Description - This parkland provides a gateway to the river delta region along the northern edge of Contra Costa County. The coastal hills rise steeply up to 750 feet above Carquinez Strait. From the highest elevations the view includes the marshland of Benicia State Recreation Area to the north across Carquinez Strait. From atop Franklin Ridge along the Franklin Ridge Loop Trail and the California Riding and Hiking Trail, the horizon is pierced by the peaks of Mt. Tamalpais to the west and Mt. Diablo to the east. Looking south from this high point are the ridges of Briones and Las Trampas regional parks.
Copyright: East Bay Regional Park District
The topography of Carquinez Strait consists of open, rolling grasslands, wooded ravines, eucalyptus-shaded meadows and river shoreline. Multipurpose trails provide access to canyon views and ridgetop vistas. At the northwestern edge of the shoreline park, the remnants of a former brickworks, grain wharf and resort, dating back to the turn of the century, recall the historic character of the site.
The major plant communities that occur in Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline include plant species typical of annual grassland, oak woodland, and coastal scrub vegetation. Localized wooded communities composed of oak and oak/bay woodland and buckeye can be found in protected east-facing slopes and ravines. Plantings of eucalyptus groves are also present at scattered locations.
The park grasslands provide habitat to western meadowlark, horned lark, house finch, western bluebird, and American goldfinch, which forage and nest in the area. Valley oaks offer perches and nest sites for the red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, golden eagle, northern harrier, great horned owl and barn owl. Cooper's hawks depend on the riparian ravines for nesting and for providing cover for ambushing prey. Mammals include the gray fox, mule deer, raccoon, eastern fox squirrel, Botta's pocket gopher, and a variety of other species. Small rodents are prey to gopher snakes, sharp-tailed snakes, and western garter snakes
Recreation - Recreations found at Carquinez Strait include wildlife viewing, plant identification, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking..
The park is open 5 AM to 10 PM unless otherwise posted or permitted. There is no parking fee or dog fee.
Climate - Climate in the San Francisco Bay area varies greatly with elevation and the amount of coastal influence. Areas with more coastal influence experience moderate temperatures year round with fog likely from June through mid-August. Plan your coastal visit in the late summer or fall to ensure the best conditions for viewing the scenery. Also, occasional clear days between winter and spring storms are incomparable. Areas further inland experience greater temperature extremes, with relatively cooler winters and hot summers. Inland areas often receive frost on winter nights. As throughout most of California most of the precipitation comes in the winter months, with April through October normally very dry.
The park exists in two sections that are not contiguous and are separated by private property. Parking is available at two locations. The Bull Valley Staging Area offers access to Eckley Pier and the western portion of the park, accessible from Carquinez Scenic Drive. From Highway 4 west of Martinez, exit at Cummings Skyway. Turn right on Crockett Boulevard, right again on Ponoma Street in Crockett. Pomona Street becomes Carquinez Scenic Drive. Proceed to the staging area, on the left. Driving another mile or so will bring you to another small staging area, also on the left. From Interstate 80 in Crockett, exit onto San Pablo Avenue or Pomona Street, depending on your direction of travel (San Pablo Avenue become Pomona Street east of I-80). Go east on Pomona into Crockett and follow directions above.