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Briones Regional Park Exploration

Just a 10-minute drive from Berkeley, Briones Regional Park is a 6,117 acre park in Contra Costa County.

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2.2 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours

Overview :  Just a 10-minute drive from Berkeley, Briones Regional Park is a 6,117 acre park in Contra Costa County. Its home to plentiful East... more »


California Newts

One of the most unique species found in Briones Regional Park is the California Newt (Taricha torosa). With a brown... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Velcro Plant

You'll find this weed, also known as "bedstraw", growing along the trails of Briones. The leaves of the Velcro Plant (Galium aparine) have tiny hooks, much like Velcro, that help it cling to other surfaces.

Briones is still used as pasture land for cattle herds, much as it was used in its early history as a working ranch. The grazing is carefully... More

2. Oaks

California is home to 18 native oaks and you can see six of those in Briones. In this spot, you can see Valley Oaks, a species most often found along the coast and Black Oaks, a species found in the foothills and mountainous areas of California.

These "oak apples" are actually created by gall wasps. Female wasps lay their eggs into the branches of ... More

3. Wolf Spider

Spring is mating season for wolf spiders and these solitary hunters can be spotted around Briones. Male spiders can be identified during that time by their enlarged pedipalps - the pseudo fangs near their mouth - where they keep their reproductive material.

The hills of Briones are normally a dry, golden color. But winter rains turns the hills... More

4. Bee

A bee investigates a catkin - the reproductive structure of a willow tree.

This corral on the side of th trail is still used by the cattle herds. Old Briones Road Trail was once a road used by the ranchers in the area.

5. Sinkhole

The rock and soils of Briones are actually very sandy. Millions of years ago, this was a shallow inland sea, where many nearby rivers were depositing material. This loamy soil combined with the three active faults in Briones means much of the landscape is constantly shifting.

Twelve million years ago, the East Bay was home to a shallow inland sea. ... More

6. Oak Tree

You'll find a wide array of oak species in Briones because it is a transitional area. Both California coastal species and California interior species can live in Briones' climate.

These leaves are from two oak species found in Briones. The leaf on the right is from an Interior Live Oak (Quercus wislizeni), and the left is from a Coast Live Oak ... More

7. Western Fence Lizard

Western fence lizards are common in California. Amazingly, scientists have found that they may play an important role in limiting the spread of Lyme disease. When ticks feast on the lizards, something in the lizards' blood helps destroy the Lyme disease microbes found in ticks.

Photo by Squamatologist

8. Stock Ponds

You'll see several small ponds like this one throughout Briones. Some are stock ponds, created for the cattle herds that use the park. Others are vernal pools, which fill in the rainy season and dry up during the summer. Both types of pools provide important habitat for amphibians and other species.

If you're near a body of water, these small frogs... More

9. View from the Ridge

From this spot, hikers can see Mt. Diablo and the San Francisco Bay. On clear days, you can often see the snow-capped Sierra Mountains directly east.

10. California Newt

The bright orange color of California Newts (Taricha torosa) is a warning sign. These newts contain a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin that helps protect them against predators like garter snakes. It's the same toxin that is found in pufferfish.

Each year beginning in December, California Newts (Taricha torosa) leave their land dwellings and make ... More

11. Yellow Star Thistle

This invasive was introduced to California in 1849 with alfalfa brought from Chile. It has now spread to 15 million acres in California. The spiny plants causes problems for livestock and wildlife, and also has high water usage, competing with native plants for resources.