Old Briones Road- Briones Crest- Mott Peak- Abrigo Valley
It was great to get out and run today. I think if I hadn't, the puppies might have staged a mutiny. Between working a ton and having the street in front of my house repaved, the dogs haven't been out too much. If you have seen border collies after 2 days without running, you will know this is not a good thing.
I didn't want to go long today because of the whole knee situation, but this trail still provides a bit of workout for the short distance. Because it was a weekday, I parked inside the Bear Creek Entrance without paying (see other posts on Briones for free parking on the weekend). We started up Old Briones Road. This trail is basically flat for the first half-mile or so, winding through a meadow that had the youngest calf I've ever seen the last time I ran here. Fortunately, today the cows stayed off the trail and we had no encuentros de vaca. After the meadow, the trail veers left and climbs up to Briones Crest. This section of the trail is short but climbs probably 800 feet in a quick mile--enough to get your heart rate up. Once on top of Briones Crest, the views were once again superb. However, were I to suggest a run in Briones, I would say the views from this trail are better (these trails are also VERY easily combined).
On both sides of Briones Crest, just before Mott Peak, are two or three water sources named Snidicich Lagoons. I wanted to run this trail today to see the lagoons, and remembered when I got there that I actually saw them five years ago when I took a group of sixth graders backpacking. They stand out as little green oases in the middle of the parched grasses (otherwise known as my friends the foxtails). I'm sure a better ecologist than I could explain how they came to exist, and the different plants that grow around the stagnant water.
Up to the Mott Peak trail, then past some cows who eyed us from a safe distance and then down, down to Maud Whalen campground (where I took the sixth graders many moons ago). This is a great group campsite, by the way-- you can get permission to bring in one car laden with food and then everyone walks in from the trailhead. Running water and a fantastic fire pit (seating for close to 30 around the campfire--my students tried!) make this a great place to take kids. (In case you had 30 or so hormonally charged adolescents with whom you willfully chose to spend time in the wilderness. I'm just saying...)
After that it was back to the car by way of Abrigo Valley. Again, Briones Regional Park is one of the less-visited parks I have been to. Of course, I was also there at 8:00 am on a Thursday morning--not exactly the crush time for hikers, but I saw exactly one other person on the trail today, not counting the two horse trailers and truck that were driving in as we started. It continues to amaze me how trails so close to urban centers like the Bay Area can feel so remote.