Reactive Hiking: Brushy Peak Regional Preserve

Brushy Peak Regional Preserve (part of the EBRPD in CA) is my favorite place to hike. It is a smaller regional park located outside Livermore, CA. Brushy Peak was and still is recognized as sacred ground by generations of native Californians. It was once home to the Ssaoam people, a subset of the Ohlone peoples who lived and traded in the lands surrounding the peak. The preserves’ open grasslands support a diversity of wildlife, especially ground squirrels, cottontails, hawks, and golden eagles.

I have explored every trail of this park and hike at the park at least once a month. The preserve has very low foot traffic on weekdays and most Sunday mornings (I say most because this past weekend when I hiked it, there were a TON of people. But usually when I go Sunday mornings, the preserve only has a couple of cars in the lot). This preserve is one of my favorite places because of the wide trails, open spaces, low foot traffic, and dog-on-leash rules (which 99% of the time people are very good about, I have only had one interaction was an off leash dog and I have hiked in the park >20 times). I would not recommend coming to the preserve on a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon during the winter months and I would not recommend coming to the preserve on the weekends during the summer. They do have cows and they can end up blocking trails, but for the most part, your interaction with them is limited and they respond well to vocalizations (but this can be a problem if your dog is cow reactive like Odin).

Wide trails with plenty of room to create space off trail.

 

Below is a trail map of the preserve, like I said before, the trails are very wide and there is a lot of room to create space in the fields surrounding the trails. The sections I highlighted in yellow are the portions of the trail where the trails are a little tighter and you cannot access the fields to create space. Usually if Odin and I do encounter another dog in one of these sections, we back track on the trail so we can create space. There also aren’t too many blind corners (only 3 that I can count off the top of my head right now) and I like that when you are coming down from the peak, you can see the most of the trail you will be taking to the bottom (if you hike the loop in a clockwise manner), so you can see if people/dogs are heading in your direction.

Usually, I do the Brushy Peak Loop (~4.5 mi, East Side Loop Trail -> Brushy Peak Loop Trail) but lately I have been doing the 6.1 mile hike (West Side Loop Trail ->Brushy Peak Loop Trail -> Tamcan Trail  -> Laughlin Ranch Trail). Most people tend to do the preserve in a clockwise fashion, so you are less likely to pass people out on the trails. During the rainy season, the park can get pretty muddy especially if it is an area that the cows have recently passed through, so make sure you wear sturdy shoes. The views from the top of the peak are amazing and there is an area the locals call “Rock City” and it is a good place to stop, rest, and enjoy the views.

 

PROS:

  • Wide trails surrounded by open fields for creating space
  • Dogs-on-leash rule (All dogs are required to be leashed)
  • Low foot traffic during the winter months (The park has very low foot traffic on weekdays and most Sunday mornings, during the summer months there is more foot traffic on the weekends)
  • Lots of loop choices with different lengths/elevation changes

CONS:

  • Cows in the park
  • High foot traffic on weekends during summer months
  • Mountain bikers on trails

 

View From the Top of Brushy Peak

NOTE: If you have any feedback or questions about the parks please let me know! I also want to hear from you. What do you look for in a good park for reactive dogs? Where do you hike?

 

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