Hiking the Ohlone Trail in June, Day 3: Journey to Livermore

Sunrise the morning I left Boyd Camp

At Boyd Camp, I only had a few miles left of the official Ohlone Trail, and they were all downhill! After the work my legs did the previous day, this seemed pretty great.

On the left you can see Mount Diablo, and on the right you can see Del Valle Reservoir.

It turned out that it was a viciously steep downhill on a road. I suppose it was still easier than trying to go up than hill, but getting down still required an effort. And in contrast to the previous day when I practically saw no people, this morning I ran into a few people who were doing early morning exercise things.

I finished the official Ohlone Trail at a picnic area which is part of the Del Valle Regional Park. The picnic area was overrun with turkeys.

Turkeys in the park.

And not just adult turkeys – the picnic area was also overrun with poults. Lots and lots of poults.

Poults in the park.

Having reached Del Valle Regional Park, I now needed to get out of the park. Since there was not public transportation, and I didn’t want to get a taxi / hitchhike, that meant walking out of the park. It was an 8-10 mile walk.

The southern end of Del Valle Reservoir

It was a pleasant walk. It was easier than the Ohlone Trail (flatter, higher quality trail, higher quality road when I walked on road instead of trail). And it’s a pretty lake, surrounded with lovely hills covered with dry grass and oak trees, with some marshes in between.

Besides, I was able to buy some cold drinks at a kiosk in the park. This was my first opportunity to buy cold drinks (or anything) since I had left Fremont two days earlier. When I hike in warm weather, cold drinks are usually near the top of the list of what I crave when I reach town, and this was definitely warm weather hiking.

This is the sign indicating to the firefighters where the ‘fire’ was.

The day I was there, the park was hosting a firefighting drill. It turns out all of the signs indicating the location of the ‘fire’ were completely authentic – in real wildfires, they also pull out those very same signs to help firefighters reach the fire. But since this was just a drill, they let visitors pass through as usual, whereas in a real wildfire the park would be evacuated and closed. In fact, I walked straight through the ‘fire’.

I don’t think I had ever been to Del Valle before (maybe my parents brought me here when I was too young to remember). I was pleasantly surprised. I had been concerned that the walk to get out of the regional park would be a slog, but it turned out to be the highlight of my day.

There were a lot of people out and about at Del Valle Regional Park. There were lots of joggers, lots of walkers, there was a summer camp group of kids, and there was an excursion boat going around the reservoir. As I got further north, I ran into more and more people. I don’t know whether it was because it was later in the day (midday as opposed to morning) or whether the northern end is simply more popular. I told a few women that I had just completed the Ohlone Trail, and they were impressed ‘that’s a really hard trail’. I agree – it is a hard trail, harder than what I expected.

Person sitting on bench, looking at reservoir.

At the northern edge of Del Valle Regional Park, looking into the Livermore Valley.

The final gravel road which led out of the park was very crumbly and a bit difficult to navigate going downhill. I was glad I had my trekking poles to help me balance, otherwise I would have walked even slower. I spent a bit of time talking with a woman who was taking a stroller up and down – she definitely had the harder task.

Finally, I had gotten out of the regional park, and found myself in … wine country? I was in a corner of the Livermore valley with a lot of vineyards, with some large vegetable gardens among them. Finding large vegetable gardens on the edge of Livermore wasn’t a surprise, but I wasn’t aware that there were grapes being grown on a commercial scale anywhere in Alameda County, let alone Livermore.

I planned to go through Sycamore Grove Park because it seemed to be the most pedestrian-friendly route connecting Del Valle Regional Park to central Livermore. It probably was, but unlike the lovely Del Valle Regional Park, Sycamore Grove Park was a bore. And it was hot and unpleasant to walk through, at least after I had already walked 10+ miles already. I was so unimpressed that I only took one photo during the three miles I walked through the park.

Sycamore Grove Park. Yes, that is a vineyard on the left side of the picture.

By the time I exited Sycamore Grove Park, I was essentially in the town of Livermore. It looked like a fairly typical Bay Area suburb to me. At that point, I was tired enough and cranky enough from the heat that I was mainly interested in reaching downtown Livermore. Once I got to downtown Livermore, I got a bus which took me to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. I liked the bus ride because a) I did not have to walk anymore and b) I got to see the Tri-Valley area, a part of the Bay Area I almost never visit. From the BART station, getting back home to San Francisco was straightforward.

I’ve put together this map to put my hike in context (you’ll have to click on it to see it at full size). I’ve drawn my approximate path between Fremont and Livermore in red, and also highlighted where San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Mountain View are on this map.

It was a challenging an ultimately rewarding hike. Literally walking from Fremont to Livermore definitely improved my grasp on East Bay geography. And it was really cool to see a completely new side to Alameda County. I suspect most people who read this blog, including those of you who live in Alameda County, were unaware that one of the core San Francisco Bay Area counties had such a big swath of land uninhabited by humans and teeming with wildlife, and were possibly also unaware of Del Valle Regional Park and that Livermore has vineyards. I hope you all also appreciated getting to see this part of Alameda County through these blog posts.

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