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Briones Reservoir Loop: Bear Creek, Oursan, Hampton Trails

HARD 90 reviews

Briones Reservoir Loop: Bear Creek, Oursan, Hampton Trails is a 13.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Lafayette, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 13.5 miles Elevation Gain: 2,135 feet Route Type: Loop


horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching





wild flowers


washed out

no dogs

This loop, combining the Oursan and Bear Creek trails, is one of the longest in the region around Briones Reservoir. The route passes through a variety of terrain, from dense oak and bay forest near the reservoir's shore to open grassland high atop Sobrante Ridge. NOTE: Trail use permit required. Bicycles and dogs not allowed on the full loop Note that dogs are welcome at San Pablo Recreation Area in the west side parking lots, picnic areas and paved roads. Dogs are not allowed in any boat or in the reservoir. Please keep dogs on a leash (6 foot maximum) and no more than three dogs per person.

11 days ago

A beautiful hike around the reservoir. View of the bay and Mt Diablo at different points of the hike. Always views of the reservoir. Make no doubt about it though, it is a difficult hike: it’s a half marathon long and 2000 feet of elevation change.

1 month ago

Trail permit definitely required and enforced! Yes, I was pulled over by a real cop while on the trail and asked to present my permit.

Beautiful views of the northern side of Briones Reservoir - lots of Hills some are somewhat steep. Fun run!

Hike was great. I thought there was more shaded area than not. We started from a different parking lot. So, we covered most of the incline within the first half. So, the second half was just rolling hills. Nice! The water was beautiful.

2 months ago

Decent hike. There are some shady stretches. Hills were not too steep. Ran into two coyotes . One blocked the trail but yielded as I got closer. Lots of jack rabbits

over grown
3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful trail with very light traffic. bushes have over grown in some places. watch out for snakes and spider mites. we have seen two snakes and a fox like animal. I got nine spider mites on my body (on my cloths, inside the shoes, even on my hair - they didn't bite though).

9 months ago

Nice loop trail with rolling ups and downs. Went after a rainy week. There were really muddy parts of the trail that added to the difficulty. Really nice views and changing landscapes through the walk. There is more shade on the east side of the loop vs the west side, so plan accordingly for which way to do the loop (go clockwise for less shade at the start and more at the end or counterclockwise for more shade at the start and less at the end).

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Definitely a hike to go on if you want some sunshine, some shade, a nice trail with mild inclines and water (reservoir) to see along the way. Not sure why this was rated as “hard”. We’d give it a moderate. You can hike as far as you want, and then go back the same way, tailoring the hike to the length of time you desire. We didn’t do the full hike around the reservoir due to time constraints. Bring water and WATCH OUT for poison oak along the sides of trail.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Easy flat 5 hrs long loop around the Briones reservoir. Few nice lookouts from El Sobrante ridge. Be aware of lots of ticks on this trail hiding on tall grasses. Best for early morning before sun heats up the area

Friday, April 06, 2018

Nice long hike - 5.5 hours. I hiked in the rain today to test out my gear for an upcoming trek. Canopies, views, meadows and a little water fall. Truly amazing. I agree with others that this is a moderate hike vs hard. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

A long but not difficult hike around a massive and beautiful reservoir. nice variety of terrain.

Monday, February 19, 2018

First long trail in a while. Finished the 13.5 mile trek in 5.5 hours without much difficulty. This is a lengthy trail but I wouldn't consider this hard, as the roads and trails were well maintained. Some portions of route do not allow dogs, even on a leash, and we did come across a police officer who asked for our EBMUD permit.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

excellent trail... challenging enough to make us work some but not so difficult as to be not enjoy overall distance and Beauty. phenomenal views worth the effort. it is a long Hike and even being fit as well as an avid walker, took us 5.5 hours..... between the views, our own chatting and with others, pictures, snacks and stretching, be. prepared to give the time. Inclines are there, as are snakes and the trail police so be wary. Don't go without Permit, which I bought and downloaded as we drove to trailhead from Berkeley. dogs are allowed on parts of these trails but not all, so don't be fooled. lots of horse poop on trial so step carefully and we even finally saw an actual horse.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The terrain on this hike is actually moderate, but I’m guessing it was labeled as hard because of how long the loop is. It was nice to look out over the reservoir and I enjoyed the rolling hills, but I did get bored after a while especially while passing the quarry with a bunch of heavy machinery or whatever is going on there. It is currently January and some sections of the Oursan trail are quite muddy right now. Overall, s good work out but not the best of what the bay area has to offer.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

You cannot follow this trail as described. At Hampton trail the loop dead ends. I jumped a fence and continued on the path for another mile but came across a second fence with a serious no trespassing sign. Had to turn back.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Great workout!! a small part of the loop is a private property. Bear Creek trail requires a permit. make sure you’ve acquired one before you go. This was a birthday hike for me today, November 23rd!!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Tricky to tell but pretty tough hike. Saw some common but fun wildlife including a couple small snakes and cute mole. Wouldn't necessarily do again even though near to my house, there are other more exciting hikes nearby

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

To do the entire trail you have to obtain a permit from EBMUD. Their office is by San Pablo reservoir and the permit is inexpensive and it's good for a couple of years. I've done this hike a few times and I've only seen a few people, all women, on the backside of the trail away from Bear Creek Rd. I rated it difficult only because of length. Not many people are prepared to do a hike this long. I've never had anyone else go along with me. There is all kinds of wildlife especially waterfowl and birds and the usual deer, coyotes, foxes and I've had a bobcat jump off a side hill about 20' in front of me as well. It would be best to take a friend along because of it remoteness and I've seen signs of mountain lions also. Take plenty of water, a permit and enjoy the hike. For safety there is a sign in board in the lower end of the lake when you go EBMUD property. This is a great fall through spring hike.

1 month ago

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