One of the silver linings of Corona, is that hiking became the highlight of our weekend. Due to the frequency of our hikes, I started looking for new trails. As a result, we have discovered so many great trails all over the Bay Area since 2020. One area that became one of our favorites is Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park in Sunol. This is one of the little treasures of the Bay Area we come back to regularly and worth trying. Not just because the hikes and the views are great, but because of the brunch at the quaint Casa Bella, downtown Sunol, afterwards. Read more about how we roll on a COVID Sunday.
Cows and Bobcats
We park our car at the Casa Bella parking lot. Before we start our hike, I make sure I reserve all the little beignets they have, as we learned they run out quickly. We cross the railroad and turn into the small road that leads to the trail. Most people start from the park’s parking lot, so until we come to where those trails intersect, we don’t see many people. It’s is a beautiful sunny spring morning. The first part is a steep uphill, good to get our muscles warmed up.
After our climb, we reach a down hill and then a nice grassy area. We meet some friendly cows with calves, but they don’t seem to be bothered by us. A little bit further, we spot a bobcat. This is the first bobcat I have seen in all my years hiking. It’s a bit scary, but it seems he (or she) finds us as scary and disappears quickly in the bushes.
Mimosas in the olive grove
We reach the old olive grove. I love olive trees, and this grove has hundreds of them, all hundreds of years old, creating a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere. The best part of the olive grove however, is the picnic tables and benches in the middle and the outskirts. That is our destination for the first stop. Because we are carrying bottles of prosecco, orange juice and plastic glasses, so we can have mimosas in the grove. I tell you, a mimosa does never taste better than in the middle of nature, after an uphill hike. We started this at my birthday last year, when friends surprised me with my first mimosa hike and we have been doing at ever since. Initially when we have a birthday to celebrate or, like last Sunday, without a reason, just because we can.
Brunch at Casa Bella Bistro
After our 6 mile hike, we are ready for brunch and what better place than Casa Bella Bistro. Casa Bella Bistro is located in the heart of the small town of Sunol. They have a big courtyard, which makes it a perfect destination during COVID. We have reserved our tables before we started our hike and we are glad, as it is already busy. We look at the menu and order. Everything is good and fresh, but my favorite is the avocado toast a very Californian choice. To finish brunch with something sweet, we indulge in their delicious mini beignets, that we discovered the first time we were here. You have to order them early as they disappear fast as they are sinfully good. But it is Sunday, so that’s ok.
The Niles Canyon Trainride
For those who want to add to the fun, hop on the historic train on the station across the street from Casa Bella. The ride goes from Sunol to Niles district in Fremont and back. This route is part of the First Transcontinental Railroad. On Saturdays its a diesel train, on Sunday the old steam train. My friends did it with their kids last Sunday and they had a blast.
I am so glad that out of all the bad things COVID has brought, it has also made us discover some of the little treasures in the Bay Area.