I’ve been California dreamin’ for almost ten years now and still haven’t even scratched the surface of all that it has to offer. Thankfully, my life as a dog walker has afforded me the daily opportunity to explore terrain from the Golden Coast and its beaches to the majestic Redwood Forests and everything in between. Last weekend, I wanted to explore somewhere new, and Google led me to Briones Regional Park.
2537 Reliez Valley Road
Martinez, CA 94553
This place is HUGE! The address above lists Martinez, CA as the park’s home base. However, if you consult a map, there are several access points from the neighboring towns of Lafayette, Pleasant Hill, and Orinda. I took 24 East out of Oakland and exited on Pleasant Hill Road. There will be two options: north (heading left and away from the freeway) and south (taking you away from the freeway toward the right). Take the second exit northbound; it will loop you underneath the overpass leading toward the park. You’re now on Pleasant Hill Road. Drive along until you come to Reliez Valley Road. Make a left. You’ll now be on a windy road for a little bit…probably 2 miles max. The Blue Oak Trail will begin on your left hand side. Look for a large, maroon sign that appropriately reads: Briones Regional Park.
Wear supportive sneakers or hiking boots because these beautiful rolling hills seem more like mountains when you’re hiking them! The inclines are gradual but steep, so be ready to exert yourself. Nothing too crazy. Just take it slow. But trust me, it’s worth it! From the precipice, you can see miles of gorgeous views of the East Bay. And the puppies will love it too! There are wide-open spaces for them to run around off-leash, in addition to canopied areas for adventure and exploration.
Just a few cons:
• Navigation – Apparently, there were maps at the bottom of the trail. Definitely missed that! Grab one if you can. Some of the trails weren’t marked or ended up being dead-end paths.
• Ticks – The year-round, moderate weather here in the Bay keeps its inhabitants very happy, including (and unfortunately) ticks. No true winter allows the tick population to thrive, and parks like Briones play home to these pesky creatures. The trimmed, rolling hills are fine, but getting into the thick of high grasses in other places can get tricky. Because my paranoia took a strong hold of me, I did a lot of research on Lyme disease-carrying deer ticks. Luckily for us (and our dogs), most cases originate in the Northeast region of the United States. But of course, you still don’t want these leech invaders on your dog or in your home. Be aware.
• Wildlife – There are cows ranging freely on this reserve. They definitely seem used to people and dogs roaming their territory, so I wasn’t concerned about any altercation, but if you have a puppy that doesn’t necessarily do well with animals, I’d be worried to see what could happen; cow versus dog.
• Poop – With cows comes lots and lots and LOTS of poop! Not on the trails, which is nice for us humans, but your frolicking dogs WILL find disgusting mounds to inevitably roll around in!
Other than that – thumbs up! Have fun!