Turtle Pond

Length 9.7 mi · Climbing 1770 ft
Home > San Francisco Bay Area > Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park

Turtle Pond with grazing sheep

This hike starts with a big climb up to Pleasanton Ridge, but the best part is a loop through the peaceful, open hills of the park’s interior. This little-visited part of the park is gorgeous on a sunny spring day. There are also some spectacular views over Pleasanton from the ridgetop.

The hike uses the Castleridge entrance behind the Alviso Adobe, which was opened in 2018 and is the only official trailhead for the northern unit of the park. This is the most scenic entrance to the park and it has become quite popular. Although there aren’t a lot of parking spaces, it’s usually possible to find a place to park.

The climb to the ridge is wooded, but the interior of the park can get hot in summer.

To reach the trailhead, take Old Foothill Blvd from its northern end, just north of the Alviso Adobe (don’t try to pull directly into the Alviso Adobe lot; the road is one-way and you won’t be able to reach the trailhead from there).

The Courdet Trail starts out with a steep climb through an open field, but soon enters a pleasant oak woodland. The trail is quite popular; on a nice spring weekend you might see 2–4 groups a minute, and the trail is wide and smooth from heavy use. The gradient isn’t consistent, with two steep but short bits. There are a few glimpses of the suburbs below through breaks in the trees, including one pretty good view near the top, but unfortunately there aren’t really impressive, sweeping views during the climb.

The Courdet Trail

At the ridgetop, the trail emerges from the woods.

The view from the top of the Courdet Trail

Turn left onto the ridgetop dirt road and then after about 50 yards turn right onto a narrow singletrack trail. There’s a dramatic change in the feel of the hike as the trail descends into the interior valley, which is the nicest part of the park. The dense shady woods give way to open, grassy hillsides, and the traffic noise fades away as views of the Tri-Valley cities give way to views of the verdant, undeveloped interior of the park. There are a lot fewer people on the trails in this area.

At the bottom of the singletrack, turn left onto the Shady Creek Trail. On the map it looks like it would be better to turn right and continue along the ridge, but there’s actually more climbing that way and it’s not nearly as scenic.

The Shady Creek Trail, true to its name, makes a gentle descent through a canyon under the deep shade of bay laurels.

Take the Sinbad Creek Trail and turn onto the Turtle Pond Trail. This warm, sunny trail climbs an open hillside with great views of the little pond and the wooded valley and is one of the highlights of the hike. Turn left onto the North Ridge Trail and then turn left again to descend on the Mariposa Trail, which is also quite scenic.

View from the North Ridge Trail

The Sinbad Creek Trail runs through a series of meadows separated by some wooded patches.

The Sinbad Creek Trail. This was actually the only time I’ve ever seen sheep grazing here.

Take the Bay Leaf Trail, which switchbacks up a hill through dense, poison oak-infested woods before emerging into an open meadow with increasingly scenic views of the vast interior of the park.

The Bay Leaf Trail

Continue onto the Schuhart Trail.

The Schuhart Trail

For a short, optional side trip, at the end of the Schuhart Trail, cross the dirt road and bear right onto a unofficial path that leads to a point with a rather spectacular view of Pleasanton.

A view of Mount Diablo from the unofficial viewpoint

Take the Courdet Trail back to the trailhead.


© 2012, 2018, 2023 David Baselt