Shell Ridge Open Space is a widely used area, where you'll often see people with dogs, group hikers, trail runners and bikers. In the video below, you'll see that this area has a fair share of benches in nice locations, so you'll have a chance to rest and enjoy some great views. There are no trail maps located at the staging area, but you can find a map on the Walnut Creek Open Space page.
Location: Staging area is at the end of Sutherland Drive in Walnut Creek. Small parking lot, but no bathrooms or water.
Trails Featured: Fossil Hill Trail, Briones/Mt. Diablo Trail, Ginder Gap Loop Trail, Ridge Top Trail
Route: Start at the staging area at the end of Sutherland Drive. Follow Fossil Hill Trail to your right. Take a right on to Briones/Mt. Diablo Trail. At .97 miles, you'll see a sign that shows Coral Spring Trail and Briones/Mt. Diablo trail. Keep left here, and don't continue on the Briones/Mt. Diablo Trail to your right. The trail map has this trail listed as Ginder Gap Loop Trail, so it's a bit confusing. At least there was a guide to show me the way:
Soon, you'll take a left on to Ridge Trail (1.18 miles), which offers great views of Walnut Creek. When you look at the trail map, you'll notice that the Ridge Trail splits and reconnects a few times with some side trails. Take what you prefer, and when you get to the Water Tower, don't go down the road. Go past the tower and reconnect with the Ridge Trail on the other side (2.1 miles).
At the bottom of the ridge trail, take the Briones/Mt. Diablo Trail again. You'll follow that until you get to an unmarked split at 2.62 miles. Take the split to the right, which is the Fossil Hill Trail. You'll pass some big rocks, nice oaks and a comfortable bench under an Oak tree. Your hike is almost over, so break here if you want to. Keep on the Fossil Hill Trail until you get back to the staging area. Depending on which Ridge Trail splits you take, you're overall mileage may vary. Don't forget to print out the map before you get there.
Full Photo Slideshow: