If you’ve ever hiked the Ridge Trail through the hills of John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, you’ve probably arrived at a padlocked gate and had to turn back. Beyond the gate is Almond Ranch, 281 acres of private property abutting Mount Wanda.
The land on either side of the ranch was protected by John Muir Land Trust (JMLT), a wonderful Ridge Trail partner committed to the conservation and care of open space, ranches, farms, parkland and shoreline in the East Bay. On April 17, JMLT made an exciting announcement: after years of negotiation, they have come to an agreement that they can purchase the land for $4 million if they come up with the money by the end of next year.
The acquisition would save the land from possible future development, preserving 281 acres of grassland, scrub, oak-bay woodlands in the riparian zone surrounding the seasonal stream that winds through the property and eventually flows into Alhambra Creek. It would also close a critical one-mile gap in the Ridge Trail, which is also currently one of several remaining gaps in the Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail, the 50-mile loop that encircles the Carquinez Strait and climbs into the surrounding hills.
To raise the money, JMLT has launched the Campaign to Save Almond Ranch and they’ve already received a commitment of $1 million, from the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD). The EBRPD grant will use funds from the 2008 voter-approved Measure WW supporting high-priority community park projects.
That leaves $3 million to be raised by December 31, 2019.
“JMLT is a wonderful advocate for land conservation and public access,” says Ridge Trail Executive Director Janet McBride, “We’re excited to help spread the word and support this project in any way we can.”
To find out more about the project visit jmlt.org/almondranch.
The Carquinez Strait Scenic Loop Trail: a corridor where the San Francisco Bay Trail, Great California Delta Trail, Juan Bautista de Anza Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail meet the historic center of Northern California—works to promote the natural, historical, scenic and recreational opportunities along the Carquinez Strait in Contra Costa and Solano Counties.
This trail network can be reached by the Vallejo Ferry, Martinez Amtrak or a quick drive and a currently navigable 25-mile trail loop around the Carquinez Strait passes through five historic downtowns (including the iconic Port Costa with the oldest operating hotel in CA, the Burlington Hotel), the historic State Capital in Benicia, John Muir’s residence, two major bridges, and spectacular views.
Although there are a handful of gaps in the Ridge Trail along the Carquinez Strait, here is a list of our favorite three you can enjoy today.
Photo Credit: Adam Weidenbach