San Ramon, California lies in the County of San Ramon in San Francisco’s East Bay Area, near Mount Diablo State Park. The untamed expanse of rugged hills, canyons, sculptured rock formations, and volcanic remains, is an exciting and often challenging landscape for the hiker to explore. Numerous trails of varying difficulty crisscross it and lead to the summit with its stunning views; and along the way is a voyage of discovery: remarkable biodiversity, spectacular vistas, fascinating geological formations, all engage your interest. This region near San Ramon is at its best in spring when the winter rains have clad the hills in green and wildflowers blossom; and in autumn when the colors of fall paint the hillsides golden.
Hiking tips: follow signed trails only; carry your own water, and trail maps; and wear sturdy hiking boots – the trails can be rough, and a rattlesnake may be in your path.
In summer, the cooler coast with its sea breezes, and the cool shade of Redwood forests invite the hiker to explore the country there.
Hiking trails mapped around waterfalls and creeks are best visited in winter when the rains have fed the cascades. Views from East Bay peaks are also best in winter, after rain has cleared the air.
On all hikes, take plenty of water, trail maps, binoculars, and camera; dress in layers.
Hikes that take you by creeks and waterfalls are best in winter, when the rains fill them with run-off water. Hiking up Mt. Diablo, if done for the views, is also best on a clear day after heavy rains have washed the air clean, when you will get amazing views into the far distance – the Farallon Islands, Mt. Hamilton, and beyond California’s Great Valley, the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada seeming to float over the horizon. It is also a good time to go to destinations usually crowded with tourists in summer. Just remember to take your rain gear along!
Off-season hikes could include Muir Woods and other Redwoods preserves, Mt. Tamalpais included.
Las Trampas Rocky Ridge Loop, starting in San Ramon, 4.6 miles from San Ramon city, is a stroll through grass covered hills east of San Francisco. It is a moderate, 4.5 mile hike taking 1-3 hours, with a chance to observe birds of prey circling above you.
Mount Diablo’s Grand Loop, starting in Mt. Diablo State Park is a panoramic trail that circles the peak in a moderate, 6.2 mile hike taking 1-3 hours.
The Summit and Secret Valley Trails Loop, in Mt. Diablo State Park, is a moderate, 6 mile hike taking 1-3 hours with wonderful views from the top. The walk to the summit, over grasslands and through a deep canyon, gives you a sense of what the pioneers went through in this region of Northern California.
Mitchell Canyon to Eagle Peak at Mount Diablo State Park is an excellent hike through the lush greenery of Mitchell Canyon, on to an invigorating climb to Eagle Peak, with incredible views on clear winter days. This is a difficult, 8.7 mile hike requiring half a day.
Waterfall Loop at Mount Diablo State Park is a moderate, 6.5 mile hike of half a day, visiting many of the lovely little waterfalls created by the rains’ run-off through the park’s numerous canyons. Carry drinking water, and as the route can be very muddy, wait for a few days after rain to give it time to dry out.
The Murietta Falls via Ohlone Wilderness Trail, starting in Livermore, 25 miles from San Ramon, is a difficult, 11.9 mile, full day hike with a demanding 4000 ft. ascent to San Francisco Bay Area’s highest waterfall. Late winter is best, as there is more likelihood of there being water in the waterfall.
Ohlone Wilderness Trail, from Livermore, 25 miles from San Ramon, is best in late winter or early spring. This difficult, 29 mile hike takes multiple days, with a grueling 28 mile walk where you ascend over 7600 ft in two days. It is for veteran hikers only, and you need to watch out for brutal changes in weather with the risk of getting snowed in. Carry essential camping gear, a water purifier or filter, and sunscreen; check for fees and reserve campsites well in advance. Do not leave your car parked at the Fremont end of the trail, it may be broken into.