Briones Hills-Acalanes Valley

Monday, December 22, 2014

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This ride explores the back roads around Briones Hills, Briones Regional Park and Acalanes Valley. It goes up Briones Rd to the Old Briones Rd Trail staging area before rolling through Reliez Valley to the Springhill Trail staging area on Springhill Rd. The ride heads east through Acalanes Valley on Stanley Blvd and Springbrook  Rd to the edge of Walnut Creek. It returns west along Camino Diablo for the steep climb on Deer Hill Rd up to Lafayette Ridge. The route drops into Lafayette for a loop around Briones Regional Park on Happy Valley Rd, Bear Creek Rd and Alhambra Valley Rd. It continues up Pig Farm Hill before descending through Vaca Canyon into Martinez.

The ride heads out of Martinez on Arnold to Glacier and Vine Hill to Alhambra Ave.

The flat-rolling terrain on Alhambra Valley Rd leads to the junction at Reliez Valley Rd.

I stay on Alhambra Valley Rd for a short distance to the turn onto Briones Rd; this narrow single lane road winds 1.5 miles under the woodlands around Briones Hills to the Old Briones Rd Trail Staging Area at the north side of Briones Regional Park. The first half mile climb up to the Orchard Trail gate entrance near the equestrian facility at Rancho Briones is very steep with gradient ranges of 11-15%!

The road continues snaking up and around Briones for the next 0.4 mile to the open grasslands at the Pine Tree Trail gate entrance with an average grade of 9.8%.

The road winds up under the transmission towers to the top of the ridge with gorgeous views of Briones Hills and Reliez Valley.

Briones Rd comes to an end at the staging area to the Old Briones Rd Trailhead. Take the time to enjoy the gorgeous open parklands with its rolling hills and peaks!

I reverse my way back down Briones Rd to Alhambra Valley Rd; the ridge top views are amazing!

From Alhambra Valley, I continue on Reliez Valley Rd; the rolling climbs takes me south along the eastern edge of Briones Regional Park.

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

At Reliez Valley Ct, the road kicks up for 0.9 mile under a gorgeous canopy of trees to the summit with an average grade of 8.2%.

Reliez Valley Rd drops down from Lafayette Hills onto Pleasant Hill Rd to the next turn at Springhill Rd.

Springhill Rd runs west for 1.5 mile on gentle terrain between the Reliez Valley and Springhill residential neighborhoods to the Springhill/Buckeye Ranch Trailhead at Briones Regional Park.

It becomes a narrow single lane road as it cuts under the woodlands to the end of the road at Briones Park.

Views of the rolling Briones Hills and open meadows:

I reverse my way down Springhill Rd back onto Pleasant Hill Rd.

Next up is a roll through Acalanes Valley on Stanley Blvd and Springbrook Rd; this road is a designated bike-way into Walnut Creek with marked sharrows-it sits below Acalanes Ridge Open Space and goes through a residential neighborhood to the south end at Camino Diablo.

Camino Diablo is a frontage road that runs parallel to Hwy 24; it climbs west for 0.6 mile up to the Fwy overpass at El Curtola Blvd with an average grade of 5.5% bfore dropping back down onto Stanley Blvd.

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 ridge top views of Mt Diablo and the Lamorinda hills along the Diablo Range!

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.

Happy Valley Rd continues to climb for another mile up to the summit near Orinda View Rd with gradient ranges of 9-11%!

The twisty bumpy descent on Happy Valley Rd leads out to Bear Creek Rd.

Bear Creek Rd heading north begins on fairly flat terrain to Bear Creek staging area and a bit beyond.

The road kicks up for the series of small climbs and descents over the backside of Mama Bear along Briones Hills; it’s 1.4 miles with gradient ranges of 5-9% to the summit.

Mama Bear descends Lawson Hill through a horse ranching community and the Gan Shalom Cemetery to Alhambra Valley Rd.

Alhambra Valley Rd heading east starts up with short climb 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 Rd snakes down around the shaded Vaca Canyon to the flats along the lower valley to the junction at Reliez Valley Rd.

From this point, the route reverse its way back into Martinez on Alhambra Valley Rd to Alhambra Ave.

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

This hilly semi-rural ride goes along some of the quiet back roads around the Briones Regional Park and Acalanes Ridge Open Space; it’s a wonderful mix of the roads less traveled intertwined with the most common traversed roads around Central Contra Costa County. It’s great to be able to just hop on the bike from my front door and pedal around yet another variation of the East Bay Hills!


Garmin Stats:
40.09 Miles with 4140′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 967′
Max grade: 16%
Terrain: Hilly with steep climbs

Weather: Overcast morning skies turning to partly cloudy with brilliant afternoon sun. Temps ranged from the low 50’s to the mid 60’s. SW winds with 77% humidity.

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Briones Acalanes

Follow this route for today’s ride:

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