The very scenic Green Valley Regional Trail meanders over rolling oak-dotted foothills and past palatial mansions at the edge of suburban Danville. The trail connects with the Wall Point Trail, which climbs to a chaparral-covered ridge top with panoramic views over Sycamore Valley. It makes a nice, engaging loop hike with constantly-changing scenery.
The loop is enjoyable in either direction. The clockwise direction puts the best scenery in the second half, but also means that the hike ends with a walk on a suburban road, which admittedly kind of breaks the mood of the hike. I still feel that it works, though.
Start at the Macedo Ranch Staging Area at the southern edge of Mount Diablo State Park. There's a $6 fee to park here. You could also start about a mile down the Green Valley Trail and park on Jay Lane for free.
Wall Point Road starts at the parking area and climbs through attractive oak-dotted grasslands. Unusually for Mount Diablo, the land for the first half-mile or so is grazed by cows.
After passing through a gate that marks the boundary of the grazed land, the trail climbs out of the oaks and into less attractive chaparral. The trail undulates up and down, but mostly up, along a ridge top with increasingly scenic views of the tony Blackhawk area, Danville, and the San Ramon Valley. The trail gets better after Wall Point (which is not marked) because the chaparral is broken up with stretches of oak grassland, but it continues to climb.
As the trail approaches the Rock City area, a large rock formation comes into view. Take the Summit Trail, which is a single track trail that descends through a narrow tunnel carved into dense, 12-foot-tall chaparral. Poison oak overhangs the narrow trail, but the trail is well-used and it's generally easy to avoid the poison oak, but you have to be on the lookout for it.
An unmarked, poison oak-infested trail to your left leads to the large rock formation that you saw earlier; there's a stairway to the top of the formation. It's kind of fun but not especially scenic.
The chaparral begins to open up and gives way to an oak woodland just as the singletrack ends at the Live Oak Campground. Turn right onto the campground road and walk a short distance to a dirt road, which is the continuation of the Summit Trail.
The trail descends through a small valley wooded with oaks. Near the bottom of the trail, the woodland gets much more lush and attractive. At the next trail intersection, continue straight ahead onto the Green Valley Regional Trail. The dirt road climbs slightly and ends at a paved suburban road. The trail resumes to your right, climbing through an exceptionally attractive and open grove of small oaks. Oddly, the trail then briefly passes through the grounds of a palatial mansion.
The next quarter-mile or so is the scenic highlight of the hike, as the trail winds over oak-dotted hillsides with superb views of rolling hills and occasional mansions. However, as the trail continues, the scenery gets progressively more suburban and more ordinary. The suburbs are pretty nice, though. Finally the trail ends and the last three-quarters of a mile back to the parking lot is on the shoulder of Green Valley Road.
© 2015 David Baselt