Briones Regional Park is a 6,117-acre (24.75 km2) regional park in the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) system situated in Briones Hills, central Contra Costa County, San Francisco Bay Area, California.
With its rolling, grassy hills and secluded, shady canyons, Briones is a hidden wilderness surrounded by the central town of Contra Costa County. Although the park is close to Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, and Martinez, there are peaks within which you can only see parks and watersheds for miles in every direction.
From Briones Peak, the highest point in the park, you can enjoy panoramic views of Mount Diablo and the Diablo Valley to the east, the Sacramento River and the Delta to the north, the East Bay Hills and Mt. Tamalpais to the west, and the Regional Wilderness of Las Trampas to the south.
The area which today includes Briones Park and Russell Reservation was part of the 1842 Mexican land grant of Rancho Boca de la Canada del Pinole to the widow of Felipe Briones. The Briones started cattle ranching in the area, which continues to this day. The Briones family sold the rancho in 1870.
By 1850, Happy Valley Lane, which runs along the outskirts of Briones Regional Park, was the main road from Martinez south to the Pueblo of San José, and then to San Francisco. In 1909, the People's Water Company, a predecessor to the East Bay Municipal Utility District, acquired watershed protection property.
Since 1966, the University of California has maintained a 283-acre (1.15 km2) plot of land in the Briones Hills, known as the Russell Reserve, as a research centre. The Briones Regional Park was founded by the East Bay Regional Park District in October 1967.
Lafayette Ridge is located within Briones Park and runs parallel to the town of Lafayette. The Lafayette Ridge Trail is approximately 3 km long. It starts at the Springhill Elementary School parking lot and reaches the summit of Russell Peak at an altitude of 1357 ft (414 m) where it splits into the Russell Peak Trail and the Briones Crest Trail. Several other trails run off the Lafayette Ridge Trail, most notably the Springhill and Buckeye Ranch Trails. The ridge trails offer terrain for mountain biking, with occasional slopes of up to 200 ft. (61 m) altitude.
The 6,255 acres of Briones are home to many animals and birds that feed on the grasslands or find shelter between the oaks and the bays. You can see black-tailed deer, coyotes, squirrels, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and, if you're lucky, other more reclusive animals. There are wonderful wildflower displays throughout the season. Naturalists of the Park District also take walks to see the natural and historic features of the park.
Briones is the perfect park for hiking, running, and horseback riding on the scenic trails of the park; picnic, bird watching, and similar activities; and casual recreation such as kite flying, photography, and nature research. There are five major access points, the most established of which are the Alhambra Creek Valley Staging Area off Reliez Valley Road near Martinez and the Bear Creek Road Staging Area near Orinda and Lafayette.
Briones Regional Park 's three community camping areas — Wee-Ta-Chi, Maud Whalen and Homestead Valley — may be reserved by calling 1-888-EBPARKS or (1-888-327-2757), by pressing Option 2 or by writing to EBRPD Reservations, 2950 Peralta Oaks Court, P.O. Box 5381, Oakland, CA 94605-0381. Reservations must be made at least five days in advance.
Briones Regional Park provides a range of first-come, first-served picnic sites with tables and barbecues in the Bear Creek Staging Area and the Alhambra Creek Staging Area. The park also has two larger, designated community picnic areas in the Bear Creek Staging Area: Oak Grove, which can accommodate up to 50 people, and Newt Hollow, which has a capacity of 150. The Alhambra Creek Staging Area has a new, 50-person picnic spot, Crow, which is completely open.
This amazing landmark is just one of the many must-see sights you don’t want to miss in Martinez, California:
John Muir National Historic Site
Radke Martinez Regional Shoreline Park
Hidden Lakes Park
All of these wonderful attractions are located just a short distance from our location located at 111 Arthur Road in the Vine Hill neighborhood of Martinez! Stop by for a visit anytime!