Peak Pondering

Hiking Wildcat Peak Tilden Regional Park

Some of the most magical hikes begin like a magic trick: The start is filled with lots of people, cute farm animals, and some hustle-bustle frenzy. Then, within minutes, it vanishes! All you have to do is find the entrance to Narnia—or, in this case, Laurel Canyon Trailhead in the East Bay’s Tilden Regional Park.

It’s kind of hidden, but when you do find it, it heralds the start of a 3.5-mile (round-trip) journey featuring a eucalyptus forest, giant sequoias, a lush peace grove, and spectacular views of the bay. The trail winds gently uphill through the woods before leveling briefly at a fire road where you’ll take a hard right to a slinking trail that leads to Wildcat Peak.

On the way, you’ll pass by the Rotary Peace Grove. Established in 1955, the grove commemorates individuals for their contributions to world peace; every year someone is selected to receive the honor. Take a short stroll through the grove’s stocky giant sequoias and view the various plaques naming honorees, including the Dalai Lama.

Gallery image 1 of 6
Gallery image 2 of 6
Gallery image 3 of 6
Gallery image 4 of 6
Gallery image 5 of 6
Gallery image 6 of 6

From here it’s a short hike up to Wildcat Peak and its far-reaching panoramic bay views. A beautiful circular stone structure and bench area lead you around the panoramic scenery: The Golden Gate Bridge, San Pablo Reservoir, Mount Diablo, the giant cranes of the Port of Oakland, and the San Francisco skyline all sparkle. You’re just slightly past the halfway point now. From here it’s downhill through the quiet forest before the finale: a peaceful stroll beside Jewel Lake and back to the parking area.

From the Tilden Park visitor center, walk through the back door, across the grass and find the Laurel Canyon Trail. Stay on this all the way to Laurel Canyon Rd. and turn left. From the fire road you’ll make a right turn onto Peak Trail, which is easy to miss (look for the signpost and sharp right singletrack trail going uphill). From here follow Peak Trail to the Rotary Peace Grove and Wildcat Peak. The actual peak is up a short spur trail. Then descend Peak Trail to Sylvan Trail. Turn right on Sylvan Trail, and take Lower Pack Rat Trail along Jewel Lake and back to the visitor center. No dogs.

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Get Outdoors In Sonoma County This Fall

    Sonoma County's great outdoors includes hike-in beaches, hidden redwoods, and a new zipline-to-treehouse stay. Here are 5 of the best ways to explore outdoors in Sonoma County.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Ride and Seek

    Oceanside breezes, beautiful beaches, a car-free pathway for biking, and beer at the end: You’re on a roll! The San Mateo Coast was made for beach hopping and beer tasting …

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Redwoods, Beach, Banner View!

    Explore among the redwoods in Henry Cowell State Park on this magical 5-mile hike featuring the big trees, a beach, and a beautiful view from an observation deck.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    GOAT Coastal Hike + Sunset

    GOAT (greatest of all time) Sonoma Coast experience? Hike the Kortum Trail, wine taste on a patio overlooking the Russian River, and catch a sensational sunset at, yep, Goat Rock Beach.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Shakespeare Bridge + Secret Garden

    Romeo, Romeo, we all know how this goes, but do you know how to go to the Shakespeare Bridge and secret gardens? We’ve got the online do-it-yourself hiking route for you.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Malibu Hike, Canyon, Beach

    Get a highlight reel of the Malibu coastline on a 2.25-mile hike through Leo Carrillo State Park, featuring a canyon climb, Pacific panorama, and a beautiful beach.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    The Highway of Waterfalls

    Ready for a totally refreshing road trip? Hit the Highway of Waterfalls! This stretch of road in Southern Oregon travels alongside the wild and scenic section of the North Umpqua River—and more than a dozen waterfalls.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Suspension Bridge Surprise

    This urban hike in San Diego connects two gardens by way of two spectacular bridges, including the awesome Spruce Street Suspension Bridge built in 1912.

    View