Destination Biscuits: Carquinez Strait to Port Costa

So here’s another exciting destination hike for you and your smaller hikers– a hike with beautiful views to DELICIOUS BISCUITS in the middle of the hike! Yes, it exists. It gets better though– there’s also a tree house AND the possibility of beer at a dog-friendly, kitsch-heavy watering hole with a giant polar bear. It’s nirvana on the Carquinez Strait, my friends.

IMG_8854Where is this delightful combination of outdoors and yum, you ask? It starts at the Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline, from the Bull Valley staging area. It’s very important that you find the right staging area, because while the Nejedly Staging Area will get you a tough and beautiful hike, it will not lead to biscuits, and this could be a major disappointment for all involved. If you are with heartier hikers, go in the Bull Valley staging area and then drive down the hill to park at Eckley Pier. (It adds about .5 miles to the maybe 1 mile each way hike– this is not a long hike, although it has some significant up & down.) My hiker this morning is just five years old, so we parked at the top, right when you enter the park.

IMG_8856 (1)Follow the Carquinez Overlook Loop trail until the northernmost end, where you can find an unmarked trail that splits off from the loop and heads down the hill. It is best to pick up a map so you can figure out where this unmarked trail is. Port Costa is historically cagey about advertising its location, and the trails leading down the hill are no exception. If you look on the map, there is a gate that marks the edge of the East Bay Regional Parks, with a trail that continues down the hill, toward the houses. Go through this gate and down the trail to the right. Look for a big oak tree with a tree house in front of you as you come through the gate– if you have hikers who are over about 8 years old, or have enough adults to spot smaller climbers, this is a very cool tree house.

IMG_8867Take the trail down toward the neighborhood. You’ll go by some chairs & a picnic table (with some cool butterflies, according to the five year old) and step over a chain to find yourself on the road in a bunch of houses. When you come to a fork in the road (very soon), take the very steep left that has a dead end at the bottom (big sign that says “END”). There is a walkway on the other side of this sign. Go down the walkway and turn right on the road. You’ll end up in a big parking lot with a chain link fence on one side (separating the lot from the train tracks) and on the other side, the very limited commerce of Port Costa. The building on the right is the Burlington Hotel, home of the Honey House Café. This is your biscuit destination! Apparently, they also have ice cream, but we were there early and so it was biscuit time.

IMG_8860The Honey House Café has a limited menu– as in, there are biscuits and pound cake and bacon. (There might also be cornbread on occasion, but it’s not a guarantee.) The biscuits and pound cake are DELICIOUS, but they are also helping the butter industry stay in business. In other words, this is not vegan fare. If you want a delicious, buttery treat with an excellent cup of pour-over coffee, this is your place. We were satisfied. (Shhh– no one tell the five year old that there was hot cocoa with ganache.)

IMG_8861On the other side of the parking lot is the Warehouse Café, a bar with a decent biker scene that is also family and dog-friendly. Yes, it’s an eclectic mix, but it’s also one of my favorite places in the Bay Area, because where else can you find a taxidermied polar bear along with a ridiculous number of bottled beers?

Anyway, cautions about this hike are as follows: if you are going to do this hike in the summer, best get started early. It’s hot. I considered taking the dog because Port Costa is one of the most dog-friendly locales I have ever been in, but the heat made me question if she’d enjoy it. If you do decide to bring the dog, there is a very tiny garden (one table tiny) outside the café, so be forewarned about finding a place for the dog to hang out while you are having your delicious biscuit, or perhaps ask to take your biscuits to go. (If you opt for beer over a biscuit, there is plenty of outdoor, dog-friendly seating at the Warehouse.) If you read the sign closely, it’s also closed M-F, so this is a weekend-only destination.

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