Saturday, April 11, 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 short loop goes around the network of scenic trails around the south section of Briones Regional Park. Climb up Buckeye Trail from the Springhill Staging Area to the top of Lafayette Ridge and descend Springhill Trail back to the parking lot.
Begin this hike from the Briones Staging Area at the end of Springhill Rd in Lafayette. Enter thru the trail gate and stay on the main trail towards the restroom. At the trail junction: go right to the Buckeye Trail gate; the trail goes along a creek under the shaded woodlands.
Mile 0.4-at the trail split: turn right and and go through the gate to the next trail junction.
Mile 0.45-at the trail junction: go left onto the Buckeye Trail. The trail cuts across the lower grasslands and pitches up to another trail gate.
The Buckeye Trail kicks up for a steep climb and levels out for a short section.
The trail winds out of the canopy of trees and rises up through the upper grassy slope to the Lafayette Ridge trail junction. Enjoy the fine view of Mt Diablo!
Mile 1.0-at Lafayette Ridge Trail: go left and stay on the ridge trail. The rolling terrain along the ridge has gorgeous views of the surrounding hills and peaks.
Take the time to enjoy the abundance of wildflowers!
The Lafayette Ridge Trail goes up and down along the ridge top with spectacular views of the East Bay Hills, Las Trampas and Diablo areas.
Stop at one of the many vista points to take in the stunning panoramic views!
Continue along the scenic ridge top and enjoy the variety of wildflowers.
The views are simply stunning!
Mile 1.5-at the Springhill Trail junction: turn left onto Springhill Trail. The trail winds down from the ridge through the oak studded hillside.
Mile 1.9-at the switchback: the trail continues to descend on a very steep slope.
Mile 2.0-the trail steadily drops down through the grasslands to the staging area parking lot.
Wildflowers seen along the trails: blue-eyed grass, chaparral peas, california poppies, purple ow’s clovers, blue dicks, pink veitches, silver lupines, yarrow and woolly sunflowers.
This is a wonderful short loop that can be done within 1-1.5 hours. The elevation changes will give you a good cardio workout in a short period of time. The ridge top vistas are definitely worth the effort!
2.2 Miles with 610′ of elevation gain
Time: 1 hour with one stop
Sunny and warm with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the low to mid 70’s with NW winds.
Parking: No fee-Pit toilet-No water
Hike: Moderate with steep sections