Hiking Sunol Regional Wilderness. Photo Credit: John Kay (CC)
The East Bay Regional Park District, a network of 65 parks spanning Alameda and Contra Costa counties, is cherished by dogs and their people, and rightly so. Its 1,250 miles of trails dip and dive over 120,536 acres of open space and are enjoyed by hikers, bikers and equestrians as well as DogTrekkers grateful for the opportunity to disconnect from the leash.
In almost all the parks, dogs under reliable voice control can hike leash-less with their people away from developed areas. So what constitutes an undeveloped area? The EBRPD defines them as unposted and unpaved trails or open spaces separated from developed areas by fences or by a distance of at least 100 yards. (Familiarize yourself with other rules here.)
When it comes to East Bay parks, the options for romps in the rough with your four-legged companion can be overwhelming. Here are a couple of places to start.
• Del Valle Regional Park, Livermore: The centerpiece of often-busy, 5,000-acre preserve is a 5-mile-long, man-made reservoir, but 67 mile of trails, many of them easy-to-hike fire roads, lead into the hills. For an easy jaunt, take the East Shore Trail, an easy, 3-mile in and out. To add some aerobics, start out on East Shore and turn onto the Hetch Hetchy Trail, which climbs uphill through grasslands for a little over a mile to the crest. Consult a map to find your way back via the Hidden Canyon, Ridgeline and East Ridge Trails. This loop is especially pretty late January through mid-March, when new grass turns the hillsides day-glo green.
• Ohlone Regional Wilderness. No roads lead into this 9,737-acre parkland; the only way to reach it is via the Ohlone Wilderness Trail accessed through Del Valle Regional Park, Sunol Regional Wilderness or Mission Peak Regional Preserve. The trail traverses 28 miles of mountains and canyons in southern Alameda County, but you won’t have to hike that far to reach 3,817-foot Rose Peak, just 32 feet lower than Mount Diablo. A permit and map are required and available at park entrances.
Photo Credit: John Kay (CC)