Thursday, April 19, 2018
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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. *1
This hike begins at the Briones Regional Park Lafayette Ridge staging area on Pleasant Hill Rd in Lafayette. Take the path up to the gate and follow the fire road uphill to the Lafayette Ridge Trail.
Turn left at the Lafayette Ridge Trail junction, the gradual climb through the grasslands leads to open views of Sienna Ranch. The trail continues around the ridge to the old brown hilltop ranch/barn.
At the unsigned trail split, keep left and stay on Lafayette Ridge Trail. At the next trail junction, turn right and head uphill towards the ridge.
Enjoy the views!
Enter through the trail gate, turn left at the unsigned junction to stay on the Lafayette Ridge Trail. It cuts through the shaded woods before popping back out to the T junction at Vista Bella Dr.
Take the lower trail on the right to stay on Lafayette Ridge Trail.
As you climb higher, you gain great vistas in all directions-Las Trampas to the south, Berkeley Hills to the west and Suisun Bay to the north.
The trail goes along the ridge with undulating short steep climbs to the Springhill Trail junction.
Continue on top of the ridge to the high point at 1206 feet. At Buckeye Ranch Trail junction-go straight to stay on Lafayette Ridge.
At the Russell Peak/Briones Crest Trail junction-turn left onto Russell Peak Trail. The trail travels westward along a rolling ridge towards Russell Peak.
When you see the orange pipeline marker-go left onto the unsigned path to Russell Peak. Enjoy the summit views from 1357′!
Exit Russell Peak and reverse your way back to Lafayette Ridge.
Return along the rolling Lafayette ridge.
Return along the lower ridge to the trail gate.
Retrace steps back to the parking lot.
This hike provides stunning vistas along the Lafayette Ridge-panoramic views of Mount Diablo and the Diablo Valley to the east, the Suisun Bay to the north, the East Bay hills and Las Trampas Regional Wilderness to the south! This is all in our backyard so to speak, get out and enjoy the natural beauty of Briones Park and watch out for all the cow patties! Bring plenty of water & snacks.
7.18 Miles with 1942′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1347′
Time: 3.5 hrs with one stop
Hike: Challenging with steep grades
Parking: No fee at Briones Regional Park-Lafayette Ridge Entrance off Pleasant Hill Rd in Lafayette.
Bring water & food/snacks
Weather: Sunny & warm. Temps ranging from the high 50’s to the high 60’s with SW winds