Mount Wanda is a small but very attractive park just across Highway 4 from the John Muir House. John Muir tooks his kids for walks here. Its woodlands are noticeably more attractive than nearby parks, partly because the they mostly consist of oak trees, but mostly because there aren't any cows; the cows in most east bay parks tend to give the landscape a ragged, dusty look.
The John Muir Nature Trail climbs Mount Wanda and then loops through an attractive oak grove. Although it's not crowded, it's a fairly popular loop.
Start at the parking lot just off Highway 4. Ignore the trail that runs uphill to the left; the trail begins as a dirt road on the right (north) side of the lot.
The trail climbs through deep shade in a tunnel of dense oak foliage. As the trail bends around to the right, the woodland becomes less dense, the foliage opens up, and there's a brief view of Alhambra Valley below.
Take the trail to your right. The mostly level trail winds though a very scenic oak grove. There are some sounds of traffic from nearby Highway 4, but it's not overwhelming. There are a few picnic benches along the way.
The trail ascends to a dirt road. Turn left onto the road, which climbs, mostly through open grassland, until it passes by the low rise of Mount Wanda. The road then descends back to the parking lot, with a few views of Mount Diablo.
© 2012 David Baselt