Shell of a Good Hike!

Hike to Views at Shell Ridge Open Space Near Walnut Creek

Woman hiking the trail at Shell Ridge Open Space near Walnut Creek in the East Bay

Trails less traveled reward in more ways than solitude. Head to the East Bay’s Shell Ridge Open Space near Walnut Creek to find 1,400 acres of rolling hills created by a shallow sea over 12 million years ago. The park features 31 miles of fantastic trails, with peaks reaching over 800 feet. This 7-mile loop takes in all that the foothills of Mount Diablo have to offer.

Gallery image 1 of 3
Gallery image 2 of 3
Gallery image 3 of 3

Begin on the Joaquin Ranch Trail, which climbs through a grouping of trees before descending slightly through the valley after the conjunction with the Sugarloaf–Shell Ridge Trail. Take a left on the Twin Ponds Loop Trail and after passing the Twin Ponds, continue through a lightly wooded section that meanders its way through the valley.

Woman hiking with her dog in the east bay at Shell Ridge Open Space

As you near a trail access point, go right onto Sugarloaf Shell-Ridge Trail to begin your climb to Shell Ridge and the highest point in the park. At the junction, take a right and then a left onto Ridge Top Trail. After summiting, make sure to stop here to catch your breath and take in the spectacular views of the Ygnacio Valley below and Mount Diablo above. At the next junction, take two lefts to remain on the Ridge Top Trail, traversing the narrow spine of another peak. Here, you can find seashells embedded in the rocks which are remnants of the shallow sea.

undefined

As you descend to the Briones to Mount Diablo Regional Trail to begin your return trip, keep your eyes open for acorn woodpeckers stashing their cache in tree notches and hawks soaring above. Continue on the Briones to Mount Diablo Regional Trail past the trail access point and follow the signs for Fossil Hill Trail on the right as you pass through an open meadow. Take a quick left onto the Indian Creek Trail, which winds its way along Indian Creek. After a quick climb, hop onto Joaquin Ranch Trail to complete the final 0.3 mile of your hike through the neighborhood. 

No water or restrooms are located at this trailhead. The Twin Ponds Loop Trailhead is located at the end of Whitecliff Way in Walnut Creek. The trail can be quite muddy, so it is best hiked on a dry day without precipitation the day before. A map of the park can be found here. Dog-friendly!

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Tam It All

    The hills have gone green just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, and this 7.5-mile lollipop loop hike passes through some of Mount Tam’s lushest spots, with bridges, creeks, a waterfall, and big views.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Headlands Over Heels

    People come from all over the world to get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Get a dramatic and novel view of the bridge without all the people on this moderate 6-mile hike in the Marin Headlands.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Wildflower Hiking Guide

    California’s wildflowers will be lovely this spring! So how do you find the best in bloom? Check out POST’s complimentary Wildflower Guide to find the best hiking trails with wildflowers.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Ohlone Time

    Keep this epic East Bay hike on your radar for wildflowers and a waterfall that only comes to life after rain. Get wayyy back in the Ohlone Wilderness among big hills and scenery, and Murietta Falls.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Truly Grand Day Hike

    One of the best spring day hikes in the Grand Canyon? See layer upon layer of the park’s grandeur—including the river—on this 3-mile (one-way) journey to Skeleton Point via the South Kaibab Trail.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Eucalyptus Loop

    Forest bathing among Australian trees and biting into tasty Australian meat pies—head to the 3.25-mile Eucalyptus Loop in Chino Hills and end with Aussie meat pies at a great local bakery.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Stairstruck in Hollywood

    Beachwood Canyon in Hollywoodland has an action-packed adventure with A-list workouts, big-budget views, and a stair-studded cast. Running time is 1.25 miles with five staircases

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Do it Yourself Walking Tour of Solvang

    Solvang has long been described as a “little slice of Denmark in Southern California." Experience the historic village on a 3-mile walk that explores the architecture, food, wine, and green space.

    View