Happy trails: Top 10 East Bay hikes with awesome views

Happy trails: Top 10 East Bay hikes with awesome views

Happy trails: Top 10 East Bay hikes with awesome views
Las Trampas Ridge Trail offers some spectacular views on both sides of the ridge. It’s a steep climb up, but mostly flat once you get to the top of the ridge. (Photo by Pete Cruz)

Last time the column was about regional parks with shady trails for hot summer days. This time the highlight is parks with panoramic views, including some of the same parks.

The caveat here is that often, though not always, you have to climb a hill to reach the vantage point. And in hot weather, any outdoor exercise is more pleasant in the morning, before the heat of the day. Whenever and wherever you go, take plenty of water and wear sun-protective clothing. Download park maps at www.ebparks.org for detailed directions.

With all that in mind, here are ten suggestions for parks with a view:

Point Pinole Regional Shoreline: Good for shady trails, Point Pinole also has beautiful views of San Pablo Bay and Marin along the aptly named Bay View Trail. And when you reach the pier, there’s a great vista towards Mt. Diablo in the eastern direction. A bonus: Point Pinole is essentially flat, ideal for a less strenuous experience. There’s a staging area at the end of Atlas Road in Richmond.

Tilden Regional Park: There are lots of scenic viewpoints at Tilden, located next door to Berkeley. From the parking lot at Inspiration Point on Wildcat Canyon Road, it’s a two-mile walk on paved Nimitz Way out to Wildcat Peak. At the summit lookout there’s a 360-degree view of the Bay Area from the Golden Gate to Mt. Diablo and beyond. For a similar perspective, climb the Seaview Trail on the south side of Wildcat Canyon Road to a picnic table, bench and rock circle. On a clear day you can see the Farallon Islands.

Briones Regional Park: Located in central Contra Costa County, Briones has more than 6,000 acres of open space with miles of trails. One trailhead is at the end of Briones Road off Alhambra Valley Road near Martinez. From there it’s a four-mile round trip climb to the heights of the park. The highest point is Briones Peak at 1,483 feet. But the view is actually better from a bench at the Table Top Trail, about 100 yards farther along on the Briones Crest Trail. From there you can see the Delta, Mt. Diablo, the Diablo Valley and even the Sierra Nevada when it’s clear.

Happy trails: Top 10 East Bay hikes with awesome views
Carquinez Strait view across the water towards Benicia. (Photo by Pete Cruz)

George Miller Trail: This is a two-mile section of Carquinez Scenic Drive between Martinez and Port Costa, on which no motorized vehicles are allowed. I mentioned it last time as a shady walk, and it’s also great for beautiful views of Benicia and Carquinez Strait with its maritime traffic. Moreover, it’s essentially flat. There’s a parking lot on the Port Costa side; park along the road on the Martinez side. Please don’t block fire gates.

Diablo Foothills Regional Park: At the end of Castle Rock Road in Walnut Creek. The Stage Road Trail is mostly flat, with great views of Castle Rock. For another perspective, climb the Buckeye Ravine Trail from the Stage Road Trail. At the top, turn right onto an informal path that ascends a steep hill. At the end there’s a bench with a view of the rocks and Pine Canyon. You’ll see that the Castle Rocks are actually narrower rock fins.

Morgan Territory Regional Preserve: Located on Morgan Territory Road east of Mt. Diablo, the park has miles of hiking and riding trails with beautiful views of the mountain and Central Valley. Check out the Prairie Falcon Trail if it has reopened.

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness: The main trailhead at Las Trampas is at the north end of Bollinger Canyon Road off Crow Canyon Road in San Ramon. The park is essentially a canyon between two steep ridges. There are spectacular views in all directions, but you have to work to reach them. Climb to Rocky Ridge on the west or Las Trampas Ridge on the east.

Garin and Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks: The main entrance is at the end of Garin Avenue off Mission Boulevard in Hayward. Try the High Ridge Loop Trail for great views of Hayward and the south bay.

Sunol Regional Wilderness: At the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road about five miles south of I-680 and the town of Sunol. Walk out the Camp Ohlone Road, then return on Canyon View Trail for great wildflowers in season, plus views of the valley and Calaveras Reservoir.

Mission Peak Regional Preserve: Mission Peak in Fremont is an enormously popular hike, understandably so. The view from the summit is breathtaking. So is the climb to get there. Because parking is limited and strictly enforced at the Stanford Avenue trailhead, you’re better off starting from the parking lot at nearby Ohlone College. Take plenty of water, pack out your trash.

These are just a few of the possible hikes to views in the regional parks. There are many others; browse the park district website for lots more information.

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