One thing Walnut Creek has a-plenty is open space.
Over the decades, city leaders have done a commendable job of keeping the hills surrounding the community in a pristine, natural condition.
In fact, Walnut Creek has 3,000 acres of open space in four major regions.
Where's your favorite spot in the vast frontier? Do you prefer hilltops with a view? Or secluded valleys surrounded by oaks? Or wide trails that meander across the landscape?
There's a lot to choose from.
Shell Ridge is the largest of the city's four open space areas. It alone has 31 miles of hiking trails. Its oak woodlands and savannah grasslands are the gateway to Mount Diablo.
The preserved land stretches from Indian Valley and Walnut Heights schools on the west to Northgate High on the east. It also extends south almost to Livorna Road. It includes Borges Ranch, a historic working cattle ranch.
My favorite spot in the city's open space might be a plateau at the top of a hill behind Northgate High. It's perhaps a half-mile walk, if that, from the open space entrance there. The flattop is a marvelous resting point and has a spectacular view of the entire Diablo Valley.
From it, you can see Lime Ridge, another of the city's open space areas.
This land sits behind and includes the old limestone quarry pit visible from Ygnacio Valley Road.
The open space extends onto the other side of that thoroughfare and includes the hills that tower above the Woodlands neighborhood.
This is more rugged landscape with many fewer trees than Shell Ridge. The hills behind the golf course are quite steep, but if you can climb them, you're treated to a quiet world in a less traveled valley on the other side.
On the other side of town is the Acalanes Ridge open space. The city has preserved some dramatic open land here between Interstate 680 and Acalanes High in Lafayette.
I'm not as familiar with this region, but it too has some dramatic views and some picturesque trails.
To the south is the Sugarloaf open space nestled against the border with Alamo.
A trail connects this area with the southern fringes of Shell Ridge. Again, I'm not as familiar with this property, but it offers a sanctuary between the housing developments of southern Walnut Creek and Interstate 680.
In short, no matter where you hike or pedal that mountain bike, you're bound to experience some solitude and natural beauty while spending time in Walnut Creek's open space.