Briones Regional Park is a 6,117-acre (24.75 km2) regional park in the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) network, situated in the Briones Hills in San Francisco Bay Area ‘s central Contra Costa County , California.
Today’s Briones Park area and Russell Reserve were part of the Rancho Boca de la Canada del Pinole grant given by Mexico to Felipe Briones’ widow in 1842. In the area that is still today, Briones began ranching cattle. In 1870 it was sold by the Briones family.
Briones is a secret natural environment surrounded by the cities of central Contra Costa County with its rolling, grassy hills and isolated, shady canyons. Although it is near Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord and Martinez peaks, only parks and watershed land are visible for miles in all directions within the park.
Through Briones Peak, the highest point in the park, there are panoramic views to the east through Mount Diablo and the Diablo Valley, to the north from the Sacramento River and Delta, to the west from the East Bay and Mt. Tamalpais, and to the south from Las Trampas Regional Wilderness.
There are also many species and birds in the park, including turkey vultures, black-tailed deer, cougars, coyotes, squirrels, and red tailed hawks. Ranchers still use parts of the park for grazing purposes and have a one-hundred-year lease which is valid until the 2060s. In the season, there are wonderful shows of wild flowers. Naturalists of the park district also walk to the natural and historical features of the area.
Briones Regional Park is a vast park, a mile after mile of ranch roads over rolling hills and oak-dotted grasslands. The east side of the park is usually more wooded, while the west side is more accessible, and therefore more challenging, with many steep gradients. No real payoff destination is available, but the park offers great views as well as some of the best picnic areas in the area.
In winter and spring when grass is green, the park is at its finest, and during this time is very popular. The park is less popular in summer and is virtually empty but it stays fairly cool for an East Bay park. In particular, there is a lot of thistle in the Central Basin and Briones Crest that gives the landscape an unspoilt look in the summer.
Like most of East Bay, Briones can become very muddy for up to two weeks after heavy rainfall. When the cows reach the water, some of the paths can be almost impossible to cross. The most common trails from car parks were covered by gravel that is very useful.
Briones is a perfect park for walking , biking and cycling along scenic paths of the park; picnicking, birdwatching and the like; and casual entertainment, such as kite flying, photography and studies of nature. There are five major access points including the Alhambra Creek Valley Staging Area off Reliez Valley Road near Martinez and the Bear Creek Road Staging Area near Orinda and Lafayette, which are the two most developed.
This well-known attraction is located near the following must-see sites in Lafayette, California:
- Lafayette Reservoir
- Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
- Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve
- Chabot Space & Science Center
- Grizzly Peak
- Tilden Regional Park
- Joaquin Miller Park
- Lafayette Community Park
All of these wonderful offices are located just a short distance from our location on Boulevard Circle in historic Walnut Creek, California.