Bay Area Bucket List: Hiking at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness
A couple weeks ago I spotted a few photos on social media of nearby trails blanketed with California poppies. I had witnessed a super bloom of poppies while driving to Southern California in the past, but I had no idea that we could experience our own (smaller) bloom right here in our own backyard. I immediately contacted a friend that had posted photos to find out where she had gone hiking. Last weekend my family took the opportunity to experience the beauty of the California poppies for ourselves. I posted a few of the photographs I took on our hike on Facebook and Instagram. It was evident by the response I received after posting my own photos that many of you had never seen the gorgeous poppy bloom taking place in our East Bay hills as well. I thought I would take this opportunity to post a few helpful details about where to go and what to bring in case you haven’t had a chance to experience the poppies yourself yet.
Where to Go
We started our hike at the Bollinger Staging Area/Main Entrance of the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness.
Driving Directions: From I-580 in Castro Valley, take Crow Canyon Road north to Bollinger Canyon Road. Turn left (north) onto Bollinger Canyon Road and follow it into the park. From I-680 in San Ramon, take Crow Canyon Road west to Bollinger Canyon Road, turn right (north) and follow it into the park.
Bollinger Canyon Road ends at a staging area that contains parking, information, restrooms drinking water and trailheads.
Note: Due to Covid-19 there is not any water available right now and the restrooms are closed. Click here to find out Covid-19 Park and Trail updates.
There are several different trailheads near the staging area that you can choose to hike on including the Rocky Ridge View Trail (2.7 mi.), the Cuesta Trail to Elderberry Loop (3.2 mi.), and the Elderberry to Questa Loop (4.6 mi.). Please be aware that there is quite an uphill climb to reach the ridge. This trail map provides you with the different options. We found the most lush fields of poppies on the eastern side of the ridge, towards the top, along the Rocky Ridge View Trail.
What to Bring
- a snack
- hand sanitizer
- small first aid kit
- a light or heavy layer depending on the temperature
- phone/camera (tripod)
Temperatures were in the 70’s on the day we visited Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. I would recommend wearing layers. We worked up a sweat on the uphill portion of the hike, but it was cool and windy along the ridge. I found myself taking my lightweight jacket on and off throughout the hike. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water. This is my favorite water bottle because it holds 25 oz. and keeps liquids cold for hours on end. I also recommend tucking this portable tripod into your backpack. I have been using it daily for Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls, but it is also allows you to easily capture a photo of yourself or the entire family in this beautiful setting without resorting to selfies or relying on strangers. The tripod arrives with its own bluetooth remote control to make taking photos a cinch.
About the Poppies
The blooming season for California poppies tends to occur from mid-February through mid-May. It is dependent on the rainfall that occurs in winter and spring. The plant only flowers for approximately 4 weeks. In hotter climates they will die back in the early summer, but they can bloom for most of the summer in cooler, coastal climates. The flowers of the California poppy close each night and stay closed on cloudy days.
If you don’t have an opportunity to admire the poppies at the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness this spring, I still encourage you to add it to your own bucket lists of places to visit in the Bay Area. The trails offer exceptional view of not only poppies, but also Mt. Diablo and the San Francisco Bay. We were able to see all the way to San Francisco as we walked along the ridge. It’s also a great area for birdwatching and glimpsing local wildlife. We spotted a cute little mole popping his head out alongside the trail. Happy hiking my friends!
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