Over the Thanksgiving holiday the Rowlenke clan did a short hike in the hills just outside of Michelle’s hometown of San Ramon, CA. It took 15 minutes to drive from her childhood home to the trailhead in Las Trampas Regional Park.
This would be Mr. Man’s first time riding in the backpack for a hike of consequence (he rode in the backpack to go around a small lake in Washington back in September).
The weather was clear and an enjoyable mid-40s when we set out from the car (circa 1150 ft) in the early afternoon. The “trail” is actually a paved road, often steep, that winds its way up the east side of Rocky Ridge. At 2024+ ft, it is the highpoint of the park and the most prominent summit for a good distance in many directions (3849-ft Mt. Diablo is nine miles to the northeast). Rocky Ridge has 1264+ ft of clean prominence.
I grinded (ground?) away at the road as Mr. Man murmured, apparently with satisfaction. Michelle kept pace with us. There were grazing cattle for Liam to look at. There was even a three-legged cow (that’s a first!). There was a two-legged cow in the form of a fat kid too. He would go 100 yards then sit down on his ass, presumably as his dad looked on. Good on him (and his dad) for getting him out there for some exercise and something different than his probable daily routine of Wii and wasabe.
In about 40 minutes we (the Rowlenke three, not the fat kid) reached the ridge crest where there is a north-south fence line marking the border between the park on the east and the Upper San Leandro Reservoir on the west. You need a permit to enter the watershed (the EBMUD
San Leandro Watershed*). Fortunately the summit(s) of Rocky Ridge are not far into the other (watershed) side.
* To obtain a permit to enter the watershed, hence to get to the true summit of Rocky Ridge, call (510) 287 0459. More info here
The 2024-ft benchmark location (according to the map) is a few hundred paces north along the road that parallels the fence on the watershed side. This road leads toward a radio tower. The benchmark we could not locate. The actual highpoint is a little beyond where the map places the benchmark. But no matter, since the true highpoint of Rocky Ridge is not on the dome of ground containing the tower. For starters, northwest of the tower there is a little 2000+ ft bump with a holt of trees covering its apex. Within the holt are a series of boulders. The little bump is higher than the radio tower summit. Then there is a grassy spine with boulders WNW of the tower that is also 2000+. It is likely higher than the radio tower summit but is not higher than the little bump. I did not go over to the grassy spine but I could tell it is lower than the little bump while looking at it from the little bump.
So is the little bump the HP of Rocky Ridge? Likely no. The true highpoint is likely within still another 2000+ closed contour south of the radio tower and southeast of the grassy spine. This southern 2000+ contour contains within it a sizable (for the area) rock pinnacle that juts at least 15 feet above the generally flat crest.
While Michelle took Liam back to the car, I took some extra time to ensure I got the highest point done.
I walked over to the pinnacle (it takes a few minutes to get there from the radio tower summit) and quickly scrambled up to its backside where I was presented with a final 8-ft Class 5 rock climb. I didn’t have rock shoes on, only trail shoes, so my friction was not so great. Fortunately, there were enough tight finger holds to work my way up a slanting crack (three moves of mid-5th). Falling might have been injurious due to a fissure/drop off below the rock climbing part.
From the top of the pinnacle it was obvious I was higher than the radio tower summit and the grassy spine directly to the northwest. But I could not tell for sure if I was higher than the treed little bump. So I traversed over to it just to be sure (10 minutes away).
You can’t see anything (including the other summits) while standing atop the highest boulder within the trees but a short descent out of the trees opens up the necessary views to make the highpoint assessment.
For the return I chose to walk the paved road from the north side of the radio tower (this is the same road used by tower maintenance crews). Less than 2 hours round trip car-to-car. The End.
An intriguing latch system for a gate….
I should try this at home.