The West Side Loop Trail as it heads north towards Brushy Peak.
Lots of people wax poetic about Redwood Trees and their majesty. Who can argue with that? Still, sometimes there something to be said about short trees, or no trees. They provide a change a pace and a change of scenery. Without a drape of timber all around you there's no telling how far you'll be able to see.
Brushy Peak Regional Park sits on the northern edge of Livermore in the rolling hills beneath the summit that provides its name. It's prominent location in the area drew native Americans prior to the arrival of European settlers and then bandits and ranchers after that. Some parcels of land in the park continue to be used for cattle ranching and as a result hikers may have to pass through a gate or two. The cows will generally keep their distance.
In select spots hardy Oaks and other trees dot the landscape, but much of the terrain is open grassland.
Native fauna also abound. Far outnumbering the cows, ground squirrels are found all around. Their burrow openings pepper the slopes. Meadowlarks nest and hide in the dense grass of flatter areas. With trees scarce, birds have to find a different way to seek cover and security. At times you can pass by a signing Meadowlark that must be only a few feet off the trail and not be able to spot it.
The actual summit of Brushy Peak at just over 1,700 feet is not accessible to hikers outside of a guided tour. The official trails pass tantalizingly close, but a fence just to the north blocks the way. Whereas the East Bay Regional Park District maintains the public trails, the highpoint here is under the auspices of the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District. Register on the LARPD website to find out about upcoming tour dates of the peak area. Note that the preserve area operates under a different set of rules that the remainder of Brushy Peak. For example, pets are not allowed in the preserve, even on leash.
Southeast from the near summit of Brushy Peak a line of windmills dot the ridge line. Strangely, most of the windmills sit idle and only a couple spin vigorously in the wind.