The smaller creeks of Leona Heights

Last week I lingered over Leona Creek, in the Leona Heights area, but there are three other streams in the land between Horseshoe Creek and Chimes Creek. I’ll label them on the watershed map from 1 to 3, putting the numerals where they enter culverts.

Creek 1 passes through the old Crusher Quarry grounds, now occupied by houses, so I’ll call it Crusher Creek. This is the best view I can find of its catchment, looking across Mountain Boulevard up Bermuda Avenue to the quarry’s old working face. The headwaters are to the right, and I haven’t explored there yet.

Behind me, the creek emerges in a steep gulch that passes around the old Chabot Observatory (now a school), then disappears under route 13.

At the moment it’s all dry, so I can’t tell what shape Crusher Creek’s water is in. Probably not so good, considering the amount of sulfuric acid being weathered out of the old quarry leaving all that red iron oxide behind.

Under the freeway Crusher Creek joins the orange water from the Leona Sulfur Mine, seen here where Leona Creek enters its culvert at Twitter Court.

Creek 2 comes down next to Rusting Avenue, so I’ll call it Rusting Creek. This is not to prejudice its water quality, which is good where I’ve seen it. This view shows the entrance to its culvert at Mountain Boulevard, looking up its catchment.

Higher up, just above Mountain View Avenue, the streambed displays the variety of rock that comes from the Leona volcanics, in a spectrum from nearly white and greenish-gray to dark red.

Here are two hunks of the pristine rock with a piece between them of the ocher crust that forms on top of it after centuries of weathering.

Creek 3 has a fire road up its valley, behind a gate at the end of Leona Street, that used to be called Russell Avenue, so this is Russell Creek. It’s worth an outing, as long as you park down the road and walk in quietly. However, at the top the fire road ends at a locked gate on Ridgemont Drive, and you’ll have to walk back down. I can attest that trying anything else is foolhardy.

Here’s the view down from near the top. At the lower left you can see the fire road, which ends next to the house at the far left. (Russell Avenue appears on Apple Maps, but not Google Maps. Trust Google on this one.)

The rocks exposed along the fire road show the full range of the Leona volcanics.

Close up, they’re quite colorful with their oxide skins, and there are many fine oaks and vistas along the way. This may be Oakland’s best trail you never heard of.

Finally, from Leona Road you can take a fire road to the former Leona Quarry, now called “Monte Vista Villas at Leona Quarry” and filling up with townhomes. I can’t easily describe how to access it except to recommend you take it first from the other end, at the entrance to the development next to this fine wall made of quarry boulders.

It leads along the freeway and ends at a nameless spur off of Leona Road.

The stroll is nice, if you ignore the freeway noise, and you’ll see that the hillsides here, which look so tempting from a distance or from the seat of a car stuck in traffic, are quite inaccessible. Stay on the path.

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