Grant Ranch wasn’t much to look at when I got there Sunday morning. All the better because it gave me an excuse to listen.

The bird calls are remarkable when there’s no other distractions beyond the sound of the breeze passing your ears. Peeps, squeaks, caws, quacks and the sky-piercing screams of hawks and their raptor cousins. Lord knows what they were talking about.

Grant can seem huge, empty and unremarkable at first glance. Sure, there nice views of the hills rising around you, but the Diablo Range is flush with such splendor. It’s still too early for spring wildflower season and the hills haven’t quite achieved that green sheen of mid- to late spring.

So it was a good time to just wander some trails I hadn’t done before and see what turned up. After forgetting my camera completely last week, I did bring one this time — the wrong one (well, the older one), alas, but hey, the scenery wasn’t all that photogenic, so not much of a loss.

One kinda cool thing I noticed: for a such a big, dry expanse of open country, there’s quite a bit of water at Grant, thanks to all the stock ponds created when it was a working ranch. I ended up stringing together all the major (and a few minor) ponds for a nice loop of about 8.5-9 miles.

So, hey, let’s look at some pictures.

Bass Lake at Grant Ranch

They call this one Bass Lake. There’s a nice single-track trail up to it from the park ranch house. Picture might’ve been much nicer if the hills were greened up more. From here I headed up the Hotel Trail — uphill for a couple miles, a nice little workout.

Interesting oak tree

I love the oak trees at Grant. They have character.

Excellent snag

An interesting snag with holes carved by acorn woodpeckers.

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake is way out near the edge of the park. It’s blocked off by barbed wire to keep the people (and the wild pigs) away to let the area rejuvenate itself.

Unnamed pond

Nice little pond near the junction of the Foothill and Bonhoff trails. If you ever make it out this way, be ready for some supremely steep slopes. Switchbacks are non-existent.

Woodpecker tree

I crossed Mount Hamilton Road at Twin Gates and headed back downhill on the Yerba Buena Trail, where I saw another swell woodpecker tree. There’s a fine single-track loop trail goes from Yerba Buena over to McCreery Lake, which I hadn’t seen on previous trips.

McCreery Lake

So, yeah, it’s a lake.

Grant Lake

Grant Lake, the biggest of the bunch.

I’m thinking mid-March might be the best time to check back in and see how the wildflowers are doing.

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