Tuesday, April 26, 2016
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This scenic hike heads out from Round Valley on Miwok Trail up the summit of Hardy Canyon for a cross country scramble to the rocky ridge top. Continue across the fence into Contra Costa Water District property to Eagle Ridge Trail and head SE on the Vista Grande Trail to Los Vaqueros Dam. Return along Walnut Trail for the climb back up to Eagle Ridge Trail. Cross country scramble down from the ridge onto Hardy Canyon Trail for the return to Round Valley staging area. Enjoy the gorgeous views of Los Vaqueros Reservoir and the amazing vistas of the rolling hills, ridges and valleys!
*The area that is now Round Valley Regional Preserve was once home to California Indians. It was probably a boundary between several different tribal groups, an area where members of East Bay and San Joaquin Valley groups met periodically to trade and socialize. Evidence of Native American use has been uncovered at several archaeological sites within the valley.
Begin this hike at Round Valley Regional Preserve in Brentwood. Take the main path to the first trail junction.
Turn right on Miwok Trail and cross the bridge over Marsh Creek to the trail gate.
Head east on the Miwok Trail. *Riparian vegetation occurs primarily along Round Valley Creek, which the Miwok Trail parallels beginning about one-half mile from the staging area. The creek flows until late spring or early summer, after which the water pools at intervals along the streamcourse. Tree cover along the banks is sparse; vegetation includes spikerush, sedge, rabbitsfoot grass, watercress, curly dock, monkey flower, and willow.
Miwok Trail continues through the gorgeous oak woodland on gentle terrain. At the trail split, go left and take the high road for extra elevation gain.
At the second trail split, go left onto the single track for a little more elevation gain. The trail rejoins the main fire road.
The trail continues through the valley along Round Valley Creek.
Cross the bridge onto the broad fire road towards Round Valley.
At Hardy Canyon Trail junction: go left onto Hardy Canyon Trail-it gently rises along the oak dotted hillside.
Enjoy the stunning panoramic view of Round Valley!
Hardy Canyon Trail continues on a single track through the rocky oak studded hills.
The trail goes upwards as it travels eastward across the grassy slopes with grand views of the Black Hills at Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. *The steep, northeastern-facing slopes in the southwestern portion of the preserve support mixed oak woodland and chamise/black sage/manzanita chaparral.
Hardy Canyon Trail continues uphill towards the rock outcroppings. The narrow switchback cuts along the rocky hillside to the large oak with a low overhanging branch. *The bedrock geology of the preserve is Cretaceous Panoche shale and sandstone with deposits of recent alluvium on the surface in valleys and creek drainages. The preserve has small amounts of high-quality soils, located mainly in the level areas along Marsh Creek and in the valley proper. Most of the soil, however, is of a lower quality suitable only for range, wildlife and watershed uses.
Hardy Canyon Trail continues on a narrow single track across the upper grassland. Enjoy the magnificent views of Mt Diablo!
At the top of the hill, scramble south across the grassland onto the single track towards the rocky ridge line.
Continue east along the top ridge.
Enjoy the stunning panoramic views!
Continue along the fence line and cross over into CCWD property. Scramble across the grassland towards Eagle Ridge.
Head east on Eagle Ridge Trail to the “call box” area-at Vista Grande Trail junction.
Turn right onto Vista Grande Trail; it rises uphill through the scattered oaks towards the ridge.
The trail opens with gorgeous views of Los Vaqueros Reservoir and the dense chaparral covered Black Hills at Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.
Vista Grande Trail rolls along the ridge with spectacular watershed views! **The Los Vaqueros Watershed consists of 18,500 acres of open space surrounding the 1,900 acre Los Vaqueros Rerservoir. It has more than 53 miles of hilly trails for hiking, offering spectacular views and challenging walks. There are five remote “call boxes” along the trails.
At the Mariposa Trail junction: go straight to stay on Vista Grande Trail.
Enjoy the phenomenal panoramas of the rolling hills and valleys to the north and the reservoir and dense Black Hills to the south!
The moderate uphill climb leads to an open area with a pit toilet and park benches overlooking the reservoir, Morgan Territory, Mt Diablo and the expansive Central Valley-pick a side and sit awhile to admire the splendid views!
The trail drops down from the ridge to the Crest Trail junction.
Go straight to stay on Vista Grande Trail; it continues downhill to the cattle gate.
Stop and enjoy the magnificent views!
Vista Grande comes to a T junction at Los Vaqueros Trail; turn left and head east on Los Vaqueros Trail. The trail continues downhill with grand views of Los Vaqueros Dam and the lower shores of the reservoir.
At Fishing Pier #4 junction; go straight to stay on Los Vaqueros Trail.
The trails exits onto Walnut Blvd; the paved road winds down from the dam area to the gated entrance.
Stay on Walnut Blvd, at the end of the fence line turn left onto Walnut Trail. It runs parallel to the main road to Crest Trail junction.
At this juncture, you can either go straight on Walnut Trail or head up hill for a detour out to the Dock Picnic Area with a gazebo and pit toilet. Turn right at the end of the dock and follow the fence line to the trail gate at Walnut Trail.
Walnut Trail travels NE along Walnut Blvd to Mariposa Canyon Trail junction. Stay on Walnut Trail for the slight uphill to Eagle Ridge Trail.
Go left at the trail gate onto Eagle Ridge Trail; it turns westward for a climb up towards the ridge.
At the Grassland Trail, go left to stay on Eagle Ridge Trail. It continues along the ridge with views of the low rolling hills and extended valley.
Enjoy the panoramic vistas!
The trail rolls along the grassland ridge to the transmission towers.
The ridge provides great views of the lush riparian landscape along Mariposa Canyon.
Eagle Ridge Trail continues west through the scattered oaks to the cattle gate at Kit Fox Trail junction.
Go straight to stay on Eagle Ridge; it continues along the ridge towards the next cattle gate.
Cut over the fence and cross country scramble down from the ridge onto Hardy Canyon Trail.
Go right onto Hardy Canyon Trail; it drops down through the shaded canyon along High Creek. *Riparian and wetland vegetation consisting of moisture-dependent grasses, rushes, herbs, shrubs, and/or trees occur along Round Valley Creek, which is a tributary of Marsh Creek originating in the uplands surrounding Round Valley.
Hardy Canyon Trail continues NE through the woodland.
The trail exits out along the eastern slope with great views of the neighboring equine facilities along Marsh Creek. Hardy Canyon Trail cuts back into the oak stands as it continues downhill.
The trail winds around the valley meadows and grassland before coming to a trail junction.
Turn left to stay on Hardy Canyon Trail to the cattle gate. Hardy Canyon Trail continues through the lush riparian landscape and vegetation along Marsh Creek.
The trail leads you back across the bridge to the staging area parking lot.
This is a wonderful hike from Round Valley out to the beautiful watershed area at Los Vaqueros Reservoir. You’ll enjoy the superb vistas along Vista Grande Trail-west views of the reservoir, Morgan Territory and Mt Diablo and east views of the expansive Central Valley! This open space area has few trees with no shade-be prepared!
9.9 Miles with 2264′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1267′
Time: 5 hours with a couple of stops
Hike: Challenging with steep climbs
Parking: No fee at Round Valley Regional Preserve staging area at 19450 Marsh Creek Rd, Brentwood
Water & Pit toilets available. Bring plenty of water & food/snacks-NO facilites along the trails.
NO DOGS ALLOWED at Round Valley Regional Preserve and Los Vaqueros Watershed
Weather: Partly sunny and warm. Temps ranging from the high 50’s to the low 70’s with brisk SW winds
Directions: Round Valley Staging Area > R-Miwok Tr > L-Hardy Canyon Tr > Hardy Canyon summit > R-scramble cross country to rocky ridge > follow ridge eastward > cross over into CCWD property > onto Eagle Ridge Tr > R-Vista Grande Tr > L-Los Vaqueros Tr > L-Walnut Blvd > L-Walnut Tr > L-Crest Tr > R-Dock Picnic Area > R-to Walnut Tr > Eagle Ridge Tr > cross over into Round Valley > scramble cross country onto Hardy Canyon Tr > Round Valley Staging Area
Print Los Vaqueros Watershed Trail Map
View the interactive RGPS route map & profile
Thanks Nancy. A new route and beautiful views out of Round Valley.