Whoever says that Northern California just doesn’t get much by the way of fall colors hasn’t seen the cascade of autumn tones that can dress Sunol Regional Wilderness. Enjoy it on a 5.3-mile hike that starts at Alameda Creek. From there it’s a steady uphill climb for 1 mile before things level out at High Valley Camp, an old dude ranch with barn relics of cowboy days past.
Here you’ll get impressive valley vistas showcasing the oranges, greens, and browns of autumn. Take the junction toward Cave Rocks, switching back uphill and climbing past trees bustling with hive-like mistletoe before topping out at the Cerro Este overlook: from 1,700 feet the wide-open views of Sunol’s vast wilderness include Calaveras Reservoir and the rolling hills of the Diablo Range. On the descent you’ll be sharing the trail with cows chomping on the golden grasses.
Sunol Regional Wilderness is located at 1895 Geary Rd. in Sunol. Grab a trail map from the visitor center before heading out. For the hike, take Hayfield Rd. to High Valley Camp. From there, take Cave Rocks Rd. up to Cerro Este Rd. Take Cerro Este Rd. to McCorkle Trail Rd. and keep right. When you get to pavement, follow it a short distance back to the parking lot. Dog-friendly ($2 fee).