To the north of Dutra Ranch lies Gustin Ranch – 80 acres of thick woods and grass-covered hills, offering sweeping views of the Carquinez Strait, Mt. Diablo and the Sierra. This gorgeous property was on the verge of being subdivided, with plans to pave historic Feeder Trail #1 and turn it into a road for homeowner access. John Muir Land Trust stepped in to acquire Gustin Ranch in 2002, forever protecting the popular multi-use trail and leaving both land and wildlife intact.
Collectively, Gustin Ranch, Sky Ranch and Dutra Ranch offer 480 acres of contiguous open space along the spectacular Franklin Ridge, providing permanent wildlife protection to several threatened, endangered and special status animal species including the golden eagle, Cooper's hawk and Alameda whipsnake. Blue oak, coast live oak, valley oak and California black oak cover the properties, while native grasses and wildflowers, including the rare Mt. Diablo sunflower, are abundant. An integral portion of the 550-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail traverses these ranches, as do the Alhambra and Rodeo creek watersheds, supporting the threatened California red-legged frog and the western pond turtle. Many large and small mammals, songbirds and raptors also thrive here.
You can begin your visit to Gustin Ranch on the Feeder Trail, which crosses Franklin Creek under the shade of bay laurel trees before winding up the ridge. Elevation gain up to the Sky Ranch Kiosk is 700 feet. Extend your hike via the Tina Batt Trail (3 miles) through grasslands and oak for extensive views of the region. From the kiosk you can also take the Dutra Loop Trail (2.5 miles) through the canyon or simply return down the Feeder Trail (1 mile) to your starting point. Dogs and horses are welcome!
From Highway 4 eastbound: Exit Alhambra Avenue. Turn right onto Alhambra Avenue. Make your first right onto Franklin Canyon Road.
From Highway 4 westbound: Exit Alhambra Avenue. Turn left onto Alhambra Avenue. Turn right onto Franklin Canyon Road.
Then: Continue on Franklin Canyon Road for one mile. Turn left onto Dutra Road. The trailhead marked “Contra Costa County Feeder Trail #1” is on the left about one-tenth of a mile up the road. Watch for the yellow “END” sign on the left and park on the left side of the trailhead, just before the Franklin Canyon Stables. The Feeder Trail leads a mile up to the gate at the entrance of the Sky Ranch property. The Sky Ranch Kiosk is there, with signs and a map.