Home to shaded trails, shallow creek crossings, ridge-top breezes, and a 1.5-acre white sand swimming lagoon, Cull Canyon Regional Recreation Area is a local’s summer playground. The best slice of paradise? A 10-mile out-and-back journey along the Chabot-to-Garin Trail, a segment of the 367-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail system. Begin from the Swim Lagoon parking lot on Cull Canyon Road and follow signage through a culvert beneath Columbia Drive. Summer sun streaks the undulating creekside path with dappled light as it filters through a canopy of oak and fragrant bay laurel.
Cross cool Cull Creek twice (severed stumps and fallen logs make excellent rest stops to dip your feet!) before climbing through a dense stand of trees. Views of Mount Diablo can be seen between the leaves before coming to a clearing at about 3 miles. The next section requires an easy-to-get EBMUD permit (see below in italics). Return the way you came, or continue north through the gate for an exposed 2 miles to Dinosaur Ridge. Unimpeded views of forested foothills and rolling knolls make this 1,100-foot apex the perfect turnaround. A post-hike lagoon swim awaits you at the bottom.
Park for free in Cull Canyon’s main Swim Lagoon lot on Cull Canyon Rd. and follow the Chabot-to-Garin Trail north across Columbia Dr. At around 3 miles, you’ll enter EBMUD land, which requires a permit. Continue north for 2 more miles to Dinosaur Ridge. Return the way you came to the Swim Lagoon and picnic area. Hours and fees. No dogs.