Don’t come to Oakland or the Tri-Valley without your hiking shoes! You’ll need them, along with a leash, to explore open-space preserves…as diminutive as the as 23-acre Acalanes Ridge tract in the town of Lafayette or sprawling Del Valle Regional Park, 5,000 acres of loveliness near Livermore centered on a 5-mile-long lake and laced with 67 miles of trails.
Acalanes is managed by the John Muir Land Trust, whose array of properties in Contra Costa County encompasses 2,500 acres of East Bay hills, ranches, streams and shoreline crisscrossed by multi-use trails open to walking, hiking, cycling, horses and dogs. If Daisy stays close and has a reliable recall, she’s welcome to accompany you off-leash as you take in an intoxicating dose of fresh air at JMLT preserves. Largest is the Franklin-Fernandez Ranch complex, which sprawls over 1,185 acres of open space.
If your trip is centered primarily in Oakland and you don’t want to spend a lot of time on the road, head up to Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, a 208-acre tract in the Berkeley/Oakland Hills behind the Claremont Hotel. Leona Canyon Regional Open Space Preserve near Merrit College is 290 acres in size and ideal for jogging or dog walking. A few miles over the ridge from downtown, Redwood Regional Park is home to second-growth coast redwood groves and a creek teeming with native trout.
Heading east into the Tri-Valley region, Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park near Pleasanton is 5,271 acres in size and largely undeveloped. Take the rugged Ridgeline Trail for great views of the Sunol, Pleasanton and Livermore Valleys. Sycamore Valley Open Space outside Danville is another good DogTrekker choice; for a moderate, 2-mile hike, choose the Short Ridge Trail, which requires about an hour of your time. Near the community of Dublin, 654-acre Dublin Hills Regional Park is bounded by Interstate 580 but otherwise affords views little changed since the 19th century. The 5-mile, out and back Calaveras Ridge Trail is a moderate hike that will deliver you and your dog to open grasslands. For the best view, climb Wiedeman’s Hill at the midpoint.
Good to know: At most parks in the EBRPD, your dog can accompany you off-leash in undeveloped areas.