Loop Less Traveled

Hike a Loop Less Traveled at Monument Peak in the East Bay

The East Bay is home to some of the Bay Area’s most popular mountains, and Monument Peak shares the same gorgeous views with fewer people on the trail. This 8.7-mile loop into the hills offers seclusion en route to the summit. It might just be you … and the cows!

Cows on the pastureland at Ed R Levin County Park in the East Bay

Man at a picnic table overlooking the East Bay at Ed R Levin County Park

Start at the Tularcitos Trailhead beside the dog park in Ed R. Levin County Park. Soak up the beauty as you turn left onto Agua Caliente Trail, which slowly ascends through miles of cow pasture. At the intersection with Monument Peak Road, cross the road to stay on Agua Caliente, and then turn right onto Monument Peak Trail. This winding route alternates between wide-open fields and patches of shaded forest. In the winter months, hikers might even encounter small stream crossings.

Lake at Ed R Levin County Park in the East Bay

At the Weller Road intersection, turn right, then bear right onto the dirt road leading to Monument Peak’s summit, marked by an antenna. At 2,594 feet high, the views from the peak are spectacular! To the north, sistering Mission Peak is a two-mile hike away (for those so inclined for a big day hike), while Mount Diablo rises in the distance. To the south, Mount Hamilton’s Lick Observatory peeks over the hills; and to the west, all of Santa Clara Valley and the bay stretch out before you.

Man on wide open trail surrounded by green hills at Ed R Levin County Park in the East Bay

When you’re ready, retrace your steps to Weller Road. Turn right onto Weller Road, then bear right onto Monument Peak Road and the Sierra Trail. This loop provides stellar panoramas as you descend, and passes a seasonal pond teeming with wildlife in winter months. When the cows aren’t grazing (and gazing, at you!), search the water for frogs, tadpoles, and snails.

Continue on to Monument Peak Trail to complete your loop (and retrace your steps back to the parking lot).

Ed R. Levin County Park is located at 3100 Calaveras Rd., Milpitas. Traveling on either I-680 or I-880, take the Calaveras Rd. exit in Milpitas. Drive east along Calaveras Rd. into the park. Turn left onto Downing Rd. and park at the Sandy Wool Lake restrooms, beside the dog park. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. There is a $6 parking fee. Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Poe Casavant

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