|Ohlone Trail route|
Arroyo del Valle Trail → East Shore Trail → Ohlone Wilderness Trail
The Arroyo del Valle Trail is a paved 2.5-mile trail in Sycamore Grove Park and Veterans Memorial Park. The first approximately two miles of the trail are in Sycamore Grove Park and the last half-mile of the Arroyo del Valle Trail is in Veterans Memorial Park.
The Arroyo del Valle Trail's accessibility makes it a popular trail for families, individual hikers, and elderly people alike. Not all of the trail's visitors hike the whole 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of the trail, but many people explore the first part of it.
Weather in the area is cool in winter, but it can get unbearably hot in summer. During winter months, do your hike during the early afternoon if you can. In summer, try to do your hike in the morning (preferably begin after sunrise but end before 11 AM) when it will not be as hot.
If you want to make this an enjoyable day's activity, bring enough food and drink for a picnic along the way, but otherwise there's not a lot you will need to bring; the rest you should do in accordance with the weather.
There are two main staging areas, one at each end of the Arroyo del Valle Trail: one is the 1 Sycamore Grove Staging Area and the other is the 2 Veterans Memorial Park Staging Area. The most popular staging area is the Sycamore Grove Staging Area.
To get to the Sycamore Grove Staging Area, where this itinerary will begin, drive along Wetmore Road until you get to the Dante Robere Winery. When you reach the winery, you should see a parking lot across the street from it and a sign that says the name of the park is "Sycamore Grove Park". Turn into this parking lot.
Fees and permits
There is a parking fee at the Sycamore Grove and Veterans Memorial Park staging areas. If you are really desperate to save just a few dollars, however, you can park at 3 Independence Park for free and walk a few hundred additional yards to Sycamore Grove Park.
This itinerary will begin at the Sycamore Grove Staging Area, go to Veterans Memorial Park via the Arroyo del Valle Trail, and then come back the same way for a total journey of about 5 1/2 miles.
To the first creek crossing
At the Sycamore Grove Staging Area, there are three trails you can take: one of them is at the far end of the parking lot and the other two begin at the end of the parking lot where the parking meter and the restrooms can be found. Of the two trails, begin walking along the paved one, which is the Arroyo del Valle Trail.
Botanical garden and picnic area
After a very short distance, the paved trail will turn to the right. It will then cross a gully and on your left will be the 1 Botanical Garden, a special garden of native plant species. The botanical garden consists of a very short paved loop that goes around the garden. At the far end of the garden, a drawing of a bird is carved into the pavement.
On the other side of the Arroyo del Valle Trail from the botanical garden is a 4 picnic area with some picnic benches and picnic tables underneath a couple of trees.
Magpie Nature Loop excursion
Just beyond the picnic area and the botanical garden on the Arroyo del Valle Trail, there is an intersection. If you go left, you will be on a paved path that soon turns into a narrow dirt trail called the 1 Magpie Nature Loop. This trail is less than 0.5 miles (0.80 km) in length but gives you a more "off the beaten path" impression of the Sycamore Grove region.
About halfway along the loop, there is a trail that leads to the left, but take the trail to the right to get back to the paved trail. The second part of the Magpie Loop Trail goes along a riverbank. After less than half a mile, the nature loop returns to the Arroyo del Valle Trail. Once you get back to the Arroyo del Valle Trail, turn left to continue along the main route.
First creek crossing
Just after you return to the Arroyo del Valle Trail, you will arrive at the 2 first creek crossing of the Arroyo del Valle, the main stream that flows through Sycamore Grove Park. The amount of water carried by the stream is not constant: during a drought in the mid-2010s, the no water flowed down the stream, but after heavy rains in the later 2010s, the stream reached almost dangerously high levels.
There is a bridge, built for pedestrians, that crosses the creek on the Arroyo del Valle Trail. The bridge that crosses the stream is a good place from which to view it, but on either side of the stream you can walk down to the riverbank.
First creek crossing to the almond orchard
Arroyo del Valle viewing point
After you cross the creek, to the right of the Arroyo del Valle Trail is a nice 3 viewing point of the creek, where there are two seats and an excellent location for picture-taking. However, there are only benches at this place and no picnic tables, so this is not a great picnic spot.
If you continue down the trail, you will come to another junction; go left to stay on the Arroyo del Valle Trail.
The next point of interest is the main 4 sycamore grove that can be viewed from the Arroyo del Valle Trail (Sycamore Grove Park is named after all of the sycamore trees that grow in multiple sections of the park). After this is a grassland area that is another good location for taking pictures of the countryside. More sycamore trees are scattered throughout the grassland area.
The part of the trail that goes through the sycamore grove and grassland area is about 0.5 miles (0.80 km).
After you cross some of the sycamore grove and the grassland, you will reach the two pairs of 5 walnut avenues. Both pairs of walnut avenues are short, straight pathways with walnut trees on both sides on them. Also, there is a trail that leads to a 6 creek viewpoint that can be accessed by turning left at the first walnut avenue.
Probably about half a mile after the creek viewpoint by the walnut avenues is 7 another creek viewpoint, which is similar to the previous one.
Between the walnut avenues and the almond orchard are a couple more benches that are just off the main trail under a tree.
The next point of interest along the trail is the 8 almond orchard. This is a quite large orchard that must have been planted before the Sycamore Grove Park was created. At the far end of the almond orchard is an intersection of three trails; one of the trails at the intersection is the Arroyo del Valle Trail, so you will come to this intersection if you follow the main trail. One of the other trails at the intersection goes into part of the almond orchard, so if you want to go inside the orchard, you can walk along a little of this trail. (However, the trail through the orchard is going in the opposite direction that you want to go in, so you probably won't walk along it for too long.)
Almond orchard to the Veterans Memorial Staging Area
The Hill and the olive grove
The next point you will come to is 9 The Hill. This hill consists of a slope you will have to climb, then a plateau that you will hike across, and then back down into the valley. There are a couple benches on the top of the hill that overlook the creek on your left side and an 10 olive grove (which is privately owned and therefore closed to the public) on your right.
Second creek crossing
After coming back down the hill, the trail will turn to the left and go in the direction of the creek you crossed earlier in the hike. Just before you cross the creek, however, you will come to Sycamore Grove Park's 11 Christmas Tree. Around Christmastime, you're allowed to hang ornaments on the tree, as long as you get them back in early January.
Just past the Christmas Tree is the 12 second creek crossing. This creek crossing has better views of the creek than the views at the first creek crossing because a fire burned a lot of the trees, bushes, and other plants at the second crossing during the late 2010s. The bridge at the second crossing is similar to the bridge at the first one.
Veterans Memorial Park
The Arroyo del Valle Trail then runs parallel with a road called 5 Arroyo Road for about half a mile in a small park called the 13 Veterans Memorial Park. At the far end of the memorial park, the paved trail divides into two paved trails; you can take either because they come back together again after a short distance.
A notable historic structure in this area is the 14 abandoned bridge to the 6 Veterans Memorial Hospital that has since been replaced by a new road bridge. This is closed to the public, but you can see it from either of the two paved trails.
Finally, you will arrive at the Veterans Staging Area, where there are some very basic restrooms and a small 15 nature garden. You now will need to hike the 2.5 miles (4.0 km) back from the Veterans Staging Area along the Arroyo del Valle Trail to the Sycamore Grove Staging Area to finish your hike.
The Arroyo del Valle hike is pretty safe because, unlike the Ohlone Trail, there are usually enough people hiking to keep the mountain lions away, and the fairly wide paved trail should mean that you will spot a rattlesnake before it can harm you.
However, there are exceptions, and mountain lions have in the past been spotted within the Sycamore Grove Park boundaries.
- Del Valle Regional Park – a narrow trail goes from the Veterans Staging Area to the northern staging area of Del Valle Park. The trail is only about 1 mile (1.6 km) long and gives you access to the East Shore Trail in Del Valle Park, which in turn leads on to the Ohlone Regional Wilderness Trail, which is nearly 30 miles (48 km) and goes all the way to Fremont. However, you need to a permit to hike in the Ohlone Regional Wilderness Trail.
- Livermore hiking/cycling trail network – the city of Livermore, which is north of Sycamore Grove Park, has a good trail network that can be accessed from the Sycamore Grove Staging Area. The trails in this network are paved and extend across much of the southeastern Livermore wine country.