Best Parks In East Bay For Dog Lovers Craving Open Space

Photo of Jesse Burns
9 February 2017

One of the best things about living in the SF Bay Area is the amount of parks available for recreational purposes. Most of them offer different amenities depending on what the person might be looking for. For those interested in a more open space environment, with the purposeful intent of jogging alongside your special, energetic canine, these chosen spots can offer just that.

Man Running With Dog | Courtesy of MensFitness

Briones Park

This may seem an odd choice at first. Located smack dab in the middle of nearby Contra Costa County, it is one of the more populated of the sizable parks in the East Bay. However, the amount of area it encompasses makes finding that lonely trail much more feasible compared to smaller ones, being linked by trails to Martinez, Concord, Walnut Creek and so forth. It also has an abundance of Oak Trees that provide shade, water holes for your thirsty four legged buddy, while spanning a panoramic view of Mt. Diablo depending on where you stand. Just be wary of ticks hiding in the grassy areas that love to piggy back on dog and human alike.

Pinole Ridge

Located near Pinole Park, this area is a hidden gem located between the outer suburbs of Pinole and the more rural landscape of Martinez. If it’s privacy the adventurous pet parent craves, this area would be the perfect fit. While not meeting the true definition of a park with bathrooms and barbecue pits, the vast open space makes up for this minor drawback. Very few living in the Bay Area make their way towards this rather remote location, so it’s a perfect opportunity for the more energized of dogs to stretch their legs and run. As with Briones, however, the presence of ticks should be noted as a potential disease carrier.

Carquinez Straight during Daylight | Courtesy of StayBenicia

Carquinez Regional Shoreline

The view practically sells itself. Located somewhat near the little town of Crockett, it’s home to multiple trails that run parallel to the straight itself, meaning that it’s possible to watch a late sunset gleaming off the brackish water, watch the myriad of barges and cargo passing through, or look over towards the other side where Benicia/Vallejo stand. As always, this being a remote location is still the best reason to visit, with trails that run the gamut of flat and hilly. It’s also home to groves of towering eucalyptus trees providing a type of coastal flora not found anywhere else in the county.

Rankin Park

This location almost didn’t make it here, and not because of it being crowded, but more for the issues with the general layout of the park. This is a park full of hills, with many trail areas reaching a dizzying 45 degree angle. So this definitely would not be recommended unless both you and your pet are in top physical condition. Once you get past that potential problem, the trails leading up to the ridge overlooking highway four are practically deserted most of the time. Located in downtown Martinez, it does offer a jungle gym for kids, bathrooms, and barbecue pits in the lower areas. It should also be noted that this park has far more shade compared to others that made the list.

View of Martinez Shoreline Marshlands | Courtesy of Examiner

Martinez Shoreline Waterfront

An area that at first glance might seem at odds with the spirit of the article, offering various social amenities: wildlife sceneries, softball fields, fishing piers, bocce ball courts, along with the usual holiday-themed festivals. These all give this waterfront a structure more geared towards interaction rather than isolation. However, given the size of the park beyond the smell of freshly mowed grass lawns, lie hidden trails and marshlands offering a chance to escape from large crowds. Just be careful not to feed any of the ducks waddling near their algae coated ponds, lest the web-footed creatures mob you and your pet.

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