Donald Drive-Mulholland Ridge Open Space Preserve

Wednesday, September 28, 2010

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For today, I’m heading out to Moraga to check out Mulholland Ridge from the entrance on Donald Drive. I leave from home and take Morello to Taylor and Pleasant Hill Rd to Lafayette. The steep climb up Deer Hill Rd is fairly short and I stop at the top for a few minutes to just admire the views of Diablo and the valley below.

Deer Hill Rd heading west takes me right past the Hillside Cross Memorial and the Lafayette BART station. I make a quick pit stop at the Chevron station off Happy Valley Rd. The restrooms are conveniently located outside; it’s very accessible and clean! You can even roll your bike inside.

While riding through the neighborhoods around here, I notice that many homes have already put out decorations for Halloween. Jackie and I are meeting up on Moraga Rd; she’s up for this exploratory adventure!

We take the Lafayette/Moraga Regional Trail from School St and come across a lot of folks out and about walking their dogs. We’re talking and I’m looking around and notice that the path looks wider with new pavement. The surrounding bushes and shrubbery has been cut back and it’s very spacious.  As we go further along the trail, the pavement ends and we’re riding on gravel and dirt. What? We look ahead and see a commercial grader; I didn’t see any signs indicating that the trail was closed. Well, what can we do; we get off the bikes and walk along the side of the path to the next intersection. Now I see all the trail closure signs on the other end. It would been nice to get an earlier warning on the northern section of the trail. The trail closure begins after you cross Lucille Ln and continues all the way to Moraga Commons Park.

We continue on St Marys Rd and make a stop at the park. I have to take off my shoes and shake out all the dirt and gravel.

We make a right on Moraga Rd heading north. The terrain is mostly flat for the next mile or so to our next turn onto Donald Dr.

The climb on Donald Dr up to Mulholland Ridge is about 2.35 miles. It starts off relatively gentle with grades of 3-5% as you ride under a canopy of trees. As you approach the right hand turn, the gradient kicks up to around 12-15%! The pavement is a bit rough but it’s not too bad. The road levels out at the top and I have to stop to take in all of this natural beauty. The views of the surrounding East Bay hills and the Diablo Range are absolutely breathtaking! It’s another hidden gem of Contra Costa County. I’m exactly where I need to be right now!

There is another climb up along the ridge to the water towers. The gradients range from 12-15%. Watch out for dogs running loose here; they’re allowed to be off-leash during daylight hours. You’re almost at the top when you see the open gate. There is a water fountain and a bench next to the tree. You can walk up the steps to the water tower and sneak more views of the area from another perspective. There are a few benches up there for your enjoyment.

Mulholland Ridge Open Space connects with Orinda Oaks Open Space Preserve at the top by the water towers. There are several mini mansions back here; this is their private playground! The pavement is greatly improved on this side of the road and there several areas with strategically place benches and picnic tables for all to enjoy. It all looks fairly new and is privately funded by many Orinda residents. This is all for us to enjoy freely-thanks to all the Orinda citizens for preserving this open space! The electric gates are open from 7 AM to 7 PM daily.

From Donald Dr, we continue on Alice Ln to Zander Dr. It’s all downhill to Rheem Blvd. It’s nice to discover roads that I’ve never been on. I’m going to make up a route to include Mulholland Ridge and add it as one of my Friday rides.

We take Rheem Blvd back to Moraga and head to the local Starbucks for an impromptu lunch stop. It’s hot out today-Iced Green Tea Lemonade is in order for both of us.

We take Moraga Rd back to Lafayette and part ways. For the return home, I just reverse the morning route.

Thanks to Jackie for joining me on another scouting ride! Short rides can be just as fun as long ones. It’s also the company we choose to keep that makes it that much more enjoyable!

36 miles with 2890′ of elevation gain

Weather: FANTASTIC! Sunny and hot with a welcome afternoon breeze. Starting morning temp of 71F and reaching a high of 95F in the afternoon.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>EXPLORE AND HAVE FUN!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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