The Ultimate Ridge Trail Adventure
A Journey around the Ridge Trail
Circumnavigation is the journey across every section of dedicated Ridge Trail (RT), which today is over 400 miles! There are many ways to circumnavigate—hiking, running, biking, or horseback riding; completing sections in clockwise order or any way you’d like; over the span of a few weeks or even a few years! You don’t have to be an ultra-athlete, you just have to be curious about the vista waiting for you around the next bend. No matter how you do it, RT circumnavigation is guaranteed to be an epic adventure.
The Ridge Trail is planned as a 550-mile trail. As of November 2021, 400 miles are complete. There are two continuous stretches (from the Peninsula to Marin, and in the East Bay) but otherwise there are still quite a few gaps in the trail. Here are some ways people have tackled them:
- If they are short, do a road walk. HOWEVER, we NEVER encourage you to cross busy roads or highways at undesignated places!
- If they are longer, you can use a rideshare, such as Lyft or Uber or shuttle by car, bike or public transportation.
- Some gaps you may just want to skip. Thru-hiking is easiest on our long stretches but harder in the North Bay where there are many more gaps, for example.
We have a dozen multi-day backpacking, bikepacking and ‘basecamp’ trip itineraries on our Trip Planning Tools webpage. Three-day basecamps use one central point, like a motel or hostel, for you to knock out several days of hikes in one area. Check out these itineraries for Sonoma County, Napa County, Santa Clara County and San Mateo County.
There are quite a few areas that you can camp off the trail, but some sections are much harder to coordinate than others. Check out our Trail Explorer to see locations of campsites.
There are several sections that require a trail permit, primarily on sensitive watershed lands:
East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) Lands
All East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) lands require you to get a trail permit. There are permit options for one day, one year, and three years.
Buy a trail permit
Ridge Trail sections that travel through EBMUD lands are:
- Pinole Valley Watershed
- Pinole Valley Watershed to Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve
- Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area to Tilden Regional Park (Inspiration Point)
- Tilden to Redwood Regional via Skyline Trail, Sibley and Huckleberry
- East Bay Municipal Utility District Lands to Cull Canyon
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail
To finish the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail on the Peninsula, you need to sign up for a docent-led hike. If there are no open spots on a scheduled hike, or you don’t see a hike scheduled that you’d like to join, you can reach out to one of our trained docents, Thomas Beck, to schedule one.
Cell reception varies across the length of the trail. Some sections have excellent signal while others don’t have any at all. Reception tends to be weaker at trailheads that are lower down and in valleys, versus stronger reception up on the ridge lines. Be sure to plan ahead, download your maps before leaving home, or be ready to hike closer to town if you need a signal to coordinate a shuttle.
Get inspired by others’ journey around the Ridge Trail. Have a story of your own? Send photos and tales of your journey (even if you are still in progress) to email@example.com and you could be featured here!
Those who complete their journey around the RT are honored in the Finisher Circle. Finished your own circumnavigation? Claim your spot! We’ll add you to the wall of fame and email you a certificate of completion. More finisher swag is available, too! Your spot in the Circle is valid forever, even when new miles are added.
MODE OF TRAVEL