“A hidden valley with a few ranch roads providing an easy loop.”
— Bob Gardner
An easy ride once you get over the hill with shorter out-and-back option on Miwok Trail suitable for most beginners.
A small climb at the start leads to a grassy valley encircled by mostly flat ranch roads.
Need to Know
The usual hazards like sun exposure, ticks, poison oak and rattlesnakes. Recommend sunscreen, insect repellant, and staying on trails.
From the parking area, the Miwok Trail
climbs over some small hills. After the first hill, a bypass trail forks to the right along the fenced boundary to avoid a steep section of the road.
The road is rejoined and follows Round Valley Creek for about three miles to the boundary with the Contra Costa Water District Los Vaqueros Reservoir watershed land. The first couple of miles has some shade but it soon opens up to the Round Valley grasslands. There are some shade trees at a creek crossing with a picnic table. The creek is usually dry in the summer.
Before reaching the gate at the preserve boundary, Murphy Meadow Trail
branches to the right (north) looping back on the opposite side of the valley. This trail is completely exposed so avoid during hot summers and bring sunscreen.
Near the end of Murphy Meadow Trail
, the Fox Tail Trail
branches to the left (north) until it dead-ends at the park boundary. The trail is partly shaded and flat until the very end where a short, steep pitch climbs to the park boundary. Turn around anytime and backtrack to Murphy Meadow Trail
. When the creek is dry (most of the time) it's possible to cross to reconnect with the Miwok Trail
for return to trailhead.
History & Background
This was a former ranch and farmland once owned by the Murphy family and still used for grazing cattle. Old farm implements are still scattered around the valley.