John Muir might be most famous for his conservation efforts in the Yosemite region, but he wrote and raised a family in the East Bay community near Concord and cherished the rolling landscapes. The John Muir Land Trust was created 30 years ago to protect a growing collage of ranches, farms, parks and shorelines that total more than 2,500 open-space acres in Contra Costa County, all open to the public for recreation and education.
The 18 properties under trust management range from diminutive Bodfish Preserve (7 acres) in Orinda to 1,200-acre Fernandez Ranch between Hercules and Martinez, where miles of trails include one that is wheelchair-accessible. Dogs under sight and voice control can be off-leash here away from developed areas so long as they steer clear of equestrians and other trail-users.
One of the most popular trust properties is Acalanes Ridge, a 23-acre ridge-top preserve in Lafayette that is visible for miles. It’s accessible for day use via several trails, including the regional pathway connecting Briones Regional Park and Mount Diablo State Park. From the ridge’s 781-foot summit, panoramic views take in the Carquinez Straight, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the region’s most prominent landmark, 3,848-foot-high Mount Diablo. The property’s location adjacent to the 202 acres are Acalanes Ridge Open Space, managed by the city of Walnut Creek, offers four miles of additional trails for tail-waggers and their peeps.