Earlier this year, the youngest of our familial crew finally took the training wheels off. (BTW, consider this a non-affiliated plug for REI’s bike classes. Saved some family relationships and worked FAST!) Afterwards, though, we were searching for some bike paths that would allow her to develop some biking stamina without the hassle of dealing with cars and/or lots of other people/dogs/bikes on the trail. While the Bay Trail has many amazing options (look for an upcoming post about a few of our favorites), we have been delighted with East Contra Costa’s options. Now is the perfect time to head east, as the summer temperatures are starting to drop. Read on for a few of our favorites, with some food/drink options along the trail.
The Iron Horse trail is a gem of a bike path for beginning bikers. If you are feeling very ambitious, it runs 32 miles from start to finish, from Concord to the Dublin Bart station. For the less ambitious, there are countless jumping on & off places. The section north of Danville runs through a greenbelt and has long shady, tree-lined sections, dotted with water fountains. As mentioned above, we have found that scheduling in food (read: treat) stops greatly increases willingness to bike for longer distances and Danville is full of food/drink options! We started at the parking lot off Rudgear Rd, and rode to Smallcakes Cupcakery & Creamery, but one could visit any number of restaurants along Railroad Ave. Rudgear Rd to Smallcakes was 6 miles each way, but there were infinite possibilities for making the journey shorter or longer.
Admittedly, our first experience with the Contra Costa Canal trail was a little rough. We started at the northernmost end, and it contained more hills than the beginning biker felt comfortable doing (trailside meltdown was the result), so be forewarned– this trail is not entirely flat from start to finish. (Let’s be clear– for a competent biker, it’s not challenging at all, but for a beginner on a one-speed, it was a little much.) However, yesterday we started at Heather Farm Park and rode to the Concord Tap House for lunch (6 miles each way). This was an absolutely brilliant trip. The Contra Costa Canal trail takes you to within .4 of a mile of the Tap House, which had lots of delicious beer for the adult in the party and tater tots for the non-beer drinker. (The staff at the Concord Tap House were also extremely warm and welcoming– we’re definitely going back.) If your bikers have any more energy before or after biking, Heather Farm has a huge playground and a pool.
Our final recommendation in the Contra Costa Biking for Beginners round-up is the Marsh Creek Trail. The trail is about 6.5 miles long by itself but connects to Big Break Regional Shoreline trail and part of the Delta de Anza Regional Trail. This is the “who knew?” trail of the bunch– Marsh Creek looks way out there on the map, but trust me– the trek is worth it. It’s an excellent trip in any season that is not summer- it gets HOT out there and the beautiful blue expanse of sky that stretches out above you is blazing and oppressive if it’s too hot. The Marsh Creek trail though, is a gem, if you go during reasonable weather. We went last April and it was perfect– green with patches of flowers, with Mount Diablo watching over everything from the distance. We started somewhere around the intersection of Jordan and Fetzer, just off the Big Break Regional trail. We lunched at Homecoming Park, which was just off the trail (but had no bathrooms– consider yourself warned). We found Peke’s Ice cream on Brentwood Boulevard, less than a mile off the trail, as our post-lunch treat destination. Eastern Contra Costa is prime birding territory– watch for the huge variety of delta birds overhead.
There you have it– three biking options to get your beginning biker used to a little more biking distance while not being overwhelmed with scary traffic. Let us know in the comments if you have any other East Contra Costa biking recommendations!
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