East Bay Trails Hiking Trails in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties  by David Weintraub

East Bay Trails: Hiking Trails in Alameda & Contra Costa Counties Guide Book

by David Weintraub (Wilderness Press)
East Bay Trails Hiking Trails in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties  by David Weintraub
The East Bay offers a diverse array of hiking opportunities, from the scenic shoreline of Point Pinole, to the furrowed foothills and windy summit of Mt. Diablo, to trails that are home to the flourishing bird and plant life on Pleasanton Ridge and at Livermore's Lake Del Valle. East Bay Trails is the ideal guide to the best trips in and around the area's ridges, shores, wilderness areas, lakes, and reservoirs. Here you'll find: new trips in Lime Ridge Open Space, Diablo Foothills Regional Park, and Round Valley Regional Preserve; detailed descriptions of each trip, plus updated maps, trips ranging from mile-long strolls to rigorous all-day treks, plus a few long hikes with overnight options; and an appendix of the best hikes for any mood or desire, whether it's bird-watching, scenic vistas, waterfalls, or an easy trip for the kids.

© 2005 David Weintraub/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "East Bay Trails: Hiking Trails in Alameda & Contra Costa Counties" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 56.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 56.

If you have only a few hours to spend in this wonderful preserve, consider this loop as an introduction to some of the attractions that make visiting here worthwhile: beautiful scenery, diverse plant life, and a reminder of the area’s not-so-distant past as a thriving coal-mining district. This trip can easily be combined with a visit to historic Rose Hill Cemetery. (Numbers in boldface in the route description refer to sites on the EBRPD map and accompanying text.) From the south end of the parking area, pass a gate and continue uphill on the Nortonville Trail, a paved road, for about 200 feet to a level area and a junction, left, with the Stewartville Trail, a dirt road. Turn left and begin walking uphill on a moderate grade that soon levels, heading southeast through open country. This part of the preserve has native trees common to inland areas of the East Bay—gray pine, blue oak, California buckeye—along with nonnatives brought in by early settlers, including eucalyptus, black locust, tree of heaven, and peppertree, a transplant from Peru with aromatic leaves and pink, peppercorn-like fruit.
Antioch, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
This semi-loop, using the Nortonville and Black Diamond trails, takes you through in one of the East Bay’s most remote, beautiful, and historic parks. The lands here were part of California’s largest coal-mining area, active from the 1860s through the early 1900s. On the edge of the Central Valley, the preserve is best enjoyed during cool weather, but the trails do get very muddy during wet weather. In late winter and spring, wildflowers abound here, and it is during this time, before the trees and shrubs leaf out, that the preserve’s numerous birds are easiest to spot. (Numbers in boldface in the route description refer to sites on the EBRPD map and accompanying text.)
Antioch, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
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Following the Stewartville and Ridge trails past Star Mine and the Stewartville town site is like stepping back in time, when this area echoed with the clang of pick and shovel as eager miners tried to pry coal loose from the surrounding rocks. The Old West is evident here in other ways too, as you walk through grassy valleys dotted with grazing cows or contemplate sweeping vistas from high ridgetops. Parts of this route may be extremely muddy in wet weather. (Numbers in oldface in the route description refer to sites on the EBRPD map and accompanying text.) From the south end of the parking area, pass a gate and continue uphill on the Nortonville Trail, a paved road, for about 200 feet to a level area and a junction, left, with the Stewartville Trail, a dirt road. Turn left and begin walking uphill on a moderate grade that soon levels, heading southeast through open country.
Antioch, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.6
This rambling loop, which includes parts of the Homestead Valley, Briones Crest, Table Top, Mott Peak, and Black Oak trails, offers a great introduction to the south half of this expansive, 6117-acre park, an area of rolling hills, high ridges, and forested canyons. The rewards for climbing along the Briones Crest include spring wildflowers and 360-degree views. Part of this scenic loop follows a route named for Ivan Dickson, a dedicated member of the Berkeley Hiking Club and park enthusiast who, upon his death in 1993 at age 95, left a surprise bequest of $500,000 to the regional park district. The yearly interest on this account is used for trail maintenance programs involving groups, organizations, and individuals.
Orinda, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.8
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This loop, which includes all or parts of the Diablo View, Spengler, Old Briones Road, Pine Tree, Orchard, and Alhambra Creek trails, gives you a chance to explore the East Bay’s largest developed regional park, an area of deep wooded canyons, forested slopes, oak savannas, and open, grassy ridges. The varied habitat attracts a large variety of birds, from chickadees to golden eagles. The plant life along this route is equally diverse, with a wide range of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. From the southeast corner of the parking area, pass through a gate next to an information board, turn immediately left onto the Diablo View Trail, a dirt road, and follow it gently uphill. Another dirt road, heading straight from the gate, is the Alhambra Creek Trail, part of your return route. This is open, rolling country, the realm of grassland and oak savanna. Soon after leaving the parking area, you pass the Tavan Trail, left, and now the slope changes to moderate as you ascend via well-graded S-bends toward the top of a ridge, where a fine view of Mt. Diablo awaits. Along the way, you pass the Hidden Pond Trail, left, a dirt road. From the ridgetop you also can see Concord, Highway 4, and the west delta.
Martinez, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
This pleasant out-and-back walk on EBMUD land, using the Bear Creek Trail, skirts the south and east shores of Briones Reservoir and ends near Briones Overlook staging area. A wide variety of trees, shrubs and flowers makes this an ideal nature-study trip. Just beyond the gate at the trailhead are an EBMUD register and a sign for the Bear Creek Trail. After signing the register, turn left and descend the Bear Creek Trail, here a gravel path, to a clearing where Bear Creek flows in from the left. All the elements that make this a wonderful hike are present at the start—a wide variety of trees and shrubs, and the proximity of water. Trees here include California bay, coast live oak, and willow. Coyote brush, snowberry, and poison hemlock are also here, along with ferns.
Orinda, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
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This loop, combining the Bear Creek and Oursan trails, is one of the longest in this book, taking you completely around Briones Reservoir. The route passes through a variety of terrain, from dense oak and bay forest near the reservoir’s shore to open grassland high atop Sobrante Ridge. Along the way you will encounter grand vistas, an assortment of trees and shrubs, spring wildflowers, and birds by the dozen. Except for about 3 miles of the Bear Creek Trail, the entire trip is on well-graded dirt roads. (Be alert for vehicles, which use the roads.) Just beyond the gate at the trailhead are an EBMUD register and a sign for the Bear Creek Trail. After signing the register, turn left, and descend the Bear Creek Trail, here a gravel path, to a clearing where Bear Creek flows in from the left. After crossing the creek—this may be tricky during periods of high water—climb steeply on an eroded dirt path and, in about 200 feet, reach a trail post indicating the Bear Creek Trail and the Overlook staging area, 4 miles distant.
Orinda, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 14
Circling a high ridge overlooking Carquinez Strait, this semi-loop has some steep sections, but your efforts are rewarded by terrific views of the strait, Suisun Bay, the west delta, Mt. Diablo, and the hills of Napa and Solano counties. Using the California Riding and Hiking Trail and the Franklin Ridge Loop Trail, your route explores open grassland, oak savanna, and shady, tree-lined ravines. Parts of this loop may be extremely muddy during and after wet weather.
Martinez, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
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Short and easy, this loop uses the Bayview, Lizard Rock, and Chochenyo trails to give you a quick sample of what this park has to offer, including an overview of the Main Marsh. If you have more time to spend here, consider also doing the “Red Hill” trip. From the west end of the parking area, where the entrance road makes a 180- degree bend, head northwest on the paved Bayview Trail, passing the Quail Trail, a dirt road, left. The Bayview Trail is gated just beyond the parking area. After passing the gate, you have the Main Marsh on your right and beautiful grassy hills rising on your left. The Main Marsh, a brackish body of water ordered in places with cattails and bulrushes, is a haven for birds. There are several vantage points along the Bayview Trail to look for herons, egrets, ducks, and shorebirds. Blacknecked stilts, which nest in marshes around San Francisco Bay, are sometimes here in flocks of 20 to 30—look for a black-and-white shorebird with shocking pink legs. Besides a few willows and London planetrees (introduced hybrids related to sycamores), the vegetation is mostly scrub—coyote brush, fennel, and poison hemlock.
Fremont, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
Combining portions of the Bayview, Nike, Red Hill, Soaproot, and Quail trails, this short loop over the summits of Red and Glider hills offers more scenery per calorie expended than any other hike in the East Bay. Besides open summits, which provide 360-degree views that extend from San Francisco to the Santa Cruz Mountains, this park contains an extensive brackish marsh, habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds. If you have more time to spend here, consider also doing the “Lizard Rock” trip. From the west end of the parking area, where the entrance road makes a 180- degree bend, head northwest on the paved Bayview Trail, passing the Quail Trail, a dirt road, left. The Bayview Trail is gated just beyond the parking area. After passing the gate, you have the Main Marsh on your right and beautiful grassy hills rising on your left.
Fremont, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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Located on the flanks of the hot, dry Livermore Valley, Lake Del Valle is an artificial impoundment on Arroyo del Valle, and the lake’s surrounding parklands contain many hiking trails, including connectors to the Ohlone Wilderness Regional Trail. The East Shore Trail is the longest of Del Valle’s trails, running for more than 6 miles along the lake’s indented shoreline. This out-and-back route explores the trail’s first 4 miles, a fine combination of level shoreline, oak woodland, and hilly uplands. From the northwest end of the parking area, beyond a boat ramp, toilets, information board, and gate, follow the East Shore Trail, a dirt road that leads on a level grade past stands of gray pine, oak, and white alder. The lake is on the left, and rock cliffs, home to California sagebrush and paintbrush, rise steeply from the road, on the right. Raucous western scrub-jays raise their alarm calls from the trees, tiny Bewick’s wrens flit through the underbrush, and sleek cormorants fly low over the water.
Livermore, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8
Although boating and fishing on artificial Lake Del Valle are the prime attractions of this regional park, there are also fine trails to explore in the surrounding hills. This loop follows the East Shore and Ridgeline trails, taking you from the water’s edge through oak savanna to grassy ridgetops, where views extend north to the Livermore Valley, and south to the Ohlone Wilderness. From the northwest end of the parking area, beyond a boat ramp, toilets, information board, and gate, follow the East Shore Trail, a dirt road beside the lake, which is left. From time to time on this route, narrow paths diverge from the road; unless indicated in the description, ignore them. At Hetch Hetchy Camp, a clearing with a water fountain, picnic table, and toilets, you pass the Hetch Hetchy Trail, right, and continue straight beside the lake, whose level fluctuates by about 25 feet during the year. Across the water, a high, forested ridge guards access to the Ohlone Wilderness, reached via a steep climb from the lake’s southwest shore.
Livermore, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
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If you enjoy a challenging route, take this roller-coaster ride through the foothills just west of Mt. Diablo State Park. Using the Castle Rock, Shell Ridge Loop, Briones-to-Mt. Diablo Regional, Twin Ponds, Hanging Valley, and Stage Road trails, you’ll make two connected loops through the park, with a short jaunt into neighboring Shell Ridge Open Space, enjoying oak savannas, wildflower-dotted hillsides, and a variety of birds. You climb on a single-track trail, past a gate that prevents access by bikes and horses during wet weather. Meeting the Castle Rock Trail, a dirt road, you turn sharply right, then stay left at a fork. The road climbs on a gentle and then moderate grade. Wildflowers on display include California poppies, paintbrush, Ithuriel’s spears, asters, bellardia, Mariposa lilies, and clarkias. At the next junction you also stay left, passing through a blue oak savanna. Gaining a ridgetop, you wind uphill through chaparral—chamise, black sage, toyon, California sagebrush— with a view, left, of impressive sandstone cliffs.
Walnut Creek, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.1
This easy loop, with habitat ranging from upland to salt marsh, is a perfect introduction to the amazing variety of plants and animals, especially birds, found in the refuge. Fall, winter, and spring, when bird populations are highest, are the best times to visit; avoid afternoons, when wind and glaring sunlight may make viewing difficult. Binoculars and/or a spotting scope, along with bird and plant guides, are recommended. Consider also taking one of the guided walks, offered by refuge personnel and volunteers, which concentrate on either birds or plants. (Coyote Hills Regional Park is just north of the refuge, across Highway 84; it would be easy to explore both areas on the same day.)
Fremont, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3
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Combining the High Ridge Loop, Tolman Peak, South Fork, Meyers Ranch, and Dry Creek trails, this route—two loops attached by an out-and-back section— explores a regional park gem, an oasis in the middle of one of the East Bay’s most heavily industrial and residential areas. Scenery, views, and variety of habitat combine to make hiking to Tolman Peak more than just a challenging workout. Mileage and commitment, rather than steepness of terrain, earn for this hike its “difficult” rating. Go east and cross a bridged creek, then continue straight on a path into a picnic area. When you come to a gravel road, cross it, go through a cattle gate, and begin climbing the High Ridge Loop Trail. This dirt road ascends through an open area of tall grass and weeds, leaving behind the trees—sycamore, willow, fig, and California buckeye—that line the creek by the park’s picnic area. Soon you pass the Newt Pond Trail, left, which connects this part of the High Ridge Loop Trail with the Newt Pond Wildlife Area.
Castro Valley, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.6
This segment of the East Bay Skyline National Recreation Trail, here also part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, heads southeast from the edge of Tilden Regional Park, crosses EBMUD land and the Caldecott Tunnel, and then traverses Sibley Volcanic and Huckleberry Botanic regional preserves on its way to the northwest corner of Redwood Regional Park. A point-to-point trip of many ups and downs, and terrains ranging from open grasslands to deep wooded canyons, its rewards include dramatic views of Mt. Diablo and a wonderful assortment of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. (Much of this trail follows the ridgeline, where tall trees collect water from the fog and drop it onto the paths below, making for possibly muddy trails even in summer.)
Berkeley, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.3
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This lengthwise exploration of Anthony Chabot Regional Park is the southernmost leg of the East Bay Skyline National Recreation Trail, using the MacDonald, Grass Valley, and Brandon trails. The Bay Area Ridge Trail also uses most of this route, leaving it near the end via the Willow View Trail. The beginning and end of this point-to-point route are mostly on open ridgetops, and the middle third passes through open Grass Valley and then enters mixed woodland on the slopes above Grass Valley Creek and Lake Chabot. In spring, wildflowers add color to the grasslands, and birds, especially hummingbirds, are everywhere.
Castro Valley, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.3
This section of the East Bay Skyline National Recreation Trail, here part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, follows the West Ridge Trail through Redwood Regional Park for almost that trail’s entire length, then uses the Golden Spike nd MacDonald trails to reach the northern edge of Anthony Chabot Regional Park. While not particularly scenic, this point-to-point trip gives you an opportunity to see a wide variety of trees and shrubs, including impressive coast redwoods, and, in spring, songbirds and butterflies. The West Ridge Trail spends much time in the open, a consideration on a hot day, but is considerably less strenuous than the alternate East Bay Skyline route, the well-shaded French Trail.
Oakland, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
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This northernmost segment of the 31-mile East Bay Skyline National Recreation Trail uses the Wildcat Creek, Belgum, San Pablo Ridge, Curran, Sea View, Lupine, and Vollmer Peak trails, along with Nimitz Way, to traverse Wildcat Canyon and Tilden regional parks. Although there is steep climbing at the outset, much of the point-to-point route is along the top of San Pablo Ridge, a generally level course, and views are among the best in the East Bay. From the east end of the parking area, head uphill past stands of coast live oak, eucalyptus, acacia, and Monterey pine on paved Wildcat Creek Trail, a remnant of Wildcat Canyon Road, which was closed in the early 1980s by landslides. After about 0.3 mile the pavement ends, and you continue on a rocky and eroded dirt road, past an unsigned path, left. Willows signal the presence of Wildcat Creek, downhill and right, which gets its start high on Vollmer Peak and empties into San Pablo Bay north of the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge.
Richmond, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.2
Aperfect introduction to the rolling hills, windy summits, and shaded creeks of Garin Regional Park, this trip uses the Vista Peak Loop Trail to take you past Vista and Garin peaks, from whose summits you will have most of San Francisco Bay displayed for your enjoyment. From the end of the parking area, follow a paved, gated road northeast beside a creek, right, lined will willow and western sycamore. The visitor center and picnic areas are across the creek. Soon you pass through a shady corridor of Monterey pine, coast live oak, willow, and white alder. Two very different birds, the California quail and kestrel, may be heard and seen here. The quail, with its repetitive “chi-ca-go” call, is a ground-dweller and travels in flocks, taking flight when flushed. The kestrel, the smallest North American falcon, is a solo acrobat of the skies, hovering and diving on prey, and sometimes giving a shrill “killee, killee, killee” call.
Castro Valley, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.3
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