Wednesday, May 2, 2018
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 explores the eastern trails around Briones Regional park from the Reliez Valley Staging Area in Lafayette. It goes for a clockwise loop off the Blue Oak Trail to Spengler Trail and upwards to Old Briones Rd. The hike continues on Briones Crest Trail up to Briones Peak at 1483 feet and levels out at Table Top Trail. Return to Blue Oak Trail via Table Top, Spengler, and Blue Oak Shortcut.
Begin this hike from the Blue Oak Trailhead at Reliez Valley Staging Area. Head uphill through the scattered oak woodland on Blue Oak to trail post #52.
Enjoy the view of the Lafayette Hills and Mt Diablo!
Go right to stay on Blue Oak Trail, it continues upwards across the hillside to trail post #50 at Spengler Trail junction.
Go left onto Spengler Trail, it winds around the shaded woodland to trail post #48 at the service road junction.
Go straight to stay on Spengler, it continues climbing up to trail post #46 at Diablo View junction.
Go left to stay on Spengler, the trail the trail winds around the grassland into the shaded oak woodland to trail post #37 ar Alhambra Creek Trail.
Go left to stay on Spengler, it continues uphill through the beautiful oak-bay woodland to the upper meadow at trail post #24 at Old Briones Rd junction.
Turn left onto Old Briones Rd to trail post #23 at Briones Crest Trail junction.
Go straight onto Briones Crest Trail, it climbs along the upper ridge with phenomenal panoramic views!
Enter through the trail gate, it continues up along the ridge towards Briones Peak. At the trail split, follow the single track to the vista bench at Briones Peak. Enjoy the views at 1483 feet!
From Briones Peak, the highest point in the park, there are panoramic views of Mount Diablo and the Diablo Valley to the east, the Sacramento River and Delta to the north, the East Bay hills and Mt. Tamalpais to the west, and Las Trampas Regional Wilderness to the south.*1
Make your way back down to the main road and go left on Briones Crest Trail, it climbs upwards to trail post #74 at Table Top Trail junction.
Go straight onto Table Top and enjoy the stunning panoramic views!
At trail post #73, turn right to stay on Table Top Trail. It travels along the open ridgeline before cutting into the shaded woodland to trail post #56 at Spengler Trail junction.
Go left onto Spengler, it drops down through the woodland before exiting out along the lower ridge.
Enjoy the grand views!
Stay on Spengler, it continues downhill as it winds around the hillside to the lower grassland meadows.
At the unmarked trail split, go right onto the no-name single track trail, it drops down through the woodland to a trail gate.
Go right and follow the unmarked Blue Oak Shortcut Tr as it leads you downhill along the creek to trail post #52 at Blue Oak trail junction.
Turn right onto Blue Oak and retrace your steps back down to the staging area parking lot.
This is a fabulous hike around the eastern part of Briones Park, the trails climb out from the gorgeous woodland up to the open ridge at Brione Crest and Table Top. You’ll enjoy the quiet trails and the stunning panoramic views!
8.5 Miles with 2040′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1444′
Time: 4 hours with one stop
Hike: Challenging with steep climbs
Parking: No fee at Reliez Valley Staging Area off Reliez Valley Rd in Lafayette
No facilities, plan accordingly
Weather: Sunny and warm. Temps ranged from the low 60’s to the low 70’s with SW winds.