Garin and Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks are two adjacent open spaces in the Hayward foothills just behind Mission Blvd, CA-238. They share a network of trails that offer several opportunities for loop hikes up to at least 7 miles in length. I visited Garin Regional Park with a friend to do a 4½ mile hike on a beautiful spring day.
Starting at the Garin Ave entrance, we hiked a semi-loop route around Vista Peak Loop Trail, about 3.7 miles, then followed a second 0.7-mile loop trail around Jordan Pond.
The highest point on the Vista Peak Loop Trail is a little over 900 feet in elevation, about a 600-foot climb from the trail head. The grade on the trail is moderate, with the steepest parts perhaps a 10% grade on well-constructed trails.
Near the visitor center there is an interesting exhibit of ranch machinery. The item in the foreground of this picture reminded me of an insect. And, for some reason, I found it amusing to see the machinery under a palm tree. Perhaps only in California?!
As we followed the Vista Peak Loop Trail clockwise around the loop we noticed a few wildflowers: not abundant, but pretty. Along the way we saw a thistle as it was being visited by a bee.
Heading toward the right turn at the northwest part of the loop (see GPS track) we had a nice view of San Francisco Bay between two hills. Hayward and/or Union City are in the foreground, and the Peninsula is in the background. When I took the picture I thought that might be Alameda Creek Trail, where I’ve done several longer-distance training walks, in the center of the picture. I subsequently identified it as a flood control canal next to Industrial Pkwy that later empties into Ward Creek or Old Alameda Creek on its way to the Bay.
Looking farther south along the Peninsula, we could barely see Loma Prieta and Mt Umunhum, roughly 30-35 miles away. As we walked we also enjoyed a few poppies and some mustard grass near the trail.
Just before the turn there was a slight rise in the trail, where there was an unexpected view of Mt Tamalpais, with downtown San Francisco visible below and to the left. The view certainly made the short climb worthwhile!
Although we felt as though we were walking in a more remote location than we actually were, there were occasional signs of the nearby cities (besides the view across the Bay). Every so often a commercial jet flew overhead, on approach to the Oakland Airport.
The Vista Peak Loop Trail goes around one hill and over the shoulder of another. Near the view of San Francisco we looked back southeast along the loop toward the hilltop that the trail loops around.
As we continued around the loop we passed over the shoulder of a hill, with the high point of the loop trail at about 920 feet elevation. We had a brief view of the very top of Mt Diablo, about 15 miles away, barely peeking over the intervening hills. We were also treated to views of nearby hills. The trail in the background may be High Ridge Loop Trail in Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park.
After returning to the visitor center we continued southeast on a shorter loop trail around Jordan Pond, with tall grasses along the shore and a pretty backdrop of hills to the east.
This was a pleasant walk through an open space that is literally just a half mile or so from a major road in the East Bay, CA-238. It is a treasure, especially for residents of Hayward and Union City, but also for anyone else who comes to visit.