Overlooking Suisun Bay and with glorious views of Mt. Diablo, this extraordinary property nestled in the hills southwest of Martinez was acquired by John Muir Land Trust in 1998, saving it from impending development. Sky Ranch provides important wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and access to a key segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. It remains a glimpse of a distant era, when open land stretched for miles with few signs of human presence.
Sky Ranch links existing East Bay Regional Park District parklands and preserves the Bay Area Ridge Trail and Contra Costa Feeder Trail #1. These trails span the ranch and also connect with a section of the California Hiking & Riding Trail. While hiking, biking or riding your horse along these trails you might see deer, fox, coyote, red-tailed hawk or American kestrel, whose presence speak to the property’s timeless value as a home for both resident and migratory wildlife.
Shady oak woodland and native grassland embrace the upper portions of Alhambra and Rodeo Creeks, where reptiles and amphibians such as the threatened California red-legged frog and the Alameda whipsnake make their residence. Several large and small mammals, songbirds and raptors thrive here, as well as threatened, endangered and special status animals including the golden eagle and the Cooper’s hawk. Majestic mountain lions have been occasionally observed here and one aim of JMLT’s conservation effort is mountain lion habitat protection. But not to worry – the animals keep their distance and your kids and dogs are very safe on all JMLT properties!
You can begin your visit to Sky Ranch on the Feeder Trail, whose first mile offers native plants such as Sticky Monkeyflower and Coyote Mint, before crossing Franklin Creek and climbing the ridge. Elevation gain up to the Sky Ranch Kiosk is 700 feet. Extend your hike via the Tina Batt Trail (3 miles) for excellent views of Mt. Diablo, Contra Costa and the Carquinez Straight. From the Kiosk you can also take the Dutra Loop Trail (2.5 miles) or simply return down the Feeder Trail (1 mile) to your starting point. Regardless of your chosen path, it will be a day well spent!
From Highway 4 eastbound: Exit Alhambra Avenue. Turn right onto Alhambra Avenue. Make your first right onto Franklin Canyon Road.
From Highway 4 westbound: Exit Alhambra Avenue. Turn left onto Alhambra Avenue. Turn right onto Franklin Canyon Road.
Then: Continue on Franklin Canyon Road for one mile. Turn left onto Dutra Road. The trailhead marked “Contra Costa County Feeder Trail #1” is on the left about one-tenth of a mile up the road. Watch for the yellow “END” sign on the left and park on the left side of the trailhead and stables. The Feeder Trail leads a mile up to the gate at the entrance of the Sky Ranch property. The Sky Ranch Kiosk is there, with signs and a map.