Be a considerate neighbor when you visit! This trail is one of my kids’ favorites.
Bridgeview Trail in Oakland offers a whimsical 1.4-mile hike punctuated with the most charming and unique little rustic “trolls” hiding along the way. My four kids (ages 2, 4, 7, and 9) and I had so much fun ambling along the mostly flat and lush forested trail looking for the mischievous homemade sculptures.
There’s something truly special about the oddball trolls peppered among the majestic redwoods and dripping vines that makes this small hike much grander and more exciting for children. While there is a bit of highway noise, a good amount of fellow hikers, and plenty of dogs, Bridgeview Trail is a truly delightful outing to engage your family’s imagination.
Where to Find Bridgeview Trail
Bridgeview Trail runs along Dimond Canyon and Sausal Creek right next to Montclair Golf Course. You can begin your hike on either end of the trail, either at the Bridgeview Trailhead or at the Monterey Blvd. upper trailhead (my phone’s GPS got me there without issue). The Bridgeview Trailhead is at a dead-end of a residential neighborhood and offers an approachable, flat entrance. This is the way we chose to enter and we didn’t have any trouble finding parking (please don’t block driveways!).
The Monterey Blvd. entrance is just past the Montclair Golf Course. Look for the brown sign on the right side of the street and walk down the trail and follow it around. You’ll encounter steep stairs down to the creek pretty quickly, and then you’ll need to climb back up the stairs on the other side as well (don’t miss the troll called Quincy hanging out by the creek!).
If you have very small children, you may prefer to enter on the Bridgeview Trailhead side and skip the stairs altogether (there are plenty of trolls to find before getting to the stairs if you go that way). But for many, wearing galoshes right into the creek or dropping sticks into it will be a highlight.
Bridgeview Trail Trolls
The Bridgeview Trolls are a collection of 18+ quirky art installations hidden in plain view along the hiking path that started appearing in the autumn of 2020. You can check out the Bridgeview Trail Troll Facebook Page for more details about the inspiration behind each one. More of these darling art installations are planned to be added in the future and some are removed or damaged by weather, animals, and humans.
There is also a handy map, frequently updated, which we printed out and brought with us. There are occasionally maps available in the little plastic box on the trail sign at the switchback near the beginning of the trail, however it was empty when we went. I highly recommend printing a map since these shy little trolls blend in quite well with the forest.
Bridgeview Trail for Kids of All Ages
The 1.4 mile out and back hike is mostly flat and approachable for children ages 5+. There are fairly steep and uneven stairs on the Monterey Blvd. entrance, and many steep edges along the trail that aren’t fenced off. My two-year-old absolutely adored discovering the hidden trolls, but she was unsteady on her feet with lots of tripping and falling. I carried her for a lot of the hike, and the stairs were a no-go. The trail is not stroller-friendly, so for smaller children, you may want to bring a backpack carrier if you’re going to give it a try.
My four-year-old was fine for almost the entire adventure, but lagged towards the end (he did ask to go back again as soon as we got home though). My seven- and nine-year-olds ran ahead to find all the trolls first. They were full-tilt leaning hard into the whimsical nature of the hike, and even brought swords to aid them in their troll hunt. It was so nice to be on a hike where all the kids were engaged and enjoying themselves.
Big note about dogs: this is a popular path for dog walkers and hikers. Some dogs were not on a leash. Keep that in mind if you have dog-sensitive children.
Oh and the swings! There are some somewhat rickety swings not too far past the upper stairs on the Monterey Blvd. entrance side. Older kids will love them. Younger kids will fall off of them (mine did). Don’t forget to look up, too! There are two trolls watching over the area.
For Whitney’s extended family, with kids ranging from 5 to 17, the rope swings were a must-do, and at least one thirty-seven-year-old was particularly gung-ho about testing each of them.
What to Bring On your Bridgeview Trail Troll Quest
- Print out the Troll Map and carry it with you
- Sturdy shoes or galoshes if you are comfortable with creek-stomping
- Backpack carrier for younger kids
- Be prepared for no restrooms
- Pretty much all in the shade, though a hat can never hurt
- Water and snacks
- Swords, just in case
The Bottom Line on Bridgeview Trail
If you’re looking for a fun and easy little hike with a dusting of magic to excite your kids to get out of the house, Bridgeview Trail is a terrific option. The anticipation of knowing there might be a troll waiting just around the bend makes the short hike much more than a boring old slog that mom is forcing everyone to take.
To avoid stairs, park at the Bridgeview Trailhead side and turn back when you see the stairs (there are plenty of trolls to find before getting to the stairs if you go that way).
Due to limited parking on Bridgeview Drive, Monterey Boulevard is strongly encouraged for those able to handle stairs.