Being on the trail as the sun comes up is a beautiful experience. The light just before dawn is a blue gray, and when the sun starts to peak over the horizon, it warms to a gold for just a few moments, and then the day brightens.
I started this hike at the lower Pinehurst trailhead. This is a good place to start if you live in the Lamorinda area, but it doesn't have parking. You'll have to be dropped off here. Just before dawn I took the lower Pinehurst Trail to the Huckleberry Path. This is a short but gentle climb on a wider fire road type trail.
Soon, you'll reach the Huckleberry Path split. I headed to the left, and followed Huckleberry Path as it weaved through the beautiful bay trees and sword ferns. The sun was just peaking over the horizon, and the picture below captures the bay trees stretching just before the dawn light woke them up.
In a moment, the bright golden light filled the area, and the path, trees, vines and plants glowed with a warm vibrance.
One of my favorite clusters of bay trees was lit up just as I approached it. I've seen these trees numerous times, but this was the most spectacular moment.
Soon I reached a place in the trail that was getting full exposure of the breaking dawn glow.
Back in to the shadows for a bit, as the sun climbed, I captured the mix of light and dark as the night transitioned to day.
On the heavily canopied trail, there are moments when the foliage opens up, revealing the foggy hillside across the valley.
The trail continues, offering a diverse and structurally beautiful assortment of coast live oaks, bay trees, manzanitas and madrones. Follow the text guide to observe each tree and shrub species. (Guide part 1, Guide and map, part 2) The Huckleberry Path has markers which point out the nature being observed. Depending on the time of year you are hiking, a number of plants may be in bloom.
In the spring, you'll see clusters of blooming pink flowering currant.
One of my favorite sections of this short path is the narrow section on the south side. Here, you'll be in hummingbird territory. You'll hear their clicks and see them fly by as they gather nectar and check you out.
Also in this section are some shapely and twisted manzanitas. The limbs of the manzanita can look very much like arms and legs.
Throughout the 1.7 mile Huckleberry path, moss covered oaks stretch and twist.
As you approach the upper gate, there is a bench that looks out over the valley.
Continue your loop, and finish the hike. This is an easy loop, and if you start at the main trailhead off Skyline, there is a small parking area and a bathroom.
If you get dropped off at the lower Pinehurst gate, your path is as follows:
Hike .33 miles on the lower Pinehurst Trail
Follow the sign to Huckleberry Path
At .47 miles, continue left on the Huckleberry Path
1.06 miles, go right to continue on Huckleberry Path
1.13 continue right
1.98 go right on to Lower Huckleberry path
2.26 keep left
2.64 back at the Pinehurst gate.
This is a simple hike that is accessible and easy, though the trail is quite narrow in places. There are connections to the Skyline National Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail and Anza Trail, and you can reach Sibley Regional Park from this preserve.