In a word, Pleasanton Ridge was pleasant. (Sorry, but it’s true.) I’m not sure it’s my most favorite hiking spot EVER, but it had some good qualities, as well as some considerations for hiking with the smaller set.
First, Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park is the land of Big Oaks and Big Sycamores (and many buckeyes, as you can see from the header image). The tiny bit of rain we’ve had so far has already started bits of green pushing up under the dried grasslands that cover the ridge. My toddler had an amazing time collecting acorns and rolling a buckeye down the trail.
There are many views to be had at Pleasanton Ridge. This is because all the trails, more or less, go straight up the ridge. This is something to be aware of, depending on the age & stamina of your hiker. Granted, the reward for effort is fairly quick, and it’s a good place to point out how strong the hiker in question is, but if you have a hiker who strongly resists hills, it’s worth taking into consideration. My goal was to try to get us to go up Sycamore Grove trail to the Meadow Pond loop, and then go back on that trail to Oak Tree trail, making a loop of almost 2.5 miles, but my hiker person was not convinced and we ended up turning back after about a mile. However, one great part of Pleasanton Ridge is the varied trails that would let you design a loop of just about any length you please (up to probably 13 miles- maybe more). So if you have hill-climbing kiddos, it may suit you well.
East Bay Regional Parks welcome the pooches, so Fido can tackle the hills with the rest of you.
Pleasanton Ridge was also beautiful today, in November. Be aware that this area could get extremely hot in the summer. Additionally, if the area has experienced heavy rains, it’s probably going to be muddy in places. Extremely muddy. This is not a place I would recommend for hiking in the rain.
It’s also not an undiscovered gem. The mountain bikers, in particular, have discovered Pleasanton Ridge. That said, mountain bikers are permitted on fairly wide trails, and the bikers we encountered were extremely polite and aware of their surroundings (i.e., small people).
Finally, the East Bay Regional Parks have put together a podcast (A PODCAST?! Who knew??) on Pleasanton Ridge, including some park history and a suggested 5.8 mile hike. I had no idea the EBRPD was doing podcasts on their trails. Yay podcasts!
Pleasanton is also home to several breweries, which we did not know about before this hike, and a mere 15 minutes from Livermore, which has exploded with microbreweries in the past few years. So if you have had enough of the hills and need to whet your whistle, be aware the Tri-Valley Beer Trail is alive and waiting for your post-hike stop. (We hit up Eight Bridges Brewing Company in Livermore, both kid AND dog friendly.)