Regional preserves showcase and protect local flora and wildlife. There are several regional preserves around Danville in northern California’s Contra Costa County that ideal for hiking and exploring.
Sibley Volcanic Region Preserve/ Oakland Hills
The Sibley Volcanic Region Preserve Exploration trail takes you to the remains of a collapsed extinct volcano, which lies fallen sideways with its interior exposed, though now covered with grasses and shrubs. It is a moderate, 2.3 mile hike that’s best hiked in autumn.
The Sibley Volcanic Geology Hike combines beautiful scenery with a fascinating exploration of the unique geology of the Sibley Volcanic Region Preserve. The moderate, 4.3 mile hike, taking 1-3 hours, is best done in autumn. The trail is very muddy in winter. This family- and dog-friendly hike has a rich variety of features; download an interpretive map before leaving as they are often out of stock at the trailheads. Part of the trail is an animal refuge, so dogs must be on leash at all times.
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve
If you happen to visit the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve you’ll find it a nice place to hike. It was returned to its natural state after the miners left, and is ideal for hiking, bird watching, and other outdoor activities. It is 29 miles from Danville and a bit of a drive.
Black Diamond Trail Loop is a moderate, 6.1 mile hike lasting a half-day. Hiking through these rugged hills east of Concord gives you a chance to learn more about the coal mining era of the 800s. Hiking conditions are best in autumn.
You can go to The Black Diamond Mines Park from the first parking lot. It is a short, easy hike suitable for beginners and perhaps children. The first half mile is uphill, after which it is mostly downhill. Autumn is ideal for this hike.
Redwood Regional Park
Redwood Regional Park is 1,829 acres of lovely second-growth forest in the Oakland hills. The original Redwoods here a century ago were so tall that sailors near the coast used them as navigation points. A recommended hike is the moderate 5.5 mile clockwise loop from Skyline Gate trailhead, which includes West Ridge, French, Mill, and Stream trails. It starts in the midst of eucalyptus and pine forests and continues down into a thick Redwood forest. The final section on Stream Trail is the best part of the hike.
Skyline Trail’s middle section is a pleasant part of the Skyline National Trail, and starts at the Tilden Steam Trains parking lot, going through several East Bay Regional parks including Sibley, Tilden, Huckleberry, and Redwood Regional Park over undulating terrain, much of it in a jungle-like setting. It is a moderate, 14.4 mile hike taking a half-day, the rare East Bay hills hike that is good for a summer’s day
The Quarry Trail-Big Springs Trail section starts at Berkeley, looping from Quarry trailhead in Tilden Regional Park and going through east Bay Regional Park over grass-covered ridges offering spectacular views east and west, of San Francisco Bay and Contra Costa County, and gorgeous colors at sunset in both directions, and along forested pathways. This moderately difficult 3.5 mile hike takes 1-3 hours to complete.