This 9.7 mile loop is all dirt road with no singletrack, ending with a 2.5 mile ride along paved Alhambra Valley Road to close the loop. The pastureland is spotted with cattle much of the year. The east entry is the recommended starting point; those starting the trail from the west entry will likely find the grades in the first mile too steep to pedal up, and even pushing a bike up them is challenging.
Pinole Ridge Multi-Use Trail is a collection of four trails on East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) managed watershed that are already mapped elsewhere on MTB Project. This Featured Ride was clearly signposted by EBMUD. However, if you are interested in locating them along your ride, you must use the MTB Project maps, EBMUD maps or other resources, since the constituent roads (Sludge, Simas, Goat and Windmill) are not signposted by their names along the ride.
This ride is best enjoyed by starting at the east entrance at the corner of Alhambra Valley Road and Pereira Road. Begin by taking Sludge Road
, which is the left trail leading away from the EBMUD sign-in kiosk (EBMUD does not grant bike access to the trail to the right). The first few hundred feet is loosely tilled dirt road but quickly settles into good ranch road (though subject to degradation during the rainy season).
At a little over 2.0 miles, turn right at the intersection with Simas Road, then, in 0.3 miles, take another right turn on Goat Road
. The road leads past a picnic bench on the left at 2.5 miles, then ascends a shaded creekside trail to the Fernandez Ranch entry gate (John Muir Land Trust) at around the 3.5 mile mark. Do not go through the gate. Instead, follow the signs and continue your ascent to the first of two ridge summits at the 4.0 mile mark. There is a nice park bench here with fine ridge views.
Enjoy a fast 1.0 mile descent to where the road rejoins Simas Road. Turn right at this intersection and start a steep one mile long climb up the second summit, where Simas Road becomes Windmill Road
(not to be confused with Windmill Trail
in nearby Fernandez Ranch). You are now at the top of the ridge with excellent vistas including glimpses of San Pablo Bay to the north.
If your bike is equipped with a seat post dropper, you'll appreciate having it for the steep descents ahead in the last mile of the ride. These descents are the only reason this trail is marked as intermediate, and some riders without dropper posts may feel more comfortable walking their bikes down the steepest grades.
The trail ends at the entry gate at Alhambra Valley Road. Go left out of the gate to ride an easy 2.5 miles east back to your parked car at the Pereira Road trail entry.