James’ Secret Spot: Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

…is the tough guy of the East Bay Regional Park District. There are no steam trains or petting zoos. Just steep, rugged trails, interesting geology, and fantastic views.

The primary destination at Las Trampas is Rocky Ridge and its 2,024-foot summit. Though the surrounding landscape consists of rolling hills edged by canyons with small creeks, Rocky Ridge is a spectacular sandstone wall with diagonal striations on its west face.

On top, you get spectacular views to the east of Mount Diablo and the Livermore Valley, and to the west of Crow Canyon plunging at your feet and beyond to the South Bay. The cliffs here provide nesting areas for many raptors, including red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons and the fastest creature on earth, the peregrine falcon. Another option is the side trip to what is called the “WindCaves.” These are actually more like sandstone hollows. To get there from the Upper Trail (with map in hand), turn right on the Sycamore Trail and tromp a little more than a quarter-mile down to the caves. This is a fairly steep descent, though short.

The service roads are excellent for mountain biking, especially once the climb has been negotiated and you reach the Upper Trail. The land also can be trekked on game trails on foot, exploring the edge of canyons and watersheds, and free climbing and scrambling atop the ridge itself.

Perched atop the ridge, you might be lucky enough to watch the hawks and falcons at eye level, floating on the thermals, gliding with scarcely a wingbeat.

The malls will feel a million miles away.

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