Shell Ridge 6: Borges Ranch
Borges Ranch lies just inside the eastmost edge of Shell Ridge Open Space; to the east lies Diablo Foothills Regional Park, and further east, Castle Rock Recreation Area. The road in is narrow, single-track with passing places; about the least Californian road I’ve seen since moving here. We park at the Bob Pond trailhead.
From Bob Pond, we take a counterclockwise loop, heading south on the Borges Ranch Trail past Borges Ranch itself before turning left on the Briones–Mt. Diablo Trail and, just after entering Diablo Foothills Regional Park, left again onto the Shell Loop Trail. Here the trail is lightly wooded; and just after the junction with Shell Ridge Trail, there’s a picnic table set under the trees where we stop to eat our sandwiches.
At the end of the Shell Loop trail, we head north on the Castle Rock Trail. The trail passes Sulfur Spring, which although it looks dry is aptly named: it smells distinctly sulphurous. Castle Rock Recreation Area, below and to the east of the trail, is full of picnic tables, sports, and games facilities; but oddly, for a holiday weekend (Monday is Labor Day), it’s completely deserted.
North of Castle Rock, the trails seem to run out of names. We follow the trail a little further north, above and around the equestrian area—lots of stables, exercise rings, and fields, which would explain why we see so many horses on the trails around here—before cutting east on a steep climb up to the ridge. From the crest, we drop down onto the Borges Ranch Trail which takes us back to the trailhead.
A quick, short loop—about 3 miles, about 90 minutes. Castle Rock’s recreation is a little too organised for me; but it looks like there’s a lot more good hiking to be had deeper into Diablo Foothills.