Overview - Date/Time: May 12, 2017/ ~11:30 am - Weather Conditions: Clear skies - Time Duration: 2 hours - Distance: 4 miiles RT - Difficulty: moderate; strenuous near the end
One of the more local hiking locations, the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, or the Ridge for short, provides a nice scenic view of the Sunol area as well as parts of the Tri-Valley which constantly bring back local Tri-Valley residents to go hike there every year. There is plenty to see in the Ridge, such as a wide range of wildlife from birds to local cattle, and hilly pastures that extend into a meadow-like corridor.
The entrance to the Ridge can be found along Foothill Road as you come from the main city of Pleasanton. If you are headed from that direction, the park will be on your right side with the sign “Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park” placed in the entrance. There is plenty of parking available despite its small size, and you can also use the bathroom facility located before the cattle gate where you go through to begin your hike. If you come here at different times of the year, you will notice that during the summer/early fall when it tends to be hot, most of the greenery on the hillsides will be yellow from having a lack of water. However, during the winter/spring, you can see that most of the hillside that you walk past in your hike will be covered with a nice green blanket of grass.
During your hike, be also very careful of incoming bikers, especially those who are riding downhill. They tend to let gravity pull them and they can go pretty fast, so when you see or hear any incoming bikes, give them the right of way and stay safe as you hike. Additionally there are also incidences where people ride on horses as well. Follow the horseriders’ instructions in regards to sharing the road.
The first 10 minutes of the hike is a steady incline that gets you warmed up. Luckily there are a lot of flat/level roads that lets you recharge before going up those uphill trails. Within those 10 minutes, you will encounter a short cut trail that will be on your left before you turn on a bend. This will take you further up the trail faster but involves a narrow and very steep path, so tread carefully if you choose to go through that path. Once you reach a fork in the road, take the left path to proceed upwards; the right path takes you to a different trail.
Keep walking up and you will find another fork in the road. Both paths do reach the same point, but the left path will also connect to the first shortcut mentioned previously. For now, take the right path to proceed upwards towards a little meadow. As you ascend, notice how despite how numerous and rapturous the trees can be, the path remains wide and spacious. This trail is rather generous in that it gives you a lot of breathing space to go at your own pace and take in the sights.
The meadow parts and you will pass an open gate into a crossways that diverges into three directions. Take the middle one that goes up hill and you will enter the hilly pastures section of the trail. The grand openness and expanse of these hills lets you see further into the Sunol Valley area and closer to the Tri-Valley mountains. And the road is also level so you can take a nice easy stroll through the trail. Also take note of the green fields with numerous amounts of yarrow flowers.
As I mentioned earlier in this entry, you will see plenty of wildlife including cattle. They appear wherever throughout the hike, though it is also likely that you may never see them as well. Luckily, we found a small herd of them grazing on grass at the next fork in the road that both lead uphill. Take the right road to go upwards, and at this point of the hike, there will be pretty steep inclines, which indicate that you are almost done with your hike. The incline will take you through a little meadow-like path and to a small bench area with a water trough that carries fish inside. You take take some time to rest and even eat at that location, though we continued up further a bit more.
Continue uphill and you will see yet again another divergence in the road. This time, this will be the last one you encounter as the one leading to a pretty steep hill is your last stretch. Take the steep hill and you get to see a panoramic view of the Tri-Valley and the Sunol Valley. Don’t despair when you see that there is more ground to cover. The Ridge is part of a larger network of trails within the region, so if you want to keep hiking and see where the path takes you, feel free. Otherwise, this location will be the turn-around spot.
The views and the walk up are very notable features of the Ridge. However, it is also a place of some livestock feces lying on the trail as well as a huge load of pollen that will give you serious allergies (during the height of allergy season.) Additionally, the difficulty level of the hike increases a bit as you proceed into the hilly area so be prepared to encounter some tiresome moments of the hike. These are relatively small hinderances to your hike
Growing up in the Tri-Valley, the Ridge has been one of my personal favorite local hikes not only due to its accessibility and level of difficulty, but because it helped build friendships with those who were struggling with me and also enjoying nature while talking about life. It is not an easy hike, but it is a great way to unwind from the struggles of work, school or stress in life as you take your time walking up the trail. Whether you are a local in Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley, or you are just visiting the town for a short while, stop by the Ridge to experience a closer look of the Tri-Valley’s natural scenery.