Address: 37.827988, -122.208690 Parking: Free parking in the neighborhood at address above (end of Cortereal Ave; please be respectful of residents). You can also park in the Shepherd Canyon Park parking lot, cross the street at the fire station and take the trail with the yellow barrier up behind the Corporation Yard. There is also trail access via the stairs to Pacific Union Realtors off of Mountain Blvd, and trail access behind the Montclair Parking Garage. This garage is $2/hr, free parking Sundays. There are a few other access points, but they have difficult/slippery hikes down. (Note: Bishops Ct. specifically states no trailhead parking in the neighborhood) Hours: Dawn to Dusk Type: Easy hike (1.5 mile paved Railroad Trail), can easily be extended to longer hike Regulations: Dogs allowed on-leash Best time to visit: Anytime, as the trails are mostly shady. Don't miss: Torii Gate and the BMX trail (if you're visiting in the early morning)
Description: This is a beautiful hike in the Oakland hills, above Montclair Village. The 1.5 mile paved Montclair Railroad Trail was once part of the route of the Sacramento Northern Railway, which took passenger between Oakland and Chico from 1912 to 1957. In the 1970’s, a freeway was proposed to take its place, but luckily never came to fruition. This trail snakes through groves of trees, and even includes an overpass crossing Snake Rd (which, if you’re like me, you’ve probably driven under numerous times but never realized was part of a trail). There's a cool tunnel you can walk through from the Cortereal Ave or Montclair Parking Garage entrances. There is a steep, dirt stretch of trail behind the Corporation Yard (across from the fire station) which will take you up to a transmission tower. Behind that is a small BMX course built from dirt mounds with a couple wood ramps. From here you can catch a glimpse of the bay, and head down the other side to join back on the paved trail. If you do visit the BMX course, I'd recommend only going during the early morning. Once riders come, it will be difficult/dangerous to hike up here. Please be respectful of the course and do not walk on it.
Continuing along the main trail in the direction of Bishop’s Court, you will have the option to take an approximately 1 mile (1/2 mile out and back) detour to visit Torii gate. This is a traditional Japanese gate above Shepard canyon Park, which perfectly frames a beautiful view of the bay. To access it, after you pass some trash cans, you will see a trailhead pointing to the right for "Escher Loop." Head down this short, slightly overgrown trail to Snake Road. Carefully cross the road and head up to the right to Escher Drive. You will see another trailhead sign there. It's about 0.40 miles to Torri Gate and about 200ft of elevation gain. We have walked this stretch of road several times and encountered few cars, but be careful and keep your dog close by. Below Torii Gate is a trail snaking down to the soccer field and parking lot at Shepard Canyon Park, but unfortunately dogs are not allowed in that park. From here, retrace your steps back to the main Montclair Railroad Trail.
The Montclair Railroad Trail ends a short distance further at Bishops Ct. If you wish to extend your hike, walk back along the Railroad Trail. After you pass the trailhead for Escher Loop, look for a large hill on your right. You'll find a steep dirt/wood stairway. This is a bit of a scramble, and I wouldn't recommend it during/after a rain because it gets slippery, but if you have good shoes it's worth the hike. There are some cool rock formations up there, but don't hike to the top. Once you see a transmission tower in the distance, look for a dirt trail to your left. This will take you to another shady trail that links the ends of Zinn Drive. From here, we took neighborhood roads back to where we parked instead of scrambling back down the steep stairs to the Railroad Trail.
If you start your hike from the parking garage, explore the side trail to the BMX course, visit Torii Gate and returned to the parking garage, it will be a roughly 4 mile hike. You can extend your hike via the trail between the ends of Zinn Drive, or you can take residential streets to join Sibley or Redwood Regional Park. See custom map below marking locations mentioned above.
Note: There is no parking near Torri gate, and although it is right above Shepard Canyon Park, unfortunately dogs are not allowed in that park.
Several trash cans along the Railroad Trail. Restrooms and running water are available at the parking lot in Shepherd Canyon Park but dogs are not allowed in the park.
My trail map (Stars are points of interest referenced above; yellow line maps out different routes):