Sunol Salutations

Hiking a less-traveled trail in Sunol Regional Park

Ahh … Sunol in the spring could make John Steinbeck wax poetic about the land of milk and honey. This East Bay Regional Park is a rolling green open space of giant oak trees, wildflowers, hidden canyons, seasonal streams, and winding hiking trails. While most visitors head to Little Yosemite, a more secluded and equally beautiful excursion goes to the north.

The 5-mile (round-trip) hike starts on the popular Indian Joe Nature Trail. But within a few minutes, you’ll ditch most of the people when you turn north onto the Indian Joe Creek Trail. You’re immediately transported into a shady canyon alongside a babbling brook with chirping birds … it really seems like a bluebird might land on your shoulder. A solid elevation gain takes you up to High Valley Camp, the hike’s halfway point, where you’re greeted by a secluded old barn with picnic tables under a giant oak tree. Chances are good you’ll see more cows than people on your hike up here.

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Break out your snacks and take in the wilderness. Post picnic, the best view is yet to come! A little over a mile more of hiking takes you up to Flag Hill, where you’ll look out to nearby Maguire Peaks and further out to San Antonio Reservoir. Descend back to the start on the Flag Hill Trail. Oh Sunol good!

There’s a $5 parking fee. Starting from the Sunol Regional Wilderness visitor center, cross the bridge over Alameda Creek, turn right and continue on the Indian Joe Nature Trail. After about 0.25 mile of hiking you’ll see that Indian Joe Creek Trail turns left and Canyon View Trail continues straight. Turn left on Indian Joe Creek Trail. Take this all the way to Cave Rocks Rd. and turn left. This takes you to High Valley Camp, where you can continue on the Flag Hill Trail up to Flag Hill and back down to the visitor center. Dog-friendly!

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