Morgan Territory: Backyard Hiking
June, 2001

I didn't realize how much empty land surrounded Livermore. The Easy Bay Regional Parks District maintains all sorts of recreational land, from backpackable wilderness areas to nice parks for short day trips. Just a few miles north of my old home, a country road narrows down to one lane and leads up into the hills to the Morgan Territory Preserve. A variety of trails across grassy hills caters to walkers, bikers, and horses.

Mt. Diablo

The high point of the East Bay rises to the north and west of Morgan Territory. The parking lot is around 2,000', and the park spans about 500' of vertical above and below that.

Paths and Fire Roads

The typical California hiking trail is more like a fire road--and very well might be a fire road. A few "hiking only" footpaths can be found, but the level of treadway maintenance was surprising to this Easterner. Where's the sport in that?

The Central Valley

East of these hills, the vast flatness of California's Central Valley separates the mountainous coast from the Sierra Nevada. The clouds on the horizon are actually thunderheads and lenticular clouds over the High Sierra peaks over 100 miles to the east. Too bad haze blocks the view on all but a few days.

Don't Touch

Poison Oak is everywhere, and seems to be the primary ground cover in wooded areas. Learn what it looks like: three leaves per stem, with the two side leaves attached directly to the stem and the middle leaf projected out on a stalk.

Solitary Trees

Most of the preserve is open, windswept grassland. The occasional California Live Oak breaks up the sea of grass.

A Country Path

The occasional stand of smaller trees breaks up the expansive landscape.

The Natural Landscape

Something about this area is just--different. The lack of shrubbery increases the contrast between the fields and the forest, and the dry climate results in drastic color contrasts.

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