Address:599 Marshall Drive, Walnut Creek, CA OR 1035 Castle Rock Rd, Walnut Creek, CA Parking: Free parking at the trailhead addresses above. Hours: Sunrise to sunset Type: Hike (moderate) Regulations: Dogs allowed off-leash if under voice control Best time to visit: Spring, winter, or early mornings on a hot day WARNING: There are rattlesnake signs posted, so keep an eye on your dog and the trail ahead. Rattlesnakes are known to sun themselves on trails on hot days. We did not see any during our hike.
Description:This park has 31 miles of hiking trails and encompasses 1,420 acres. It stretches from downtown Walnut Creek to the base of Mount Diablo. If you hike to peak, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Mt. Diablo, the Carquinez Strait and the delta on the sides of the ridge. Most of the trails are fully exposed to sunlight, and it will get hot, so I wouldn't recommend hiking on a hot day. If you're wondering how the open space got it's name, check out Fossil Hill and Quarry Hill. Look closely and you'll see that some of the rocks have shells embedded in them, as millions of years ago the land was below the sea surface.
During our recent winter hike, we parked at the Borges Ranch Staging Area. You will drive about a mile down a paved road, which is very narrow in some sections and a difficult drive if there are oncoming cars. Cattle congregate in the area, so drive slowly around the bends. To start your hike, you will have to hike through Bob's Pond/Hanna Grove, which is managed by Walnut Creek Open Space. Dogs are required to be on-leash in this area but it's a very short stretch. You will come to a cattle gate in about a tenth of a mile, which enters Shell Ridge Open Space, where your dogs are allowed off-leash. We took Costanoan Trail up, which provides beautiful views of the hills behind you. We hiked around the Ridge Trail, which has brief views of the city and panoramic views of the rolling hills. You can loop back via a number of trails depending on how long you'd like to hike.
During our summer hike, we parked on Marshall Drive (next to Indian Valley School), and took the main trail straight ahead, which is Briones to Mount Diablo Regional Trail. This is a wide dirt trail, that climbs moderately uphill. After 1.2 miles we made a left on Corral Springs Trail, which snakes around to the other side of the park. We then took a left on the narrow Ridge Top Trail, which continued up the ridge to the peak at 750ft. The climb to the peak was not too strenuous, and we enjoyed the views at the top. When you reach the top of the ridge, the trail drops off on both sides and has panoramic views of Walnut Creek and the delta. We continued across the ridge until we reached the water tower. There is a short paved trail that heads down towards the parking lot, and then you'll need to take the dirt trail to your left to return to where you parked. This was a moderate hike and it was just under 3 miles. There are grazing cattle in certain areas of this park at certain times of year, but we did not encounter any during our hike.
There is a trash can at the Marshall Drive trailhead. No restrooms are available. Bring plenty of water as there is none at the trailhead. There are restrooms with flushing toilets, running water and trash cans at the Borges Ranch Staging Area.
Pictures from our winter hike, beginning at Borges Ranch Staging Area:
Pictures from our summer hike, starting at the Marshall Drive Trailhead: