, but it's a consistently underutilized area, so you can leave the VERY urban 23rd and Rheem, for example, and be running on a hill with no one around in a matter of minutes.

According to the East Bay Regional Parks website, Alvarado Park (the picnic area adjoining Wildcat Canyon's open space that is barbecue central on sunny weekends) used to have a pavilion and dance hall that later turned into a roller rink. I don't usually run around the park, but it's a great place to go back and have a picnic after a good run.

Additionally, Wildcat Canyon is pretty dog-friendly. Like Redwood, you must have your dog on a leash in developed areas, and clean up after them, but they can run free in undeveloped space areas, which is most of the park. The one caveat to running with dogs is the preponderance of cows once you leave Wildcat Creek Trail and head up toward the ridge, where the better trail running is. Neko and I have had a couple of "cow encounters" while running, particularly on the Mezue Trail.

I was going to post about the run I did last Sunday, but then I felt some loyalty to Wildcat Canyon and decided to instead to start with highlighting a very basic, midweek out-and-back 4+ mile run that follows Wildcat Creek until the intersection of the Mezue Trail and Wildcat Creek Trail. There is a drinking fountain with a dog bowl that makes a good turning point. This trail is basically flat, and true trail aficionados will grumpily point out that the first mile or so is actually on pavement. It's true, but it's still beautiful on days like today when the ceanothus is in bloom and the hills are covered with vetch, the purple flower in the first picture. It also makes for an easy no-thinking-necessary run when you just need to get some miles in to calm the border collie(s).

In another post, I'll give some ways to add a little more to your run as well as get off the road for a bit. I'll also cover Havey Canyon, Mezue and Conlon Trails, but I thought I'd start with the most basic of Wildcat Canyon options.

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