Carr Ranch

Go on a long hike at Carr Ranch Trail in Contra Consta County

Hiker on a trail with beautiful green hills and wildflowers on the grasses at Carr Ranch in Contra Costa County

{March 16, 2023 Update: Given the recent weather, please check ahead before visiting sites to check on any trail closures, and be mindful that mud and debris hazards are possible if visiting after storms. Exercise good judgement and caution for safety.}

Can’t decide between an epic hike or a relaxing nature walk? The 8.3-mile Carr Ranch Trail loop in the East Bay’s Contra Costa County has you covered for both! With 2,000 feet of elevation gain through fields of spring wildflowers, this is the perfect hike for rugged adventurers with a soft side.

View of a water reservoir that cattle are surrounding at Carr Ranch in Contra Costa County

From the Rancho Laguna parking lot, walk to the southeast corner of the park. Scan the QR code on the trailhead billboard to purchase a trail permit, and then head out on the Rancho Laguna Trail.

Hiker standing at a trail sign with green rolling hills and trees in the background at Carr Ranch in Contra Costa County

Hiker sitting on her backpack taking a break at Carr Ranch Loop in Contra Costa County

Hiker going up at trail at Carr Ranch in Contra Costa County

Turn left onto Rocky Ridge Trail, a path best explored in the early morning, when the fields are covered in dew. As the sun comes over the hilltops, the white and purple wild radish flower sparkles everywhere. Hikers may not even realize they’re summiting the first hill of the journey: a 1,000-foot vista point. Of note, while the wild radish flower here looks beautiful, it’s actually an invasive plant that’s a real challenge in the Bay Area because it crowds out native plants.

California Poppy on a trailside at Carr Ranch Loop in Contra Costa County

Wildflowers at Carr Ranch in Contra Costa County

Continue along Rocky Ridge Trail as it descends toward Buckhorn Creek. After a quick break to search for frogs and California newts in the water, turn left onto the Carr Ranch Loop Trail. A steep ascent lies ahead, but some beautiful stretches with bright orange poppies ease the journey. Follow all trail signs for the Carr Ranch Loop until you emerge on the ridgeline to a series of open hilltops with gorgeous views of the surrounding Diablo Range.

Continue along the loop as it passes through cow pasture and fields of sunny buttercups. Patches of clover cover the ground, providing a cushion to weary feet. After a two-mile descent, turn left to complete your loop and return to the Rocky Ridge Trail.

Retrace your steps back to the parking lot.

Rancho Laguna Park is located at 2101 Camino Pablo, Moraga. From Moraga, take Canyon Rd. south, then turn left onto Camino Pablo. Continue for 1.7 miles, then turn left into the park. A $3 trail permit can be purchased at the trailhead. Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Poe Casavant.

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