Briones project to reduce trail-use conflicts and protect habitat starts April 21

Briones test project will restrict bike/horse use on alternate weekends to reduce conflicts

Briones project to reduce trail-use conflicts and protect habitat starts April 21
Some trails in Briones Regional Park will have new restrictions starting April 21 as part of a test project to reduce trail conflicts and protect habitat. (Pete Cruz photo)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (April 9, 2023) — A two-year pilot project relating to trail use at the northeast corner of Briones Regional Park near Martinez will begin on Friday, April 21.

The Briones Pilot Project will test a variety of trail management strategies to improve the parkland experience for everyone, reduce conflicts between trail users, and protect habitat, wildlife and watersheds. The project zone affects areas east of the Toyon Canyon, Briones Crest, Table Top and Sunrise Trails.

The rising number of parkland visitors in recent years has prompted the project, with a resulting need to find ways to share the trails. Another impetus came from the growing number of illegal “bootleg” trails at Briones and other regional parks. These illegally built trails do not stand up to sustainable trail design standards and can adversely impact the watersheds and harm wildlife.

Within the zone, equestrians and bicycle riders will alternate trail use on weekends. Horses will be allowed in the zone on even-numbered weekend days; bikes will be allowed in the zone on odd-numbered weekend days.

On even-numbered weekend days, horses will be allowed on all trails open to equestrian use. On odd-numbered weekend days, bikes will be allowed on all trails open to bike use.

Zone use

The plan will allow no horses in the zone at all on weekend bicycle days, even on trails normally open to equestrians. No bikes will be allowed in the zone at all on weekend equestrian days, even on trails normally open to bikes.

The plan designates some trails within the zone for bike use only, limited to a downhill direction of travel. Signs at the top and bottom of the trails will notify trail users. The Parks Dept. recommends that only expert riders use these trails. On even-numbered weekend days, the plan prohibits bikes from using any trails in the zone, including bike-only trails. Park management will close some other user-built trails in the zone for restoration.

The odd-even day restrictions in the zone apply only to bicycle and horse use during weekends. Hikers can use trails in the zone seven days per week during normal park hours. But for their safety, hikers should never use the bikes-only trails.

In the rest of the park, equestrians and cyclists will not need to alternate weekend days. Standard trail regulations will apply seven days per week, as set forth in the Park District’s Ordinance 38. Visitors should stay on official trails. Hikers and bicycles should yield the right of way to equestrians; bicycles yield to hikers.

Learn more about the Briones Pilot Project on the project webpage, I’d advise reading it before you set out. The description includes a trail map of the zone with a user key, a chart of the pilot zone trail use schedule. It also shows a list of answers to frequently asked questions. You can also sign up to receive updates or volunteer to help with the project.

Wildflower season

Take a flower walk during Family Nature Fun Hour. This happens from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, at the Doug Siden Visitor Center at Crab Cove in Alameda.

You do not need to register for this free program. It repeats at the same time on Sunday, April 16.

Visit Crab Cove at 1252 McKay Ave. off Alameda’s Central Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3187.

Watch for snakes

With the arrival of warmer weather, snakes will begin to venture out above ground at parks and open space including Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch.

During a program from 11 to 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, April 16, naturalist Jessica Kauzer will talk about snake activity in the springtime. She will also cover what to do if you see them on the trails. Weather permitting, a live snake join the program.

Meet Jessica at Black Diamond Mines’ uppermost parking lot, 3½ miles south of Highway 4 and a mile past the park’s entrance kiosk.

You do not need to register for this free program. Heavy rain may cancel. Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is attended. For information, call 510-544-2750.

Puppet show

A Delta-themed puppet show with naturalist Miriam Klingler will be the featured attraction from 10:30 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 16. This occurs at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. Bring a blanket and a snack: meet at the visitor center.

Visit Big Break at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. For information, call 510-544-3050.

For a full list of programs and activities available in the regional parks, visit Check the website before visiting a parkland, to make sure that adverse weather or other factors have not resulted in a program cancellation or limited park use.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at

Read more “Park It” columns by Ned MacKay, click here.