Nestled north of Lafayette and Orinda, the peaks of Briones Regional Park showcase sweeping views of Mount Diablo, San Pablo Bay, and the San Joaquin River. And you may just make friends with one of the hundreds of cows sharing the park’s trails. The 3.5-mile (round-trip) Abrigo Valley–Mott Peak Loop includes a hefty 924 feet of elevation gain, but the scenery is enough to keep you moo-ving.
From the Bear Creek Road Staging Area take the Abrigo Valley Trail, just past Oak Grove Picnic Area and through the cattle gate. Walking along the trail conjures images of the Wild West, with stark golden hills galloping out in every direction and bushy oak outcroppings flecking the vast backdrop. At the Maud Whalen Campsite the Abrigo Valley Trail meets up with the Mott Peak Trail. Take Mott Peak up and through another cattle gate. The trail levels off and wraps around the hill before you reach its end point, and the views!
From up here, countryside and watershed extend to the Delta, with the Benicia-Martinez Bridge seen in the distance. Herds of cattle rest and stare (or glare) at you from every direction. Their little calves follow curiously nearby, while some of the elders swim in the lagoons and chomp on the trail’s bounty. From the Mott Peak Trail, take the Briones Crest Trail to the left across the ridge until it meets back with the Abrigo Valley Trail. It’s all downhill from here … with a whole lot of mooing as your soundtrack.
Park at the Bear Creek Staging Area. Parking fee is $3.00. Pick up a map at the staging area from a park attendant. Dog-friendly (but note there are a lot of cattle on the trail).