The Campaign To Save Painted Rock


John Muir Land Trust has acquired the 84-acre property known as Painted Rock, a highly visible hill located between Lafayette and Moraga, CA. The Painted Rock property will anchor a large 505-acre public open space. This stunning new recreational resource provides miles of new trails and sweeping views for the community. It is a protected haven for wildlife.


Painted Rock has been under pressure for development for decades. Two new residential developments—Palos Colorados and Rancho Laguna II—are adding 150 new houses on adjacent properties. Citizens and the Town of Moraga arranged that instead of building a private golf course, the developers would preserve two parcels totaling 421 acres that are set aside as natural habitat and public open space protected by conservation easements preventing future development. The 84 acres of Painted Rock and its 935-foot summit will complete a new community resource totaling 505 beautiful acres—with miles of multi-use trails, ponds, streams, windswept grasslands, and unparalleled views.


Seen daily by thousands of commuters near the intersection of Moraga Road and Rheem Boulevard, Painted Rock is one of the most visible landscapes in the area. Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages will soon explore unique elevated trails and viewpoints that complement the delightful low-lying trails throughout the region. The ridgeline along Painted Rock is among the highest points of elevation in the area—just waiting for hikers, cyclists, runners, dog walkers, bird watchers, and nature-lovers to experience its sweeping views of Mount Diablo, Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, and notable peaks and valleys in all directions.


Keeping natural areas intact is essential, as fragmented habitat is one of the greatest threats to wildlife. The 84 acres of Painted Rock include annual and perennial grasslands, coastal scrub, and seep and spring wetlands. Hawks soar overhead, and the area offers suitable habitat for the threatened Alameda whipsnake. Productive springs and stock ponds have the potential to harbor species such as the threatened California red-legged frog. These springs support wetland-associated vegetation, arroyo willow trees and a variety of hydrophytic grasses and herbs.


A tradition dating back decades makes the property as iconic as any in a small city or town. Students whitewash the boulders that face the streets below, painting memorable messages in the dead of night. While not exactly encouraging it, residents have embraced this tradition as a local rite of passage. Few have looked up at a freshly painted homecoming slogan without a smile and a fond memory of times past.


There is enormous development pressure on precious natural lands due to the Bay Area’s sizzling economy. Painted Rock was once offered for sale as a development site for $15 million. Now protected, the land is an extraordinary opportunity to shape the landscape we leave to our children and grandchildren.

Painted Rock is a new acquisition in The Moraga Hills Campaign, part of John Muir Land Trust’s decades-long effort to protect the most threatened properties in the East Bay Hills. This landscape defines our region’s rich natural heritage. The campaign seeks to protect hundreds of acres in Lamorinda that will provide critical wildlife corridors, protect native species, preserve clean drinking water, and offer residents spectacular opportunities to experience wide-open natural spaces.

photo: adam weidenbach




Painted Rock is Saved!