Easy: Little Yosemite, Sunol Regional Wilderness
> About two miles round-trip.
Park at the Visitor Center just off Geary Road ($5 fee on weekends and holidays), then follow the path down to the start of Ohlone Road. The gently sloped trail takes you to Little Yosemite, where you’ll be greeted by a fairy-tale sight—a series of waterfalls cascading down a rocky incline. Climb the boulders that form the waterfalls, or take in the view from the picnic area. Bring along the pup—the park is dog-friendly. ebparks.org.
Medium: Falls Trail loop, Mt. Diablo State Park
> About six miles round-trip.
Waterfalls on Mount Diablo? Anyone who’s experienced the park’s blistering heat might find it hard to believe. But the hillscape is home to spectacular waterfalls, if you know where to look.
Start at Falls Hike Trailhead, at the end of Regency Drive in Clayton, and head left onto Donner Canyon Road. When you hit Cardinet Oaks Road, continue left until you reach Falls Trail. Soon enough, you’ll find a majestic view of waterfalls careening down into the canyon. The trail meets the creek, treating you to the soothing sounds of rushing water along the way as well as a closer look at some smaller falls.
This hike features narrow, sometimes muddy trails and moderate to difficult slopes. Bring a map, and wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet—feeder creeks crisscross the trails. parks.ca.gov.
Difficult: Murietta Falls, Ohlone Regional Wilderness
> About 12 miles round-trip.
One of the toughest hikes in the Bay Area, the trek to Murietta Falls in Livermore is also one of the most rewarding. Pay the $6 fee to Del Valle Regional Park and $2 for an annual trail permit (plus $2 if you bring a dog), then drive to the southernmost end of Lake Del Valle to park in the west beach parking lot. Take Sailor Camp Trail, which becomes Ohlone Wilderness Trail, and follow it until the trail comes to a T. Take a right, and at the next fork, head left, and follow the trail until it dead-ends at the falls. Bring lots of water, as you’ll work up a sweat scaling the 2,992 feet to the waterfall.
It’s worth the effort, though. The remote wilderness is breathtaking, with undulating hills as far as the eye can see and a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles. And the waterfall? Tumbling down a rocky gorge, it’s one of the tallest in the East Bay at 100 feet. You’ll want to visit after a big rainstorm has passed; otherwise, you might only find a trickle. ebparks.org.
NOTE: As of March 15 Del Valle park is closed due to winter storm damage; Ohlone Trail permits are not being issued yet. Please check www.ebparks.org for updates before planning your hike.