Watching Neowise in style!

I went up to Castle Rock Park in the Open Space the other day to try and catch an evening sighting of the Neowise comet! I decided I had to do it in style, rather than just hike up there to stand around!

So, I brought my dog, Bodie, a picnic, some wine (shh!), and a friend! The views were spectacular as usual with the twilight colors and a dim orange sun reflecting off Mt. Diablo. It was absolutely beautiful. We eventually found Neowise, but needed binoculars to see it, as the light pollution from Martinez refineries didn’t lend the naked eye a view. Though I was hoping for some spectacular images like those posted on Jackson Hole’s Twitter account, it was not meant to be in highly populated Contra Costa County.

Days earlier, I also took a hike in a different direction at Castle Hill Park to Pine Canyon where there is a rock formation where the Peregrine Falcon makes it nest (once an endangered species) and a bench that you can sit on and just take in the scenery and maybe see a falcon flying high above. It is a short walk in, but nice to take it all in and just be outside.

We are lucky to live here!

So, things will be a little weird for at least another month in California. If you’re like me, all this social distancing has started to wear on you both personally and professionally. Luckily, we live in a beautiful place with great weather!

That’s one saving grace – we are still allowed to go on hikes in the Open Space! Recently, I went on one of my favorite Shell Ridge hikes. It goes about 3 miles up a hill and rewards you with great views of the Walnut Creek/680 corridor. You may recognize the spot because it’s where a huge water tower used to be.

To get there, you come in at Marshall, turn left, and then go up and around the side (you used to go straight up the hill, but it’s been blocked off). To get to the highest peak, you backtrack at the top of the ridge. Check out these beautiful views!

I like to sit on the bench up there and take in the incredible landscape below. We really are so lucky to call the Bay Area home, even during a global pandemic. Take advantage of the outdoor opportunities, like this hike, if you can. But make sure your eyes are peeled – it’s rattlesnake season up there!

A mini-nature walk in downtown Walnut Creek!

We all know how beautiful our little town of Walnut Creek is. It’s surrounded by the Shell Ridge Open Space, has a gorgeous view of Mt. Diablo from pretty much anywhere, and is generally just a very clean, aesthetically-pleasing town to live in. But, did you know there’s a legitimate nature walk downtown?

Ok, it’s not a hike or anything, but the creek that gives us our namesake does wind through some lovely areas. One of which is right through Civic Park after you cross the Ygnacio Valley bridge on the Iron Horse Trail headed south. Every October there is a city wide sponsored volunteer event and clean up the creek is always part of it!

If you hook a right after that Ygnacio Valley bridge (and subsequent canal bridge), you are immersed in a makeshift “Creek Walk.” Follow the creek on the right and take in the signs that describe the wildlife of Walnut Creek. This is the path that rounds the large grassy area, so bring your kids or fur babies, too!

There are benches, places to stop and eat, and a continuation into Civic Park if you so wish. Of course, you can extend this trail a lot; for example, I parked at the Broadway Plaza garage and walked across the street to meet a friend at Pacific Bay Cafe and that is when I noticed these Creek Walk Signs, once I googled it, I found it extends down to Maria Maria! Next time you’re wandering downtown, take this quick detour and enjoy another small aspect of what makes Walnut Creek so great!

Road Trips: A hike up Mt. Rose

Ah, Reno. One of my favorite places to visit in every season! My son was attending school UNR so I had many more opportunities (and reasons!) to visit, but you can find me up at Tahoe for skiing in the winter, or on a hike like the one I recently took. No complaints either way from me!

On one of my recent trips to Reno I took a drive back home via Mt. Rose and Lake Tahoe.  At the top of Mt. Rose summit, is a trail head for various hikes. The path taken this day was a 2.5-mile trail in and out of a beautiful waterfall. It’s amazing to see what these majestic Tahoe mountains have to offer us when they aren’t covered in snow or recently dusted after a storm – check out the difference!

After the hike, my friend drove back to Reno and I continued on home via a stop at Char Burger. Since it was Labor Day weekend, and the last of summer vacations, it was crowded and a line was way out the door, but the wait was worth it.

Even though this might be a long way to go for a day trip, it is something you might consider on to a longer vacation to the area and a nice tidbit of information.  I personally always feel rejuvenated after time spent in Tahoe and the surrounding mountains by taking advantage of this little slice of heaven.  On another blog, I will highlight more details about Reno where I grew up and am one day looking forward to where I will retire, me and everybody else from California!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Enjoy some gorgeous hikes before summer ends!

With the warm summer weather starting to tail off a bit, all you hikers will want to get out there and hit these last few trails before the season changes completely. Here are four great hike ideas close to San Francisco, from Time Out San Francisco.

  1. Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve: a more remote, forested getaway in the Oakland hills with stunning views of the Bay in every direction!
  2. Angel Island: 360-degree views of the Bay Area from the highest point, and just a cool getaway for some nature and history.
  3. Alamere Falls: If you’re brave enough, you can sneak close to the edge of the 40-foot falls that drop into the ocean.
  4. Lands End: An oldie, but a goodie – you can’t beat this classic hike, which can take you through the Sutro Baths, along the coastline, and towards breathtaking Golden Gate views.

Obviously, there are plenty of local hikes in the East Bay to explore, too. Mt. Diablo and The Open Space are always fun, as are the views from the Berkeley Hills and Grizzly Peak. If you want something easy to take a stroller or a couple dogs on, try the Lafayette Reservoir!

We are very blessed to live in an area that has temperate weather even in the winter, but the beauty of the trails (and the lack of mud!) disappears as fall converges on the summer.

It’s supposed to stick in the low 90’s for the rest of this work week, and then start the decline into the 80’s and 70’s in the weeks to come. Take advantage now before you hole up next to the fireplace for the winter!

Don’t miss waterfalls on Mt. Diablo!

Want to know about one of the East Bay’s best-kept secrets? When it rains like it has for the past few weeks, the little trickles on the Clayton side of Mt. Diablo turn into magnificent waterfalls!

FullSizeRender (19)

And there’s a 6-7 mile hike loop that takes you past all of them. If you live in the Bay Area, there’s a good chance you enjoy outdoor activities like me. Hiking in the Open Space or up on Mt. Diablo is one of my favorite pastimes, and we are lucky to live in such a beautiful region full of options.

FullSizeRender (21)

One of my Walnut Creek Lifestyle team members went on the hike last weekend on a sunny day and was blown away by the amount of water that transformed the waterfalls into full-blown spectacles. It’s a can’t-miss this season!

To get to that entrance, get into Clayton on Marsh Creek Rd. or Clayton Rd. and take a right on a residential street called Regency Dr. (just past the middle school). Take that street to the end, and you’ll be at the Regency Gate, which opens up to a few trailheads. The map there will tell you which one is the loop for the falls!

FullSizeRender (20)

At the top of the biggest, baddest waterfall they’ve got (not pictured, but now the surprise isn’t ruined!), there’s a pretty cozy little spot off the trail to stop, sit and take in the view. Pack a small picnic and enjoy the beauty Mt. Diablo offers and the spectacle the rainy season has brought. You’ll thank me later!  Happy Trails