Hike 29 – A Hike Through History to the Rescue, March 13, 2010
For the last five weeks I had been fighting a cold. I hadn’t hiked in weeks. But today I felt good enough to head out for a walk, just as long as it wasn’t too strenuous. Over the last few years, I have regularly participated in the East Bay Regional Park District’s (EBRPD) Trails Challenge and today I decided to do one of their hikes. The Trails Challenge is a great way to explore one of the 65 parks within the EBRPD system. They cover over 100,000 acres of land and offer access to over 1,100 miles of trails, many of which are multi-use, so everyone including hikers, bikers and equestrians can enjoy them.
I settled on a 4.5 mile loop in Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline in the historic city of Richmond, California. It features short climbs, amazing views and enough history to make it interesting. I figured it would offer enough of a challenge to my recovering lungs and serve as an excellent motivator to hike again.
After a rather restless night, at 8:55 AM I finally pulled into the Ferry Point parking lot. I got there a few hours later than I had wanted to, but this was the best I could manage.
The hike began along the Brickyard Cove Road and featured views of the marina, the bay, San Francisco, and the Bay Bridge. It went past some brick kilns that belonged to the Richmond Pressed Brick Company and eventually joined up with the Bay Trail for a steep but short climb. As the trail leveled off, the views got more expansive. I quickly realized that this hike was all about views and not so much about serious climbs. That suited me just fine.
This area is steeped in history, especially of the second world war era and earlier. Here are some interesting historical tidbits on the area:
- The Richmond Pressed Brick Company manufactured bricks used in paving the streets and in the construction of buildings in San Francisco. All that remains now are some kilns used for baking the bricks. The factory operated here from 1907 to 1966.
- Most of the bay is relatively shallow with only a few deep channels. Richmond marina however has a deep channel running through it which allows large ships to get here. As a result, at one point this was a booming port and town.
- Ferries and trains linked all the way east to Chicago met at Ferry Point which became a major rail and ship terminus and operated that way from 1900 through the 1960’s. Ferries carried people and vehicles across the bay through the 1930’s, and freight through the 1960’s.
- The Santa Fe Railroad built the rail line right up to Ferry Point, thereby enclosing a small bay which in turn filled up into a lagoon, which is now part of Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline.
- During the second world war, the shipyards of Richmond built 747 warships; more than any other shipyard in the nation. The former Ford factory nearby (designed by Albert Kahn, recently renovated as an award-winning green building and worth visiting) assembled 49,000 Jeeps, and worked on 91,000 tanks, armored-cars and other military vehicles sent to war.
- To honor the contribution of women in the war effort, the Rosie The Riveter Memorial is here too. It honors Rosie The Riveters and Wendy The Welders that worked in these factories, and also other women throughout the nation who contributed in their own ways to the war effort.
Interestingly, the Kaiser Shipyards here adopted assembly-line techniques pioneered by Henry Ford, thereby considerably reducing the time taken to build large ships. Prior to the onset of the second world war, it used to take about a year to build a ship of the size built here. The shipyards here brought the average time to build a ship down to a month. Some ships like the SS Robert E. Peary were built in less than five days.
At the intersection of Bay and Crest Trails, I turned left (west) towards False Gun Point. As the name suggests, False Gun Point was the location of a fake gun erected during the second world war to protect the Kaiser Shipyards. A functioning gun was located a short distance from the false gun. It was a clever way to manage with fewer resources, yet deceive the enemy.
From False Gun Point, I continued down on the Crest Trail. A section of it was closed for maintenance so I followed the detour signs. I climbed up to Knoll Point and enjoyed eating an apple there before continuing down. Eventually I picked up Marine View Trail which took me past the Richmond Ramblers Motorcycle Club to the Old Country Road. This took me past the Golden State Model Railroad Museum. Unfortunately it was closed for the season so I could not check it out. Beyond the initial climb, the rest of this hike had been easy; just some gentle ups and downs.
Soon I was back at the car. It had taken me about two hours to complete this loop. I decided to walk to the abandoned building and fishing pier at the south-west end of the park and took some photographs there. Since my lungs were not at full capacity yet, I enjoyed this easy hike because it did not test me too much. I was hoping to go on a hike of a similar distance the next morning too. I took many photographs of flowers on this hike. The views all around the bay from this park are stunning and worth the hike, and are the real reward for coming out here. As bonus, there is also enough history in this area to make it attractive for history buffs too.
Here’s a map of the hike courtesy of Google Maps:
Here’s a link to a brochure and trail map from the East Bay Regional Park District website:
Link to Trails Challenge 2010 website:
Slideshow of pictures from the hike: