Lime Ridge Open Space is a vaguely key-shaped parcel of land that stretches from south Concord to Walnut Creek. Two bisecting highways, crowded with auto traffic, cut the open space into three parts. In general, each section serves the communities immediately adjacent to it, providing large dirt trails through rolling grassland, suitable for dog walking, and regular walks or runs. Lime Ridge does not feature amenities and many trails are unmarked, but in this tiny open space preserve, it would be hard to get lost. You can notice much steeper hills to the southeast of Ygnacio Boulevard climbing via oaks, and then chaparral.These hills reach toward Mount Diablo State Park, but trail access is blocked by intervening private lands.
The open space extends right up to residential projects in ever-expanding communities such as Walnut Creek and Concord. Historically, lime was mined here, and the land still bears the scars from years of mineral extractions. Time has healed the mining wounds and these days, in winter, you are more likely to see new green grass draped on the hillsides, and a wildflowers riot in spring.
Lime Ridge is a nice destination after a leisurely walk on the flat paved trail that winds through Walnut Creek. Start at the Contra Costa Canal Trail on Citrus’ east side (you can also park slightly to the East at the end of Navaronne Way in the neighborhood). Walk the paved path a few steps, cross a large water aqueduct and you will reach a marked junction. Turn left. Turn almost immediately to the left, following the California Riding and Hiking Trail signs. The dirt multi-use road climbs along a barrier, and at 0.10 mile, on the left, you can reach the end of Navaronne Road. Move through the first gate, then turn right into the open space and move through a second gate.
Trail spiderwebs depart steeply uphill to the left, directly into a valley and slightly right. Look for an open space sign visible to the southwest (right) of the preserve boundary. The big trail descends into a gully, then gently climbs through grassland. After you pass the information sign, stay to the left as another trail veers right. You can quickly ascend up towards the chaparral shrouded slopes of the preserve’s southern portion. Ignore a side path that goes uphill to the right, and proceed along the fire road, where you may see signs of coyote and bobcat. The path winds around a hill, 0.6 mile from Winter Hillsand, reaching an undersigned junction (just a post with arrows pointing left and right). Traffic from Ygnacio Valley Road is visible on the right hand side and audible. Take a soft left (although if you make a hard left you’ll eventually end up in the same place) onto Lime Ridge Road.
The big trail shrinks to a tiny track. You can find lumpy-looking pieces of soil, a crater, and some loose rocks: this was one of the sites of the quarry. The trail passes a tripod oak stump after a short level section, and then descends into the valley. Upon merging from the left with another trail feeding in, the trail heads past an old oak and begins a steep climb. If you’re stopping to catch your breath, look south for ever-increasing views past Ygnacio Valley Road to the far reaches of Lime Ridge and even further, to Mount Diablo peaks. Squirrels are scurrying through the grass everywhere, and you could see a redtail hawk circling overhead, looking for a fast snack.
Eventually, the slope slackens and the track swings backwards from a hill. You’ll enter an unmarked junction on a saddle at 1.1 miles. The path straight heads out of the open space and through a Concord neighborhood. Turn onto Forgotten Trail to the left. A side path shoots uphill straight to the right, an option if you want sweeping views in every direction. There are nice views to the north, south , and west on the wide path that skirts the hilltop. Visit on a clear day and you will see the Las Trampas spine, the gentle Briones hills and the jagged Mount Diablo peaks. You can enter another unmarked intersection, at 1.3 miles. Turn left onto Forgotten Trail.
The trail starts a sharp descent back into the valley, and you can eyeball your way out of the open space from the path. Turn right at an unmarked intersection at 1.6 miles, then turn left at 1.7 miles, just prior to the fence line. From the preserve you will reach the gate; from there you will trace back your steps to the trailhead.
This well-known attraction is located near the following offices in Concord, California:
- Concord Naval Weapons Station
- Baldwin Community Park
- Buchanan Field Airport
- Concord Skatepark
- Dave Brubeck Park
- Don Francisco Galindo House
- Markham Regional Arboretum
- Newhall Community Park
All of these wonderful offices are located just a short distance from our location on Boulevard Circle in historic Walnut Creek, California.