Brushy Peak: West Side-Brushy Peak Loop Trail Hike

Thursday, May 4, 2017

View the entire Google Web Album

Brushy Peak is a 1,702-foot landmark at the juncture of the San Francisco Bay Area, the California Delta, and the Central Valley. This land has attracted people’s interest for millennia. A network of ancient trade routes once linked indigenous people of these different regions: the Ohlone tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Bay Miwoks of the Delta and Mt. Diablo, and the Northern Valley Yokut peoples who journeyed to Brushy Peak, the heart of a landscape, which is recognized by native Californians as sacred. They were drawn to the peak for its abundant bird life, and scenic views, for economic, social, and ceremonial events. Indigenous peoples of this region consider Brushy Peak and the surrounding landscape to be central to their traditional stories, cultures, and religion.*

The arrival of the Spanish in 1772 brought livestock grazing from nearby Rancho de Los Vaqueros. Later this area was rumored to be a hideout for outlaws, including Joaquin Murietta. Homesteader Samuel Laughlin and his descendants then lived in this valley until it was purchased by the East Bay Regional Park District in 1997 to preserve its cultural, geologic, and wildlife values. This place is intended as a preserve, and we hope you will enjoy it in that spirit.*

Brushy Peak Regional Preserve’s wide variety of wildlife species is supported by a similarly broad range of plant communities, among which California annual grassland is dominant. Native perennial grasses (purple needlegrass, creeping wildrye, etc.) are sporadic and widely scattered; saltgrass is found in the alkali seasonal wetlands, such as in the main valley drainage within which the staging area lies. Common native wildflowers include the California buttercup, Johnny jump-up, lupine, blue-eyed grass, fiddlegrass, and many others. The most obvious grassland wildlife species is the ground squirrel, whose burrows are inhabited by amphibians, reptiles, badgers, burrowing owls, and the San Joaquin kit fox.

Begin this hike from Brushy Peak Laughlin Ranch Staging Area and head east across the parking lot to West Side loop Trail gate.

West Side Trail winds around the valley towards the next trail gate.

At the West Side Loop Tr junction, go straight and head north. The trail gradually climbs up around the lower hill with views of Laughlin Ranch and the hilltop turbines.

The trail continues uphill across the rolling grasslands.

Enjoy the gorgeous panoramic views!

Continue across the scenic hills to the next trail junction, turn left onto Brushy Peak Loop Trail.

The narrow single track trail travels northward with a moderate climb along a seasonal creek.

Brushy Peak Loop Trail steadily ascends through the rock-studded hillside.

The trail turns eastwards with a slight incline as it cuts across the open grassland.

Brushy Peak Loop Trail leads to a highpoint along the ridge with beautiful sandstone rock outcroppings amid the scattered oak woodlands.

The short northern cross-country scramble towards Brushy Peak cuts through dense prickly thistle and high grass before reaching the barb-wired fence which restricts access into the resource protection area.

Enjoy the views of Livermore Valley!

Make your way back down onto Brushy Peak Loop Trail and continue eastward.

Follow the trail through the impressive sandstone outcrops and scattered oaks.

Brushy Peak Loop Trail exits the upper ridge area on a narrow single track.

It drops downhill through the beautiful grasslands with wonderful open vistas.

Enjoy the glorious views!

At the trail junction, turn left to stay on Brushy Peak Loop Trail.

The trail turns southward with grand views of Brushy Peak and the Altamont windmills!

Brushy Peak Loop Trail continues downhill along the eucalyptus stand towards the lower valley to a trail gate.

Enter through the gate to stay on Brushy Peak Loop Trail, the broad fire road slopes downhill along a seasonal creek to Tamcan Trail junction.

Go straight to stay on Brushy Peak Loop Trail, it leads down to the stock pond surrounded by grazing cattle.

The trail travels along the valley floor with views of Brushy Peak.

Brushy Peak Loop Trail comes to an end at Laughlin Ranch.

This is a wonderfully scenic hike through the beautiful valley grasslands up to the spectacular sandstone rock outcroppings around Brushy Peak. You’ll surely enjoy the incredible ridge top vistas and the draw of the quiet calm and serenity around the Preserve!


5.17 Miles with 983′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1564′
Time: 3 hours with a few stops
Hike: Easy-moderate with a few short steep climbs
Parking: Free parking at Brushy Peak Regional Preserve-Laughlin Ranch Staging Area at the end of Laughlin Rd in Livermore
Water & pit toilets available
Dog Friendly-must be leashed at all times in the Preserve
Bring water & food/snacks

Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranged from mid 70’s to the mid 80’s with NW winds.

Directions: Clockwise Loop: Laughlin Ranch Staging Area > Head west across parking lot to West Side Loop Trail gate >S-West Side Loop Tr > L-Brushy Peak Loop Tr > at Tamcan Tr junction, go straight to stay on Brushy Peak Loop Tr > parking lot

Print Trail Map

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s