Round Valley Regional Preserve

Compared to the statuesque and glamorous chicks in her clique – Los Vaqueros, Morgan Territory, Black Diamond Mines and Mt. Diablo – Round Valley seems petite and plain. Then you get to know her. The scrawny schoolgirl starts turning heads. When at the prom the guys who’ve been snubbing her strut up and ask for a whirl on the dance floor, she says, “Take a hike.” So we do.

Dawn breaks over the Round Valley summit, elevation 1,220'. Eight miles west stands Mt. Diablo.

Owl's clover blankets Clover Ridge in March.

In Murphy Meadow, a male tarantula in mating season inspects a burrow in the hope of hitting on some long-legged, eight-legged brunette.

December fog drifts through the hills east of Murphy Meadow.

September sunrise on the summit.

The rusted remains of a harvester combine belonging to rancher Jim Murphy, former owner of Round Valley, are among the many vintage farm implements scattered across Murphy Meadow.

A valley oak stands in splendid isolation in Murphy Meadow.

A California black oak greets dawn in Murphy Meadow.

Prescribed burns in Murphy Meadow are set by the East Bay Regional Park District to prevent wildfires from spreading out of control.

Murphy Meadow's Arroyo Grande, where valley oaks frame a buckeye in autumn.

October sunrise on the summit.

Frosty autumn morning in Murphy Meadow. 

The view south from Castle Ridge on a foggy January morning.

California orange poppies in Hardy Canyon.

Round Valley Creek in March.

The view west from Castle Ridge at dawn.

Buckeye trio in winter, Coyote Ridge.

Buckeyes at dawn in summer.

Dead oak in fog, Summit Ridge.

The maze of ridges and rivulets called Hardy Canyon.

Milk thistle in autumn, Summit Ridge.

The Hardy Canyon Trail is a prime track for equestrians looking to move up in the world. 

Fog and frost at sunrise in Murphy Meadow.