Thursday, March 19, 2015
Briones Regional Park is a 6,117 acre park in Contra Costa County. With rolling hills and narrow valleys, the park can be accessed from Lafayette, Orinda, and Pleasant Hill. Its home to plentiful East Bay wildlife, including birds, snakes and newts. In some areas, it’s still used as grazing land by local herds, part of a cattle ranching history that’s more than 100 years old. (http://science.kqed.org/quest/science-hike/briones-regional-park-exploration/)
This hike goes along the network of trails around the west section of Briones Regional Park. Climb up Briones Crest Trail from the Bear Creek Staging Area to Periera Trail for a jaunt out to the Ivan Dickson Memorial at Ivan Dickson Point. Descend Deer Creek back to the staging area parking lot. Continue east on Old Briones Rd for a climb up Black Oak Trail to Mott Peak and descend Mott Peak for return to the staging area on Abrigo Valley Trail.
Begin this hike from the west corner of the first parking lot at the Bear Creek Rd Staging Area near Orinda & Lafayette. At the Briones Crest/Deer Creek Trail sign post: follow the path along side Briones Valley Rd to the next trail split.
Mile 0.08-at the junction: turn right onto Briones Crest Trail. The path climbs up the hill to the trail gate at the top of the ridge. The grassy slopes are sprinkled with the blooms of early spring poppies!
Briones Crest Trail continues along the ridge to the memorial bench with spectacular views of Briones Hills!
Mile 0.5-at the junction: go straight to stay on Briones Crest Trail. The rolling terrain on the ridge leads to the stock pond at the next trail split.
Mile 1.0-at the junction: go left and continue on Periera Trail. The trail winds in and out of the oak studded ridge passing several stock ponds to the next trail split.
Mile 1.3-at the junction: go straight to stay on the Periera Trail.
Mile 1.5-at the junction: go left and continue to Ivan Dickson Point. The road rolls out through the upper grasslands with fabulous views of the rolling green hills!
Mile 1.6-at the junction: go right and continue to Ivan Dickson Point. The trail goes atop of the ridge to the stone Ivan Dickson Memorial Bench.
Enjoy the panoramic views of Briones from Ivan Dickson Point!
Turn around and retrace your steps back to the trail junction.
Mile 2.1-at the junction: turn right to Deer Creek Trail. The road drops down from the ridge to the lower valley.
Mile 2.4-at unsigned trail split: go left towards Deer Creek Trail. We missed the turn and went straight towards the pond-Shadow ran after bullfrogs and we had to wade through a wet stretch of grass to get back on track.
Mile 2.6-go right onto Deer Creek Trail; the trail goes along the flat valley with gorgeous views of the contoured ridges and rolling hills around Briones Park.
The trail leads back to the Bear Creek Staging Area parking lot.
Mile 3.4-cut through the parking lot and head east on Briones Rd.
Mile 3.6-enter through the trail gate onto Old Briones Rd Trail. Follow the trail across the open valley grasslands to the shaded woodlands. We saw a coyote!
Mile 4.2-at the trail junction: turn left onto Black Oak Trail. The trail cuts across the flat grassy park lands before kicking up for a steep hill climb to the top of the ridge.
Don’t forget to turn around to take in the magnificent panoramic views of Briones Hills; in the background-you can see both Mt Diablo and Mt Tam-WOW!
The trail continues to roll along the ridge line to the memorial bench and gently winds down towards Mott Peak Trail.
Mile 5.2-at the trail junction: turn left onto Mott Peak Trail for the descent towards Maud Whalen Campground and Abrigo Valley.
Mile 5.7-at the trail junction: go straight and continue on Abrigo Valley Trail. The road winds in and out of the woodlands to the open meadows.
Mile 6.5-at the unsigned trail split: stay on the right, the road leads back to the west end of the parking lot.
This loop completes my goal of hiking along the network of trails around the entire Briones Regional Park area. It’s very do-able, grab a park map and hit the trails-the scenery and landscape is absolutely stunning!
6.9 Miles with 1426′ of elevation gain
Time: 3.5-4 hours with a couple of stops
Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the low 60’s to the low 70’s
Parking: Bear Creek Staging Area-$3 fee when kiosk is attended