Trails Challenge is the free, self-guided hiking and bicycling program offering everyone an incentive to explore new parklands or seek out new trails on familiar ones.
To enroll, all you have to do is visit the park district website at www.ebparks.org/tc. There you can download the Trails Challenge guidebook and maps of the 20 trails listed in this year’s challenge.
Hike or ride any five of the listed trails, or 26.2 miles of trails within the park district. Submit your trail log online or by mail by Dec. 1 and receive a commemorative pin, while supplies last. The pins will be available in late June.
The park district also has scheduled free distributions of guidebooks and commemorative T-shirts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and/or Sundays at tables set up in front of visitor centers. One T-shirt per person and one guidebook per family will be available, while supplies last. The T-shirts are always popular, so supplies may not last long. Check with your nearest park district visitor center before you go.
All 20 featured trails are now available on the AllTrails app. First download the free app, sign-up and log in, then go to https://www.alltrails.com/lists/ebrpd-trails-challenge-2021 and click on “Copy to my lists”, followed by “Continue in App”. The featured trails will show under ‘Lists’ in ‘Plan’. The app indicates where you are on the trail, enabling easy return to the trail if you stray from it. You can also record your hikes, and share your photos, comments etc. with others.
Trails Challenge is sponsored by the park district, the Regional Parks Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente HMO. Every year at least 10,000 people participate.
Difficult to easy
There’s a challenge trail near you no matter where you live in Alameda or Contra Costa Counties. They range in difficulty from easy to strenuous, so there’s something for every fitness level.
Some examples: there are easy challenge trails at Radke Martinez Regional Shoreline, Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area in El Sobrante, and Brushy Peak Regional Preserve near Livermore.
For a moderate hike, visit Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, or Wildcat Canyon Regional Park in Richmond.
Challenging hikes are available at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in San Ramon, and Tilden Regional Park near Berkeley.
The guidebook also has lots of good information on safety, equipment, and hiking with kids and pets.
Unfortunately we are all still contending with the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. So the park district urges everyone to visit the parks only with immediate family or household members. Also please observe social distancing of six feet, and have masks available for use when social distancing is impossible, such as on narrow trails or at park gates. Please pack out your trash; do not leave trash or dog waste bags on the trail.
The good news is that although all visitor centers remain closed to the public, several parks that were initially closed have now reopened. These include Round Valley south of Brentwood, Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton (with boat launch by hand only), and Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County.
For up-to-date information on what’s open or closed, click on “COVID-19 Closures” at the top of any page at the park district website.
Here’s a retraction of sorts. I’ve been recommending the Stage Road Trail at Diablo Foothills in Walnut Creek as a good, relatively mud-free place to hike.
However I was out there recently after light rains, and a lot of the trail is pretty soft under foot. The mud isn’t deep, but it is slippery. Not to mention the four stream crossings within the park. Pine Creek has been bone dry, but will likely be wet now that it has rained.
This time of year, a good tactic is to have a cardboard box and a pair of dry shoes in your vehicle. After the hike, you can put your muddy boots in the box and wear the spare shoes home.