Prettiest Vistas of the East Bay
Take in the grandeur of the Bay Area from these 12 stellar destinations.
Photo by Sean O'Steen (CC)
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A patchwork of salt ponds, sandstone sandcastles, sawtooth peaks, and a 360-degree view of seven Bay Area counties. Soaring hawks and roosting gulls, fog snaking up canyons, knife-edge ridge trails with sweeping views, and San Francisco dazzling in the distance. These are a few of things visible from the most beautiful vistas in the East Bay.
The collection of views includes a mix of vantage points from both easy- and hard-to-reach destinations that range from sea level tidal lagoons to the heights of Mount Diablo. From Fremont to Clayton, these places are gems to lovers of the outdoors. They go there for inspiration, exhilaration, and even peace of mind.
Photo by Miguel Vieira
Contra Costa High
Satisfy an urge to get high by summiting Mount Diablo State Park’s Eagle Peak where a clear day offers miles of visibility with peaks of the Sierra Madre poking up in the far distance.
At 2,369 feet, this peak is not as tall as the 3,849-foot Diablo summit, but getting to the top of Eagle Peak via Mitchell Canyon in Clayton provides a mostly solitary experience, hardcore training opportunities, and cumulative climbing of 3,101 feet. Snaking along the knife-edge ridge of Eagle Peak Trail presents breathtaking, drop-away views of mountainous terrain and hillsides, verdant greenery, and the neatly laid out valleys of Contra Costa County. It’s heart-pounding hiking, but the rewards are many now: lush, green meadows, bright wildflowers and ever-varying flora, the steep, rocky outcrops of Mitchell Rock and Twin Peaks, and thick tunnels of Manzanita and stubby chaparral that diminish as the elevation gains.
At the summit, inhale the fresh air deeply before a descent through shaded Mitchell Canyon. In early March, snow pelted hikers from Murchio Gap to Deer Flat, accumulating briefly. Summer is punishing here.
Photo by Pat Mazzera
Peak Experience in the Greenbelt
Despite that Bay Area’s population of 7 million, the views from the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Pinole Valley watershed are dominated by rolling grasslands and forested hills with hardly a hint of civilization.
This is thanks to the protection of valuable watershed lands; the visionary citizens who formed the East Bay Regional Park District in 1934; and groups such as Greenbelt Alliance, which work to preserve open space from encroaching urbanization.
The trailhead is behind a gate near the intersection of Bear Creek and Alhambra Valley roads, where Bear Creek turns into Pereira Road. The Ridge Trail crosses a small bridge and then climbs up along the ridge, with a long, steep stretch to the high point at 1,069 feet, about 1.75 miles from the start. The hike to Pinole Peak takes in treasured open space across the East Bay, from Wildcat Canyon to Tilden to Briones to Las Trampas to Mount Diablo, along with San Francisco Bay in the far distance. Before going, purchase an EBMUD trail permit at TrailPermits.EBMUD.com.