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Las Trampas peak

(Sunrise Hike)
Date: 02 March 2014
Distance: ~5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 800ft
Trailhead: Gate to Las Trampas Regional Wilderness (Gate is open from 8am - 6pm only. Park Curfew is till 5am. Start the hike after 5am. Parking outside this gate).
https://goo.gl/maps/wwa5e
Trail: Elderburry Tr (0.6m) -> Staging Area -> Bollinger Loop Trial -> Las Trampas Ridge Tr/Calaveras Ridge Tr -> Las Trampas Peak (1.66m from staging area).
Everytrail link (by Peter)

  

Picasa web album link here

A well in advance formulated and planned hike to Las Trampas peak in the Las Trampas Regional wilderness near Danville off I-680 turned out to be a fun short hike. The Las Trampas regional wilderness is surrounded by the towns of Danville to northeast, Walnut Creek to the northwest and San Ramon to the east-southeast direction and is a short drive away from civilization. I found this hike on a blog (
here) that described the best places in the bay area to view sunrise. The sunrise prediction was 6:37am and so I decided to head out from the south bay at 4am. The hike up to the peak from the staging area is just about 2 miles. One can take either the fire road or the Bollinger Loop Trail up to the ridge and follow the ridge to the summit. 

We were a group of 9 people in 3 cars (Srivatsan, Satish, Lakshmi, Shyam, Rajath, Nileema, Antara, Sandeep and I). I assumed I’d be late but to my surprise I arrived at the park gate on Bollinger Canyon Rd. before the others. Nileema drove in next followed by Rajath and Shyam. We started the hike towards the staging area at 5:25am. Instead of taking the diversion on Elderburry trail to the staging area, we ended hiking up on the trail towards the rocky ridge. A quick hike with a lot of gradient and I realized we were going away from the staging area. We hiked back down and took the other fork to reach the staging area. From here, we took the Bollinger Canyon Trail towards the Las Trampas/Calaveras ridge. At about 5:50am, we reached the ridge and took the fire road up towards the peak. I did not want us to miss the sunrise and so instead of sticking to the trail, we took the fire road all the way up.

At 6:05am, the first light began to illuminate the serene lush green valleys on both sides. The trail slowly gained altitude taking us to the top of the ridge. Once at the top, the panoramic views of the mountains were clearly visible on either sides of the trail. The sky began to turn red and pink from the faint glow of the sun. It was however very cloudy attributing to the rains over the past few days, which indeed is a welcome change for California reducing the possible draught. I wasn’t able to take great pictures due to the reduced light. The altitude gain was now evident. It looks like the whole of 800-900 feet that needs to be climbed on this trail is mostly closer to the ridge and the peak. It obviously slowed down everyone. The lights from the nearby towns dispersed with the increasing warm light of the sun brought about a very soothing feel to the landscape.

It was 6:20am and we were fighting against time now to reach the peak for sunrise or whatever we could see on this cloudy day. We began to trail run a little and from nowhere, we were in the middle of a meadow with the sun rising from the east into the clouds. The clouds hovering atop majestic mountains and peaks reminded me of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit. It was a treat to behold. We reached the top of Las Trampas peak, which is an exposed hill surrounded by green pastures just before 6:37am. The sun however decided to hide behind the clouds today only allowing us to see the red glow lining the white-brown clouds.

    

The weather was pretty cold up here and the mist brought about condensation creating a light drizzle effect. After a couple of pictures and waiting for the entire group to get up to the top, we decided to head back down. We started the hike downhill at about 7:30am. On the return journey, we got to capture some beautiful pictures and also were able to take the Bollinger Canyon loop trail all the way down to the parking lot. Taking the Las Trampas Ridge trail all the way and then taking a diversion to the right also would take you down to the staging area adding some mileage to the hike.

We decided to get off trail and went down the green hill in a more direct path. It was fun walking down the hills to the same trail that meandered around all the way to the base. At 8:45am we reached the staging area. The place that was deserted with no one other than us was now filled with cars with the staging area literally not having any parking space. We took the road from the staging area to our cars that we parked outside the park gate. What followed was a fun drive back to the south bay and then a belly-filling tasty breakfast at a south Indian restaurant named Komala Vilas.

I will definitely return to this place in summer to view a clear sunrise. :-)
  
Picasa web album link: here