Three Valley Loop: Reliez Valley-Happy Valley-Alhambra Valley

Monday, October 13, 2014

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This clock wise loop goes along Briones Regional Park on Reliez Valley Rd to Lafayette. It heads up to Lafayette Ridge on Deer Hill Rd and continues along Happy Valley to Upper Happy Valley. The climb on El Nido Ranch Rd leads to the private community at Orindawoods. The route drops down into Orinda for a stop at the Orinda Library and Community Park and exits town on Camino Pablo. It heads north on San Pablo Dam Rd along San Pablo Reservoir and Kennedy Grove to El Sobrante. Finish the ride with a run through Alhambra Valley and the climb up Pig Farm Hill before returning to Martinez.

I jog my way around Martinez on Center Ave and Vine Hill Way to Alhambra Ave.

The turn on Alhambra Valley Rd goes south on rolling terrain to the junction at Reliez Valley Rd.

At this corner junction, constructions crews are busy with grading the open space for a new 23 lot subdivision at Alhambra Valley Estates. Wow-build it and people will come!

The rolling climbs on Reliez Valley Rd leads me south along the eastern edge of Briones Regional Park.

At Oakmont Memorial Park, Reliez Valley continues through the residential neighborhoods in Lafayette.

At Reliez Valley Ct, the road tilts up for 0.8 miles under a gorgeous canopy of trees to the summit with an average grade of 8.2%.

Reliez Valley Rd comes to a T at Pleasant Hill Rd; this dense traffic area leads us to Deer Hill Rd.

Deer Hill Rd is a very steep climb up to summit at Lafayette Ridge; it’s 0.2 mile with gradient ranges of 14-16%!

Enjoy the magnificent views of Mt Diablo and the Lamorinda hills along the Diablo Range!

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Deer Hill Rd runs parallel to Hwy 24 and drops down on rolling terrain towards the Lafayette BART station and the Cross Memorial to Happy Valley Rd.

Happy Valley Rd gently climbs up the valley through an upscale Lafayette neighborhood for 1.8 miles to the stop sign at Upper Happy Valley Rd.

Upper Happy Valley Rd rolls down across the valley to El Nido Ranch Rd.

I head west on El Nido Ranch Rd; this frontage road parallels Hwy 24 to St Stephens Dr with a stair-step climb. It begins with a short steep section with gradient ranges of 9-12% and levels out in the middle followed by another short climb with lesser grades of 4-6%.

I cross St Stephens Dr and continue on E Altarinda Dr; the short steep pitch leads to the private community at Orindawoods on Orindawoods Dr. The road goes along the ridge above Hwy 24 through the quiet neighborhood and steeply drops down into Orinda onto Orinda Way.

A stop at the Orinda Library/Café Teatro is always a treat; I always enjoy seeing the outdoor sculptures from the “ArtSpace Orinda” program.

I exit town on Orinda Way to Camino Pablo; this road takes me north along San Pablo Creek to Bear Creek Rd.

I continue north on San Pablo Dam Rd along the west side of San Pablo Reservoir. The rolling terrain on this busy road goes by fairly quickly as you make your way up to the main entrance to the reservoir.

The road quickly drops down from the eucalyptus stands towards Kennedy Grove into El Sobrante.

Castro Ranch Rd climbs up goes through the Carriage Hills residential neighborhoods to the summit at Sobrante Ridge. The first climb up El Sobrante Hill has gradient ranges of 7-9.5% followed by a short downhill and another climb up to the ridge with lesser grades of 3-4%.

The straight shot descent from Castro Ranch Rd opens up to spectacular views of Alhambra Valley!

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Alhambra Valley Rd is a quiet rural back road with wonderful views of the rolling hills and valley meadows around San Pablo Recreation Area.

The rolling terrain roughly follows along Pinole Creek pass a couple of ranches to Bear Creek Rd.

Alhambra Valley Rd climbs up for a short section from the valley vineyard and olive grove up to the ranch house.

The road continues under the woodlands on gentle terrain up to the base of Pig Farm Hill at JBL ranch.

The climb up west Pig Farm Hill begins around the bend at JBL Ranch; it’s a steep half mile climb with grades of 13-15%!

Alhambra Valley snakes down around the shaded Vaca Canyon to the flats along the lower valley to the junction at Reliez Valley Rd.

From this point, I reverse my way back into Martinez on Alhambra Valley to Alhambra Ave.

I also make a brief stop at John Muir Memorial Park; the life-size sculpture of John Muir is surrounded by a cathedral of twenty redwood trees.

The short climb up Vine Hill Way leads me back to Center Ave and Glacier Dr. The descent on Arnold Dr takes me back to Holiday Highlands Park.

This moderately hilly ride goes along some of the quiet back roads around the regional parks and open spaces mixed within our urban residential neighborhoods. It’s great to be able to just hop on the bike from my front door and just pedal around yet another variation of the East Bay Hills!

Garmin Stats:
39.42 Miles with 2953′ of elevation gain

Max elevation: 835′
Max grade: 16%
Terrain: Moderately hilly with steep climbs

Weather: Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the high 60’s to the low 90’s. SE Winds with 23% humidity

Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile

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Follow this route for today’s ride:

 

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