Weekend Bike: Flowy Franklin Ridge

Almond Ranch Favorite Places Spots Sites

Craving a new two-wheeled adventure? Look no further than Franklin Ridge, a John Muir Land Trust (JMLT) gem offering stunning views, diverse terrain, and a glimpse into the past. This moderate 7.07-mile loop throws 800 feet of elevation gain your way, rewarding you with stunning vistas and a mix of fire roads and technical singletrack.

Ready to Roll?

Your ride starts at the Mount Wanda staging area. Follow Franklin Canyon Road for a mile westward until you meet Dutra Road. Turn left, pass under the trail trestle, and look for the green public access gate marked "Bay Area Ridge Trail" and "Sky Ranch." This is where your journey begins.

The aptly named Feeder Trail #1 takes you up and around the equestrian center, reminding you of the gentler pace of horse-drawn carriages before the automobile era. As you ascend through the shaded forest, you'll reach Sky Ranch, another JMLT property.

Sweet Detour: The Dutra Loop

Feeling the need for a breather? Veer right onto the Dutra Loop, a well-maintained fire road that follows an old carriage route. This delightful, level path winds through wooded canyons, offering a respite from the climb. Soon, you'll change course near the picnic area and embark on another ascent towards the ridge's highest point (1,000 feet!).

Singletrack Bliss

Tina Batt Trail on Franklin Ridge. Photo: Adam Weidenbach


Now for the good stuff! Once you reach the summit,  take a left onto the Bay Area Ridge Trail before making a right onto the legendary Tina Batt trail. This narrow, multi-use masterpiece hugs the southern ridge, offering a thrilling descent with grade reversals and perfect sightlines. Designed by Jim Jacobsen, it's no wonder this trail sets the standard for modern multiuse design.

Flowy Descent & A Touch of History

At the end of the Tina Batt, cross through the gate and onto the scenic Almond Trail where gravity takes over for a flowy, twisty descent. Halfway through, the trail begins a gradual climb back to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, offering a picturesque view of Mount Diablo. Keep an eye out for charming old barns and a restored windmill along the way. As you pass through the gate into Mount Wanda, you'll be greeted by the National Park Service's arrowhead monument sign. A short climb and a final downhill section will bring you back to the parking lot. 

The restored windmill at Almond Ranch. Photo: Adam Weidenbach

More Trails on the Horizon

JMLT is currently fundraising to expand Franklin Ridge's trail network with two exciting acquisitions: the Kenneth Gerlach Preserve and Barnett Ranch.

Kenneth Gerlack Preserve: This challenging trail will be worth the effort, combining an existing farm road with a newly created section. Imagine rolling through blue oak savanna, then diving into a mature bay laurel forest before switchbacking up a hillside teeming with Dutchman's pipevine. Finally, you'll find yourself cruising alongside the potential new Bay Area Ridge Trail.

The Barnett Ranch: Offering both a lower and upper trail, Barnett Ranch promises quick loops with minimal elevation gain. The upper trail will connect to the existing fire road, while the lower one will lead directly to the Vista Meadow, offering glimpses of vibrant monkey flowers and diverse forest landscapes.

We need your support to make these trail a reality. Donate, volunteer, or simply spread the word to help ensure Franklin Ridge becomes an even more epic destination for mountain bikers of all levels.