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Wild Recovery
San Jose, California
March 9, 2013
Brushy Peak Regional Preserve_
Alameda County
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The Place

Brushy Peak Regional Preserve

March 9, 2013

Granite Point

Brushy Peak stands out among the surrounding bare hills due to a grove of live oak trees on its 1,702 foot summit. A prominent landmark from both the Livermore Valley and the Central Valley, Brushy Peak has drawn people to its slopes for hundreds of years. Brushy Peak and the adjacent Vasco Caves area have been recognized as sacred for generations of native Californians. Due to its geogaphical position, the area lies at the center of a network of ancient trade routes that once linked indigenous people of the San Francisco Bay Area Ohlones, Bay Miwoks of the Delta and Mt. Diablo, and Northern Valley Yokuts. They were drawn to the peak for economic, social, and ceremonial events. The Ssaoam triblet of the Ohlone peoples was probably the most closely linked to the Brushy Peak area, living in the surrounding dry hills and tiny valleys around the peak and nearby Altamont Pass.

The arrival of the Spanish in 1772 brought livestock grazing from nearby Rancho de Los Vaqueros. During California’s Gold Rush period its sandstone rock outcrops served as hideouts for bandits such as the legendary Joaquin Murietta. Later homesteader Samuel Laughlin and his descendents lived in the valley until it was purchased in 1997 by the East Bay Regional Park District. Today the turbines of the Altamont wind farm tower along the eastern edge of the preserve. The sandstone rock formations that dot the area are home to many species. Colorful Lichens cover their surfaces, birds nest on them and a variety of creatures live in the rainwater that collects in the depressions in the rock including two species of endangered fairy shrimp. The most obvious wildlife species here is the ground squirrel, whose burrows are inhabited by amphibians, reptiles, badgers, burrowing owls, and the San Joaquin Kit Fox. The squirrels are prey for the many raptors that hunt in the open grasslands. Troy and Amy even once spotted a Bald Eagle passing through on a hike here. Beach

Walking the Walk

We will hike counter clockwise from the staging area circling the entire 2,000 acre preserve. We start out on the Laughlin Ranch Loop to the Tamcan Trail to Brushy Peak Loop where we will have our meeting on a large flat rock outcrop. Then we’ll finish the loop and end on the West Side Loop.


Level: 2.5       Miles: 6       Elevation: 1010'       Host: Troy & Amy



Directions: To Brushy Peak Regional Preserve

Directions: Take I-680 North to I-580 East. In Livermore exit at Vasco Road north and immediately after crossing the overpass turn right on Northfront Road. In approx. 1 mile turn left on Laughlin Road and proceed to the staging area at the end the road.”


Parking Free Drive Time: 1 hour – Dogs ok on leash