As promised, here’s a look at Sugarloaf (a/k/a 1175) Hill. But first two announcements:
- The 46L bus line goes from the Coliseum BART station past the zoo to Oakland’s remote Grass Valley neighborhood. It’s the only public transit providing access to the area that includes all of Knowland Park. AC Transit funded a year-long trial of this route to restore service that was cut in 2010, when a transbay line served the area. It’s still a bit of a trek to reach the park, but for carless people it’s essentially impossible without the 46L. (Yes, the bus has a bike rack.) There will be a hearing on September 2 at an awkward time, 5 pm, to consider keeping the 46L going. That’s what staff recommends, but I will lobby the board to continue service because it’s up to them, not the staff. I hope you’ll speak up too.
- Speaking of Knowland Park, I’m discussing the possibility of leading some geology walks up there next month, for Wild Oakland. Updates here and there.
Sugarloaf Hill is on the rear side of the Merritt College campus and is in the Leona Canyon Preserve. The East Bay Regional Parks District has plans to enable access to Leona Canyon when the college is closed, though it seems like a low priority for them.
The trail up the hill is not marked or mapped, but it’s not hard to find. As you go up through the woods, you’ll pass exposures of the Leona “rhyolite” that underlies this whole area.
Once above the trees, the campus unfolds below you. This shot also shows the range of habitats on the hill. (It’s a 1000-pixel shot; there are three more later in this post.)
The upper part of the hill is largely grassland with ferns and some bedrock. The soil is very thin. This land used to be grazed. The grassland, says the EBPRD, is dominantly non-native species. It doesn’t mention the ferns, considering them part of the forest biome.
Besides grassland, the hill comprises shrubland and oak/bay woodland. Some parts are pleasingly mixed.
The view west over Leona Canyon juxtaposes grassland and forest. The forest is typical coast live oak and bay laurel, along with buckeye and hazelnut and a whole bunch of different native shrubs. The houses are on Campus Drive.
And this view south over Leona Canyon shows the shrubland, consisting of coyote brush, sagebrush and poison oak. It’s quite overgrown. Absent grazing or fires, this tends to turn into oak/bay forest.
The rocks don’t form many outcrops, per se. There are abundant boulders like this one. They’re naturally covered with lichens, so you have to search to see any details of this metamorphosed volcanic sandstone. Please don’t take a hammer to this stone—besides being protected by EBRPD rules, it deserves to look the way it wants. (1000px)
The point of a hill, so to speak, is its top and the views it makes available. When I climbed Sugarloaf Hill it was a cool and hazy day, so the next two photos are just versions of what you might see from there. Here’s looking north toward the ridge of Redwood Peak, over the ballfields and solar array of Merritt College. (1000px)
And here’s looking south over Leona Canyon from the summit. The rectangle of boulders is I think the work of idlers rather than the remnants of an old foundation. On the horizon, from left to right, are the dimly seen Knife, the dark wooded ridge behind Lake Chabot, and tree-topped Fairmont Ridge behind the hills of Knowland Park. (1000px)
Your viewing may vary.