The highest point in Oakland

I have believed — and what’s worse, repeated — that Oakland’s highest point is Grizzly Peak. In fact, the highest point within the city limits is Chaparral Peak, an eminence so subtle you can barely tell it’s there.

Let’s look at the 1959 topo map of the high Berkeley Hills. Everything south of the county line is in Oakland.

Grizzly Peak stands out, at approximately 1745 feet. Figures differ, so don’t quote me on that. But Chaparral Peak definitely rises above the 1760 foot contour, making it a hair over one-third of a mile above the Bay. Here’s the mountaintop, such as it is.

It’s Oakland’s largest exposure of the Bald Peak Basalt, which extends from here beyond Vollmer Peak.

Chaparral Peak is the heart of Frowning Ridge, a name we don’t use much (and I’m not sure we ever did). Frowning Ridge is an ill-defined set of peaks and eminences running from Grizzly Peak to Chaparral Peak and then down Siesta Valley where it’s cut off by a fault. This is the view upridge to Grizzly Peak. Mount Tam is in back, on the left.

And this is the view southeast to the Oakland Hills.

Round Top is in the center, against the sky, and exactly in front of it is Barberry Peak. On the right rises a nameless hill, topped by a large installation, where the county line goes. I think of these as affiliated with Gudde Ridge, on the south side of Route 24, because they line up with it.

Both ridges reflect the presence of volcanic rock units. Frowning Ridge is held up by the Bald Peak Basalt and Gudde Ridge (and its northern affiliates) by the Moraga Formation.

Here’s one more view, this time due east across the far flank of Siesta Valley to Mount Diablo.

The Mount Diablo Base Line, the master line for land surveys in most of northern California and all of Nevada, runs right through Chapparal Peak. That’s the red line on the map, with Township 1 North and 1 South on either side of it.

3 Responses to “The highest point in Oakland”

  1. mpetrof Says:

    Not a location that many would think of as being in Oakland. Its on the upper part of the U.C. campus. I, as I, not being totally familiar with much of Oakland, commonly do with your posts had to pull out a street map to figure out where you were referring to. But the results are fascinating. Thanks also for the Related posts. That tiny triangle of Oakland N. of campus is quite the surprise. My guess is that most people think that the Claremont Hotel is in Berkeley too. Anyway, to move beyond geography to geology I’m off to the related posts. Thank you.

  2. Arleen Feng Says:

    I suspect Grizzly Peak got the honor because the actual summit of Chaparral Peak is in Contra Costa County & Oakland just gets partway up the slope. Nice to know the name when I drive by -it’s distinguished by sometimes having a little clot of fog on the east side when the rest of the road is clear.

  3. Clint B Says:

    I’m glad i found this post! It inspired a hike that I just published on my new hiking journal. Thank you!

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