Briones Hills

Saturday, August 15, 2015

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This hilly clockwise loop goes around Briones Hills from Martinez to Lafayette. Climb Taylor, Deer Hill and Happy Valley to Bear Creek. Continue climbing on Bear Creek Rd and Alhambra Valley before returning back through the valley into Martinez.

Exit Holiday Highlands Park and make your way up Arnold Dr to Glacier and Center Ave to Vine Hill Way. Morello Ave leads you out of Martinez into Pleasant Hill onto Taylor Blvd.

Head south on Taylor Blvd; this busy main thoroughfare is a very utilitarian way to get from Pleasant Hill down into Lafayette with great pavement and wide shoulder areas. At Grayson Rd, Taylor Blvd gradually ascends with gentle grades of 3-5% before dropping down to the stop light at Withers Ave. Taylor levels out for the next half mile plus towards the Pleasant Hill Rd interchange and kicks up to 7-10% grades for the 0.7 mile climb up to the traffic light at Rancho View Dr.

Descend Pleasant Hill Rd for the climb up Deer Hill Rd; it’s a steep 0.2 mile climb up to the top of the ridge with gradient ranges of 14-16%!

Deer Hill Rd runs parallel to Hwy 24 and drops down on rolling terrain towards the Lafayette BART station and the Cross Memorial to Happy Valley Rd.

Happy Valley Rd gently climbs up the valley through an upscale Lafayette neighborhood for the first 2.2 miles.

At the switchback off White Pine Ln the road kicks up for a steep half mile climb up to the summit near Orinda View Rd with gradient ranges of 9-13%!

The twisty bumpy descent on Happy Valley Rd leads out to Bear Creek Rd.

Bear Creek Rd heading north begins on fairly flat terrain to Bear Creek staging area and a bit beyond.

The road kicks up for the series of small climbs and descents over the backside of Mama Bear along Briones Hills; it’s 1.4 miles with gradient ranges of 5-9% to the summit of Lawson Hill.

The sling shot descent on Bear Creek Rd takes you around through a horse ranching community and the Gan Shalom Jewish Cemetery to Alhambra Valley Rd.

Alhambra Valley Rd east begins with a gradual climb up along the valley vineyard with the olive grove and animal farm. The road continues through the valley and ranch lands around JMB ranch to the base of Pig Farm Hill.

The climb up west Pig Farm Hill begins around the bend at JBL Ranch; it’s a steep half mile climb with gradient ranges of 13-15%!

East Pig Farm Hill quickly winds down through Vaca Canyon to the valley out to the junction at Reliez Valley Rd-stay on Alhambra Valley to Alhambra Ave.

Turn right on Alhambra Ave and take Vine Hill Way back to Center and Arnold Dr.

This semi-rural hilly ride goes around the Briones Hills with a good combination of busy city streets and quiet country back roads. Ride local-it’s so accessible! The unhealthy air quality for the day caused us to shorten the route, there is no need to be out all day breathing in the tiny smoke/wood particles in the air. Ride smart, not hard-spare your lungs!

Garmin Stats:
29 Miles with 2549′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 959′
Max grade: 16%
Terrain: Hilly with a few steep climbs

Weather: Sunny, hot with smokey skies. Temps ranging from the high 60’s to the high 90’s with NW winds

View the interactive RGPS route map & profile

Briones Hills

Follow this route for today’s ride:


  1. Nancy and Michael – too brave to ride in the heat and the smog! I couldnt believe my cyclocomputer when it registered 96F but then decided it was actually telling me the truth and did the same — cut my route short. Good to see you being so consistent!


  2. Hi Rinaldo, there is no urgency to put in a lot of miles under our current weather conditions. Hope you’re doing well otherwise. Let me know when you want to get together for a ride.


  3. Nancy, yes, the summer heat could be an issue but, That’s what early morning rides are for. We’ll put this one on the “List” too. Seeya. From Michael and Maydene !


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