Rolling Green Hills – Briones Regional Park East Bay

Briones Regional Park | Smiling in Sonoma

Muddy trails = sliding down the trails hoping to stay upright and not land in any cowpies left behind by the adorable grazing cattle! The hubs and I successfully navigated this lovely park without landing in any cowpies (whew!) but were harassed by the adorable cows!

The North Bay has been experiencing a few days of pouring rain with roads closing, schools closed in some parts, and parks closed due to minor flooding so we decided to head to the East Bay where there has been much less rain. We were also on a scouting mission for a group hike we are helping with next month. I must say we have been very impressed with the few times we have been to an East Bay park and Briones Regional Park was no exception! We did not get to explore all 6,255 acres but thoroughly enjoyed seeing most of it from the peak.

We started this hike out of the Alhambra Creek staging area where there is plenty of parking even for a busy day. Following the trail description found here, we were quickly greeted by a small gathering of cows right on the trail! Thankfully they were just resting by the watering hole and there was a smaller single track trail to walk around them. Further along, the wide gravel path it does start to climb gently for a while and you begin to leave the sounds of the creek behind and start to experience some views.

Once we rounded a corner near the top we reached the ponds where it was more exposed. It became super windy and the heavy drizzle we were previously sheltered from under the oaks felt more like rain on the face. The chilly wind was almost as breathtaking as the views we were able to see. I imagine this is what Ireland and Scotland are like…the weather and the green rolling hills.

From here we braved the weather and kept climbing up to the peak wishing we had views…we will have to go back on a clear day! The rolling green hills that seemed to just keep going were so beautiful to experience! The oak trees are budding out, wildflowers are trying to bloom, the grass is bright green and lush, and there are cowpies everywhere (nature cycle right?). Oh and no, there won’t be any photos intentionally posted of the cowpies…although I do have a funny one of someone making a happy face from rocks in one!

Heading back down out of the wind and back under the canopy of oak trees we slid…a lot…and then kept sliding down the trail (upright!). So proud of us not landing in any cowpies! Seriously these things were all over the trails and they were fresh! I giggled thinking of how the cows were getting around on these muddy trails. Then I saw a lovely big mama cow with mud on her face like a facial. Maybe that’s why we have such happy cows here in California?

The views on the trails were gorgeous! We didn’t feel like we were missing out on seeing beauty at all. I just kept saying to the hubs “it’s so green!”.

After climbing back up to reach Diablo View Trail we were met by another group of friendly cows. Just one little guy seemed to be protecting his cute little friend. He didn’t really want me to snap any photos, he must have been tired of all the paparazzi, so I switched to my telephoto lens to get a better shot of the only one with a black and white face. Adorable!

Onward we went dodging cowpies and trying to stay upright. And then we came across a gang of cows. The little ones did not want us to go through the gate. They were using their meanest cute little faces to try to intimidate us. Every time we moved, one little one would move closer to us. His big mama was lounging there not caring about us and his big papa and others were busy chowing on fresh green grass. We didn’t want to be charged by these guys! They were friendly enough and we made it through the gate and to the other side. When we reached over to pet one from the safe side of the gate they ran over to their parents. Too cute. I can now add cow poop to the many things encrusted in my well-worn Chacos thanks to these adorable cows.

The trail turned more to gravel again and we carefully walked down the hill back down to the parking lot ready for dry clothes and heated seats! We would love to explore the restaurant scene a little more out there. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know! We will be going back…we only covered a very small portion of this huge park!

Trail details:

6.2 mi loop (I think we missed some of the loop in the trail description), half shaded so not a bad summer hike, elevation gain 1,228 ft, pit toilet at the picnic area, plenty of parking, $3 fee per car, decent trail markers.


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