Now that the winter rains have subsided, and balmy temperatures and daylight savings time have arrived, the siren call of the great outdoors is becoming harder and harder to resist.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of natural beauty in Hacienda. Throughout the park, which is roughly equal to New York's Central Park in size, grassy lawns, landscaped nooks, and tranquil lagoons offer visual refreshment and inspiration in abundance. But sometimes it is not enough just to look. When you want to be more active, consider heading out to one of the area's many parks, which come in all shapes and varieties, to suit the gamut of leisurely to adventurous tastes.
There is no need to go far. Hacienda itself plays host to the Linear Park, a private greenbelt reserved exclusively for park tenants and residents. Located off Hacienda Drive just south of Owens Drive, the three-acre Linear Park offers a basketball court, tennis court, picnic area, tot lot, and open lawn area. The best access is through the Owens Plaza Park entrance at Rosewood Drive and Owens Drive.
The adjacent Owens Plaza Park, which abuts the center portion of the Linear Park, features three additional acres of lawn, with picnic tables, benches, and a tot lot. Turn down the tree-lined entry off of Owens Drive to the Archstone Hacienda apartments to enter.
The nearby Creekside Park is dominated by a large, 6.6-acre open lawn space, with courts for basketball and sand volleyball and a play area with swings. Access is through the parking lot off West Las Positas Boulevard between Owens and Stoneridge Drive, or from the Linear Park via a footbridge over Tassajara Creek.
For another active outdoor venture, try Hacienda's 2.3-mile, 18-station outdoor parcourse for walkers and joggers. Maps of the route are available at www.hacienda.org/pdf/parcourse.pdf.
The Iron Horse Trail adds a taste of history to any recreational outing. The route follows the 1891 Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way (abandoned in 1977), from Suisun Bay in Contra Costa County to Livermore, connecting two counties and 12 cities in a 33-mile swath. The one-mile segment that runs through Hacienda was inaugurated in 2008, its first presence in Pleasanton and Alameda Country. Additional segments, including a possible connector under Interstate 580 to link the Alamo Canal Trail from Pleasanton to Dublin, are under consideration. From the north the Iron Horse Trail passes under the BART station into the park, generally parallel to the south side of Owens Drive. As it continues east it connects to the new sector that extends from Santa Rita Road, across Mohr Avenue, to Busch Road. The 10-foot wide paved path has a two-foot wide decomposed granite lane so walkers, runners, skaters, and cyclists can all share the trail. Other amenities include benches, distance markers, a water fountain, and landscaping. This $1.6 million project was a cooperative effort between the City of Pleasanton, Ponderosa Homes, East Bay Regional Park District, and the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority.
Pleasanton's 40-plus community and neighborhood parks, 24 miles of trails, and over 800 acres of undeveloped open space are cherished contributors to the city's enviable quality of life.
Near Hacienda you'll find Sutter Gate Neighborhood Park at 4801 Sutter Gate Road, which offers a children's play area and picnic tables. Also nearby is Woodthrush Neighborhood Park, at 5051 Woodthrush Road, a good place for an afternoon walk or reading under a shade tree. The 14 acres of Fairlands Neighborhood Park, at 4100 Churchill Drive, include two tennis courts and a children's play area.
Recent additions to the city system are the Alviso Adobe Community Park, Phase One of the Bernal Community Park, and Augustin Bernal Park.
Opened in late 2008 after several years of restoration, the Alviso Adobe, along with the Meadowlark Dairy milking barn and bunk house, offers a look into Amador Valley living of 100 years ago. Self-guided tours that wind through the 6.5-acre parcel lead visitors to other historical and natural points of interest. The park is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. A city naturalist is on site during operating hours.
The new Bernal Community Park, on the southern side of town across from the Fairgrounds, presents a completely different kind of recreational experience. Completed last year, the 13-acre Phase One is occupied by three baseball diamonds, a play apparatus, central plaza, parking lot, storage, and other amenities. The design of the remaining portions of the 300-acre parcel will be decided over the next 17 years. One plan envisions a 50-acre woodland graded into a gently rolling topography, traversed by bike and foot trails and planted with hundreds of indigenous trees like live oaks, valley oaks, and bay laurel. Several lighted combination sports fields, for lacrosse, football, and soccer, have also been proposed.
The city-owned Augustin Bernal Park is a 237-acre wilderness area on the Pleasanton Ridge. Access the park through Golden Eagle Drive off Foothill Road; non-residents must first obtain a pass at the Department of Parks and Community Services. Horse trailer permits are granted to Pleasanton residents. From spring to fall the entry gate is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
Pleasanton also offers a wide variety of sports and recreation-oriented facilities to suit all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts.
The 24 acres at nearby Val Vista Community Park, west of Hacienda at 7350 Johnson Drive, accommodate a broad spectrum of activities. Well-equipped with picnic tables and barbecue pits, soccer and baseball fields, and a children's play area, the park is also home to a well-tended community garden, with plots available to rent to Pleasanton residents. Bordering a perimeter walking path, it's a great place to stroll for inspiration on the produce to plant this summer. For the high-energy set, the stand-out attraction is the 25,000-square-foot sculpted concrete basin designed with input from its user community of skateboarders and inline skaters. Helmets and kneepads are required. A city-sponsored recreational roller hockey program for youth in grades 1-9 is also based in the park.
A special park for BMX riders, at 3320 Stanley Boulevard, serves all riding levels. One track is reserved for beginners and young children. Another track includes a mountain bike area and challenging jumps for more experienced riders. Both are inspected and maintained by a former BMX pro. The park, which also includes a bike repair/work table, a viewing area and picnic tables, and parking and restrooms, is open during daylight hours year-round, weather permitting. Riders are required to wear helmets.
Bocce courts, home to beginner and advanced league teams, are located at Centennial Community Park, next to the Senior Center.
Canines can chase Frisbees, socialize with friends, or have a good run at the linear dog park in Muirwood Community Park, 4701 Muirwood Drive. Two designated areas separate larger and smaller species.
The 103-acre Pleasanton Sports Park, at 5800 Parkside Drive, just off Hopyard Road and only steps from Hacienda, boasts nearly two dozen playing fields - for soccer, hardball, Little League, adult softball, softball, football, basketball, and volleyball. Other highlights include batting cages and a skateboard track. The park has a number of amenities, from a picnic area and a youth play lot to a concession stand and restrooms. A 2.15-mile peripheral path around the park is perfect for walks and runs. There is also a footbridge over the Pleasanton Canal. For information about league sports, contact the city's Parks & Community Services Department (925) 931-5340.
For water lovers, the Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center at 4455 Black Avenue offers four heated pools including a large, shallow pool; a diving pool with both one and three meter springboards; a 25-meter, eight-lane racing pool; and a 50-meter by 25-yard competitive pool. Open swim times are available, as are organized water exercise programs and aqua aerobics. Call (925) 931-3420 for information.
The Tennis and Community Park at Hopyard Road and Valley Avenue offers 10 lighted courts, all open to the public from 9:00 a.m. each day, weather permitting, along with adult leagues and lessons. The courts are occasionally available on a drop-in basis, but reservations are suggested. Call (925) 931-3446 for information.
Open since November 2005, the 18-hole public Callippe Preserve Golf Course is set among the foothills of southeast Pleasanton. Ringed by three miles of new hiking trails, the course is surrounded by 280 acres of public and private land destined to remain open space. Along with spectacular scenery, amenities include two practice putting greens, a driving range, and a spacious clubhouse with restaurant seating for nearly 200 people. Tee times can be reserved online at www.playcallippe.com .
There are two options for getting a new perspective on the Amador Valley from the ridgelands at the city's western edge. The city-owned Augustin Bernal Park is a 232-acre wilderness area, available to non-residents with a permit. Entrance is through Golden Eagle Drive off Foothill Road. The adjacent Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park sprawls over 5,271 acres and surges up to elevations of 1,600 feet. The main staging area on Foothill Road leads to a multi-purpose trail system that accommodates hikers, equestrians, bicyclists, and visitors who use electric wheelchairs.
Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area, a mile from downtown Pleasanton on Stanley Boulevard, is known as "a haven for swimming and fishing." Its sandy beach is accessible to persons with disabilities, while a bathhouse and refreshment stand provide creature comforts. Anglers can catch trout or catfish, stocked weekly, along with native bluegill and black bass. Small boats can be launched from a ramp or rented on the premises. Jet skis and gas engines are not allowed. The privately owned and operated Rapids Waterslide is adjacent to the park, open weekends starting May 29 and daily during the summer.
With its five-mile-long lake, Lake Del Valle, on Del Valle Road just a few miles south of Interstate 580 in Livermore, is a multipurpose aquatic paradise. Sailboats, sailboarders, and swimmers are welcome year-round. Visitors can rent paddle boats, kayaks, and canoes or launch their own boats from the public boat ramp. Along with excellent fishing, the park offers many interpretive programs on natural history and lake ecology. The surrounding 4,316 acres invite hiking, horseback riding, and nature study. The eastern gateway to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, Del Valle also features a 150-site campground. For reservations and trail maps, go to: www.ebparks.org/parks/del_valle/ .
Comprising almost 7,000 acres, the Sunol Regional Wilderness, entered from Geary Road in Sunol, was once a bountiful Native American habitat. Today it is populated by grazing cattle and hikers drawn to features like Little Yosemite, a scenic gorge on Alameda Creek. Picnic sites, barbecue pits, equestrian trails, and overnight camping are other attractions. Reserve overnight tent camping sites by calling 1-888-EBPARKS. Visitors are advised that there is no drinking water in the park.
The Hacienda Owners Association has a variety of maps and other resources regarding local parks available at its office, 4473 Willow Road, Suite 105, and on the Hacienda web site at www.hacienda.org/services/services_recreation.html . Call (925) 734-6500 or drop by for a complete recreation package.
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