Route: San Fran Bay Circumnav via Bay Area Ridge Trail (CA)

California, US
317.5 mi

Patrick Martin submitted this 320-mile Route which circumnavigates the San Francisco Bay mostly via the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

"History--Thirty years ago park visionary William Penn Mott, Jr., who served as Director of the National Park Service as well as East Bay Regional Park and California State Parks, brought forth a big idea. He wanted to unite the ridges encircling the Bay Area into one continuous park with a 550-mile Ridge Trail. Ultimately the vision included connecting the Ridge Trail, and the metropolitan center it served, to the Sierra Nevadas.
In 1987, the Greenbelt Alliance, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the National Park Service as well as citizen advocates came together to help form the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. Thanks to their pioneering leadership the Ridge Trail is growing mile by mile.
Trail Progress: The first Ridge Trail segment was dedicated in May 1989. During the first few years, the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council made rapid progress, dedicating 200 miles of existing trail on public lands by 1995.
Today, 375 miles are open and ready to explore 80% of which is open to bikes and horses. Bit-by-bit continuous sections are being knit together to provide true thru-hike (or bike, or ride!) opportunities. On our Western Ridge we have an 80-mile stretch from northern Marin to Highway 92 and on our Eastern Ridge we have a 43-mile connected stretch from El Sobrante to Union City. "

The route I put together skips the northern most sections and cuts over on Hwy 37 as it would require a lot of roads between short sections of trial. Otherwise, I tried to follow the Bay Area Ridge Trail as closely as possible. 

GPS Track


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Profile picture for user marcy_beard

Hey Patrick - I've been looking at this too, but gave up (for now) for a couple reasons.  Wondering if you have more info about these spots: 1) Fifield-Cahill Ridge restricted access 2) north of Big Rock Ridge on Burnt Ridge fire road - as far as I can tell, this isn't open to the public.  Also I ran into questions of park open hours - many of them say they are closed at night, not sure how to deal with that for an FKT run.  Would love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks!

Hi Marcy.  The Fifield-Cahill ridge does have access on certain days and if you call, they should help.  The number is (650) 652-3203 or at for those interested.  

I didn't realize about the Burnt Ridge fire road being private.  I'll have to go scout it out before my next attempt.  It does look like there is a way to go through Ignacio Valley Preserve and then through Novato if Burnt Ridge doesn't work out. 

I made an attempt at the route but didn't get far.  It was my first overnight running trip and I brought a woefully inadequate sleeping bag and had pretty cold night.  So I'm back to the drawing board and am shooting to go for another attempt early June. 

I searched and couldn't find any info with regards to FKTs and breaking park open hours.  I will not be worrying about it for my trip.  If it's a no-no for FKT's, so be it.  It would make this particular route nearly impossible to do fast though. 


I took a stab at this one on 3/29/2019 doing a 270 mile loop in 8 days. I made a special point to summit grizzly peay, diablo, tam, montara and mission peak. There was a lot of road walking involved and many of the miles on this route are on road. The route is on my strava.


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Profile picture for user Heather Rae Mashhoodi

This route is DO-able legally, however logistically challenging.

I got a docent for the Cahill ridge section and permission from private ranch landowners.

It was easier for me to do this supported and keep a through hiker pace than to try to pummel through. I have a converted camper van (equipped with an awesome spouse and a dog) that I was able to sleep, shower, and re-supply in most nights. Pretty epic luxury for a through jaunt : )

I got a lot of logistical help from the Bay Area Ridge Trail Counsel in providing me with docents and easement information.

Thank you to the ridge trail for keeping so much of the bay area wild! They are working hard to close the gaps, thus making a continuous foot path that extends farther north and south.




Photos and blog



Another sticky spot is crossing Highway 4 in Martinez, going from Crockett Hills park to Fernandez Ranch. The Bay Area Ridge trail was at one point looking at the disused tunnel that partly crosses the highway, but it only goes halfway. There is also a rail bridge that crosses over, then under the 2 directions of traffic, but it is an active line, so that would be pretty dangerous and illegal. I listened in on a John Muir Landtrust presentation in March 2021 and they discussed the connection and the most likely scenario will be to use the existing overpass on Cummings Skyway and to establish a trail from there to connect with Fernandez Ranch. Apparently that plot of land is already in a public land trust.