Zoe and DJ Running at Fairmont Ridge. Photo: marymactavish (cc)
If all 1,250 miles of trails within the East Bay Regional Park District stretched in a straight line up and down the West Coast, they’d reach from San Diego to Seattle. Instead, the pathways dip and dive over 120,536 open-space acres within a network of 65 parks enjoyed by hikers, bikers and equestrians, as well as DogTrekkers grateful for the opportunity to disconnect from the leash while away from developed areas. As you will see as you read on, many are close to the town of Concord.
The patchwork of trails in Contra Costa County includes expansive properties like 1,200-acre Lime Ridge Open Space, held jointly by the cities of Concord and Walnut Creek and laced with 25 miles of developed pathways. And then there’s Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve near Antioch, a 5,375-acre oasis as interesting for its coal-mining history and artifacts (mine shafts, cemeteries, crumbled buildings) as for it's 64 miles of pet-friendly trails meandering over a hilly, oak-studded landscape.
You and your four-legged sidekick will have to start out connected by a leash at EBRPD preserves, but with few exceptions, once clear of parking lots, trailheads, staging areas, campgrounds, visitor centers and other developed areas, you can unclip and let your pup romp unencumbered in the emerald landscape. Just make sure she’s “under control,” which means staying within sight, coming when called and steering clear of equestrians, wildlife and livestock. Climb high for the best views, and expect a good wildflower show in late March.
Keep an ear out for news about the new Concord Hills Regional Park now under development; it will encompass some 2,540 acres on the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.