This is my second photographic visit to Round Valley, and it's turning out to be one of my favorite hikes. The combination of beautiful views, stunning oak groves and a hearty loop hike make this a compelling place to visit.
The land for this park was acquired in 1988, saving it from development or being buried under tons of garbage and waste.
This is a simple loop hike. Starting at the trailhead, head off across the bridge and head right, on to the Miwok Trail.
Following the wide Miwok Trail will take you through a valley of oaks, littered with rocks and boulders.
At 1.49 miles, you'll bear left and start your climb up the Hardy Canyon Trail. Cows graze in the valley below, and up along the trailside.
As you climb the Hardy Canyon Trail, the views of Round Valley below display a California that existed before development.
All along the trail, the views become more spectacular as the climb becomes steeper. The elevation change on this hike is about 1500 feet, so you'll feel your heart pounding, reminding you to pause and enjoy the views. Along this trail you may see rattlesnakes. Give them wide berth...
The cows in Round Valley become specks at you climb up the Hardy Canyon Trail. Once you reach the top of the hill, consider spending some time resting, hydrating and snacking.
The descent down Hardy Canyon Trail is swift, and you'll pass a muddy, sloppy pond before slipping in to an oak and buckeye grove.
More rock formations poke out from the hillside as the trail winds along High Creek.
The last part of the hike provides a nice view of an oak hillside above and to your left. The total distance is about 4.66 miles. Much of the hike is in full sun with limited canopy exposure. The climb up Hardy Canyon Trail may be too steep for some. A pair of hiking poles might help with the climb and balance along some of the more precarious sections of the trail.
Between the oak groves and views of the valley, this hike is a gem. Take your time, enjoy yourself, and expect to feel a comfortable exhaustion when you finish.