Even minor city parks often have marvelous vistas. This small grassy hill, Acalanes Ridge, sitting high above the suburban sprawl of Walnut Creek is home to a couple of grand old oaks, spared from the developer’s hands. In the shade of their strong branches you can forget for a moment the pressures of our city life, and our need for land to live on, and remember how our hills and valleys, forest and meadows used to be. And be grateful that so many jurisdictions, from federal and state to city and neighborhood have made the effort to protect and preserve enclaves like this.

Hike recommendation: From the top of Sousa Drive, Walnut Creek