This loop features nice ridgetop views on mostly shaded trails with an optional steep out-and-back plus more options for longer rides through one of the quieter corners of the East Bay.
Starting at the north end of the Bort Meadow parking area and heading in a northwest direction, the ride is a gradual climb along a ridgetop on a wide fire road. The trail peaks in a little over a mile at the junction with the Parkridge Drive trail access.
Past this junction, the trail levels a bit to a viewpoint bench looking east before beginning a steep descent to the north end at MacDonald Staging Area. It drops 500-ft. in a stair-step fashion in less than a mile. Keep in mind that there are no loop options so the only way to return is to climb back up with grades around 20%.
One option is to turn around at the viewpoint and continue this loop on Parkridge Drive Trail
access, which passes through a neighborhood then connects with Skyline Blvd. Turning left, follow Skyline for about a half mile and look for the Oakland City Stables entrance on the left, across from Cathy Lane.
The Goldenrod Trail
starts a short distance up the driveway. Heading south after a short, steep climb, the trail is a smooth and fast fire road. This section is between two equestrian centers so watch for horses and manure piles. The trail winds through oak woodlands for a couple miles with some views to the east before reaching the Chabot Equestrian Center.
This loop heads down the Horseshoe Trail
(steep!) to the Brandon Trail
to return to Bort Meadow, but if the steep north end of MacDonald Trail
was skipped, continue south on Goldenrod Trail
to the Jackson Grade: Brandon and Goldenrod connector
or all the way to Lake Chabot.
Either way, both the Brandon Trail
and Grass Valley Trail
lead back to the Bort Meadow staging area.