I love trail challenges, they inspire me to get out the door on days when I’d rather laze around the house! And I get to see new parks or trails! I wrote about the East Bay Regional Park 2015 trail Challenge a couple months ago. I intended to start this much earlier, but sigh, life. I’m going to do the trails in the order they are listed, which is Easy, Moderate, and Challenging. All the trails except one are dog friendly! Some are on leash some are off leash. Don Castro is both on leash and off leash.
There is a handy little guide that you can read online or download, the first trail in the guide is at Don Castro Regional Recreation Area in Hayward right off of 580. I have driven past this park 100’s of times and never knew it was there, that is reason enough alone to explore this hidden gem. The Whispering Creek Trail/ Ridgetop Trail loop is marked as an easy trail in the guide, and is only 1.25 miles, but you could extend it, we made a couple wrong turns and ended up doing 2 miles, and Don Castro borders Five Canyons Open Space and Cull Canyon Regional Park. We went during the week, and the gatehouse wasn’t open to collect fees. Though this trail is marked easy, don’t mistake it for one of those flat paved trails, it is a dirt path, and there are some little hills, and tree roots to cross over.
The loop mainly goes around a small lake with plenty of waterfowl photograph opportunities. There is also a community pool here, which is where all the people were at, I only saw one other person out on the trail in the hour or so that we were there. Less populated than I prefer. There was a sign on one of the trail heads saying that they recently planted 500 pounds of Catfish in the lake, and I thought I saw another sign on the other side of the lake saying Salmon, so If you see a Salmon or Trout sign, I would keep your dog out of the water because of possible Salmon poisoning (caused by other fish as well, but still called Salmon poisoning by many) also there has been a toxic algae breakout at many of the East Bay lakes.
There are plenty of logs, benches, and picnic tables along the trail for your dog to practice Agility 🙂
There are also a couple quaint bridges and walkways, which some people love! I know Chico loves them!
Though you never really escape the sound of the freeway, It’s pretty shady, and perhaps a place I’d go to on one of the rare sweltering hot days here where I don’t want to take a long hike, but want to get out of the house. I see this as a place I might take friends who have dogs who have some issues to work on, like prey drive problems as I didn’t see any other dogs. I might also return with friends whom don’t hike much, and then have lunch at Val’s Burgers down the street from the park entrance, or the produce market next to it.
Map of the Don Castro