Contra Costa Canal Trail 5: Pleasant Hill
My cunning plan: take a bus to the Pleasant Hill end of the Canal Trail, walk down the trail to the junction with the Iron Horse Trail, and walk home from there. County Connection Route 102 gets me from Walnut Creek BART to the Diablo Valley College campus, which lies right on the trail some one-and-a-half miles short of the end. Route 118 connects from there and goes right past the end of the trail on Muir Road; but with a 40 minute wait for the connection. On balance, I think, I’ll walk out and back from DVC to the end of the trail and then strike out south for home.
Well, the end of the trail is a bit of a wash. It’s dry, dull, and baking hot. Not really worth the trip. And it stays hot and dusty south of DVC too. This is not much fun.
At Taylor Boulevard, there’s an odd little dogleg where the trail runs alongside the road for a few hundred yards to the next stoplight. A rather officious sign reads: “YOU ARE HERE FOR RECREATION. FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH AND SAFETY PLEASE TAKE THE LONG WAY.” Uh: okay.
There’s water at Las Juntas Park, which is welcome; and after Camino Juntas, the trail starts to become more shaded. At Lockwood Lane I connect with the end-point of a previous out-and-back hike, and the most pleasant stretch of the trail: wooded, quiet, and cool.
By the time I get to Oak Park Boulevard, I’m starting to think about taking the escape hatch I’d planned; the 102 route goes back along Oak Park towards Walnut Creek. I grab doughnuts and soda at Safeway, sit, eat, and contemplate my ebbing energy and aching feet. I feel restored after a rest and some food, and I reason that I’m two-thirds of the way through; it seems a shame not to finish out the hike.
So, down to Walden Park; and on down the Iron Horse to home. And getting slower all the time. It’s 9½ miles and 4 hours by the time I get home, and it’s rarely felt harder; I am bushed.
Previous hikes on the Contra Costa Canal Trail: