How does this work?
Berkeley, California, United States

Quarry Trail and Big Springs Trail

A loop traversing open grassy ridges and forested pathways in Tilden Regional Park

Viewed 42473 times
    This guide contains photos
 (4 votes, 2 reviews)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.5 miles / 5.6 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Overview: The trail that loops from Quarry trailhead in Tilden Regional Park traverses open grassy ridges and forested pathways in the East Bay Regional Park District above Berkeley, California.

These trails and TrailPhotos offer spectacular unfettered ridgetop vistas over the Bay towards San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge to the west, and over scenic reservoirs and hills of Contra Costa County to the east, with frequently stunning sunset color unfolding on both sides.

The Guide covers a 3.5 mile loop trip along hillside trails (Quarry and Big Springs), and on the Seaview ridge trail. In nearby proximity are several variations of this loop, and other fine trails as well.

Tips: This trail loop can be made during all seasons in the mild northern California climate. Winters can be cool, wet and muddy on the trails, but warm dry spells can arrive even in winter to make for sunny and crisp outings.

Summer fog can at times obscure the views, but this also is variable and more typical early and late in the day. Seaview is a particularly popular trail in the best of weather, but aside from weekend middays, you'll not often be accompanied by crowds.

There is total climbing of about a thousand feet to the top of the ridge, which is retraced on the loop trail back to the beginning. This starts around 1,000 feet, up to about 1,600 feet, with some up and down along the way accounting for the total gain. While generally moderate, there are a few stretches of steeper climbing that may call for a rest, even among active hikers.

There is no entry charge or parking fee at this location, and just a little further up Wildcat Canyon Road is a large parking area for the Inspiration Point viewshed.

Points of Interest


Quarry Trailhead and Elevation Profile

The Quarry trailhead parking lot has space for about 10-20 vehicles, and includes a small grassy picnic area. It is located near a bend in Wildcat Canyon Road in Tilden Park as you arrive from the west on the road towards Inspiration Point.

The Elevation Profile image attached shows this trail's elevation changes in feet over the course of this loop route - click to see it in a larger, sharper image. Numbers above the elevation profile line represent the rough location of each attached Point of Interest / TrailPhoto within the route.

Big Springs Trail bay view

From the Quarry picnic area parking lot, begin the trail on the right side of the picnic area. At the first junction, continue onto Quarry Trail, bearing right along a gentle uphill slope.

Continue up through the grassy hillside along Quarry Trail, to a four way junction with Big Springs Trail.  

Here you traverse onto Big Springs Trail, bearing upward and to your right, continuing along in the same general direction. After a short climb, you reach a trail leveling.

At this POI, the San Francisco Bay is showing behind you as you continue along. Big Springs trail then ascends a bit more.

After this, the trail descends gradually downhill, mostly through a mix of pine trees and evergreens. Pass a Eucalyptus tree grove as you continue down. The trail merges again with Quarry trail near the bottom of the hill. Here, exit the trail across a small parking area.

Scenic contrast on Big Springs Trail

Re-enter Big Springs Trail through a fire road trail heading upward at the other side of this parking area.

Now your climb steepens, winding its way through trees and open views nearing the ridge top. Looking back down the trail, a few deep green trees and bushes stand out boldly against the dry Fall grasses at a twist in the trail.

Just around the bend from this POI, another curve in the trail takes you past more trees near the top.

Reaching the Seaview Trail junction

At last, after climbing the final few bends, you reach the Seaview ridgeline trail. Prepare for the unveiling of the upcoming grand views!

At the Seaview Trail, bear left as you begin heading north again. This POI is at the junction where Big Springs trail (heading down on the right) meets with Seaview trail.
The trail will now begin to offer views both east and west of the ridge - welcome rewards on the return stretch.

First wide open view of San Pablo Dam Reservoir

The initial views over the ridge to the east start shortly after entering the Seaview trail. Much of the ridge is wide open, so the vistas come easily.

A long expanse of San Pablo Dam Reservoir is one of the first of many such unfolding scenes, at this POI. Afternoon shadows creep over the foreground, as the lowering sunlight brings a rich golden tint to the distant autumn hills. 

San Francisco view

While the east side of the Seaview ridge harbors shadows and pastels of the setting sun, the west side displays the intense hues from the coming sunset itself.

Having traveled roughly a third of a mile further along the trail, you now see San Francisco appear westward in the distance, framed by the Tilden Park woodlands near a picnic stop.

From here, the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and the city skyscrapers beyond can be observed, blanketed now in a golden sky.

View before descending from Seaview ridge

Again a short distance later, a bend down the trail brings another view to the east. This provides a different glimpse of San Pablo Dam Reservoir, a fine spot for a pause, in the further reddening tones of the late afternoon.

Two reservoirs in sight to the east

The trail travels now in a generally downward trend, as you've passed the ridgetop apex and continue back towards the starting point.

As the peak sunset colors approach, the trail continues with its stunning viewscapes. This POI captures a full view of the two main reservoirs on the eastern side (Briones and San Pablo Dam).  

Tequila sunset over the Golden Gate

Continue now down past intermittent forest cover, still high enough along the ridge for views but only as the clearings permit.

Not a bad trail at all, when you have a clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Angel Islands, and Marin County beyond! Capped off in a tequila hued sunset, captured at this viewpoint.

Continue on the Seaview Trail at this point, but approaching its last straightaway. Soon the trail bends downward to the west, as you proceed back towards the trailhead.

Pass an intersection with Big Springs Trail, but continue straight down on Seaview. The last trail segment joins with Quarry trail to reach the staging area, and you can proceed straightaway for the most direct last leg.
Pictures in this guide taken by: MapSnaps, MapSnaps

Great trail run! We went the other direction, up the Sea View trail from the parking lot, across the ridge, returning on the Big Springs trail. Fantastic views east and west, great forest and ridge-top environment. Some sections are steep, both up and down. One warning, this is old (10 million years) volcanic rock--part of the Moraga formation--overlaid by sedimentary, so any exposed rock fractures and becomes lots of small rocks on the trail. When running in some areas, especially downhill, slow down a bit and take care of your foot placement to prevent falls.
Visited on Dec 29, 2014

by marksb on Dec 29, 2014
This trail has one of the nicest views of the nearby hills and SF Bay. Best time for views from the trail is early Spring or Fall when there is less chance of summer fog over the bay.

by trailbird on Feb 10, 2011

Quarry Trail and Big Springs Trail Trail Map

POIs: numbers | icons View large Trail Map

Have an iPhone or Android?

  • Map your route while you move
  • Add trip photos to your map instantly
  • Share trips right from your phone
  • Find and follow trips from other travelers

Available For:
iPhone | Android

About the Author

2 guides
view MapSnaps's profile
MapSnaps (at is a small firm dedicated to creating high quality photographs and maps,...

Quarry Trail and Big Springs Trail 3 Day Forecast

Extended Forecast
How To Get There
Get directions from: