With temperatures finally cooling down, it is safe to once again venture out into the sun-exposed hillsides of the Tri-Valley. The reduced heat heralds the waning days of summer, but you can still enjoy the beauty of the fading season. Lizards and other heat-loving creatures are still out in force, and the baked hillsides continue to emit a golden glow.
This summer aura won’t last much longer though, and the conjoining Regional Parks of Garin and Dry Creek are a great area to enjoy it while you still can. With plenty of grass covered rolling hills to tromp around, and several worthwhile site-seeing destinations, this park can provide an entire day of activity for the whole family, group of friends, or solo visitor.
The staging point for this joint Regional Park is located at the end of Garin Avenue in Hayward. To get there, make it to Mission Boulevard from the 580 or 238 freeways and head south. The left turn onto Garin Avenue is a ways down Mission Boulevard, about a mile past the turn for Cal State East Bay.
Upon entering the park grounds you will notice old farm machinery strewn around the parking lot. Be sure to check out these old relics, as they lend to the historic feel of the parks. These tattered pieces equipment will not be the only links to the past you stumble upon either.
Walk toward the hills and you will immediately notice a big red barn which dominates the trail head. This is the Garin Barn Visitor Center which is seasonally open to the public. Inside is a blacksmith, tool shop, and several exhibits displaying ranching-related items.
Near the barn is a standard glass display which provides a trail map, and various information on the two parks. The box which provides fold out maps was empty last time I visited though, so I suggest printing out a map before making your visit.
There are 20 miles of trails to traverse between the parks, with most accessible to hikers, bikers, dogs and horses. The majority of paths are wide and well-maintained, and the views along the way are pretty expansive. The trail network is just one of many perks that the area has to offer though.
For those with small children, or those just wanting to relax, there are options other than trail trekking.
Behind the barn is a large grassy field with picnic tables resting near a soothing creek. This is a nice spot to bring a meal and enjoy the peace and quiet of the area. Kids also enjoy running around and playing in the grass and nearby water.
If you want to get a small hike in, but are visiting mostly to see the sights, a small jaunt over to the Dry Creek Cottage and garden is perfect for you. From the parking lot, follow Ridge View Trail to the southeast and it will lead to this old dwelling of the previous land owners. The cottage and garden are also accessible by driving to May Road.
If nothing so far sounds appealing, Jordan Pond is another option for activity. Located a short walk from Garin Barn, this pond is home to large-mouth bass, bluegill, sunfish and catfish. It’s a peaceful pond, great to bring the fishing pole and spend the afternoon at.
Between the trails, sights and hangout spots, Garin/Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks have plenty to offer. It’s also a perfect area to soak in the feel of summer while it’s still around. Better hurry though; the season officially ends on Sept. 22.
At a Glance:
Garin/Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks
Address: 1320 Garin Avenue, Hayward
Hours: 5 a.m. – 10 p.m., Garden hours: Thursday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Best time to visit: During the current cooling trend would be best
Cost: $5 when kiosk is attended (generally just weekends and holidays).
Great for: Numerous sights and activities.
Could be better if: You visit Thursday through Saturday when Dry Creek Garden is open to the public.