Briones Crest Trail

Briones Regional Park, California

Distance6.2mi
Elevation Gain1,577ft
Trailhead Elevation684ft
Top1,353ft
Elevation Min/Max651/1353ft
Elevation Start/End684/684ft
Briones Crest Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Contra Costa County, California. It is within Briones Regional Park. It is 6.2 miles long and begins at 684 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 7.0 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,577 feet. Near the trailhead there are restrooms, drinking water, and parking. Briones Peak (elevation 4,865 feet) can be seen along the trail. There is also a watering place along the trail. Near the end of the trail is an information board. This trail connects with the following: Table Top Trail, Valley Trail, Sunrise Trail and Mott Peak Trail.

Briones Crest Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"There’s a host of trail junctions on this loop, so it’s best to pick up a free map at the kiosk in the parking lot and match it up with a good topo map. From the gate near the information kiosk, start on the Alhambra Creek Trail. This is a typical East Bay trek—plenty of grasslands with valley oaks standing guard—but as you gain elevation on the Alhambra Creek Trail, you’ll be greeted in the spring by the most dazzling wildflower display I’ve ever found. California poppies, buttercups, lupine, and clover cover the landscape."

"East Bay regulars rate this 5700-acre park as the best of the bunch in the East Bay Regional Park system. With places to hike, bike, and ride horses, it is no wonder this park gets a lot of use. Well, no one said you didn’t have to conform; come on, join the crowds and see how this park’s network of trails can take you to places where you’ll swear no one else has stood."

"This loop is the most popular ride at Briones Regional Park and a great way to acquaint yourself with the type of trails that the park has to offer. The loop follows around the Briones Crest Trail as it rolls around the central portion of the park, through dense forests of live oak and fruit trees, the John Muir Nature Area, past mountain lagoons and back down to the Homestead Valley meadow and Bear Creek. This trail is less taxing than the previous loop; although there are a couple of brief steep climbs and descents, it's suitable for most riders."

"A ridge runs through the steep, grass-covered hills and wooded canyons of Briones Regional Park. This loop offers a peripheral view of both sides of the ridge. Wide dirt roads take you up one side of the park, down the other, and back up again. There are some killer climbs, but they are rather short-lived. The payoff is long downhill runs. This is a good place to build strength. There are plenty more trails to come back and explore once you get the lay of the land. Trail surface: Wide dirt road, occasionally fading to dual track."

"Briones Regional Park offers long, ambling walks through grassy, rolling hills spotted with oak trees, some lovely views both of distant towns and landmarks and of neighboring parkland, with the pleasant surprises of lagoons and a contrasting dense, damp woodland. Hawks, eagles, and turkey vultures soar and circle above the canyons. Black-tailed deer love to munch on brush in the deeper canyons. There are several small creeks lined with ferns and shrubs, and patches of sun-loving wildflowers grow along most of the trails. The landscape changes seasonally from summer gold to winter green, and gives you a taste of California’s Spanish ranch past. Trails Surface: Packed dirt doubletrack trail, single-track dirt trail, and one creek crossing."

"Hike the ridge line of rolling hills in the East Bay"

"Briones Regional Park is truly the East Bay's best-kept secret. Tucked away in a remote corner of Contra Costa County, Briones is a virtual wonderland of winding trails, breathtaking views, miles of rolling woodlands, and wild downhills. And the best part is, not many people know it's there."

"Framed by four of the major freeways that define the East Bay, near the ever-expanding bedroom communities of Orinda, Lafayette, and Walnut Creek, the bounding green hills of Briones Regional Park are your place to escape after trudging home through that five o’ clock sea of red brake lights. Beginning at the Bear Creek Staging Area, this loop makes a circuit around Mott Peak, the tallest hill in the park, and is a great introduction to what is on offer here. As you become more familiar with the park, you can create many varying loops and also find some of the other access points that are hidden in the back of the surrounding neighborhoods."

"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."

"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."

"This ride consists of a general tour of Briones Park, following the crests high above and around the park whenever possible. Stunning views of the distant countryside in all directions add to the grandeur of this strenuous ride. Grass and oak-covered slopes, heavily forested canyons and an occasional meadow give the cyclist a general flavor of the park and add to the temptation to further explore the many other trails in a later visit. The route follows wide fire trails across hills that are quite steep in places. Trails are well marked."

"This ride consists of a general tour of Briones Park, following the crests high above and around the park whenever possible. Stunning views of the distant countryside in all directions add to the grandeur of this energetic ride. Grass and oak covered slopes, heavily forested canyons, and an occasional meadow give the cyclist a general flavor of the park and add to the temptation to further explore the many other trails in a later visit."

"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."

"This hike reminds me of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale: It’s not too long and not too hard, but just about right for most people. Briones is a happy combination of soft, rolling hills; grassy valleys dotted with oaks; seasonal lagoons; and tree-lined creeks. Visiting the heart of the park, this loop climbs along an old ranch road to a viewpoint, then descends past black oaks on the way back to the trailhead."

"The Briones Hills Workout is aptly named. Many cyclists enjoy the “Bear Creek” loop, which is often used in duathlon and triathlon races, as well as the annual Berkeley Hills Road Race (the 54th edition was held in 2011).

The Briones Hills Workout heads in the opposite direction of these races, however, traveling northeast on Bear Creek Road, and then incorporates pleasant and challenging roads on the fringes of the nearby cities of Martinez and Pleasant Hill."

"You would think that for a park that’s so close to cities such as Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Martinez, and Concord, the views from the peaks and ridges from within Briones Regional Parks would be filled with developed cityscapes. So it’s a pleasant surprise to discover that the views are mostly of rolling hills and watershed lands. Though there is a stretch in which the mothball fleet of naval ships in the Suisun Bay is visible, this 8-mile loop ride is a favorite of locals wanting a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Fire roads make up the loop and in some sections, the trail looks more like a wide single- or doubletrack. Technically, the terrain is mild, though a few rain ruts add a bit of spice to an otherwise smooth route—perfect for beginners. The hills, on the other hand, are steep but very brief, and fairly strong stamina is necessary in order to enjoy the ride."

Briones Crest Trail Reviews

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3/5/2011
Tiring but well worth it. We are training for a major hike on the Tour du Mont Blanc this summer, and this was a good one to get under our belts. Perfect weather and gorgeous scenery!
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Comments
5/1/2008
Bear Creek Trail is a beautiful trail. Most of trail is narrow and a lot of it is on the side of the hill, not recommended for beginner riders or horses! Great horse trailer parking at the Bear Creek staging area. Horses should be good at crossing water because the creek at the beginning has a very steep drop off on the right. Once past the creek, no more water. If you don't want to cross the water, go to the Overlook staging area approx. 4 miles down the road and ride from that direction. No horse water at either staging areas but a spring trough about 1 1/2 miles from Overlook. Overlook has two hitching racks so you can take your lunch, just bring your drinking water. From here you can continue down along the spillway to San Pablo Reservoir with nice shady trails or continue across the dam and around Briones Res on Oursan Trail which takes you back to Bear Creek Staging. This is a beautiful ride of about 15 miles but no water on trail so don't go in the summer!
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Briones Regional Park
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Jun 2018