Trails of the Diablo Valley
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Trails of the Diablo Valley

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Walnut Creek Open Space Trails

The City of Walnut Creek has four parcels of Open Space totaling approximately 2800 acres. The largest of these is Shell Ridge Recreation Area, with 1400 acres and 20 miles of trails. The other areas are Lime Ridge with 900 acres and two smaller parcels, Acalanes Ridge and Sugarloaf. Both Acalanes and Sugarloaf have small trail systems suitable for short hikes and nature observation. The most extensive trail systems are found in Shell Ridge and Lime Ridge. Both of these areas are connected, either by connector trails or through Diablo Foothills Regional Park, to Mt. Diablo.

If you would like to help make trail information available for the Walnut Creek Open Space, then Update the Walnut Creek Open Space Trail Book. It would be greatly appreciated by all. Or if you are just interested in seeing what others have to say about the trails of the Walnut Creek Open Space, then View the Walnut Creek Open Space Trail Book.

Contact Information

Shell Ridge Recreation Area

Shell RidgeShell Ridge, once a sea bed, takes its name from the fossilized shells found in the areas rocks. Along with the interesting geology, there is an abundance of Flora and Fauna to be seen in Shell Ridge. From mid winter through early summer, wildflowers blanket the oak dotted hillsides. Though oaks are the predominant tree, buckeye, willow and elderberry are also present. Redtail hawks and golden eagles soar overhead as ground squirrels scamper about underfoot. Coyotes, while frequently seen, pose no hazard to humans and play a vital predatory role in the ecosystem. Less frequently seen are the red fox, black tailed deer and bobcat. While mountain lions do inhabit Mt. Diablo, it is extremely unlikely they venture into Shell Ridge.
Trail Map 387K Public Transit Information

Indian Creek - Ridge Top Loop (6 miles):  ***

Trailhead: Marshall Drive

Directions: From Walnut Creek, take Ygnacio Valley Road east to Homestead Ave. Turn right and then at the first stop sign, left onto Marshall Drive. Go to the end of Marshall Drive and park on the street in front of Indian Valley School.

This is a moderate six mile loop with an elevation gain of 600 feet. The trail is mostly singletrack with wonderful views from the top of Shell Ridge. From the trailhead take the Briones - Mt. Diablo Trail, bearing right at the first trail junction. Turn right at Fossil Hill Trail which will be the first fire road you come to. Descend to the bottom of the hill and turn left onto Indian Creek Trail. Follow this singletrack trail for 1.25 miles until it intersects with the Briones - Mt. Diablo Trail. At this intersection go right and stay on this trail for about 1 mile through the cattle gate and under the power lines. Take the first left after going under the power lines to the Ridge Top Trail, which traverses the length of Shell Ridge. At the water tank take the singletrack trail to the left for about .5 miles where you will come to a gate. Stay on the singletrack straight ahead after going through the gate and circle around the hill. After re-crossing the fire road, go through the next gate, still staying on the singletrack . Go through two more gates, cross Ginder Gap Trail and continue on the singletrack trail until you come to the junction of the Hammil and Briones - Mt. Diablo Trails. Go left on the Briones - Mt. Diablo trail back to the Marshall Drive trailhead.

Briones-Mt. Diablo - Hanging Valley (9 miles):  ***

Trailhead: Marshall Drive; See directions for Indian Creek - Ridge Top Loop above.

This is a moderate 9 mile partial loop with a 3 mile out and back leg and a total elevation gain of 800 feet. Follow the Briones - Mt. Diablo Trail for approximately 4 miles (Note: after approximately 3 miles you enter Diablo Foothills Regional Park) to the junction of Hanging Valley Trail. Turn right (if you reach the gate to Mt. Diablo State Park you have gone too far, go back down the hill and take the first trail to the left) and follow through the gate and to the right. You will begin a steep ascent followed by an even steeper descent and another short climb out of the valley. At the junction of Stone Gate Trail continue straight ahead on Twin Ponds Trail, bearing right on Twin Ponds Trail where it intersects Foothills Trail. Go through the gate back into Shell Ridge and past Twin Ponds up the hill to the junction with the Briones - Mt. Diablo Trail. Go left and retrace your route back to the trailhead.

Indian Creek - Twin Ponds Loop (3 miles):  **

Trailhead: Rock Spring Place

Directions: From Walnut Creek go east on Ygnacio Valley Rd. Turn right on Walnut Blvd. and go about 1.5 miles before turning left on Rock Spring Place. Park at the end of the Street.

An easy 3 mile singletrack loop with negligible elevation gain. Take the singletrack trail directly in front after entering the gate. Follow this trail to Twin Ponds where you will bear to the right and stay on the singletrack trail until reaching the Sugarloaf - Shell Ridge Trail. Bear left past Bullfrog Pond and take the singletrack trail on the right. Stay on the singletrack and follow it back to the Rock Spring trailhead.

Costanoan - Hammil - Mt. Diablo Trail Loop (6 miles):  **

Trailhead: Borges Ranch

Directions: From Walnut Creek go east on Ygnacio Valley Road. Turn right on Walnut Ave. and right again on Castle Rock Road. Shortly after passing Northgate High School on your right, look for the sign to Borges Ranch on the right. Park in the first parking lot on the right by the picnic area.

A moderate 6 mile loop with a total elevation gain of 500 feet. Take the trail directly behind the picnic area/play field and go past Bob Pond to the gate. Take the Costanoan Trail to the left at the junction with Hanna Grove Trail. Follow to the top of Ginder Gap. Go straight on Hammill Trail (Costanoan turns right here). After about a mile on Hammill you will come to a sharp left bend. This is the junction of the Briones - Mt. Diablo Trail. Go left and continue on this trail for 3 miles. After passing the power lines take the second road to the left (just before the gate) which is the Borges Ranch Trail. Follow this back to the parking lot.

Notes: Dogs are required to be leashed in activity areas. Primitive restrooms, drinking water and a picnic area are located at the trailhead.

Lime Ridge Open Space

Lime Ridge Open Space encompasses 900 acres of both City of Walnut Creek and City of Concord properties. It contains some of the last remaining chaparral vegetation in the area. This preserve area is rich in diversity of both plants and animals and is protected more than other areas. Please heed the signage throughout.

Trail Map 442K

Ohlone - Paraiso - Lime Ridge Blue Oak Loop (5 miles) **

Trailhead: Boundary Oaks golf course

Directions: From Walnut Creek take Ygnacio Valley Road east to Oak Grove Road and turn right. At Valley Vista Road turn left go about .5M and park in the lot across from the Boundary Oaks clubhouse.

A moderately strenuous 5 mile loop featuring outstanding views of Walnut Creek and 1000' of elevation gain. Go through the gate at the end of the parking lot and up the hill on Ohlone Trail for .4M to the junction with Paraiso Trail. Go right on Parasio, bearing right at the next junction, for .6M to the habitat area gate. Note: no dogs allowed in the habitat area. Go through the gate and take the singletrack Lime Ridge Trail. Go 2.M and cross the fire road staying on the singletrack for another 3M to the top of Lime Ridge. At the fire road take the single track trail Lime Ridge Trail on the left side of the fence. Go .9M to Blue Oak Trail and turn left. Go .4M to Ohlone Trail and turn left. After about .8M go left at Ohlone/Mazanita for .1M before turning right on the Ohlone Trail for another .7M. At the junction of Ohlone/Paraiso go right on Ohlone back to the trailhead.

Acalanes Ridge Recreation Area

Acalanes Ridge Recreation Area encompasses 177 acres of open land and along the ridgeline provides dramatic views of Mt. Diablo, particularly Castle Rocks and Rock City. There are also superb views of the Carquinez Strait and delta to the north. The trails are not signed, but as this is a small area consisting of just the ridge and a narrow strip on either side it is impossible to get lost. The Briones - Mt. Diablo Trail passes throgh the park and provides another access point from the Contra Costa Canal Trail and Larkey Park.

Trail Map 113K

Sousa - Ridgeline (3 miles) **

Trailhead: Sousa Drive

Directions: From Walnut Creek take North Main Street to San Luis Road and turn left (west). Go to Larkey Lane and turn left. Turn left on Alfred Avenue and then right on Sousa Drive. An alternative trailhead is located on Pleasant Hill Road just north of Reliez Valley Road.

An easy 3 mile partial loop, with a total elevation gain of 300 feet. Take the paved drive at the end of Sousa Drive for 100 yards to the trailhead on the right. Follow this nice singletrack trail for about .3 miles to the paved EBMUD access road and turn left. Follow the road for several hundred yards to the gate and enter the main part of Acalanes Ridge. Follow the trail that stays on the ridge for about 1 mile, always going up when in doubt, to the gate at Green Valley Drive. Turn right and take the sigletrack trail that parallels the ridge back to the entrance gate at the EBMUD tank, and then retrace your route back to the trailhead. There are several other trails at the bottom on either side of the ridge that you may wish to explore. The Briones - Mt. Diablo Trail is the one on the south side of the ridge and will lead to the Pleasant Hill Road trailhead and then on to Briones Regional Park.

Sugarloaf Recreation Area

Sugarloaf Recreation Area encompasses 177 acres of open land and along the upper ridgeline provides views of Mt. Diablo, Shell Ridge, Las Trampas Ridge And the Briones Hills. A 15 acre Black Walnut orchard located on the preserve provides a wildlife habitat and shade. There is also a creekway, providing a dense cover of riparian vegetation for wildlife and nature study areas. Though the area is heavily grazed, it provides a glimpse of what a working ranch is like with its gardens, orchard and outbuildings.
Trail Map 188K

Hill - Ridge - Orchard Trails (1-3 miles): *

Trailhead: Sugarloaf Ranger Station

Directions: From Walnut Creek take I-680 south and exit east on Rudgear Road. Go to Youngs Valley road and turn right. Go to the end of the road and park in the lot at the Ranger Station.

An Easy 1-3 mile loop, depending on options. Go through the gate across the driveway from the parking area and take the fire road to the far left, which is Hill Trail. Climb to the top of the ridge and turn right onto Ridge Trail. This is a great place to stop and take in the views, and check out 'The Pines', as this knoll is called, no doubt named for the unique group of trees here. About 100 yards along the Ridge Trail there is a trail to the left that goes down the back side of the ridge to Bottom Spring Trail for 1 mile. If you take this turn right at the first trail junction and go past Duck Pond. Bottom Spring trail dead-ends and you can either retrace your route or take one of several cow paths straight up the ridge to the Ridge Trail. In either case go to the end of Ridge Trail by the antenna. Turn around and head back on the ridge trail for about 200 yards and take the narrow trail on the left down the ridge to the gate at the orchard. Go through the gate and take the Orchard Trail back to the trailhead. You can take the Pasture Trail back to the top of the ridge if you wish to explore some more.

Notes: Dogs are required to be leashed in activity areas. Restrooms, drinking water and picnic areas are located at the trailhead. Camping is permitted in designated areas with advanced reservations. 510-944-5766

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