Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail


4 Reviews

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Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail Facts

States: California
Counties: Contra Costa
Length: 7.7 miles
Trail end points: Olympic Boulevard Staging Area at Pleasant Hill Rd & Olympic Blvd (Lafayette) and Valle Vista Staging Area on Canyon Rd (Moraga)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015157

Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail Description

Closure notice: Due to the 2022–2023 storms, a half-mile section of the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail from Valle Vista to Westchester Street is closed until further notice. Visit the trail manager website for details.

The Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail in San Francisco’s East Bay suburbs may be unique, as it began as a mule train. Mule trains originally plodded along the corridor from the Berkeley Hills through now populous Moraga Valley to haul redwoods to Sacramento.

The popular 7.7-mile trail (it’s fairly busy on weekends) runs slightly upgrade from Lafayette to Moraga. While much of the trail passes through bedroom communities, long stretches are nestled in greenbelts with eye-catching views of nearby ridges whose colors shift from emerald in the wet winters to buff in the dry summers.

After the 19th-century mule trains disappeared, they were replaced by railroads running steam locomotives until the Oakland, Antioch & Eastern Railway launched an electric interurban rail line in 1913. Becoming the Sacramento Northern Railway in 1920, the railroad hauled passengers and freight between San Francisco/Oakland and Chico. The interurban service ended in 1941.

The corridor remained vacant until local residents Lynn Hiden and Avon Wilson sought an alternative route to their children’s schools. These self-described “PTA ladies who were able to persist” involved the cities of Lafayette and Moraga, as well as the East Bay Regional Park District, in the creation of a trail. The first segment opened in 1976 as one of the nation’s earliest rail-trails.

Today, bicyclists, walkers, and equestrians share the trail, which starts in Lafayette at the corner of Pleasant Hill Road and Olympic Boulevard and runs mostly southwest along St. Marys Road to the Valle Vista staging area on Canyon Road in Moraga. It’s also used by commuters, as it comes within a mile of the Lafayette BART station.

From the starting point, the trail makes a half loop to the northwest to avoid a finger of Las Trampas Ridge. As is common along most of the route, the trail then passes through a partly shady corridor flanked by suburban homes.

After about 3.5 miles, the trail passes picnic grounds and athletic fields at the 68-acre Lafayette Community Park, which is nestled between St. Marys Road and Las Trampas Creek. Remnants of pear and walnut orchards remain along the creek, where tree frogs and newts make their homes. You might catch a quick game of bocce ball being played here.

Leaving Lafayette, the trail goes through areas of open grassland and oak woodland for about 1.5 miles until it arrives at the St. Mary’s College campus on the outskirts of Moraga. A mile farther is the 40-acre Moraga Commons Park, where there’s a skate park and other amenities, including a water spray feature. After passing through a commercial district, the trail leaves the city center behind as it continues along Moraga Creek.

A landslide in southern Moraga in 2017 has disconnected the final half mile of trail to the Valle Vista Staging Area. To reach the trailhead, hop onto Canyon Road and head southwest 0.5 mile. Repairs have been underway; check the trail website below for updates. To access the hiking trails emanating from Valle Vista, contact the East Bay Regional Municipal Utility District for a hiking permit.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available at trailheads at both ends of the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail. At the northern end, park at the Olympic Boulevard Staging Area at the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Olympic Boulevard in Lafayette. At the southern end, park at the Valle Vista Staging Area on Canyon Road at the southern edge of Moraga.

Visit the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions. 

Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail Reviews

Emerald Gemstone of a Ride

If you're a fan of dedicated bike paths, and in the area, don't miss the opportunity to ride Lafayette-Moraga. Almost the entirety of the path is along a shaded corridor, gently curving back and forth, beautiful homes visible in wooded settings, quirky sections (e.g. a brief segment with many dozens of miniature bird houses hanging from trees), St. Mary's of Moraga's beautiful campus visible at one point.

I'd recommend starting from the Lafayette side. This trail is not flat: the out and back registered 600 vertical feet on Ride with GPS. Starting on the Lafayette side will result in about 5 miles of mildly climbing trail, a descent of about 2 miles at the far end, and then a somewhat steeper (but not steep) climb back to the summit. The last 4.75 miles of a round trip to Lafayette involves a swooping and delightful descent back to where you started. While the climbing is not negligible, it is well within the capabilities of even moderately fit riders.

My partner and I rode this trail on our tandem trike on a Wednesday, finding light to moderate foot and bike traffic. If you're family oriented, use caution with the younger riders, as on the downhill slopes some riders will be coming down in excess of the 15 mph speed limit.

Overall, a gem of a ride, scenic, interesting, and just enough of a challenge to feel that your heart and lungs benefited from a great day outside.

Fun biking trail for family

We went on this trail yesterday and really liked it! There’s a little bit of up and down, but an ambitious 9 year old and a reluctant 12 year old did it on bikes with gears. Do not park at the southern most lot, though as the path is closed a mile after starting due to a bridge being under construction. Start at the second lot going north at St. Mary’s and Moraga.

Nice walking trail

"Nice trail. Good parking. It goes accross considerable and variable landscape from completely rural to suburban. Bring a some small water container. There is a Safeway about halfway through that you can get some eats. Also multiple water fountains along the way. The hills, though long, are not steep and if you take your time, are no problem. If you're looking for something longer, this trail easily connects with the more extensive East Bay system that's even nicer. Very few bikes. Mostly walkers and runners. "

A Favorite

"I ride this every time I'm in the Walnut Creek area. I ususally start at the Olympia Trailhead and go as far as the Rheem Blvd hill which is quite steep. At the top I rest on one of the many benches along the path and then cool down on the way back down the gentle slope after the hill. Well paved, wide and popular. Coupled with the Iron Horse and Contra Costa Canel trails this trail is a wonderful system."

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