Trail of the Week 32: Francisco to Tulare Path (#2)

Looking west

Looking west [TJ Gehling]

When building in the hills, the rigid grid lines that characterize street layout in the flat lands are abandoned for the gentle curve of the topographic contour. This often makes for a more interesting walk, since you are forever rounding a corner to a new vista. But finding a minimal route between two points can become an exercise in complex geographic calculus. Take for instance the problem for a resident of Francisco Street on the northern edge of El Cerrito. In order to visit a neighbor on Mira Vista, little more than 150 ft west, you might have to walk twice that distance east, than south to Barrett before walking almost 500 feet west to Mira Vista. And there is still the walk north on Mira Vista to your destination. That 150 feet west has become 1400 feet and you’ve walked in every cardinal direction. Good for your heart, it not for your schedule. But wait, what is that between those two houses? That narrow gap? Why it is the minimizing function of our problem, know to us as this week’s trail, the Francisco to Tulare Path.

Up from Tulare [TJ Gehling]

Up from Tulare [TJ Gehling]

This is the second trail on our list, and fittingly, the second most northerly after La Honda Way. The city limits are just 300 feet to the north. Like many trails, the Francisco to Tulare Path can be seen as a continuation of a street, in this case Charles St. to the west. The last, mostly easterly, section of Francisco completes a fairly straight route from Sonoma St to Carquienez, a distance of just over a quarter mile. And anyone along the route can use it as an alternative to Barrett for reaching Tassajara Park, which is just across Barrett from Carquinez.

The stairway to Francisco [TJ Gehling]

The stairway to Francisco [TJ Gehling]

The route exists in two segments:  a inclined path from Tulare to Mira Vista, and a somewhat steeper stairway from Mira Vista to Francisco. The first begins between 2626 and 1628 Tulare, with a white picket fence on one side and a hedge on the other. It rises about 25 feet in elevation over its greater than 200 foot length. At Mira Vista there is an almost imperceptible dogleg to the left before you begin your ascent of the stairway between 2621 and 2625. The stairs rise about 30 feet over a length of 150 feet and exit on to Francisco between 2637 and 2641. Turning left will take you into Richmond and eventually to Hazel Ave. just above the entrance to Mira Vista Elementary School. Alternatively, turning right will take you quickly to Carquinez, and if you wish, on to Tasajara Park.

Storyland [TJ Gehling]

Storyland [TJ Gehling]

The pictures accompanying this post were taken on Dave Weinstein’s recent “Storybook Homes” hike. If you couldn’t make that hike, or the previous hike in 2012, the area is a wonderland of interesting architecture. Dave produced a guide for those who would like to explore this area on their own. One person who did make the recent hike was Trekker board member Mark Miner, and via the wonders of modern technology he live tweeted it as we went along. Some of his pictures are posted here. You can also follow the Trail Trekkers on Twitter here.

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