Ringtail Cat Trail to Madrone Trail Loop

HARD 26 reviews
#6 of 23 trails in

Ringtail Cat Trail to Madrone Trail Loop is a 9.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near San Ramon, California that offers scenic views and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

9.4 miles
2,362 feet

dogs on leash



nature trips

trail running


From San Ramon, take Crow Canyon Rd towards Castro Valley, turning right on Bollinger Canyon Rd. Follow Bollinger Canyon Rd until you reach the Little Hills Ranch Recreational Area. Park at the small parking lot on the right. If you prefer, you can follow Bollinger Canyon Rd to the end and park at the Las Trampas Staging Area, which has a larger parking lot with portable toilets. Instead of starting on the Elderberry Trail, you will start directly on the Rocky Ridge Trail.

2 months ago

To get this trail right, start counter clockwise, and once you are on del amigo trail, make a left on Virgil Williams trail and then a left on madrone all the way to ringtail cat trail.

2 months ago

It’s a great trail. Loved everything about it. Going there towards end of the spring and just before summer, There are several places where the trail was overgrown and it was impossible to see the trail - especially the last part getting back to the fire road. We literally had to guess and pray that we were not stepping on a snake or something else.

9 months ago

Great hike, great views!

10 months ago

Might be the toughest hike in the bay. Definitely the toughest hike my wife ever did with me...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Great hike for Sunday. Don't forget to bring plenty of water and a hat since there isn't much shade.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

We hiked the loop based on the map downloaded from Alltrails and found the trail was totally disappeared at the last part of the loop. That part of the loop was in some one's private property and should not be trespassed. Instead, you should continue on the Madrone trail when it reaches the four way intersection near the end of the hike, and continue to the staging area. Our total distance was 10.4 miles with 2,575 ft elevations. Some trails were still very muddy at this time of the year and it is not recommended for inexperienced hikers.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Trail was incredibly muddy, but still really lovely. Varied terrain, with some stunning vistas of dappled green hills, rock outcroppings, and even far views to the bay.

I will say there were a couple of turns in the route suggested here that were a bit hard to follow, but we still wound up in the right place!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Excellent hike. Not crowded and the view was well worth it. Trail was alittle muddy, but that's to be expected with all the rain we have recently gotten. My dog loved it.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Great trail for the moderate/advanced hiker. Fairly steep inclines and lots of elevation gain may be tougher for beginners. I did this trail the day after some rains, so the trail was a bit slippery in some places.

A good combination of wide open views on the ridge and neat forested passages at lower elevations. Fewer 'cow pies' than some other parks in the regions, but definitely enough that you need to watch your step. Taking the Sulphur Springs trail instead of staying on the ridge adds in some more elevation, but the neat little bathtub springs (see pictures) is worth it.

I did the trail counterclockwise. Importantly, I suggest other hikers continue on the Madrone trail back up on the ridge when they reach the four way intersection near the end of the hike, and continue from there to the parking area. I tried to take the route outlined here and found that the trail totally disappeared. Had to backtrack over a mile back to the intersection to use the ridge instead.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Sunday, August 14, 2016