Oakland, CA: Mt. Wanda, John Muir National Historic Site

Roam the Alahambra Valley hills, where John Muir spent 32 years of his life, enjoying Mt. Wanda's nature trails in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Roam the Alahambra Valley hills, where John Muir spent 32 years of his life, enjoying Mt. Wanda's nature trails in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Walk in the footsteps of John Muir right in the East Bay hills. Mt. Wanda, named after Muir's daughter, was where he spent many hours on "nature walks" with his daughters. BY MELISSA AVERY, Chasqui Mom

Trip Stats
Distance: 2.75 miles
Time: 2 hours 27 minutes (Hiking with Children)
Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes
More Information: National Park Service - John Muir National Historic

Prep
1.
Free Parking at Trailhead and Visitor Center: The trailhead is located at the corner of Alahambra Ave and Franklin Canyon Rd. John Muir NHS Visitor Center is located at 4202 Alhambra Ave., open 7 days a week 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
2. Bring a picnic! On the grounds there are lots of picnic tables and areas to explore.
3. Bring layers for changing bay weather, especially towards Mt. Wanda. e.g. bay winds, fog, to full exposure sun.
4. Visit the John Muir NHS Visitor Center, John Muir's residence, the fruit orchards and the Martinez Adobe.
5. For Families: Junior Ranger program, seasonal Campfire Programs and "Las Posadas Processionals" are held every December.

Explore
Mile 0.0: Start at the Main Fire Road for a steady slight uphill climb and among the oak trees and grasslands. Follow all trail markers.
0.6: Turn right on Nature Trail or take a break at the picnic tables.
0.7: Turn right at the unnamed spur for 75 ft to the picnic table with a sign, (optional). Or continue on Nature Trail for another 0.7 miles; cross two bridges, walk up wooden stairs and enjoy views from trail benches along the way.
1.4: Arrive at the T junction and turn left back onto Main Fire Road for another short uphill climb. Stop along to read John Muir Quotes and Information signs along the way.
1.5: Reach the "1st" Y junction and stay to the right. There are no more trail markers to Mt. Wanda, the trail is not specifically named but is still part of the Main Fire Road.
1.6: Turn left at the "2nd" Y junction for a very slight uphill hike to Mt. Wanda. There is a bench and an information sign at the top. Return back down the spur.
1.8: Stay to the right on the "2nd" Y junction to return to the Main Fire Road.
1.9: Turn right on the Main Fire Road for the 0.85 mile hike back downhill to the parking lot.

NOTE: The John Muir NHS residence/visitor center is not the same location as the Mt. Wanda trailhead, but both locations are within walking distance under the freeway.

Reward
1.
Winter season brings foggy, cool weather to Mt. Wanda whereas Summer temperatures can reach over 100°F . Fog also brings the feeling of solitude and of being far away from the urban life below.
2. The wildflowers on Mt. Wanda are plentiful during Spring time.
3. Roam the land (326 acres preserved) where Muir and his family enjoyed nature and catch a glimpse of how the Bay Area back in his time!

Family Hiking Day
Temp: 55 F, Foggy (Winter)
Who: Two Adults, one young child and one toddler
Family Gear: Two Day Packs, Hiking Poles and a Soft Kid Carrier
Snacks: Water, Fruits and Kid's Squeeze Packs (Picnic Prior to Hike)

Trail Facts

  • State: CA
  • City: Oakland
  • Distance: 0.0
  • Land Type: National Historical Park