Tuesday, March 3, 2015
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)
This is another hike around Briones Regional Park-this loop goes around the east side of Briones Hills from the Springhill staging area at the end of Springhill Rd in Lafayette. Hike up along the peaks and ridges on the Springhill Trail, Lafayette Ridge and Crescent Ridge Trails. Drop into the valley and canyons on the Seaborg and Valley Trails with a stop at Table Top for the panoramic views of Diablo Valley and beyond. Return to the staging area from the Sunrise and Buckeye Ranch Trails.
Begin this hike from the Springhill staging area at the end of Springhill Rd in Lafayette. The steep climb on Springhill Trail goes in and out of the shaded woodlands up to the trail junction at Lafayette Ridge.
Mile 0.7: at the trail post: go right and head north on the Lafayette Ridge Trail. The rolling climbs on this open ridge line provides wonderful vistas of Mt Diablo and the surrounding Diablo Valley!
Continue on the Lafayette Ridge Trail.
Mile 1.3: at the trail post-go right and continue north on the Briones Crest Trail to the next trail junction.
Mile 1.5: at the trail post-go left on the Seaborg Trail. Descend into the valley towards Bear Creek Trail. At Mile 2.5: go straight and stay on the Seaborg Trail.
Mile 2.6: at the trail post-go right and head east on the Crescent Ridge Trail for a stop at the Archery Range.
Continue up the hill on the Crescent Ridge Trail to the next trail junction.
Mile 3.2: at the trail post-go left onto the Yerba Buena Trail. This trail descends under the canopy of trees and opens out onto the open green valley meadows.
Mile 3.8; at the trail post-go right and continue on the Valley Trail; the road heads east for a short climb up towards the ridge.
Mile 4.2: at the trail post-go left and head north on the Briones Crest Trail to the next trail junction.
Mile 4.5: at the trail post-go right onto Table Top Trail; stop at the vista area to enjoy the panoramic views!
Continue south on Table Top; the road winds down along the top of the ridge to the next trail junction.
Mile 5.2: at the trail post-go straight on the Briones Crest Trail to the trail gate. At mile 5.3-continue straight to stay on the Briones Crest Trail; the road goes up and down along the ridge and exits out onto the open grasslands. Enjoy the outstanding views!
Mile 5.6: at the trail post-go left and head down hill on the grassy Sunrise Trail. Enjoy the wonderful views!
At the trail gate, the road rounds the bend to the next trail post.
Mile 6.7: at the trail post-turn right to stay on the Sunrise Trail; the road narrows as it snakes down into the wooded canyon.
Stay on the Sunrise Trail to Buckeye Ranch Trail.
Buckeye Ranch Trail leads back to the Springhill staging area.
These trails will get your heart rate up and down with steep rolling climbs and valley descents. The views from the top of the ridges and peaks are spectacular! Next week, it’s another hike with Shadow to explore the other network of trails around Briones Regional Park-it’s great exercise for the both of us!
7.5 Miles with 1864′ of elevation gain
Time: 3.5-4 hours with a couple of stops
Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the high 50’s to the mid 60’s.
Parking: No fee-Pit toilet-No water