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Briones Regional Park is a 6,117-acre (24.75 km2) regional park in the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) system located in Briones Hills, central Contra Costa County, San Francisco Bay Area, California.

The park is situated in the rolling hills of the East Bay region, near Martinez, California, Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill. The western end of Briones Regional Park is adjacent to the Briones Reservoir, which is run by EBMUD across Bear Creek Road.

Briones Peak is the highest point in the park with an elevation of 1483 ft (452 m) and offers panoramic views of Mount Diablo and the Diablo Valley to the east, the Sacramento River to the north and the Berkeley Hills and Mount Tamalpais to the west.

There are also many animals and birds in the park, such as turkey vultures, black-tailed deer, cougars, coyotes, squirrels, and red-tailed hawks. Cattle , sheep and goat ranchers still use portions of the park for grazing purposes and hold a one-hundred-year lease until the 2060s.

Lafayette Ridge is located in Briones Park, parallel to the town of Lafayette. The Lafayette Ridge Trail is approximately 3 km long. It begins at the Springhill Elementary School parking lot and reaches the summit of Russell Peak at an altitude of 1357 ft (414 m) where it divides into the Russell Peak Trail and the Briones Crest Trail. Several other trails run off the Lafayette Ridge Trail, most notably the Springhill and Buckeye Ranch Trails. The ridge trails offer terrain for mountain biking, with periodic slopes of up to 200 ft (61 m) altitude.

The area which today includes Briones Park and Russell Reservation was part of the 1842 Mexican land grant of Rancho Boca de la Canada del Pinole to the widow of Felipe Briones. The Briones began cattle ranching in the area, which continues to this day. The Briones family sold the rancho in 1870.

By 1850, Happy Valley Road, which runs along the outskirts of Briones Regional Park, was the main road from Martinez south to the Pueblo of San José, and then to San Francisco.

In 1909, the People’s Water Company, a precursor to the East Bay Municipal Utility District, purchased watershed protection land. Since 1966, the University of California has maintained a 283-acre (1.15 km2) plot of land in the Briones Hills, known as the Russell Reserve, as a research centre. The Briones Regional Park was established by the East Bay Regional Park District in October 1967. 

Briones is the ideal park for hiking, running, and horseback riding on the scenic trails of the park; picnic, bird watching, and similar activities; and informal recreation such as kite flying, photography, and nature study. There are five major access points, the most developed of which are the Alhambra Creek Valley Staging Area off Reliez Valley Road near Martinez and the Bear Creek Road Staging Area near Orinda and Lafayette.

To reach the Bear Creek Staging Area on Bear Creek Road, exit Highway 24 at the Orinda/Camino Pablo exit and head toward Richmond. Turn right on Bear Creek Road and travel 5 miles to the staging area on the right.

By Geraoma - Own work, Public Domain,
By Geraoma – Own work, Public Domain,

This amazing landmark in Martinez, California is located near some other must-see places of interest:

  • John Muir National Historic Site
  • Carquinez Strait
  • Mount Wanda
  • Radke Martinez Regional Shoreline Park
  • Benicia-Martinez Bridge
  • Hidden Lakes Park 
  • Rankin Park
  • Waterfront Park

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location at 1091 Shary Circle in Concord, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!