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116. Round Top & Huckleberry Loops (04/17/99)

Hikers (10): Beth, Cindy, Eugene, Geoff, Jane M, Peter, Pistol Pete, Russ, Sean, Steve
Distance: 6 miles
Rating: 2 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Sibley/Huckleberry Regional Preserves in the Berkeley Hills

Write-up by Steve

Volcanoes are inherently cool, but Lassen Volcanic National Park is about 150 miles northeast and out of INCH's typical range (but we will go there some day!). Fortunately, the Bay Area has its own volcanoes right in the Berkeley foothills. Who knew? Judging by the respectable turnout of ten, volcanoes aren't just for kids. Not everyone was there for Sibley Volcanic Regional Park, however: Beth saw that we were also going into nearby Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve and, since "huckleberry" is fun to say, she could hardly wait.

In an unexpected show of hiking enthusiasm, Russell, only two weeks after the knee-popping bovine encounter, showed up. Our first goal was the top of Round Top, the highest point in Sibley and what was originally inside the volcano (the outsides had eroded away, and the whole thing has tilted on its side over the past 10 million years). This was quickly achieved after a little effort and, like most high points in the Bay Area, the top was adorned with radio towers and satellite dishes (and Eugene probably rued about forgetting his lock pick). Not much of a view from there, so we quickly headed down.

After Round Top we went back down the same path and sallied off into Huckleberry Preserve on the Bay Ridge Trail. We found the Huckleberry Trail and just started following it because we did not have a real map and the name sounded reasonable. The trail was supposed to be guided, with little numbers corresponding to exciting botanical details. Unfortunately, with no map, we could only look in the general vicinity of the numbers for interesting flora. Not too far into the Preserve, which had some pretty good climbs, Russell realized that he could go on no farther and headed back for the car (clearly he only came on the hike to prevent dropping behind in the leaf count).

When we rejoined the major trail (Skyline), Peter declared that he had to turn around and go back because he had to look at a house. So THAT'S why we zipped up to Round Top without exploring the rest of Sibley: The Man was on a schedule! I recommended that Peter (and Eugene, who was returning with him) take Skyline back, but the knuckleheads would not believe that it headed right back into Sibley. Instead they backtracked the entire Huckleberry Trail.

The rest of us, being more adventurous, decided to see the rest of the preserve. That turned out to be an easy feat. We hiked about a mile farther and found ourselves on a residential street, We had lunch near the roadside and determined (from the low-detail map off the web) that we had actually gone through the entire Regional Preserve (although never found the guided-tour map). We turned around and headed back (wisely taking the Skyline Trail) and after a few mostly downhill miles were back in Sibley again (after many verses of Beth's one-lyric "Huckleberry" song).

We really hadn't seen much of the volcanic coolness within the confines of Sibley, so after a quick vote, everyone except Cindy (who hadn't made a conflicting date for a change) and Jane decided to go on for a quick 1.5 mile loop. The Round Top Loop trail took us by a few cool volcanic formations (which were nicely described in the map literature). We were surprised to see beautiful rolling green hills, and even more surprised to run across some hikers carrying a volleyball and net. It looked like they were going to be out of luck unless they enjoy chasing errant shots down hills.

Upon reaching the parking lot we found Russ, who had been intrepid (or bored) enough to explore most of Sibley (which is flat save the Round Top). Overall this was a pretty enjoyable hike, with lots of neat things to see and read about (except in Huckleberry). I'd recommend the easy hikes around Sibley for elderly parents and those recovering from residual bovine-collision injuries.

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