Guide to Briones Regional Park07/08/22
Briones Regional Park is a peaceful, grassy oasis surrounded by bustling activity, with the towns of central Contra Costa County on all sides.
Located less than three miles from the hotels and restaurants of Pleasant Hill, Briones Regional Park is a gorgeous, 6,255-acre park in the East Bay region of central California. The park's signature rolling hills were once used for cattle ranching in the mid- to late-1800s — with some areas still being grazed upon by cattle to this day — but now primarily serve as exemplary inclines for exploration. At 1,438 feet in elevation, Briones Peak is the park's highest point and presents sweeping views of the surrounding region, including Instagram-worthy vistas of the nearby Mt. Diablo State Park and the San Francisco Bay Area.
In general, the east side of the park is more wooded, while the west side is more open and has steeper gradients. Briones Park is a wonderful setting for outdoor activities and is very family-friendly. Your dog is also welcome, provided it is on a leash at all times.
The park’s 6,255 acres of rolling hills and secluded canyons are home to a variety of animals, birds, trees, and plants.
Briones park provides a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of city life and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and adventure. Visitors are free to hike, run, and horseback ride on the park’s winding network of trails, shoot some arrows at the archery range, and get up close and personal with wildlife and nature. Guests can use the picnic and BBQ areas and camping is also allowed in the park.
Visitors can hike, run, and horseback ride on the park’s dozens of trails, which are mostly old fire roads ranging from around 1 to 13 miles in length, with moderately steep climbs. Elevations range from 400 feet all the way up to 1,400 feet along the Lafayette Ridge.
One of the more popular year-round hiking trails is the Briones Regional Park Loop from Bear Creek Trail Head. This 6.6-mile loop trail near Lafayette, California, is a slightly challenging route that takes just over 3 hours to complete and offers ample opportunity for bird-watching — and some peace and quiet — along the way. For the ultimate regional park experience, opt to explore the nearly 7-mile trail that connects Briones Regional Park to Mt. Diablo State Park. To view a complete trail map, click here.
Briones Archery Range
The archery club of Briones Park was founded in the early 1960s and has been going strong ever since. The archery range is accessible from the Crescent Ridge Trail, which you can reach from the park’s west-side Bear Creek Road entrance. The range is open during regular park hours and there is no cost to use the range. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The park provides an ideal setting for nature immersion and study.
Briones Park Wildlife & Nature
Briones Regional Park is also an ideal setting for nature immersion and study. In the grassy meadows or among the park’s oaks and bay trees, you may spot black-tailed deer, coyotes, squirrels, red-tailed hawks, and turkey vultures. Cougars also live in the park but you most likely won’t see them, as they are very elusive. The spring wildflower blooms in the park can be quite lovely. Popular naturalistic activities in the park include:
- Bird watching
- Nature photography
- Wildflower and plant identification
Note also that cattle graze in certain areas of the park. Please take care not to disturb them.
The park has several picnic areas available on a first-come first-served basis:
- Bear Creek Staging Area has a first-come, first-served picnic site with tables and BBQs plus two larger, reservable group picnic areas: Oak Grove, which can accommodate 50 people, and Newt Hollow, which can accommodate 150 people.
- Alhambra Creek Staging Area also has a first-come, first-served picnic site with tables and BBQs plus Crow, a 50-person fully accessible reservable site.
The park has three group camping areas:
- Maud Whalen
- Homestead Valley
Reservations must be made at least 5 days in advance by calling the park at 1-888-EBPARKS.
Location, Hours & Admission
To reach the Bear Creek Staging Area (1611 Bear Creek Road, Lafayette, CA): Exit Highway 24 at the Orinda/Camino Pablo exit and head toward Richmond, turn right on Bear Creek Road and proceed 5 miles to the staging area.
To reach the Alhambra Creek Staging Area (2537 Reliez Valley Road. Martinez, CA) from downtown Pleasant Hill: Head west on Gregory Lane and Grayson Road, turning right at Reliez Valley Road. Continue for 1.6 miles before turning left onto Brookwood Drive and proceeding less than a mile to the staging area.
The park is also accessible via public transportation.
The Alhambra and Bear Creek Staging Areas are open year-round, however hours vary seasonally.
- January 1-31: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
- February 1-March 13: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
- March 14-April 10: 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
- April 11-September 5: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
- September 6-November 6: 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
- November 7-December 31: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Parking lots are open from 8 a.m. until sunset.
Park Admission Fees
- $3 per vehicle (when a kiosk is attended)
- $3 per trailered vehicle
- $25 per bus
- $2 per dog
- Guide and Service dogs are free
Frequently Asked Questions
Are dogs allowed in Briones Regional Park?
Yes, dogs are allowed in Briones Regional Park, however they must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet in length at all times in the following areas:
- Tavan Trail
- Diablo View Trail between Alhambra Creek Trail and Hidden Pond Trail
- Alhambra Creek Trail from the Alhambra Creek Staging Area south to the water trough
- Orchard Trail between Alhambra Creek Trail and west to the Briones Road gate
How big is Briones Regional Park?
According to the East Bay Regional Park District, Briones Regional Park consists of 6,255 acres of green, rolling hills and trails in the East Bay region of Central California.
Who is Briones Regional Park named after?
Briones Regional Park is named for Maria Manuela Valencia Briones, the widow of Felipe Briones, who constructed a homestead on the park when it was ranchland in 1829. Upon Felipe's death in 1840, Maria Manuela asked the California government — then a part of Mexico — for a land grant in her name. The grant was considered once California became a state and was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court in 1860.