Get tails a’waggin’ on trails at one of the East Bay Regional Parks District preserves serving Contra Costa and Alameda counties. The 73 preserves include between them 125,000 acres of open space and 1,250 miles of trails. Yes, that’s a lot! Start, perhaps, by exploring Lime Ridge Open Space, held jointly by Concord and Walnut Creek. Its 1,200 acres are criss-crossed by 25 miles of dog-friendly pathways.
The southern portion is preserved as a wildlife preserve, but you’re welcome to hike elsewhere and it’s OK to unleash away from developed areas and equestrians.
Briones Regional Park is another great choice: it’s a haven of rolling hills and shady canyons tucked close to Concord, Lafayette and Walnut Creek. Its 6,255 hilly acres offer great views and miles of trails where you and your dog can definitely get in an aerobic workout (but be sure to check on leash rules, which vary according to which trails you choose).
While doing your research on where to go and what to do with your pup, check out the 29th annual Trails Challenge, a free, self-guided hiking and biking program to explore the East Bay Parks. A free guidebook has details about 20 trails include in the challenge; get your copy by following the directions set out here.
A must-do on your visit-Concord agenda: Mount Diablo. The landmark mountain just outside Concord towers 3,849 feet between the East Bay and the Central Valley. From the summit on a clear day, one of the most expansive views on the continent opens up. Dogs are restricted to developed areas at Mount Diablo State Park, but these include the quarter-mile, wheelchair-accessible Mary Bowerman Trail and a lookout near the summit. Go early to snag a parking spot, as they’re in short supply.
And don’t overlook the paved, multi-use Iron Horse Regional Trail running between Concord and Dublin along an abandoned railroad right-of-way. Its generous, 20-foot width connects residential and commercial areas, business centers, schools, public transportation and parks. A plus for guests at the Concord Hilton: out-the-door access, as the trail runs adjacent to the hotel.