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California Treks > Northern


East Bay Regional Park District is very close to our home in Woodbridge, California and one of our favorite areas to hike in Spring and Fall! Here are our favorites!

Somersville, Contra Loma & Ridge Trails.

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve - Antioch, CA

June 18th, 2022


Brushy Peak Regional Preserve

Livermore, CA

June 13th, 2020


We took a morning hike along the Somersville, Contra Loma and Ridge Trails in Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve near Antioch, CA! In all we did about 6.1 miles round trip! This is one of our favorite nearby destinations to hike, particularly in the late fall and winter when everything is green. On this day, most of the grass had already turned brown in anticipation of summer.

The Preserve includes the remains of twelve coal mines and the sites of several long-gone coal mining ghost towns - the largest of which was Nortonville which had a peak population of about 1,000. Somersville, Stewartville, West Hartley and Judsonville are located in valleys to the east. 

Brushy Peak Regional Preserve is one of our most-hiked destinations near our home! The trailhead has usually just enough parking with very good restroom facilities. We usually ascend on the Brushy Peak Loop Trail (counter clock-wise) and then return on the West Side Loop Trail. There are many combinations and trails!


It is a fantastic hike in the early spring and fall when it isn't too hot (lots of exposed areas). The reward at the top is a small "hobbit grove" of scrub oak, amongst lots of granite rocks, that provide a shady and scenic stop perfect for lunch or relaxation, while overlooking the east bay area. Often times you can make friends with the many Bovine that graze in these hills when the grass is plenty. We typically hike this trail counter-clockwise and the hills can sometimes form a wind tunnel.

The peak is at 1,702 feet of elevation. It is considered to be sacred by native Californians, as it lies at the center of a network of ancient trade routes utilized by Bay Area and Northern tribes and was an important commerce and ceremonial area.

Hike to Castle Rock at

Diablo Foothills Regional Park

Alamo, CA

May 27th, 2019


This is a moderate loop trail located near Alamo California (East Bay Area). You will meander along Castle Rock Stage Road to Shell Ridge trail and back to the parking lot. Dogs are allowed on this trail but there are horses and cattle so be aware of your surroundings. This trail can be muddy during the wet season, green in the spring and dry in the summer through fall. There are some amazing rock formations and friendly cattle along the way!


Auburn State Recreation Area is located along a 20 mile stretch where the North and Middle forks of the American River converge just south of Interstate 80 between Auburn and Colfax in Northern California. The area covers 40-miles and there are many trails! This area was Once home to many gold miners and is home to a diverse ecosystem from Mountain Lions to Poppy Fields! Learn More About Auburn State Recreation Area!

Windy Point Trail

Auburn State Recreation Area - Near Auburn, CA

April 19th, 2020


Western States Trail to Black Hole of Calcutta Waterfall

Auburn State Recreation Area

June 9th, 2019


We first learned of Windy Point Trail from a friend who lives in the Auburn area, posted a photo hiking around these California Golden Poppy fields during COVID pandemic lockdowns. She privately told us how to find this "lesser known" place, and we promptly headed out for some fresh air and poppies! 

The trail is a 2 mile out-and-back that is moderate to difficult due to steep sections of the trail. It provides spectacular views of the North Fork Canyon and spectacular wildflower displays when hiked during the spring bloom.  You will find entire hillsides blanketed in gold, purple, and blue wildflowers that are spectacular against the Oak and Gray Pine of the hills, and the azure blue sky. Watch for poison oak as it can be found all along the trail! 

This is an easy 2.2-mile trip (out and back) on the Western States Trail in the Auburn Recreation Area near Auburn, California. The hike covers mostly level trails that lead to a nice wooden footbridge in front of the waterfall (it runs seasonally). The trail runs along the old railroad bed and bridge for the Mountain Quarries railroad.

Unfortunately, the waterfall wasn't much running when we visited in June hence the 3 star rating!


The little town of Graeagle is located about 40 minutes north of Truckee, California in the Plumas National Forest. This is another area we visit almost every year, and the hiking opportunities are unlimited! From the challenge of hiking to the top of Sierra Butte to the quiet beauty of Lakes Basin Recreation Area!

Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail

Lakes Basin Near Graeagle, CA

September 9th, 2017


There is nothing about this hike that is anything less than spectacular! This is one of our all-time favorite Northern California hikes thus far! There are MANY routes to reach the Sierra Buttes Lookout from the Sardine Lakes area. We chose to drive up Gold Valley Rd past Packer Lake to the trailhead but you can also check out the OHV Trail if you want to ride a dirt bike, mountain bike or ATV to the lookout. Our hike was approximately 6 miles round trip, and the trail is considered strenuous. It stars with a moderate hike through pine forests and beautiful sub-Alpine meadows, then transitions into a spectacular "boulder forest". You then traverse a field of granite rubble on your way to the awesome staircase built into the rock on which the lookout rests. It is a truly spectacular site to behold. After you climb the staircase you will find yourself standing on the fire lookout platform at 8,587 feet overlooking Lower and Upper Sardine lakes and the smaller Young America Lake just below the summit. The lookout provides a 360 degree panoramic view .

Check Out All Of Our Photos & Videos From This Hike!

Learn More About This trail!

Learn More About Lakes Basin Recreation Area!

Grassy, Jamison and Rock Lakes

Lakes Basin near Graeagle, CA

September 6th, 2019


We first encountered Lakes Basin on our annual RV Trip to Clio's River's Edge RV Resort in the small northern sierra town of Graeagle, California about 9 miles from the basin. This area has special geological features and gorgeous scenery including some 20 or more small alpine lakes that are accessible via the 30+ miles of hiking trails. There are lots of places for camping, fishing, boating, hunting, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking, hiking, backpacking, swimming, windsurfing and observing nature


On this day we did a loop that included three gorgeous lakes; Grassy Lake, Jamison Lake and Rock Lakes!  We wandered about 6.8 miles during this trek, finding many off-trail places to explore! 

>>>---  California Adventures  ---->

Hiking to Lake Clementine!

Auburn State Recreation Area

Auburn, California

November 11th, 2020


Hiking Stevens Trail

North Fork American River

Colfax, California

January 17th, 2021


Hiking The Star Mine Trail

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve - Brentwood, California

January 31st, 2021


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