For those who prefer their romantic escapades to come with a little mystery, make a date with the East Bay’s Briones Regional Park. Here, the 15-foot Abrigo Falls is as fickle as waterworks come. As in, now you see it, now you don’t. No illusions here: Abrigo is very elusive (best seen after rains), but what it lacks in fanfare it makes up for with its serene surroundings—including big views—best enjoyed on a 4-mile out-and-back hike. Abrigo Valley Trail gently ascends green, galloping hills, revealing valley views along the way and occasionally passing under brief covers of oak and California laurel. The trail runs parallel to the waterfall, which is obscured by an overgrown ravine. A hint: as the trail becomes steep roughly 1 mile in, listen for water dribbling in the ravine—the cascade flows over a fern-covered natural rock wall. Continue a quarter-mile uphill past Abrigo Falls to the Briones Crest Trail and make a right for a half-mile journey (each-way) that brings wowing views from the Livermore windmills and Mount Diablo to Mount Tam.
The Abrigo Valley Trail at Briones National Park is located off Hwy. 24 East at the Orinda/Camino Pablo exit toward Richmond. Go right on Bear Creek Rd. and after 4.4 miles, pull into the staging area on the right. Pass the kiosk and park in the upper left lot. The trailhead begins just past the picnic tables, through a gate. Parking is $3 when kiosk is manned. Dog-friendly fee of $2.