New Year, new points of view … lots of views, thanks to a less-hiked trail in the East Bay. Well-known Sunol Regional Wilderness has 6,800 acres of bountiful terrain, yet few hikers actually experience the best views the park offers. Those are found along this 4-mile loop in Sunol’s northern boundary.
Park on Welch Creek Road and hike up Eagle View Trail to the giant oak tree where you get a great vantage of Mount Hamilton, marked by its famous Lick Observatory. Take a right on Vista Grande Road and stop at Vista Grande Overlook—marked by a bench. From here, on clear days, you’ll see two icons of the Bay Area: Mount Diablo in the East Bay and Mount Tam in the North Bay. Continue on Vista Grande Road into the valley, which meets up with High Valley Road; descend until the barn and picnic area (a nice stop for lunch) before climbing again to still more beautiful views.
Two-tenths after passing the barn there’s a footpath to Indian Joe Creek Trail, which leads to Cave Rocks Road and, ultimately, the final push on Eagle View Trail. As you begin climbing, you’ll pass open grassland, mixed forest, and nicely flowing streams (even a waterfall in the spring!). Lush scrub hillsides patrolled by hawks and vultures add to your own bird’s-eye view of the scenery. Soak it in!
Turn onto Welch Creek Road from Calaveras Road. The Eagle View Trailhead begins about 3 miles into the park and is the last parking location before leaving the park. Prior to parking, be sure to stop at the visitor center located at the end of Geary Road prior to beginning your hike. A $5 permit to park along Welch Creek Road is required on weekends and holidays but can also be seasonal so it is best to check. Bring plenty of water on this hike since no water is provided in the park. Dog-friendly ($2 per dog; guide/service dogs free). Maps of the park are available at the visitor center or you can view a digital option here.