Monday, January 16, 2012

Why We Love This Area!!!

There are so many places to explore within 15 minutes of home.  With Mt. Diablo State Park and a dozen or so East Bay Regional Parks, as well as three Open Spaces, there is so many chances to see Jehovah's awesome creative power.  Over the last three weeks, after field service, we have hit the trails. 

Week One:  Shell Ridge Open Space to Castle Rock Regional Park
Week one, we decided to follow the trail from the Shell Ridge Open Space in Walnut Creek to the Castle Rock Regional park.    This trip also exposed us for the first time to the Diablo Foothills Regional Park  

This combined two of our favorite hikes; however, without any rain, the hills are not the typical emerald green for this time of the year.  It was wonderful to share this hike with our friends the Bulkoski's. 

The trail consisted of rolling hills, steep ridges, and the kids favorite, Buckeye Ravine.  From Buckeye Ravine, you drop into what has been called Little Yosemite because of the wonderful Granite and Sandstone that make up Castle Rocks.  This was a five mile hike, one way; however, we did park a car at the end point so that the kids wouldn't have to hike back.

Week Two:  The China Wall

Beth discovered this place on-line.  At the end of Stone Valley Rd, you can get to the Macedo Ranch Staging Area.  This is located in the Mt. Diablo State Park and is an easy 3 mile round trip hike.  

This beautiful hike takes you to wonderful rock formations that look like the top of the the Great Wall of China.  I am eager to get back to this place after the rain, when the hill should be a lovely green with yellow mustard.

Week Three:  Rock City

We discovered Rock City last year when we took a trip to Mt. Diablo Summit.  I really love this place!!!  It so reminds me of when my parents would take us to Joshua Tree.  This place is beautiful, with awesome pinnacles of sandstone.  There are tunnels carved out by the wind to explore.  It is just one big playground for the kids, with natural slides and places to explore.

You could spend days finding something new and rare.  Emma stumbled on this weird rock formation.  It looks like a boulder dropped in a puddle of mud then froze this way.  What amazes me even further is that the wind then perfectly ate around the sandstone to expose this treasure.  What a wonderful gift from our grand creator.

The North Side of Mt. Diablo

So beside the hiking, Beth and I are training for a 50K in April.  So a sister in our hall was gracious enough to watch the kids while we ran to the mountain from our house.  Our first 3 miles is to the Mitchell Canyon Staging area.  From there, we ran up the Back Canyon Trail, in total 2,600 feet of elevation climb.  In fact the final 1.7 miles of the climb consisted of 1,500 feet of switchback.  From there it was down 3.57 miles down Mitchell Canyon to the staging area, then back to home.   In total we covered exactly 13 miles in 3 hours 21 minutes.

The Back Canyon trail is beautiful single track and is challenging at times.  However, you get a wonderful view of the Delta and the Sierra off in the distance.  At one point a rabbit jumped out to scare us, but it was all good.  The Mitchell Canyon Trail is fire road, and makes for wonderful cruising down hill.  Both trails give wonderful vistas of Eagle Peak.

All in all, we love having such easy access to these trails.  This isn't even to mention all of the trails in the Oakland Hills, Las Trampas, and Briones that are 30 minutes from home.


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