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Explore the Round Valley Regional Preserve

Round Valley Reserve Preserve. A view of the Miwok trail from the Hardy Canyon trail.

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Round Valley Regional Preserve. A view of the Miwok trail from the Hardy Canyon trail.
Photo: Jay Boncodin

Day-in and day-out there are runners, walkers, and cyclists sprinkled throughout the East County streets getting in their daily workouts. Imagine running in an area away from the hustle and bustle of city life. A place of natural beauty providing peace and tranquility with the absence of automobiles and it's associated exhaust.  Instead, various forms of wildlife can be seen scurrying, grazing, and openly exploring this territory that they call their home. This place is the Round Valley Regional Preserve (RVRP) and is practically minutes away from East County residents. Round Valley is a 1,911 acre preserve that offers several trails allowing runners, hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers to explore.

Runners new to the trail experience may find RVRP challenging yet invigorating. From the staging area (parking lot), you will  notice that the beginning of the Miwok trail starts off with a gradual incline. The Miwok trail is the main stretch within RVRP offering flats and rolling climbs of different intensities. Running on the Miwok trail exclusively can provide a runner a moderately challenging (yet scenic) out-and-back long run (good for half marathon and marathon training). There are various trails that fork off of the Miwok trail offering further exploration of the area.

The Miwok/Hardy Canyon trails connect providing a short loop that is commonly traversed by runners and hikers (less than five miles). Despite the short distance of this loop, it is a fairly challenging run because of the climbs and rollers throughout the course. This is a surefire way to get the heart rate going and the legs working. The Hardy Canyon trail gets thin at times. Be mindful of foot placement and landing to avoid trips and falls.  This loop is simple to access. From the parking lot, begin the ascent on the Miwok trail (heading west). Approximately 1.5 miles into the Miwok trail, take a left on the Hardy Canyon trail (indicated by a wooden post). Begin the ascent on this trail (which eventually levels out). You will continue to traverse the Hardy Canyon trail back to the staging area/parking lot.

For a different perspective on running, visit the Round Valley Regional Preserve. Trail running provides softer yet unpredictable surfacing than street running. Because of the recent rainfall, the trail surface is currently uneven and clumpy in certain parts. Climbs are generally more intense than what is available on the streets. Start off slow and adjust your pace accordingly based on your comfort level.

Be sure to carry plenty of hydration and wear sunscreen. There are some lightly shaded areas on the trails. For the most part however, you will be exposed to direct sunlight.

Round Valley is only minutes away from Brentwood, Antioch, Oakley, and Discovery Bay. Click here for more information, directions, and a trail map.

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