Until this week, I didn’t know how much gratitude I owed Mr. Hulet Hornbeck. The sign below marks the head of a commemorative trail at Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline — a park in the vast and lovely East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD).

When Hornbeck began his tenure as Chief of Land Acquisition for EBRPD in 1965, just 13 parks comprised the park district, a sum of 13,000 acres. By the time he retired in 1985, the district’s land holdings included 46 parks — a total of 62,000 acres. In 2009, the year of EBRPD’s 75th anniversary, the district encompasses 65 parks and more than 98,000 acres.

Hulet Hornbeck Trail - ©ingridtaylar

Hulet Hornbeck Trail – ©ingridtaylar

History of East Bay Parks

If you’re interested, the parks website has an excellent timeline of the district’s history and pre-history. The network of protected lands we know today began with the vision of a 22-mile-long “Grand Park” stretching from Lake Chabot to Wildcat Canyon. Any of us who travel and hike the variations in East Bay terrain appreciate what our conservation vanguards accomplished in the way of wilderness preservation — for us, of course, but also for the inherent value of the parks and lands themselves. You need only look meters to adjacent subdivisions to recognize what this area could have been without the diligence of our parks pioneers.

The Hornbeck Trail is a short but steady climb to the Franklin Ridge Loop — fifteen minutes to a half hour, depending on your speed. When you reach the ridge at the top, this is the payoff: a panorama of Carquinez Strait and Martinez below, with the region’s rural, urban, and industrial sharing the landscape. That, and a herd of leery cows. (A click on the image will take you to a larger version at Flickr.)

Carquinez Strait Panorama

View of Carquinez Strait from Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline – ©ingridtaylar

One of the park’s grazing cows, with the backdrop of Martinez refineries. The Shell refinery has been the subject of emissions problems and penalties but that’s another post entirely.

Cow at Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline - ©ingridtaylar

Cow at Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline – ©ingridtaylar