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.

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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.

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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!

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