SWEEPING PANORAMA

The popular hiking area known as Acalanes Ridge is collection of natural open spaces along the border of Walnut Creek and Lafayette, all connected by an extensive network of trails. The centerpiece is the 23-acre property acquired by John Muir Land Trust in 2010. Atop its 781-foot summit, visitors are treated to panoramic views of central Contra Costa that span the Oakland Hills, Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, Livermore foothills, Mount Diablo, Suisun Bay, and Briones Regional Park.

The story of saving Acalanes Ridge speaks to the power of neighbors coming together and to why land trusts play a pivotal role in conservation. In the mid-2000s the owner of the property faced obstacles for a planned development and needed an exit. The land was connected to the City of Walnut Creek’s open space, but located within the city boundary of Lafayette. Walnut Creek wanted to help, but could not use funds outside city boundaries. Lafayette was interested, but lacked funds for acquisition. The East Bay Regional Park District viewed the land as a vital trail connector, but did not see itself as a long-term steward of an isolated parcel.

KEY ROLE

This is precisely where a land trust fits in. JMLT worked with the landowner to establish a fair price, and helped citizens, the municipal governments, and the Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation to raise the funds needed to acquire the property. Neighbors rallied, and JMLT brought all parties together in a unified effort to permanently protect the ridge in 2010. Today hikers, dog-walkers, and nature-lovers of all ages enjoy this gorgeous place in its natural state.

Acalanes Ridge is accessible via several trails, including the regional trail between Briones Regional Park and Mount Diablo State Park. The property’s location adjacent to Acalanes Ridge Open Space (AROS) offers trail connectors to that recreational area’s popular trail system. To enjoy spectacular views of Mount Diablo and survey the entire county from south to north, few places are better than the summit. From there patterns of development in the county are revealed by the freeways and commuter rail lines beneath you. Mount Diablo in the early morning sunlight is breathtaking.

Dogs are welcome on the trails, but they won’t be the only animals in the area! Acalanes Ridge provides suitable habitat for a variety of wildlife including deer, fox, coyote, raptors and a variety of reptiles.

GETTING TO ACALANES RIDGE

Take Pleasant Hill Road north from Highway 24 from the exit just before Highway 24 merges into I-680 in Walnut Creek. Make a right on Stanley Boulevard. This becomes Springbrook Road. Make a left on Bacon Way and another left on Bacon Court. Make a left on Peaceful Lane and park near the gate for Acalanes Ridge at the end of Peaceful Lane. Or, enter “Peaceful Lane, Lafayette, CA” into a mobile navigational app and you’ll find it.

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