Thursday, January 29, 2015
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With its rolling, grassy hills and secluded, shady canyons, Briones is a secret wilderness surrounded by the towns of central Contra Costa County. Although the park is close to Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, and Martinez, there are peaks within it from which you can see only park and watershed lands for miles in every direction. Briones is an ideal park for hiking, running, and horseback riding over the park’s scenic trails.
From Briones Peak, the highest point in the park, there are panoramic views of Mount Diablo and the Diablo Valley to the east, the Sacramento River and Delta to the north, the East Bay hills and Mt. Tamalpais to the west, and Las Trampas Regional Wilderness to the south. (http://www.ebparks.org/parks/briones)
This hike starts at the Briones Regional Park Alhambra Creek Staging Area off of Reliez Valley Rd in Martinez. Begin the hike on the Alhambra Creek Trail, it starts out gradually and then becomes fairly steep. The shady trail winds through a wooded area of Briones to the Spengler Trail junction.
At 0.9 mile-Spengler Trail continues under the dense woodlands to the trail gate towards Old Briones Rd Trail.
At 1.8 Miles-Old Briones Trail winds along the top of the ridge with wonderful views of the rolling hills and expansive open grasslands.
At 2.2 Miles-Continue left on the Briones Crest Trail at the split and begin a gradual ascent to the ridge top. Look around and enjoy the magnificent views of the surrounding ridges and Suisun Bay!
This is an open cattle grazing area-share the trail!
Stay on the Briones Crest Trail to Briones Peak. At 2.83 Miles near the top of the ridge, you will come to a unmarked narrow trail on the left-it leads to a short fence with a bench on the other side. Climb over and sit a spell to enjoy the view of Carquinez Strait from Briones Peak at 1483′ and check out the worn out bronze emblem marking the summit!
Continue on Briones Crest Trail to the next high point at Table Top Trail.
The fire road opens up to a panoramic view of the Diablo Range, Diablo Valley, Las Trampas, Suisun Bay and Carquinez Strait-WOW!
At 3.0 Miles-Take the Table Top Trail on the left, it exits the ridge top to the Spengler Trail junction.
At 3.4 Miles-Go left at the Spengler Trail split and wind down under the woodlands to the next junction at Blue Oak Trail.
Enjoy the views!
At 3.69 Miles-Go right and take the Blue Oak Trail to the trail gate and keep left at mile 3.97 at the next split to stay on the Blue Oak Trail; this trail winds under the woods to the next junction at Spengler Trail.
At 4.41 Miles-Go left at the Spengler Trail split; the trails winds in and out of the shade and opens up to a ridge top to the next junction.
At 5.09 Miles-At the junction, go right and take the Diablo View Trail; this trail goes up an over the ridge and drops back down to the parking lot.
This is a fantastic local hike-enjoy the scenic rollings hills and take in the phenomenal views at Briones Peak and at Table Top! You have to hike it to see it and it’s definitely worth every footstep!
6.5 Miles with 1500′ of elevation gain
Time: 3.5 hours with one stop
Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the mid 50’s to the low 60’s.
Parking: No fee-Pit toilets & water at Orchard Picnic Area
View the interactive RGPS route map & profile