If I could choose anywhere to live in the United States, the SF Bay Area would be it. Or Seattle. Or Flagstaff. Sedona, Fort Collins, Lone Pine, Portland, Jackson Hole, Ashville, Anchorage, or Denver. Maybe move across the border to Squamish. OK, fine, there’s a lot of places I might choose to live, but the Bay Area still ranks high and the reason is simple. Adventure awaits within a short distance, and while a 3 or 4 hour drive can take you into the heart of the Sierra Nevada, excellent backpacking destinations can be reached within an hour.
Ohlone Wilderness Trail out of Dell Valle Regional Park is a steep 3,000-ft climb.
A permit is needed to hike the trail and can be obtained at the entrance kiosk or online or by mail: $2/person/year.
The winter’s rains left behind a splattering of wild flowers. Now in bloom, all shades of white, yellow, purple, blue, violet, red, and orange were silhouetted against a backdrop of more varieties of green than can be packed into a Crayola box. In the forested areas, away from the direct reach of the sun, the miners lettuce was ripe for the picking. Unfortunately, the poison oak was rampant as well, viewable in all its forms: Small shrubs outlining the trails, vines creeping up the oaks and conifers, and yes, even self-standing trees teeming with the spiteful oils that catch you when least suspected and make you miserable for weeks to come.
The trail to the summit of Rose Peak is a series of climbs and descents until finally you reach the summit via a narrow trail. The view, as with any peaks, is awe inspiring, stretching down into the East Bay Regional Park District lands, private ranches, Livermore, and beyond.
Descending the other side of the peak and back on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, I noticed splotches of orange decorating the sunny side of the mountain. As if a painter, not quite satisfied with his work, desperately dipped his brush in the last unused color on his palette and flicked it violently at the canvass, the California Poppies were the finishing detail of this work of art.
After heading back down, turnoff onto Greenside Road. In about 0.6 miles you will arrive at Stuart’s Camp. A water pump and outhouse marked the spot and a use trail led a hundred feet or so to a campsite hidden in plain sight and overlooking a small pond. The only downside was a lack of a flat spot to pitch the tent. The upside, with only one site at Stuart’s Camp,you get the place to yourself.
Camping in somewhat of a valley, the sun is a long time coming in the mornings. Even when the forest around us lit up, our camp only received a few rays of direct sunlight.
We had originally planned on taking a little side trip up the Rocky Ridge Trail to Stromer Spring, but did not have the time. The trail is probably worth exploring. The unrelentless down-slope was punishment for having climbed the previous day; you might want to bring hiking poles for this section.
With 15 miles of the Ohlone Wilderness trail stretching between Mission Peak and Rose Peak unexplored, and with numerous side trails I am certain we’ll be back again. Del Valle Regional Park itself has many more miles of trail to offer. Many of these are open to mountain bikes, and the lake seems very suitable to paddling. Can’t wait! Happy hiking.
For more information and adventure ideas in the area, please visit our page: East Bay Regional Park District