Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail


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Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail Facts

States: California
Counties: Contra Costa
Length: 13.8 miles
Trail end points: Muir Rd, 0.2 mile west of Pacheco Blvd (Martinez) and Willow Pass Rd, 340 feet east of Sixth St (Concord)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6416857

Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail Description

Located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail follows the Contra Costa Canal in a horseshoe shape from Martinez south through Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek and then east and north to Concord. The canal is a 47-mile aqueduct that was built between 1937 and 1948. It’s used as a residential, agricultural, and industrial water supply for almost a dozen communities along the canal. Because it’s part of the water supply system, the canal is fenced off, with no access for fishing or other water-based recreation. The canal is a vital part of the community infrastructure, and the trail built alongside it allows myriad access points to the surrounding neighborhoods and business districts. The paved pathway winds through a diverse array of settings, including neighborhoods, school campuses, parks, and light industrial areas. Much of the trail is tree lined, with several scenic vistas of mountain peaks and rolling hills. The canal itself attracts a variety of wildlife, including many bird species. There are multiple road crossings, but they are all well-marked, and the more heavily trafficked intersections have crosswalk buttons.

With several parks dotting the route, it’s relatively easy to find a restroom or a place to refill a water bottle. Beginning from the trail’s west end, you’ll encounter your first one, Las Juntas Open Space, in 3.2 miles. In another 3.6 miles, you’ll reach Walden Park, near the trail’s midpoint, which offers a playground and sports facilities, including a basketball court and a disc golf course. In another 0.9 mile, you’ll reach Heather Farm Park, a popular outdoor space with a garden center, a fishing pond, an equestrian center (equestrian use is permitted on the Contra Costa trail as well), and other recreational amenities. Continuing northeast for 2.4 miles, you’ll reach the western boundary of Lime Ridge Open Space, a more than 1,200-acre natural oasis with more trails to explore. After your final 3.7 miles, the trail ends at Willow Pass Road with Willow Pass Community Park across the street.

Several trails connect to the Costa Contra Canal Regional Trail, most notably the 32-mile Iron Horse Regional Trail, which bisects the canal trail at about its midpoint. The 5.7-mile Ygnacio Canal Trail offers an opportunity for a loop, connecting with the Costa Contra Canal Regional Trail in two places: at Heather Farm Park and again at Lime Ridge Open Space. The Briones to Mt. Diablo Regional Trail (which includes some unpaved sections) joins the Costa Contra Canal Regional Trail at the bottom of the horseshoe and continues west to Briones Regional Park and southeast to Diablo Foothills Regional Park.

There are plans to connect the Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail with the Delta de Anza Trail.

Parking and Trail Access

The trail is close to two Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations: Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre (1365 Treat Blvd, Walnut Creek), near the trail’s midpoint, and Concord (1451 Oakland Ave, Concord), near its eastern terminus. From the Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre BART station, head south on the Iron Horse Trail south to access the Contra Costa Canal Trail.

At the eastern endpoint, parking is available at the Willow Pass Community Park (2748 E Olivera Rd, Concord) on Willow Pass Road; you must cross Willow Pass Road to access the trail. Parking is also available at Walden Park (2698 Oak Rd, Walnut Creek) and at Heather Farm Park (301 N San Carlos Dr, Walnut Creek). View the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions.

Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail Reviews

Wonderful Trail! Great Surface, Nice Ride!

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. On the first day – we road mostly the Iron Horse and then rode the Eastern Section of the Canal Trail to the end and back. This section of the Canal trail started out a bit rough but only for a small portion – maybe 100 yards – then the surface was smooth and it was a great ride along the canal through nice neighborhoods. We spent the night near the intersection of the Iron Horse and the Canal Trail and rode the Western Section the next day before heading back down the Iron Horse Trail. The western section of the trail was great as well – nice surface – easy to follow with a minimum of street crossings. Both of these trails have a lot of street crossings, but almost all of the crossings give a preference to the trail. We only had to wait at a few. Definitely a nice place to ride!

Amazing workout on this trail!

I run about 5 miles up and down hills on this trail. It's always a heart-pumping workout and I love the scenery along the way.

Great Trail

I rode this from Pleasanton to Martinez, took me 2 hrs. Very nice, especially through Danville!! The very last bit was a little sketchy past Walnut creek, lots of homeless living along the wide marsh, nobody bothered me. All in all very enjoyable!!

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