Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Round Valley: We walk the Miwok

A Sunday-evening hike at Round Valley Regional Preserve. bahiker.com says this hike is “moderately easy”; more moderate than easy, I’d say.

Round Valley’s a smallish preserve to the south-east of Mount Diablo, pretty much the opposite side of the mountain from Walnut Creek. The drive in on Marsh Creek Road is wild: rolling hills and tight bends, and what’s that dead pig doing by the side of the road?

The park itself is hot and dry: too hot to hike during the day. We follow the bahiker.com route, which loops anticlockwise on the Miwok Trail—a wide, dusty, stony fire trail, alongside Round Valley Creek, which at this time of year is completely dry—before returning on the Hardy Canyon Trail. This is where it starts getting tough. bahiker.com says: “a steady ascent, not hard but with no respite”. “No respite” is right; it’s a relentless 600 foot climb. “Not hard” is not quite so right. It’s tough enough that Melinda threatens to turn around. There are good views behind us of Mount Diablo, gradually becoming more visible above the hills as we gain height, but we’re too winded to appreciate them.

After cresting, the trail heads downhill alongside High Creek—also completely dry— and back to the parking lot. There’s an interesting view from the top, where the flat expanse of the Central Valley is briefly visible behind the intervening foothills; not all of Northern California is hilly.

Just over 4 miles, but the climb in the middle dominates it. Good exercise, but not so much fun. Round Valley would probably be more interesting, and less dry and dusty, in spring or fall; and I’d consider doing it the other way around, too. Also: it’s not so good doing it close to sunset, as you end up driving home directly into the setting sun.

Categories: Hiking