Briones Peak is the highest point in the park with an elevation of 1480 ft (451 m), and offers panoramic views of Mount Diablo and the Diablo Valley to the east, the Sacramento River to the north, and the Berkeley Hills and Mt. Tamalpais to the west. The park is also home to many animals and birds, such as turkey vultures, black-tailed deer, coyotes, squirrels, and redtailed hawks. Cattle, sheep, and goat ranchers still use portions of the park for grazing purposes and hold a one hundred year lease that is effective until the 2060s.
In the early 1800s, California was part of the Spanish colony known as New Spain. In 1840 the area which includes what is now Briones Park and the Russell Reservation was presented to the widow of Felipe Briones by the Spanish government. The Briones began the tradition of cattle ranching in the region, which continues to this day. In 1870, the Briones family sold their lands. In 1909, the Peoples' Water Company, the precursor to the East Bay Municipal Utility District purchased the land for the watershed. In October 1967, Briones Regional Park was established.
In addition to ranching and water, portions of the park were also valuable for other purposes. By 1850, Happy Valley Road, which runs along the edge of the Briones property, was the main thoroughfare from Martinez to San Jose and then on to San Francisco. Additionally, the park is a place of study. Since 1966, the University of California has maintained a parcel of land known as the Russell Reservation as a research center.
The ridge is a part of Briones Park and runs parallel to the city of Lafayette, CA. The ridge is approximately two miles long and begins at the parking lot of Springhill Elementary School and extends to Russel Peak at 1357 ft (414 m), where it diverges into the Russel Peak and Briones Crest Trails. Several trails branch off of the Lafayette Ridge Trail, most notably the Springhill and Buckeye Ranch Trails. The ridge offers terrain for mountain biking enthusiasts with periodic gains of up to elevation.
Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, Calif., Gary Bogue column: Safety, common courtesy appreciated along trails.
Oct 02, 2007; Byline: Gary Bogue Oct. 2--Landscape shapes culture. -- Terry Tempest Williams Dear Gary: I am sorry to hear about Hetty Dutra's...