Location: Walnut Creek and Lafayette
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Getting here: Take the north Pleasant Hill Road exit from Highway 24. Turn right on Stanley Boulevard and continue on as it turns into Springbrook Road. Turn left on Bacon Way, again on Bacon Court, and once more on Peaceful Lane. At the end of the lane, you’ll find the gate to Acalanes Ridge.
Spend the day hiking the myriad trails of Acalanes Ridge before trekking up to the 781-foot summit to see sweeping views of the surrounding area. From the top, Briones Regional Park, the Carquinez Strait, Las Trampas Regional Park, Livermore foothills, Mount Diablo, Oakland Hills, and Suisun Bay are all visible. For an extended adventure, take the Briones to Mt. Diablo Regional Trail to meet up with Briones Regional Park or Mount Diablo State Park.
Briones Regional Park
Location: Lafayette and Martinez
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours February through October
Getting here: Take the Orinda/Camino Pablo exit toward Richmond on Highway 24. Turn right on Bear Creek Road, and drive 5 miles until you see the Bear Creek Staging Area on the right.
Fees: Parking – $3 per vehicle (when kiosk is attended). Dogs – $2 per dog (does not apply to guide or service dogs).
Tucked near the suburban metropolises of Concord, Lafayette, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, and Walnut Creek, Briones Regional Park is an idyllic escape. Admire the green rolling hills, shaded canyons, and unobstructed views as you traverse the landscape and make your way to Briones Peak. With clear skies, you can see Mount Diablo, the Sacramento River, Mount Tamalpais, and Las Trampas Regional Wilderness from the top of the peak. Enjoy the shade from local oak trees and watch for wildlife, including black-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks, and coyotes. Take in the beauty of the area as you trek past expansive grasslands and fields of wildflowers.
Lafayette Reservoir Recreation Area
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with extended hours February through November
Getting here: Take exit 11 off Highway 24, and continue onto El Nido Ranch Road until it merges with Mount Diablo Boulevard. Take the first right, and continue along the road until you reach the Lafayette Reservoir parking lot.
Fees: Parking – $1.50 per hour.
Though the Lafayette Reservoir Recreation Area offers some of the shorter trails in Contra Costa County, it’s also home to the most popular, family- and dog-friendly hikes in the East Bay. With two main trails available, visitors can choose their own adventure. Opt for the short 2.7-mile Lakeside Nature Trail, or extend your journey with the 4.7-mile Rim Trail for a perfect afternoon activity in Lafayette.
Las Trampas Wilderness Regional Preserve
Location: San Ramon
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with extended hours March through October.
Getting here: Take the Crow Canyon Road exit off I-680, and turn north onto Bollinger Canyon Road. Turn north once more onto Bollinger Canyon Road, driving until you come across the roadside parking spaces on the right.
Experience two of the Bay Area’s major fault lines as you explore the park’s fascinating geological formations. Hike throughout the thousands of acres at Las Trampas Wilderness Regional Preserve to escape the urban environment and appreciate the sunny days ahead. Pack a picnic and plenty of water to make the most of your excursion.
Lime Ridge Open Space