Saint John’s Mountain


This run was the second part of my recon for a North Bay traverse. I’ve run this route completely once before, and parts of it several times. This time I wanted to follow a new trail I’ve found and figure out the best way to link several sections of trail through private properties without causing too much trouble.

The run started where the Vallejo Ridge ended, on Lake Herman Road and the south-east corner of the Blue Rock Springs Golf Course. Because “No Parking” signs exist everywhere parking would be best along Lake Herman Road, I ended up parking in a gravel pull-out directly across from the main entrance to the quarry.

I walked back to the corner of the golf-course and made my first route-finding decision. Do I run along a dirt road that follows the fence on the quarry side of the property, or do I enter the golf course and follow the fence along that side? I picked the golf course, since I didn’t know where the road actually went or what kind of traffic would be on it.

The golf course was not fun. The cart track follows the fence for much of the east side of the property, and what looked like adequate trees to screen my presence were in fact few and sparse. I ended up walking the course since I thought a runner would provoke more questions, until I finally reached the north-east corner and climbed over the fence. To my humor the road followed the fence almost all the way around the east side of the course, and I probably could have run along that side in 15 minutes with no hassle. A note for next time.

From the north-east corner of the course, the climb to the top of Blue Rock was quick. On a previous run I found a trail leading north-west from the park along the western slopes of Sulphur Spring Mountain, and I was curious where it went. So this time I followed it, and found a great trail, built intentionally for foot traffic. The trail ended, suddenly, at St. John’s Mine Road, so I started to follow the road into the valley behind, where I knew open fields would lead to the Saint Johns Mountain Trail (or Hiddenbrooke trail). The road ended at several gates, and I picked the one that I could see led to my trail system, and followed a pair of dirt roads that switched back up the slope before ending right at the trail.

Once I gained the trail the run became very normal, and I ran the final miles north heading to the Park & Ride lot at American Canyon and I-80, where I had locked a bicycle beforehand. A bike path follows I-80 back to Columbus Parkway, and bike lanes led all the way back to Lake Herman Road and my car.

Conclusion: The route from Vallejo Ridge to Blue Rock Springs Park is still a grey area. Running through the Golf Course is impossible, but running through the quarry is blatant trespassing. An alternative route may exist just east of the quarry, running north up Sky Valley. The trail between Blue Rock Springs Park and St. John’s Mine Road is fantastic, but mis-leading. On my way home I spotted a similar trail leading from the now-closed Columbus Parkway fire station – perhaps they connect? Anyways, another route that I’ve run before crosses open fields and stays farther away from properties (something that property-owners like). This wrinkle is going to have to be re-examined later to determine the best way.

Statistics: Saint John’s Mountain. 6.7 miles total, 0.6 miles on pavement, 0.9 miles across the golf course, only 0.1 mile of actual cross-country, and 5.1 miles of maintained trails or dirt road. 1260 feet elevation gained, 1190 feet loss. 1:13 minutes.
Return to car by bicycle, 5.5 miles. 780 feet elevation gained, 820 feet loss. 28 minutes.

DISCLAIMER: You should always get the owner’s permission to cross their property, especially if “No Trespassing” signs exist. Otherwise you should run fast and don’t get caught.

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