Here's why they call it the Golden State. The Central Valley and all of its surrounding foothills are a golden yellow-brown for at least three-forths of the year. At the outset of this hike you pass by old olive orchards that have now gone wild and are a part of the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Preserve.


To the left (West) is Sunol Ridge. From the SF Bay side, it is completely barren, illustrating the dramatic climate changes that occur at ridges in the Bay Area.


One of the advantages of this hike is that there is only one entrance, and it's ten miles in to the end, then ten miles back out, so you soon leave novice hikers behind. A few blue-green oases surprise you along the way.


Hot, hazy, and teeming with grey signs of population: A look at Contra Costa County below Mt. Diablo.


A beautiful pond rimmed with bullfrogs. As you walk around the edge, they hop in, one by one, according to some nature-specified distace of safety, each one inable not to go "nyp!" as it leaps.