Usually when I start a hike on a beach and end on a beach, it involves the ocean. Occasionally though, the beach is a little diamond in the rough, which was the case last weekend at Del Valle Regional Park, an East Bay park about 10 miles outside of the town of Livermore.

It’s a well-used and well-maintained sprawling park that’s a good match for boating, camping, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking/canoeing and hiking, among other uses. Also, I had never heard of it, which intrigued me enough to trek nearly two hours to get there for a rigorous day hike. Our group has been doing segments of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the vast and uncompleted 300-plus mile network of trails that ring this entire Bay Area. But there are some gaps in the trail’s linkages and one would be right where Lake Del Valle is, hence the opportunity to hike there.

Over about six hours, we climbed and descended ridges that line the eastern side of the lake, gaining about 3,000 feet in collective elevation totals, mostly through short bursts of uphill trekking. Across the 5,000 acres of land are several trails to choose from, and our loop took us nearly 15 miles to complete. The entire way, the route was exposed, meaning that on a bright sunny day, this is not the hike to do. Instead, we had the good fortune to have partial clouds, making a strenuous hike not too unpleasant. And the cows we had to bother, including the mother and calf in the picture above, also seemed at peace with their day too, which was nice. We also had views of the five-mile-long lake throughout, so we could spot at different times boaters, paddlers, canoers, kayakers, fishing folks (largemouth and smallmouth bass, I was told), and swimmers (some clothed, and yes, one who was au naturel and enjoyed the audience, hence the title of this blog entry).

From conversations with some folks who know the park well, it’s billed as a sort of staycation-esque resort, as it has all the regular lake-type amenities and facilities, plenty of room to wander and great views. It also connects at the southern end to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, which is a much longer stretch of backcountry trails.

[nggallery id=26]