This genuinely lovely trail climbs through ridgetop cow pastures with sweeping views of the San Ramon Valley. It starts from the Elworthy Staging Area, which opened in 2016 and is Las Trampas' newest trailhead. The trailhead is still little-used, which is surprising since it's uniquely scenic — thanks to the remarkably open landscape in this area, the views start almost at once and continue with very few interruptions for the first two miles.
After the first two miles the cow pastures end and the trail continues to climb through a more varied landscape with fewer, but more spectacular, views. The trail also becomes more challenging in this area, with lots of small hills.
The main drawback of the Elworthy trailhead is that there aren't any loop hike options. Even if you reach the main trail network, the steepness of the surrounding trails discourages leaving the ridgetop.
The first five miles of the trail (up to the point where it joins the Eagle Peak loop) are shown here. For a shorter hike, good turnaround points are the Remington Loop side trail for a 4.2 mile hike, or the Del Amigo Trail for a 7.2 mile hike.
From Elworthy Ranch Circle, a steep access road leads to a little trailhead parking lot.
Take the Fiddleneck Trail, which as a gated dirt road that's almost invisible at first. It climbs through a cow pasture, headed pretty much straight up the hill without any switchbacks.
The road becomes better-defined but also very steep as it punches through a little band of trees. This part can get really muddy in the winter. Emerging from the tree, the road soon reaches the open ridgetop and levels out somewhat.
The road meanders over rolling hills with views of suburban Danville below. You can look down at the nearby freeway and clearly hear the traffic noise at first, but it gets progressively further away as the hike continues.
After the side trail to Remington Circle, the cow pastures come to an end and the open grasslands give way to scrub. There aren't nearly as many views after this point and the trail isn't as scenic, so if you just want a short hike, the Remington Circle intersection makes a good turnaround point.
Nonetheless, the next few miles are still a worthwhile addition to the hike. Before Remington Circle the trail is all open grassland; after, there's a lot more variety, with some attractive oak groves and lots of scrub. The trail continues to climb and the views, though more limited, become increasingly impressive. The trail also feels more remote in this area.
The landscape gets increasingly rugged, with a lot of up and down. One of the high points is the intersection with the Del Amigo Trail, which is a good place to turn around since the trail isn't quite as enjoyable after this point. When looking at the park map it's tempting to plan loop hikes using the Del Amigo Trail, but I'd avoid it; its unpleasantly steep gradients are decidedly unfriendly.
Ahead, the Las Trampas Ridge Trail descends to an intersection, where it changes from a dirt road to singletrack. The narrow singletrack trail switchbacks up a hillside and runs through poison oak-infested woods for a while before emerging onto a sharp, scrub-covered ridgetop with views of Bollinger Canyon and Rocky Ridge to the west; the views to the east are blocked by a small ridge.
© 2018 David Baselt