Brushy Peak Regional Preserve
In the stark, treeless landscape north of Livermore, Brushy Peak stands out because it alone is capped with a little oak grove. The peak's bright, open slopes are the location of a small park that provides the perfect relief from gloomy winter days.
Another of the park's distinctive sights are the many small windmills of the Altamont Pass wind farm, which line the ridgetops just to the east.
The park and especially its main attraction, the loop trail to Brushy Peak, can be quite popular on nice weekends. Nonetheless, the park is in an isolated area and can be exceptionally quiet, unless, as often happens, the sound of gunfire drifts over from the Livermore/Pleasanton Gun Club.
The park is heavily grazed but the cows are unusually friendly. The area can get really muddy in the winter and can be much too hot in the summer.
** The Brushy Peak Loop Trail (5.0 mi, 1030 ft)
Click here to see the trailhead location in Google Maps.
The loop trail can be reached by dirt roads that run along the bottoms of shallow valleys, or by roads that run along low ridges. The ridge routes are much more scenic.
Start on the Tamcam Trail, which starts from the upper end of the lot, between the restrooms and a beige tank tower. After the gate, take the dirt road to the left. The road climbs; the Altamont Pass windmills are a constant backdrop.
The road descends and ends at the valley road. Turn right; the road ascends and doubles back as it climbs to a ridge top.
The road turns into a trail, which climbs the treeless lower slopes of Brushy Peak. Finally the trail reaches the oak grove. The grove is studded with small boulders. The trail doesn't actually reach the peak; an unofficial trail leads toward the peak but is blocked by a fence.
The trail meanders enjoyably among the oaks for a bit, by far the best part of the hike, before beginning to descend. When the trail ends at a dirt road, turn right and ascend slightly to a ridgetop. The road gradually descends back to the parking lot.
© 2015 David Baselt