To some hikers and trail runners, the specter of scores of mountain bikers gunning down trails is off-putting. Fear not, though. I’ve been to the lovely, fecund Rockville Hills Regional Park in Fairfield a dozen times in the past year, and I’ve only been passed by a speedy rider once or twice (and they were exceedingly friendly and respectful of those on foot). That’s because the mountain bikers gravitate to the trails – it’s one of the Bay Area’s top biking spots – with the most extreme, technical, jaggedy features, such as the gnarly and aptly named Rock Garden Trail, 0.4 of a mile of kidney-jangling fun.
So if you stay away from the bikers’ hangouts, you won’t face any potential trail conflicts. And, with at least 25 trails listed on the regional park’s map and several other unofficial offshoots, you shouldn’t have a problem avoiding a critical mass of cyclists.
All these trails have a downside, though. Namely, you can get lost easily. The trail signage is sometimes spotty, so this is one trek where it might be good to bring a map. You can search and download a detailed one at www.fairfield.ca.gov or get a topographical map at the trailhead kiosk.
Your Weekend Hike: Rockville Hills Regional Park, 2149 Rockville Road, Fairfield
Distance: 6 miles.
Directions from Sacramento: Take Interstate 80 west to the West Texas Street/Rockville Road exit. Follow Rockville Road west for 3.6 miles to the trailhead on the left.
Cost: $3 per person; $1 for dogs
Route: From the trailhead, go right (north on the Lower Quarry Trail until it dead-ends at a paved road). Go right onto the Unknown Trail for about 1.5 miles, staying to the right at trail junctions. After ascending switchbacks, join Jockey Junction Trail for 0.2 miles, looking for signs for the Mystic Trail. Take the Lower or Middle Mystic Trail to the Black Oak Trail, where you will turn right. Black Oak dead-ends at the Green Valley Trail. Turn left and ascend to a fire road leading down to the lake. Take the fire road on the right side of the lake to a paved road. Go right on the paved road to a connector to the Lower Tilley Loop. Follow the Lower Tilley to the Devil’s Backbone junction. Turn right and go about a mile back to the trailhead.
Toilets and water: Not at trailhead
Probability of getting lost: Good, so bring a map, but know that the park is small so you won’t get hopelessly lost.
Dogs: Must be leashed
Call The Bee’s Sam McManis, (916) 321-1145. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcManis.