In the East Bay hills, two interconnected parks offer 25 miles of hiking trails that range from wild to tame. Dry Creek Pioneer and Garin regional parks, in Hayward and Union City, offer a rewarding, approximately 3 1/2-mile loop walk from Dry Creek Garden to Jordan Pond and back. You’ll find a magnificent garden, views, woodlands, creeks, wildflowers, a fishing hole, picnic facilities and a visitor center (closed until April 7).
Dry Creek Garden
Start at the Dry Creek Garden and cottage, which are decked in summertime glory. Wander the paths and footbridges; listen to the frogs, chickens and nearby peacocks; and enjoy the 200 species of plants, many of which are in full bloom. In the early and mid-20th century, this was the summer home of Edith, Mildred and Jeanette Meyers, philanthropic sisters whose holdings also included the 1,200-acre Meyers Ranch. Both ranch and garden were donated to the East Bay Regional Park District and became part of Dry Creek Regional Park.
High Ridge Loop Trail
Just before the entrance to the garden, near a glorious horse chestnut tree, you will find the May Trail. Enter through the gate, and at the trail sign turn onto the High Ridge Loop Trail. When this trail splits, take the left fork. You will wind uphill, past native oaks, and perhaps some cows, with backyards on the left and California poppies on the right. At an unsigned juncture, crest the hill to get the best views of San Francisco and the bay, or stay on the official trail slightly to your right, which goes around the hilltop. Either way, you arrive at a gate, where you can descend to Jordan Pond on your right. (Don’t take the Ridge View Trail, as this will lead you out of the park.)
Turn right on the path around Jordan Pond, a popular fishing spot created by damming Dry Creek. Here you can catch channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and sunfish. (A fishing license is required for those 16 and older.) Strolling around the pond leads you to picnic tables, water fountains and Kite Hill, which is reserved for kite flying weekends and holidays.
At the Garin Barn Visitor Center (closed until April 7), explore a blacksmith shop and artifacts from the ranches and farms that once flourished here.
Dry Creek Trail
To see different sights on the return trip, pick up the Dry Creek Trail off Jordan Pond. This path wanders through woodlands and crosses the creek several times on picturesque, extremely narrow wooden bridges. If it looks as if you must wade across the creek or the trail is becoming difficult, overgrown and narrow, take an alternate path at your right that leads across a bridge and solid ground.
At the trail intersection, follow the Old Ranch Trail sign, go through the gate and continue on the Meyers Ranch Trail. You will pass what once was Meyers Ranch, now rolling meadows sprinkled with cows and rusty farm implements. You will soon pass the Tamarack park entrance and nearby homes. Continue on to Dry Creek Garden for a last look at the blossoms.
Good to know
Dry Creek Garden is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Parking is free at the Dry Creek Garden entrance off May Road. It is $5 on weekends at the Garin Avenue entrance near Jordan Pond.
By BART and bus, from the Union City, Bayfair, Hayward, South Hayward or Fremont BART stations, catch the AC Transit No. 99 bus to Mission Boulevard and Whipple Road. May Road is the extension of Whipple on the east side of Mission Boulevard. Walk up May Road to the Dry Creek Garden.
By car, from Interstate 880, exit at Whipple Road in Hayward. Go east on Whipple to Mission Boulevard. Cross Mission, and you will be on May Road. Continue to the Dry Creek parking lot.
*During COVID-19, please follow recommended public health guidelines and social distancing protocols to stay safe. Guidelines for social distancing on the trail are listed here.
Photo: Ken-ichi Ueda via Flickr