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Garin/Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park

Garin/Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park

March 30th, 2008

2.5 miles
430 vertical feet
Total Time: 3:07

Rating: 6/10

Directions: From Interstate 880, take the Industrial exit heading east. Turn right onto Mission Blvd., then shortly make a left onto Garin Ave. Follow it straight into the park.   View Driving Map

We entered the park around noon on a Sunday. The entrance was not staffed despite the fact that the park is quite popular and they charge $5 for parking when the entrance is staffed. We had no problem finding a parking spot in the large lot at this time, but there were already dozens of cars parked here. When we returned to our car after the hike, the lot was completely full (probably well over 100 cars), and drivers were circling the lot like vultures, waiting for our spot.

Near the parking lot there's a visitor's center (in the Garin Barn), a kite field, and lots of reservable picnic tables. We headed past all this, reaching picturesque Jordan Pond. There are lots of picnic tables surrounding this pond, which is home to lots of ducks.

Picnic tables at Jordan Pond

Nathan and Jared looking out at Jordan Pond

At the far end of Jordan Pond, we descended the Dry Creek Trail. This trail is mostly shaded and criss-crosses Dry Creek. Often there were two trail choices, one which crossed the creek via rocks or small planks, and the other which crossed via a solid foot bridge. None of these intersections are marked, but it doesn't matter much which fork you take. Note, if you're traveling with kids, be sure to warn them about poison oak, which is plentiful alongside the creek.

Jordan Pond

Weeping willow at Jordan Pond

At one point we saw a trail headed up to the left and decided to take it instead of the trail heading down across the creek. The trail we took became harder and harder to follow, as trees with low-hanging branches encroached on the "trail". Eventually we gave up and turned back and returned to the fork above the creek. We stopped here for lunch. While it had been warm earlier, this spot was shady and cool. Several groups of hikers passed by this spot in both directions.

A very narrow footbridge over Dry Creek

After lunch, we crossed the creek and followed the trail until our first real trail intersection. The Dry Creek Trail can be followed as it loops around to the right back to Jordan Pond. Instead, we took the left fork toward the Meyers Ranch Trail. We crossed the gate, carefully closing it behind us. The gate helps keeps the cattle (which we'd seen earlier) on one side of the gate, the side we were now entering.

Shortly, we turned right onto Meyers Ranch Trail, a wide dirt road. The trail descends into open green meadows (brown, I'm sure, if you're here in the summer). We passed a small group of cows right next to the trail here. Cattle are allowed to graze here from late fall to late spring. If you're here during that time, just take care not to spook them if they have calves.

We passed through the signed old Meyers Ranch. There are rusted remnants of farming machinery here, but little else besides the bright green meadow. Green hills dotted with cows rise up on the left side of the meadow. Eventually the trail reaches the Tamarack entrance to the park. This is the end of Tamarack Drive, and there are houses right up against the park border.

Cows on the hills of Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park

We turned right to head up the hill along the High Ridge Loop Trail. The green hillsides here were covered with bright orange poppies (and a few other wildflowers as well). It was a bit strange climbing up the trail as we looked into people's backyards. The trail climbs higher and the views of Hayward and beyond open up. It was quite windy as we followed the trail along the ridge. I would guess that the trail would be less windy in the morning, so you might want to do the hike in the opposite direction than we did.

Jared checking out the poppies on High Ridge Loop Trail

In addition to cows, you may also run into horses. We ran into horses a couple times. If you're in a group of hikers, try to all stand on one side of the trail as the horses pass, so as not to spook them.

We now had views to the left (Hayward) and the right (the green hills to the east). Eventually the trail heads in a little bit and the city views are hidden. Soon we could see Jordan Pond and the visitor's center beyond it. We passed through another gate and continued along the High Ridge Loop Trail. Alternatively, you can take the left fork and take the Ridge View Trail back to Garin Avenue, then turn right to return to the parking lot. That's a slightly longer option.

View of Hayward from the trail

View of the hills from High Ridge Loop Trail

We followed the trail down toward Jordan Pond, then turned left and followed the trail back toward the parking lot. Trees along the edge of the pond prevent you from seeing it on this section of the trail. So if you want to see the pond again, turn right instead of left, and then just follow the edge of the pond back.

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