Thursday, February 26, 2015
Enjoy the beauty of nature with a local hike along the network of fire road trails around the wilderness park lands at Briones Regional Park. This loop goes counter clockwise around Briones Hills from Old Briones Rd Trail into the valley and up the Crescent Ridge Trail to Table Top. Return to Old Briones Rd Trail via Briones Crest Trail.
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. (http://www.ebparks.org/parks/briones)
Begin this hike from the staging area at the end of Briones Rd in Martinez and get onto the Old Briones Rd Trail at the south end of the lot. The gentle terrain leads to the trail gate and continues on to the junction at Spengler Trail.
Mile 0.6: at the trail post-go right to stay on the Old Briones Rd Trail. The road opens up to magnificent views of the grassy hills and meadows.
Mile 0.9: at the trail post-go straight to stay on the Old Briones Rd Trail. Enjoy the magnificent views of Carquinez Strait!
Mile 1.0: at the trail post-enter through the trail gate to stay on the Old Briones Rd Trail. The road winds down under the shaded woodlands to the valley.
Mile 1.7: at the trail post-go right to stay on the Old Briones Rd Trail. The flat terrain travels west along the grassy valley floor to the next trail gate. Go through the gate and continue along the valley.
Mile 2.0: at the trail post-go left to stay on the Old Briones Rd Trail. This section of the trail is a cattle grazing area; you share the road with the cows and young calves. Cross another gate and continue on the Old Briones Rd Trail.
Mile 2.6: at the trail post-go left to the Seaborg Trail towards the Archery Range. The road takes you under the dense woodlands to another trail gate and turns east along the valley meadows.
Mile 3.0: at the trail post-go straight to continue on the Crescent Ridge Trail. This road leads to a stop at the Archery Range.
Mile 3.2: continue up the hill to stay on the Crescent Ridge Trail; it’s a decent climb up to the top of the ridge with amazing views of the park lands peaks and valleys!
Mile 3.6: at the trail post-go right to stay on the Crescent Ridge Trail. The hike along the ridge has fantastic views of the rolling hills and of Mt Tam in the far distance! Go through the trail gate to stay on the Crescent Ridge Trail.
Mile 4.4: at the trail post-go left and continue on the Briones Crest Trail. The road opens up with astonishing views of Diablo Valley and Las Trampas Wilderness!
Mile 4.5: at the trail post-go left to stay on the Briones Crest Trail. The road winds in and out of the woodlands to another trail gate; the road dips down and up on a narrow road to the next junction.
Mile 4.8: at the trail post-go straight and continue on the Table Top Trail to the next trail gate.
Mile 4.9: at the trail post-go left to stay on Table Top Trail. The rolling terrain on this trail goes along the narrow ridge with views of Mt Diablo.
Table Top Trail continues along the ridge with expansive views of the valley-WOW!
The trail rolls up and down along the ridge to the lone bench sitting at the scenic vista point.
Mile 5.6: at the trail post-go straight and continue on the Briones Crest Trail. Go through the trail gate and stay atop of the narrow ridge to the next trail gate.
Briones Crest Trail winds down from the ridge top to the upper meadows with marvelous views of the soft rolling green hills. Enjoy the scenic waterway views around Carquinez Strait!
Mile 6.4: at the trail post-go right and continue on the Old Briones Rd Trail; from here you will reverse your way back to the staging area parking lot.
This is a wonderful way to incorporate another activity into your play schedule. The dog loves it too! Bring plenty of snacks and water-pick up a trail map at the staging area and get on the trails! You’ll enjoy the stunning 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!
7.5 Miles with 1300′ of elevation gain
Time: 3.5-4 hours with a couple of stops
Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the mid 50’s to the high 60’s.
Parking: No fee-water & pit toilet