Rising high and dipping low between Oakland and Walnut Creek is one of the East Bay’s least-used outdoors playgrounds, Briones Regional Park. There are plenty of wide dirt roads for mountain bikers, while hikers and their dogs get to escape into its six thousand acres of ridge trails, valley descents, and park benches perfectly perched for scenic breaks. For a full-spectrum experience, we recommend hiking the seven-mile Briones Loop Trail, which takes you through a rich creek canyon, up high along ridges, and alongside fall colors of red madrones, maples, and black oaks sporting yellow leaves. A mid-point high greets you with a view of towering Mount Diablo from the Table Top Trail (pictured). For a shorter, more level jaunt, hike the Abrigo Valley Trail to the Maud Whalen Group Camp (two miles round-trip). With rolling hills and thrilling scenery, a Briones afternoon is a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.
Get a map and directions here. The Briones Loop Trail is great to hike either direction. From the Bear Creek Staging Area, follow the Old Briones Road Trail .5 mile to the Black Oak Trail and turn left. Continue up this trail, which is short and steep in one section, for one mile to the Mott Peak Trail and turn right. Continue for .4 mile to Briones Crest Trail and turn right again. Take the Briones Crest Trail for about .75 mile and veer off to the Table Top Trail. This trail is .75 mile and connects back to the Briones Crest Trail. Once back on the Briones Crest Trail, walk about one mile to the Seaborg Trail and turn right to descend to the Old Briones Road Trail and the parking lot.