Place: Brushy Peak Regional Preserve, Livermore, California
Length: about 2.5 miles
Difficulty: easy to moderate
I am always on the lookout for new places to hike. Ever since I took on leading our 4H club's Hiking Project I've been rapidly expanding my coverage of Bay Area trails. And one of my latest discoveries is Brushy Peak Regional Preserve, north of Livermore.
I saw it on the map and made a plan to go there and check it out. My plan didn't go quite as I hoped and I arrived at the preserve with only two hours to hike before having to leave. So I chose the West Side loop Trail, which is only about 2.5 miles long. That trail turned out to be perfect for our families group so in less than two weeks after I was there again, hiking that same loop with our 4H Hiking Project.
Right by the trailhead there is a cattle gate and a tiny pond. The area of that pond is closed to trampling: efforts are made to restore native vegetation there. On my first hike there was a lovely couple on the water: a pair of mallards sifting through the mud for morsels.
Behind the pond - an intersection of trails. Taking the right turn I headed straight to Brushy Peak.
The hills along the way are covered with low grass which, on February, was vibrant green. It was also marked with many holes connected by narrow trails and looked like the face of the moon, only green and considerably more inviting.
It is the work of ground squirrels, of course, of which I so many on both hikes. They would run to and fro, and occasionally stop and sit up on their hind quarters, stare at me and yelp loudly.
Not that I don't like squirrels, but I like much better the meadowlark song.
|Oaks on rocks|
Nearing the top, another tree caught my attention. Also alone, with very little foliage. It looks like a guardian of ... I'm not sure what. Guarding the spirit of the hill, maybe :-)
Over the top and looking south there should be a view of Livermore. On both my hikes, however, visibility was terrible and a blanket of thick smog covered the city.
Visibility to the east was somewhat better. I could see the front line of the wind generators.
At this point I would also like to add my personal distaste of this form of energy generation. IMHO, the environmental damage caused by these wind generators outweighs the benefits by a large degree. Whatever amperage that is produced by these unsightly turbines is not worth the bird carnage they cause, estimated at over 300,000 a year, including many eagles and other birds of prey.
Looking back north I could see the very tip of Brushy Peak just above the horizon. There is no public trail to the peak itself, and getting there requires a special permit from the East Bay Regional Park District.
The hilltop isn't barren as it looks. The squirrels, for example, peek around the few rocks that dostick above the soil.
And a few dots of color show here and there. A representative of our State Flower, for example.
|A spider hole|
I saw it on my solo hike, when I didn't bother to bring my large zoom lens along. Needless to say, when I returned with my group and a proper birding lens, this bird was no longer there.
On the following group hike I promised a prize to the person who sees this golden squirrel, but that only lead to everyone pointing at each and every squirrel along the hike. They're all very special, I'm sure (to their mothers, anyway), but none of them was golden.
This loop trail is perfect for a relaxed family hike, although probably better during cooler seasons. As I left the park I sent longing look behind: I still have on my checklist to hike that longer, more alluring eastern loop trail.