Hiking Stats as of 11/12/2019
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Nov 23, 2014 - Marsh Benchmark / Pleasanton Ridge


Partners: (None)

Distance: 12.41 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,630 feet

Trip Time: 4:10

Maps and Stats:
Saturday rains meant yet another week away from the Sierra and a chance to bag some more local peaks. I had three potential trips lined up. #1 would be a series of several short hikes to round up a bunch of easy CC peaks near Oakland, but I did not want to do this one without Kyle. #2 was a trip to Walpert Ridge and Gossip Rock, a 10 mile outing east of Sunol and south of Oakland which would give me 2 CC Peaks. #3 was two separate hikes to Pleasanton Ridge and to Marsh Benchmark, two local highpoints that were not on any peak lists but would offer up 13 miles of hiking in popular hiking areas that I had yet to visit. Kyle wound up making alternate plans for the day, so I opted for #3. Staying local meant that I could walk the dogs Sunday morning before heading out for the hiking, with each of them getting their preferred 3 mile outing.


After the walk I left my house at about 10:45 and drove west on 580 to the North Livermore exit, taking that north towards Morgan Territory Road. I'd been on Morgan Territory Road only once, in August of 2011 back before I was chasing named peaks and was just looking for different areas to hike. That day I did a short hike in the area, although at that time I was recovering from a knee injury and I was actively looking to avoid elevation gain. Today the objective was much different, as I was aiming towards the highest point (just outside the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve). I arrived at the TH at about 11:15 and got started, following a trail in the general direction of the highpoint which was marked with a helpful tower so as to keep the objective nicely in my line of sight. In less than 1 mile I had to leave the trail and followed a very easy, somewhat steep cow trail up the hillside towards the highpoint. To the left was a house, perhaps a third of a mile away. Far enough to not really worry about, but close enough to keep an eye on. It turned out to be easier than I imagined, and was on top of the ridge less than half an hour after starting out. I poked around looking for the benchmark and located it next to some rocks marking the highpoint.

The views were nice, especially towards Diablo, and I could even make out a hint of the Bay from up here. To the east was the Central Valley. I didn't hang out long, but rather than just going back the way I came I decided to try to make a loop of the hike, following the ridgeline until an opportunity to head down and loop back presented itself. It was on this section that I spotted a coyote on the hillside below, seemingly taking it easy on this nice late fall afternoon. He didn't see me, so he just sat there next to a cow, not a worry in the world. I kept walking, and eventually he decided to pursue something more interesting and started walking away. He saw me as I got the last shot, although he didn't seem all that disturbed by my presence.

I located a road that took me downhill, where I came across my only fence crossing of the day. No signage indicated that I was on private property on either side of the fence, although the barbed wire makes me think that I may have been. From here I descended downhill back towards the trees where the coyote had vanished. The trail in this area was much harder to follow, although a much more pleasant walk. There were several spur trails as I neared the TH, but I needed to wrap it up so I could move on to the next destination. The total stats for this hike were 4.5 miles, 1.5 hours and 950 feet of elevation gain.


I drove back down Morgan Territory Road and connected with the 580 west towards Pleasanton, taking the 680 south and exiting at Castlewood. A couple of miles south was the parking lot for the Pleasanton Ridge hike where I arrived at 1:30. I immediately noticed that this area was very popular with mountain bikers, and I'd say that it was nearly a 50/50 mix of bikers and hikers on the trail. I started up, and took the single track trails when possible to avoid the mountain bikes. It seemed that there were always 2 tracks heading in each direction, a wider road for bikes and a more narrow track for hikers. I would have assumed that was their purpose, however, it was not at all unusual for either group to be on either trail. I reached the ridgeline quickly enough, but it is still a few miles of hiking along the top of the ridge to reach the highpoint. The hike itself was okay, nothing to memorable and a bit crowded for my liking but not a bad spot to visit at least once.

I reached the final approach just before 2:45 and found the highpoint after a 2 minute cross country excursion up the hillside to the left. The summit views were blocked by trees in most directions. There was a bench on top for the weary, a tall cairn for the bored, and a hidden geocache (hidden under rocks, but obvious because of the height of the rock pile) I was surprised to see that the geocache was nearly 10 years old, and the register was still in excellent shape. I added my name to the log, and after resting for a couple of minutes got started on the descent.

Although I followed the same direction back, I took the alternate trail (I always stayed on the trail furthest to my left going up and down) and being on this side of the ridge offered superior views to what I had on the way up. I could make out Diablo along with the Marsh BM that I had visited earlier on the day, both much higher up than what I was here on Pleasanton Ridge. I jogged portions of the downhill sections, and arrived back at my car at about 4 PM. The Pleasanton Ridge hike was just short of 8 miles, 2.5 hours and about 1,700 feet of elevation gain. I got back home around 4:45 and treated the dogs to another 2 miles apiece before relaxing for the rest of the day.

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