This loop is a great tour of the beautiful hillsides of Briones Regional Park. The park is especially pretty in the spring when the hillsides are full of wildflowers, but it is well-worth a visit during the other seasons as the rolling hills and open meadows make for a great hike.
The trails are also open for mountain bike and equestrian use. Use caution and be respectful of other trail users.
Start your hike on Old Briones Road Trail
. This trail is a north-south trail that bisects the park and provides access to many of the other trails in the area. Like the park, the trail is named after the original ranching family that settled this area in 1829. From the north end, expect some roots and rock and a generally rough road until you reach the junction with the Spengler Trail
. After passing through a gate, head to the right and climb gradually toward Briones Peak and the junction with Briones Crest Trail
At the ridge, be sure to look back for a view of the Sacramento River Delta. After passing through another gate, you'll start on a long, winding descent into the Bear Creek Valley. The road flattens at the junction with the Valley Trail
near some corrals. From here, the rest of the trail is relatively flat with a gate or two until you reach the Bear Creek Staging Area.
From the Bear Creek Staging Area, continue straight to pick up the Briones Crest Trail
. Most of this trail is actually a wide fire road that circles the Bear Creek watershed. As you hike along the ridge tops, you'll be treated to some splendid views of the area. The views along the trail are beautiful, and if you find you need an excuse to stop and catch your breath, be sure to take the time to take in the sights.
After about 3 miles of hiking along the Briones Crest Trail
, look for the Mott Peak Trail
which will be on the right-hand side. Use this short, easy trail to connect to the Black Oak Trail
. The Black Oak Trail
descends steeply into a valley, and the sunny slopes are home to many wildflowers in season.
Black Oak Trail
will connect back to Old Briones Road Trail
where you'll turn left to retrace your steps back to your car.
Note: If you are looking for a shorter hike, park at the Bear Creek Staging Area and complete the loop. There are many other trails in the park giving you a wide variety of loops to choose from.
Wildflowers in season including California poppies, lupines, and buttercups. You may come across cows grazing in the fields.