Don’t have time to visit the real Yosemite Valley? Little Yosemite, a scenic gorge on Alameda Creek in Sunol Regional Wilderness, might not be so grand, but it’s a lot closer to home. On a 3-mile round trip along the Canyon View Trail, you’ll traverse open meadows, walk through woodsy areas and encounter dramatic serpentine and basalt outcrops. The wildflower season peaks in April, but in early May you can expect to see mule ears, bright purple California delphinium, violet lupine, tiny bluedicks and hot-pink elegant clarkia.
Swimming isn’t allowed in the Little Yosemite area, but if the water’s not too high, you and Rowdy can boulder-hop and enjoy a picnic with the sound of water rushing all around. Bring drinking water for yourself and for your pup when on other parts of the trail; there’s no potable water in the park.
Sunol, at almost 7,000 acres one of the largest parcels in the East Bay Regional Park District, holds many other rewarding trails for you and Fido to explore. Stroll over to Indian Joe Cave Rocks to watch climbers doing their thing, scan the sky for golden eagles or challenge yourself on an 8-mile round trip to the 1,688-foot summit of Maguire Peak. Some paths are shared with equestrians, so be sure to leash up in their vicinity.