The park is set in the East Bay region’s rolling hills, near Martinez, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, and Fun Hill. Adjacent to the Briones Reservoir, run by EBMUD across Bear Creek Lane, is the western end of Briones Regional Park.
Briones Peak is the highest point in the park at an elevation of 1483 ft (452 m), which provides panoramic views of Mount Diablo and the Diablo Valley to the east, the Sacramento River to the north, and the Berkeley Hills and Tamalpais to the west.
There are also many species and birds in the park, including turkey vultures, black-tailed deer, cougars, coyotes, squirrels, and red-tailed hawks. Ranchers of cattle, sheep, and goats do use parts of the park for grazing purposes and have a one-hundred-year lease that is valid until the 2060s.
Within Briones Park, Lafayette Ridge runs parallel to Lafayette Area. The Lafayette Ridge Trail is about 2 miles long (3.2 km). It begins at the Springhill Elementary School parking lot and reaches the top of Russel Peak at an elevation of 1357 ft (414 m), where it splits into the Russel Peak Trail and Briones Crest Trail. The Lafayette Ridge Trail branches from many other trails, most notably the Springhill and Buckeye Ranch Trails. The ridge trails offer terrain for mountain biking, with occasional gains/descents up to an elevation of 200 ft (61 m).
The territory that now encompasses Briones Park and the Russell Reservation was part of Rancho Boca de la Canada del Pinole’s 1842 Mexican land grant granted to Felipe Briones’ widow. The Briones started ranching cattle in the area which continues to this day. In 1870 the rancho was sold to the Briones family.
By 1850, Happy Valley Road, which passes along the edge of Briones Regional Park, became the main route from south Martinez to San José Pueblo and then up to San Francisco.
In 1909 the predecessor to the East Bay Municipal Utility District, the Peoples’ Water Company, bought the land for the preservation of the watershed.
In the Briones Hills, known as the Russell Reservation, the University of California has maintained a 283-acre (1.15 km2) tract of land as a research site since 1966. In October 1967 the East Bay Regional Park District formed Briones Regional Park.
This amazing kid-friendly park is located near the following amazing must-visit parks in Lafayette, California:
- Lafayette Community Park
- Brook Street Park
- Lafayette Reservoir Recreation
- Dinosaur Hill Park
- Lafayette Plaza Park
- Acalanes Park
- Olympic Blvd Staging Area
- Bear Creek Staging Area
All of these wonderful parks are located just a short distance from our location located at 2890 North Main Street! Stop by for a visit anytime!