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The area surrounding the Iron Horse Regional Trail has an important history as part of the San Ramon Valley's agricultural and ranching past. Today, the Iron Horse Trail connects two counties and twelve cities. It runs through quiet residential neighborhoods, lively business and commercial districts and shady greenbelts. This popular and extensively used trail roughly follows Interstate 680, beginning in the city of Concord on its northern end and passing through Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, San Ramon and Dublin before ending at the northeast edge of Pleasanton.
Plans call for the trail to be extended farther south to Stanley Boulevard in Pleasanton, where an existing bike trail leads east to Livermore. On the north end, there are plans to continue the trail to Suisun Bay in Martinez.
At the current northern end, the trail begins just south of State Route 4, near the northeast corner of Buchanan Field Airport in Concord. The trail nears the Pleasant Hill BART station at about mile 5. A rest stop across the street from the BART parking lot features picnic tables, a drinking fountain and benches. The northernmost part of the trail, as well as the proposed area around Suisun Bay, follows a marshy area, which is a haven for ducks and geese.
As you head south, the area becomes increasingly more urban, especially near downtown Walnut Creek. The Walnut Creek BART station is about a half mile off the trail here. Bicycle and pedestrian overpasses span Treat Boulevard near the Pleasant Hill BART and Ygnacio Valley Road in a congested section of Walnut Creek. South of Walnut Creek, the trail passes under I-680 at Rudgear Road to the west side of the freeway. A staging area here features parking, a drinking fountain, benches and tables.
From this point, the trail meanders through residential areas, crossing streets numerous times—though traffic is typically low—and offers easy access to restaurants and shopping. Much of the trail in this section includes a dirt running path adjacent to the asphalt bike trail.
In Danville, the trail passes directly behind the commercial downtown area. Nearby at the corner of Railroad and Prospect avenues is the old Southern Pacific Depot, which is the only original depot remaining on the line. Just past the depot is a pleasant area, featuring restaurants with outdoor seating overlooking the trail.
Picking up the trail again, you cross under I-680 to the east side and traverse Bishop Ranch Business Park, a commercial section that parallels the trail for about 2 miles. Next you reach the San Ramon Golf Club. The trail bisects the golf course, with chain-link fencing providing protection from errant golf balls. As the trail slices through Dublin, the environment is urban once more.
You next pass the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station and cross under I-580 before heading through some of Dublin and Pleasanton's dense housing and business development. The trail briefly leaves the former rail corridor at Arroyo Mocho and Santa Rita Road but picks it up again south of Stoneridge Drive. The final stretch runs in a wide corridor between fenced-in backyards before ending at Valley Avenue.
To reach the northern trailhead, take State Route 4 westbound to Arnold Industrial Way. Turn left onto Arnold Industrial Place and left again on Solano Way. Follow Solano Way and go under SR 4. Turn right onto Marsh Drive. The signed trailhead is on your left. Street parking is limited.
To reach the trailhead at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, exit Interstate 580 at Hopyard Road. Turn right on Hopyard Road and proceed for 0.3 mile. Turn right on Dublin Boulevard and go 0.5 mile. Turn right on Demarcus Boulevard, which leads to the station. The signed trailhead is at the north end of the parking lot.
A friend and I rode this trail as part of a two-day bike ride in East Bay – riding the Iron Horse Trail and the Contra Costa Canal Trails. This trail gets 4.5 stars – there are some sections that area not all that great, but for the most part of the 24.5 miles we rode (both ways) are fabulous! We started in Dublin and rode to the end. The trail from Dublin through Danville and Alamo was really excellent, going through nice neighborhoods, has a GREAT, smooth surface and was sheltered for the most part so wind was not a great factor either way. The Walnut Creek section was a bit sketchy with some not so nice, unattractive sections with chain-link fences and rough surface. Odd – because one of the sections was used by High School students in large groups going home – it is absolutely used as a transportation route – not just a multi-use trail for recreation. We would have thought it would be better maintained. Past that and into Concord it was nice again except that there is an unmarked break in the trail at Monument Boulevard. We simply crossed a road and ended up on the wrong trail without noticing and there are no markings at all to say turn left here and go a few feet to the Iron Horse Trail so we found ourselves dumped onto a street unexpectedly. This was the Monument Corridor Trail in Concord. When you cross Monument Boulevard, you need to pay attention. It was a bit confusing and difficult to get back to the trail we wanted. But we did and coming back figured out what the problem was. The rest of the trail was ok but a bit choppy (i.e., bumps, cracks) around the airport. There are a couple of underpasses – but you notice right away if you miss them and can see where the trail is – like at Concord Avenue. The end of the trail is through an open field on the side of an airport and can get quite windy – but it isn’t long and is just part of the experience. Overall – a GREAT ride!
Great trail for training long distance riding. Would take BART from SF to Dublin and start my trail ride there up to the end in Concord near Martinez. My round trip on this trail included stops for food in the very accessible markets and restaurants along the route. Riding through different towns makes the ride more interesting and gives a cyclist the feeling of safety. Well planned trail. Wish it would extend in either direction.
I have been riding this trail regularly since 2013. I have explored from the southern end in Pleasanton up to Walnut Creek. There is a great variety of scenery and many nice places to stop and take a break and or snack (Danville). Some sections can get quite windy (southern section) but overall this a great place to build your confidence on longer rides.
Finally rode the Iron Horse after about a year of wanting to give it a try... overall, it's a decent trail that's really the only of its kind/length in the East Bay if you want to get at least 25 miles in. However, the route is very poorly signed -- at least Southbound. There is an unmarked mis-alignment at the at-grade crossing at Monument Blvd. (about mile marker 4.0), then again at Newell Ave in downtown Walnut Creek. After the busy Broadway/Danville intersection, the trailhead is well-marked at all. Once you're on the greenway south of Walnut Creek, the trail becomes far more clear... until just before Dublin BART, where it's interrupted by a misaligned cross at Dublin Blvd., where there is no signage to indicate that you need to go up the block to cross, then back down the block to resume the trail.
I love this trail. I'm new to biking and have become very fond of it. It's a good learning trail to help u get ready for what's ahead. I've only rose on it 2 times 10 miles the 20 miles. Each time I go I want to ride more. It's going to be nice when the trails are replaced with new asphalt.
I skate the portion from Dougherty Road to Bollinger canyon regularly. The pavement is in fairly good shape with few road snakes (Cracks). After Bolinger, heading north it turns to concrete with expansion joints and is not the most pleasant ride. North on Norris Canyon road it is back to pavement, but is in need of repaving/resealing as the gravel and debris increases there.
Also south of Dougherty Rd is not bad going to BART. It is really ready for resealing or repaving, but is ridable as of right now.
This trail goes through mostly suburban areas. On a weekend there are lots of bikers, joggers, dog walkers, and kids. This trail passes by lots of residential areas so its well used. North of Pleasant Hill the trail follows a wide creek. In March, there was flowing water with wild flowers, geese and ducks. Through the City of Walnut Creek, the trail passes along the creek, which here is in a giant box culvert. In Alamo and Danville the trail passes behind big homes with a mature Oak Tree canopy. Further south in San Ramon and Dubin the trail follows another creek. San Ramon is home to the 2000 acre office parks. There are also some recreation fields and some houses/appartments as well. The trail is adjacent to two BART stations, and somewhat close to three more. If you live near BART, you can have a car-less day on the trail. If you want to ride it one way start at pleasant hill station, 4 miles from the north end; and finish at Dublin station in the south. North Concord station is about 1.5 miles from the north end. I suggest checking the weather first and riding the same direction as the wind, usually from North to South.
Be sure to get the trail map from East Bay Parks (EBRPD). It is available free at some of the trail kiosks, or search the internet for "EBRPD Iron Horse Trail".
There are two places where I missed the turn. Northbound at Monument blvd in concord, be sure to turn left (west) and cross the creek. There is a gravel path that continues straight, but this is not the trail. the Iron Horse trail is 100% paved, so if you are on a gravel road, you made a wrong turn.
Southbound at Rudgear Road in Walnut Creek, after crossing under I-680, turn right (north) on Danville Blvd for 0.1 miles. I turned left because i was going south and thats South. But its 1 mile until there is a way to get back on the trail.
There is a trail overpass under construction (march 2010) across 11 lane Treat Blvd in Pleasant Hill. This matches an existing overpass across 9 lane Ygnacio Valley Rd in Walnut Creek. Yes this is suburbia, and there are lots of cars. Its nice to see the city and county investing serious money in the trail experience.
"I have ridden this entire trail more than once and frequently ride parts of it. All in all, it's a great resource, but it can be clogged with pedestrians, dog walkers who refuse to keep their dogs close, baby strollers, and more, on nice days. There are also numerous road crossings where you really need to look out for soccer moms driving Himalaya class SUVs (especially in Danville) to avoid being run over.
All this being said, it's still a great place for a ride. I've used it to commute from San Ramon to Walnut Creek often, and it's convenient, well-maintained (in most spots), and a wonderful asset for cyclists, walkers, etc.
You just can't really get up to speed and stay there because of the foot traffic and crazy drivers at crossings."
"I ride this every time I'm in the Walnut Creek area. Coupled with the Lafayette / Maraga and Contra Costa Canel trails this trail is part of a wonderful system. I usually ride the portion from Rudgear Road trailhead to San Ramon and back. Gradual up grade going south with lots of shade, shops and stop signs. Very, very busy trail on weekends. I 680 is hardly noticed except when the trail goes under it. I've ridden the other portion of the Iron Hose but prefer this."
"I ride this western section every time I'm in the Walnut Creek area. The West portion of Contra Costa Canel section is an off-shoot and is interesting in the view of the Walnut Creek area from the base of Mt Diablo where the trail loops back toward town. Unfortunately, the trail is difficult to follow through the Heather Farms area - not enough signs. Fun ride."
"The Iron Horse Trail is not complete in Concord. Though it was great when I could find it, I got lost frequently trying to navigate between the unfinished sections in Concord on November 15, 2004. From Walnut Creek heading south was just fine."
"I recently completed almost 31 round trip miles on the Iron Horse Regional Trail. The surface was paved the whole way and in very good shape. Unfortunately, repairs are under way, so I could not ride the part of the trail with some climbs, but as a railroad right-of-way I can anticipate mild gradients even on the climbs.
The way north from Dublin to Ramona yeilded a mere climb of 250-feet over 15 miles, so it is an easy spin for most cyclists. Because this trail is located in such a developed area, there are frequent breaks and road crossings. If you want long stretches where you can hammer, forget it. See my review of the Wabash Trace in Iowa if you want a long spin. Foot traffic was not bad when I rode it midafternoon during a weekday. "
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