Friday, March 10, 2017
Augustin Bernal Community Park is a 237- acre open space community park in the City of Pleasanton offering outdoor recreation and educational opportunities for visitors of all ages and abilities. Located on the top and east face of Pleasanton Ridge, the park provides hiking, biking and equestrian trails with spectacular views, plus opportunities to explore a vestigial landscape that is disappearing in California. Sharing large sections of its west, south and north boundaries with East Bay Regional Park District’s Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, the park protects a valuable portion of the ridge and also secures a link in a “necklace of green,” nearly encircling San Francisco Bay. *2
Once part of Golden Eagle Ranch, Augustin Bernal Community Park was granted to the City of Pleasanton in 1971 by Walter S. Johnson, a noted philanthropist and industrialist who was known for his generous support of the Palace of Fine Arts restoration in San Francisco. When he donated the land to the City, he did so with the understanding that it be maintained and operated for public park and recreational purposes in perpetuity. The park is named for the Spanish settler, Augustin Bernal, who held the original land grant for the property. *2
Begin this trail hike from the pedestrian access located at the north side of the park by Longview Dr cul-de-sac. Park at the bottom of the hill underneath the eucalyptus groves and walk up the steep road to the driveway at 9104 Longview Dr.
Turn left and walk up the steep driveway, an easement allows public access as you enter through private property to the gated park entrance.
The road comes to an immediate junction, go right and continue uphill on Longview Trail to the water tower.
At the Toyon Trail junction, turn right onto Toyon. The trail winds up through the beautiful shaded woodland to the gated KEEP OUT-no public traffic sign.
At the trail split, turn left onto the single track trail. The trail snakes through the mixed woodland with a super steep stiff climb up to the ridge.
The trail provides the occasional glimpse of the suburban valley below along with the steady hum of traffic along I-680.
The trail leads up through to the gorgeous oak groves and open green meadows. To experience Augustin Bernal Community Park is to learn about the varied landscapes that can occur side-by-side on a typical site in California. On the steeper north-facing portions of the park, there are mixed oak woodlands with Coyote Brush and Poison Oak. On the south-facing hillsides, there are large areas of dense chaparral vegetation consisting of Coffeeberry, Monkey Flower, Toyon and Chamise. *2
Cut across the open grassland towards Ridgeline Trail into Pleasanton Ridge Park. Along the ridgeline, the woodland thins out to a savannah featuring annual grasses and scattered oak groves. Because much of the park escaped the damages of grazing animals, many native species still remain such as the large patches of California Fescue, a native bunch grass. As for seasonal color, visitors will enjoy the many native wildflowers such as Baby Blue Eyes, Chinese Houses, and Shooting Star.*2 Grassland is the dominant plant community of Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park. The woodland communities are made up of mixed stands of coast live oak, Californa bay laurel, blue oak, black oak, valley oak and Oregon oak. Like the grasslands, the woodland undergrowth contains numerous grasses and wildflowers.*1
Turn right and head north on Ridgeline Trail to Sinbad Creek Trail junction #22.
Go straight and stay on Ridgeline Trail, the rolling terrain leads to the vista bench with spectacular ridge top vistas!
The northern sections of the Ridgeline Trail afford magnificent panoramic views to the north, east, and south.The San Ramon, Pleasanton, and Livermore valleys lie spread out below, while Mt St Helena and the Diablo and Hamilton mountain ranges appear in the distance.*1
Enjoy the fields of shooting stars wildflowers!
Stay on Ridgeline Trail to Bay Leaf Trail junction #26.
Go straight and stay on Ridgeline, it continues through the scattered oaks and open grassland to Schuhart Trail junction.
Stay on Ridgeline, it rolls along the open ridge top with fantastic views of Mt Diablo in the distance.
Yellow wildflowers carpet the open meadows!
Ridgeline comes to an end at the park boundary line.
Turn left and follow the faint trail along the fence line, it leads down to the Shady Creek Trail junction.
Turn right onto Shady Creek Trail, it leads back up towards the ridge to the water tower.
Turn left and continue on the paved road on the Main Ridge up to the gate.
Follow the faint trail along the west side of the fence to the North Ridge Trail junction #34.
Turn right onto North Ridge Trail and head uphill, it takes you across the grassland through the scattered oaks to the Loop Trail junction #35.
Stay on North Ridge, the single track trail cuts across the gorgeous rolling grassland to North Ridge junction #37.
Turn left and continue on North Ridge to Turtle Pond Trail junction #38. In the upper Sinbad Creek watershed area, the Northridge Trail lies along the top of Main Ridge.*1
Enjoy the glorious views of Mt Diablo to the east and the dense green Sunol Ridge to the west!
Turn left onto Turtle Pond Trail, it drops down into upper Kilkare Canyon to Loop Trail junction #36. Watch for the ducks and snapping turtles in the pond area.
Turn right onto Loop Trail, it goes around the pond to Sinbad Creek Trail junction #30.
Head south on Sinbad Creek Trail, it travels through the lower meadows along Sinbad Creek to the Shady Creek Trail junction #29.
Go straight to stay on Sinbad Creek Trail, it leads into the gorgeous wooded Kilkare Canyon as it heads south along the creek to bay leaf Trail junction #24.
Continue through the beautiful canyon on Sinbad Creek Trail to junction #23.
Turn left, Sinbad Creek Trail crosses over the creek before tilting up for a moderate climb out of Kilkare Canyon to Ridgeline Trail junction #22.
Continue south on Ridgeline Trail, it cuts through the gorgeous oak woodland before exiting Pleasanton Ridge Park.
The trail leads back through Augustin Bernal Park to Blue Oak Knoll Trail.
Go left onto Blue Oak Knoll, the single track trail runs through the scenic oak groves along the eastern edge of the ridge to Valley View Trail.
Enjoy the valley views!
Turn left onto Valley View Trail, it gently winds down from the ridge to the Chaparral Trail junction.
Turn right and continue on Chaparral Trail, this hikers only trail cuts through the dense brush as it drops downhill to the next trail junction at Longview and Valley View.
Make a soft left onto Longview Trail, it leads you back to the junction at Toyon Trail.
Stay on Longview Trail, past the water tower and exit the park for the return on Longview Dr to the lower street parking area.
This is a fabulous hike that explores the northwest end of Pleasanton Ridge and Main Ridge from Augustin Bernal Park. Strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails! The multi-purpose trail system provides canyon views and ridgetop vistas, and access to remote, deep-canyon streams. The park occupies Pleasanton Ridge and beyond. To the northwest it spills down off Pleasanton Ridge into upper Kilkare Canyon. Inside the park, elevations exceed 1,600 feet. *1
Views provided from the park are not to be understated. From the high points along the ridgetop are distant views to Sunol, Mission Peak and Ohlone Wilderness areas. Looking to the west, visitors can see sweeping vistas of Kilkare Canyon and the east side of Sunol Ridge. From the Valley View Trail views are framed through branches of Oak and Buckeye to the Livermore-Amador Valley with Mount Diablo serving as a backdrop.*2
11.1 miles with 2277′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1546′
Time 6 hrs with multiple stops
Parking: No fee street parking at the lower south side of Longview Dr in Pleasanton for pedestrian access from the north side of the park. No facilities.
Walk uphill to easement
Water fountains available along Ridgeline Trail
Weather: Partly sunny and warm with temps ranging from the low 60’s to the mid 70’s with NE winds.
Directions: Longview Dr > L-Longview Trail entrance @ 9104 > R-Toyon Trail > L-onto steep single track trail (before signed no access gate) > R-onto Ridgeline Trail > S #22 > stay on Ridgeline Trail > R #26-stay on Ridgeline Trail > S at Schuhart junction tostay on Ridgeline > at park boundary line > L-stay along fenceline > R > Shady Creek Trail > at water tank, L onto paved road > at gate, follow faint trail along west side of fence > R #34 uphill onto North Ridge Trail > R #35 stay on North Ridge Trail > R #37 stay on North Ridge Trail > L #38 onto Turtle Pond Trail > R #36 onto Loop Trail > L #30 onto Sinbad Creek Trail > S #29 stay on Sinbad Creek Trail > S #24 stay on Sinbad Creek Trail > L #23 stay on Sinbad Creek Trail > R #22 onto Ridgeline Trail > L #21 stay on Ridgeline Trail > L-Blue Oak Knoll Trail > L-Valley View Trail > R-Chaparral Trail > L-to Longview Trail > S-stay on Longview Trail > Exit park gate onto Longview Dr > R-Longview Dr