Three valleys, two counties and five distinct cities make up the Tri-Valley region 33 miles southeast of San Francisco and 27 miles northeast of San Jose.
Dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and wineries abound, and if you’re looking for places to stretch your legs, the East Bay Regional Park District manages tens of thousands of acres where you can do just that.
Assisted by laws limiting urban sprawl, Tri-Valley communities have retained their authentic, small-town feel even as the greater San Francisco Bay Area has grown up around them. And the region’s dog people have scored coup after coup when it comes to leash-free play areas for their pets.
Fido can run off steam while you supervise at five off-leash dog parks in Livermore, four in San Ramon, three in Pleasanton, one in Dublin and another in Danville.
And speaking of Danville, a DogTrekker staffer recently visited the historic downtown, saw lots of dog-walkers and spied more than a few businesses with water-filled dog bowls at their doorsteps. “If they’d had an off-leash beach and an artist colony, they’d be giving Carmel a run for their money,” she said.
The neighboring community of Pleasanton is as pleasant as its name suggests when it comes to the Fido factor.
Unlike other communities that block off streets and ban canines at farmers’ markets and street fairs, Pleasanton welcomes patrons with four-legged companions at its 1st Wednesday Street Parties, held May through September and featuring more than 150 vendors each week.
One of the more unique bits of real estate in the Tri-Valley region is the Iron Horse Regional Trail, which runs along the former Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
The paved path following the course of an abandoned railroad track runs 24 miles from Highway 4 in Concord to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. Eventually, it will extend 33 miles from Livermore to Suisun Bay.
Like the trains that followed the route between 1891 and 1977, when the rails were abandoned, the path winds its way through towns, business parks, residential areas and open fields. It’s popular with cyclists, equestrians, joggers and pedestrians, as well as dogs and their people.
Leashes are required on most segments; watch the signs to stay on top of regulations.
While scenic and restful, the Iron Horse Trail rarely veers far from civilization.
The towns that rose along the rail corridor in the late 1800s stand ready to offer you a latte (and Rosco a bowl of water) as you pass through. Step off the trail in historic downtown Danville, and you’ll hit the shopping, dining and diversion trifecta.
And that's just the tip of the tail when it comes to discovering the tail-waggin' delights of this great region.