Friday, March 13, 2015
Briones’ 6,255 acres are home to many animals and birds, which forage on the grasslands or find shelter among the oaks and bays. 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. (http://www.ebparks.org/parks/briones)
This Briones hike descends Pine Tree Trail followed by an ascent on the Toyon and Lagoon Trails to Briones Crest Trail. Continue downhill on the Santos Trail to Abrigo Valley Trail for a stop at the Maud Whalen picnic area. Ascend Mott Trail to Mott Peak and rejoin the Briones Crest Trail to the Old Briones Rd Trail.
Begin from the staging area at the end of Briones Rd in Martinez.
Take the Pine Tree Trail at the north end of the parking area; the trail descends Briones Hills towards Alhambra Valley.
Mile 0.8-at the trail junction: turn left onto the Toyon Trail. The fire road climbs up through the woodlands to the Lagoon Trail.
Mile 1.8-at the trail junction: turn right and continue on the Lagoon Trail. The trail rolls down into the woods followed by a gentle ascent through the open grasslands to the top of the ridge.
Mile 2.6-at the trail junction: turn left to stay on the Lagoon Trail. The trail continues along the ridge line with magnificent panoramic views of Mount Diablo and the Diablo Valley to the east and the Sacramento River and Delta to the north.
Mile 3.0-at the trail junction: turn right and head west on the Briones Crest Trail-the trail winds along the top of the grassy ridge.
Mile 3.2-at the trail junction: go straight to stay on the Briones Crest Trail-enjoy the wonderful vistas of the rolling green hills and Alhambra Valley.
Mile 3.9-at the trail junction: go straight and continue along the ridge on the Santos Trail.
Mile 4.0-at the trail junction: turn left to stay on the Santos Trail. The trail drops down between the hills to the open green valley onto the Abrigo Valley Trail.
Mile 4.4-at the trail junction: turn right onto the Abrigo Valley Trail and continue across the grasslands to the Maud Whalen Picnic Area.
Mile 4.7-turn left for a stop at the Maud Whalen picnic area. Porta-potty & water is available.
Continue on the Abrigo Valley Trail to the next trail junction at Mile 4.8-turn left onto the Mott Peak Trail. The steep half mile climb takes you in and out of the woodlands to the next trail split.
Mile 5.2-at the trail junction: go straight to stay on the Mott Peak Trail. The trail continues up the hill to the top of the ridge.
The road leads out to the open grasslands with spectacular views!
At this point, look to your right and continue up the well worn narrow path to the metal post marker at Mott Peak.
The short extra hike is well worth the effort-you get 360 views of the surrounding Briones hills and peaks with phenomenal panoramic views of the East Bay and beyond!
Turn around, descend Mott Peak back to the Mott Peak Trail.
Mile 5.6-at the trail junction: turn right onto the Briones Crest Trail. The trail follows the contours of the ridge line with fantastic views of the Sinsicich Lagoons.
Mile 5.9-at the trail junction: go straight to stay on the Briones Crest Trail. The trail cuts across the open meadows to the next trail junction.
Mile 6.1-at the trail junction: turn left onto the Old Briones Rd Trail.
Mile 6.4-at the trail junction: turn left to the trail gate and stay on the Old Briones Rd Trail-this road leads back to the Briones Rd staging area.
Grab a park map and hit the trails-you’ll enjoy the early spring flowers, green rolling hills and ridge top vistas!
7.34 Miles with 1654′ of elevation gain
Time: 3.5 hours with a couple of stops
Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the high 50’s to the mid 70’s
Parking: No fee-Pit toilet & water available