100% FIRE ROAD
Round Valley is nestled deep in the East Bay hills. In fact, it's much closer to the Central Valley than it is to the bay. This is not exactly a "destination" ride. But, if you're desperate for variety, or if you plan to be in the vicinity anyway, it's enough to allow you to spend a nice couple of hours out in nature.
The ride is a short one on an consists of an all-fire-road route. There's hardly any climbing except for a few short bursts (ignoring the last steep section near the turn-around point). The trail can be badly pockmarked with the hoof marks of grazing cows, especially on the innermost reaches of the loop and along Fox Tail Trail. Timing your ride toward the end of the summer might mitigate this a little bit, but then you'd be missing out on the green grass.
One thing you'll find at Round Valley is a whole lot of solitude. I don't think I've encountered more than a couple of human beings during my two visits there. The trail starts off by closely following a cute creek bed for a short while in the beginning before getting deeper into Round Valley itself. Especially during the green season, the scenery is beautiful with velvety-looking rolling hills sprinkled with oak trees. It resembles a model train set. You'll see a few pieces of historic farm equipment abandoned along the trail here and there. You might also encounter the bovine culprits of the pockmarking of the trails.
The flexibility of biking at Round Valley has improved a bit since I first posted this ride. Originally, there was no legitimate trail connection between Miwok Trail and the bottom of Fox Tail Trail to allow the completion of a loop. This should allow a choice between doing just one traversal of the loop for a short ride or multiple traversals for something more substantial. Incidentally, you can also connect your Round Valley ride with more mileage in the Los Vaqueros Watershed and in the Morgan Territory. I remember reading that riding on Los Vaqueros trails requires a permit, but I see no such condition mentioned on their website now for someone who'd be entering the territory via a trail. Meanwhile, there is no such consideration for Morgan Territory.
In the end, this is not a pick you should make if you're looking for new biking experiences. But, if you want some peaceful time alone in beautiful nature and are okay with using your bike as an excuse for it, you'll be on the right track when planning a ride here.
© Ergin Guney
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