The wet winter has brought unbelievable riches to the East Bay’s parks and open spaces, making this the perfect time to take an extra moment to savor the beauty—and maybe an overstuffed sammie, too.
These trails from Crockett to Sunol will get you the views, wildflowers, and waterfalls you crave, plus we’ve got the skinny on exactly where to stop nearby for the eats you’ll need to make the day complete.
Feast more than just your eyes on these five East Bay picnic hikes.
The New Deli + Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve, Richmond
(Courtesy of @jessica_californica)
The supplies: The mom-and-pop New Deli (624 San Pablo Ave., Pinole) has 38(!) different sandwiches to fuel you up, including more than a dozen vegetarian options like the Cal Grill made with swiss, muenster, avocado, honey mustard, sprouts, tomato, and onion on rye. Green and pasta salads are also on order. If you’d like something spirited to celebrate your effort, don’t leave home without it—the New Deli doesn’t carry beer or wine.
The hike: On this tough 4.6-mile hike up the Sobrante Ridge (Coach Dr.), there are two ideal picnicking options. You’ll find the first at a precisely placed picnic table about three-quarters of a mile up the Sobrante Ridge Trail, though we’d recommend hitting this spot on the way back down so you don’t have to battle a full belly on the steepest part of the hike. The second is at the ridge’s high point, about 1,200 feet of elevation gain and 2.3 miles in. Spread a blanket and take in the views while you eat, then head back down the trail the way you came. Pick up the Sobrante Ridge Trailhead from the Coach Drive Staging Area parking lot.
Length: 4.6 miles out-and-back
Slow G’s Healthy Eatery + Rock City Park, Danville
(Courtesy of @sugarfinny)
The supplies: Slow G’s Healthy Eatery (440 Diablo Rd.) has all the fixin’s for a perfect picnic. There are quite literally dozens of sandwiches here, from edamame pesto chicken to apple butter pork, along with green and quinoa salads, cookies, chips, and various juices and teas. A warning to those who’d like a little beer or wine on their adventure: Slow G’s doesn’t stock any adult beverages (this is a “healthy eatery,” remember?) so be sure to bring with you whatever you fancy. Advance online ordering is available.
The hike: The Rock City hike isn’t a long one but it is, without a doubt, one of the Bay Area’s most unique. This corner of Mount Diablo State Park (2676 Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd.) is a geological playground teeming with massive boulders, caves, and tunnels to explore. When you’ve had your fill of scrambling, pick a flat spot with a view of the rocky terrain and dig in. Enter Rock City from South Gate Road; the trailhead is easily accessible from the generous parking lot.
Length: 1.2-mile loop
Manna Oriental Market + Little Yosemite, Sunol
(Courtesy of @kw.nature)
The supplies: Skip the sandwiches for a trailside Korean feast. At Manna Oriental Market (39051 State St., Fremont), they freshly make and pre-package a wide variety of obscenely affordable banchan and shareable eats like kimbap, bulgogi, and spam and egg musubi. They also stock tons of Korean snacks, drinks, and other goodies to make your picnic one to remember.
The hike: Named in honor of the national park to our east, Little Yosemite at Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve (1895 Geary Rd.) is a lovely little canyon drenched with waterfalls. With all the rain this winter, they’ll be an especially beautiful place for a picnic, which you can spread out on the rocks that border Alameda Creek. Start the hike from the Canyon View Trailhead and follow it as it loops around to Camp Ohlone Road and Little Yosemite about three miles in. Sunol is a popular spot for seeing spring wildflowers so expect a crowd if you visit on the weekend.
Length: 4.6-mile loop
Lucia’s Craft Sandwiches + Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline, Crockett
(Courtesy of @harohikingadventures)
The supplies: Swing by Lucia’s Craft Sandwiches (611 2nd Ave.) for, you guessed it, craft sandwiches! Order up overstuffed classics like turkey and avocado or grilled ham and cheese made with artisan bread, along with breakfast sammies, salads, chips, and NA drinks. Put in your order online to speed things up at the popular shop.
The hike: This loop along the Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline (Carquinez Scenic Dr.) is short but its views of the water are unparalleled. Park at the Bull Valley Staging Area adjacent to the Carquinez Overlook Loop. Set out your picnic at the top of the hill for a direct view of the Benicia marshlands, Mount Tam to the west, and Mount Diablo to the east. (Pro tip: Bring a pair of binoculars to watch the shore birds swoop and soar up close). If you want to get a bit more walking in after lunch, pick up the mile-long Bull Valley Trail back near the parking area. It heads east along the shore, passing by Eckley Pier.
Length: 1.5-mile loop ( plus 2-mile out-and-back)
Simply Greek or Doña + Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland
(Courtesy of @edmarc.photo)
The supplies: Piedmont Avenue dead ends in Mountain View Cemetery (5000 Piedmont Ave.), giving you dozens of great options for stocking your basket for a Victorian-style picnic among the dead. If you’re feeling packable gyros, dips, and sandwiches, swing by Simply Greek (4060 Piedmont Ave). For taqueria eats, try Doña’s (3770 Piedmont Ave.) barbacoa burritos and fish tacos, along with batch cocktails, beer, and wine. Order online for a speedy grab and go.
The hike: Ok, yes, wandering Mountain View Cemetery isn’t exactly the same thing as hiking. But with 223 acres of rolling hills, monumental mausoleums, and the final resting places of dozens of Bay Area luminaries including architect Julia Morgan and chocolate baron Domingo Ghirardelli, you can easily walk for miles without losing interest. Plan your route in advance or let your feet find their own way. When you’re ready for lunch, pick a hillside or a manicured lawn and take in the views of the bay.