De Laveaga Trail to Siesta Valley

12 Feb

Length: 5.9 miles
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Challenging with several steep sections
Dogs: Not allowed.
Calories: 800-1000 
Elevation Gain: 1635 feet.
Best Season: Winter/spring when it’s cool, sunny and clear, but not muddy
EBMUD Permit Required:  Yes
Highlights:  Leave the crowds behind with a “butt kicker” that has great views of Mt. Diablo over downtown Orinda, and access to the very isolated Siesta Valley and the Grizzly Peak/Tilden Park area.
Directions:  Take Highway 24 to Orinda and exit onto Camino Pablo, going North. Take a U-turn at the first light and head back towards the highway. You’ll see a gravel parking area on the right side before reaching the highway.
Trailhead:  After parking, you’ll see the gate and kiosk at the beginning of the De Laveaga Trail.

The De Laveaga Trail climbs roughly three miles from near downtown Orinda (elevation 460ft) to the Bay Area Ridge Trail & East Bay Skyline Trail adjacent to Grizzly Peak Blvd (elevation almost 1600ft). 

Map of De Laveaga Trail to Siesta Valley and Grizzly Peak Blvd.

The trail is named after the deLaveaga train station, the eastern end of the old California & Nevada Railroad that ran from 1891 until 1904 between Emeryville and Orinda, hauling farm produce and passengers.  On Sundays, trainloads of folks took the train to Orinda to picnic! The station was named after the deLaveaga family & property where the station was located.  Today, the refurbished station is located near the onramp to Highway 24 and a fun place to check out.

Beginning of De Laveaga Trail

The trail starts out as a pleasant single track through a wooded area for maybe half a mile, but soon leaves the trees behind as it connects with a fire road that winds its way up the hill.

Trail opens to meadow and then fire road

Just follow the signs to stay on the trail, and the views get better and better as you climb higher and higher! If you don’t complain about all the climbing at least once, then you’re in better shape than me!  You may encounter cows, but I haven’t yet, and during one section you’ll hike under high voltage power lines.  Not where you want to stop and have a picnic.

View over downtown Orinda

View, higher up the trail, of Mt. Diablo

After some good climbing, and about 1.8 miles, you’ll reach a gate and a sort of pass into the Siesta Valley Recreation Area.  Just past the gate, there is a little trail to the left that goes out to Hump Peak at 1540ft – an excellent view point. Continue into the Siesta Valley. This is the most scenic part of the hike and you might feel like you have a whole hidden valley to yourself! 

Siesta Valley

Located just down the hill is the California Shakespeare Theater (CalShakes).  Seeing a Shakespeare play or other performance there in the summer makes for a wonderful evening.  Just dress warmly!

The trail drops down a ways before making a final climb up to the Skyline Trail, near Tilden Park.  There are scattered groves of eucalyptus trees (that have been thinned) and it is increasingly lush as you approach the summit.

Post for Bay Area Ridge & Skyline Trail

Once you reach the Skyline Trail, I like to take a left until I reach a gate adjacent to Grizzly Peak Blvd.   This is actually called the Scotts Peak Trailhead (or Skyline Gardens Trailhead?) and you can continue on a trail across the street if you want to reach an awesome view point looking out over the Bay.  But normally, I just turn around and head back the way I came.

If you take a right at the Skyline Trail, instead of going left, the trail will take you to Tilden Park.

You can also access Siesta Valley by parking at the Scotts Peak Trailhead and hiking down towards Orinda.

One time my wife and I left our home in Lafayette on foot (Burton Valley), took BART to Orinda, and then hiked the De Laveaga, with backpacks, over the hill all the way to the Claremont Hotel! I love cooking up these types of “urban adventures”! At the hotel, they started telling us about parking our car, but we didn’t have one.

5 Responses to “De Laveaga Trail to Siesta Valley”

  1. Craig Isaacs February 12, 2021 at 7:46 pm #

    that looks awesome – too bad no dogs 😦

    • stever February 12, 2021 at 9:20 pm #

      Yeah, EBMUD unfortunately doesn’t allow dogs on most of their trails. They do allow dogs on the following trails: Oursan & Hampton Trails (by Briones), King Canyon Loop & Riche from Valle Vista Staging Area, and Rocky Ridge and Carr Ranch from Rancho Laguna Park.

  2. Scott Feeney July 1, 2021 at 4:21 am #

    I hiked this via Orinda BART, proceeded down the Stonewall-Panoramic trail into Claremont and took BART (via Rockridge) home. Lovely point-to-point hike, about 7 miles including the city streets at the end. I was lucky to get plenty of fog at the upper elevations to cool me off.

  3. naomitraveller January 29, 2023 at 5:59 pm #

    Is there a somewhat safe pedestrian route from Orinda BART to the trailhead on Camino Pablo in Orinda? I came the other way over the hills from Tilden and had a harrowing crossing using the green painted bicycle lane as a pedestrian island to get across Camino Pablo just before the hwy 24 ramps. I was surprised that the light didn’t have some kind of crosswalk. How do locals get from BART to the other side of 24 to the de Laveaga on foot?

    • stever January 29, 2023 at 10:34 pm #

      Hi, this is a good question. I’ve only crossed from the Orinda BART (by the Chevron station) to the trailhead once and can’t remember how I did it – probably sprinted across like you did. Normally, I’ve just parked on the trailhead side of Camino Pablo.

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