These 80 acres of thick woods and grass-covered hills offer magnificent views of the Carquinez Strait and Mount Diablo. In the 1990s this gorgeous property was on the verge of being subdivided for residential development with plans to pave historic Feeder Trail #1 and turn it into a road for homeowner access. JMLT stepped in to acquire Gustin Ranch in 2002, forever protecting the popular multi-use trail and leaving the landscape and habitat intact.
Collectively, Gustin Ranch, Sky Ranch and Dutra Ranch provide 480 acres of contiguous open space along Franklin Ridge, offering permanent wildlife protection to threatened, endangered and special status species including the golden eagle, Cooper’s hawk and Alameda whipsnake. Blue oak, coast live oak, valley oak and California black oak grace the landscape. Native grasses and wildflowers, including the rare Mount Diablo sunflower, are abundant. A section of the 550-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail traverses the area. As part of the Alhambra and Rodeo Creek watersheds, these lands are drained by streams that support the threatened California red-legged frog and the western pond turtle. Large and small mammals, songbirds, and raptors thrive here.
A visit to Gustin Ranch often begins on the Feeder Trail, then crosses Franklin Creek under the shade of bay laurel trees before winding up the ridge. Elevation gain up to the Sky Ranch Kiosk is 700 feet. The hike extends via the Tina Batt Trail (3 miles) through grasslands and oak for extensive views of the region. From the kiosk one can take the Dutra Loop Trail (2.5 miles) through the canyon or simply return down the Feeder Trail (1 mile) to the starting point. Dogs and horses are welcome!
GETTING TO GUSTIN RANCH
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, just before the Franklin Canyon 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.