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Sunol Regional Wilderness

Sunol Regional Wilderness' creekside habitat Creek in Sunol Regional Wilderness

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Fast Facts

Location: East Bay - Sunol, CA
Habitat: Oak woodland, grassland, soft chaparral
Key Species: Tule Elk, Golden Eagle, Yellow-billed Magpie, Tarantula

A few miles South of Pleasanton, and about 6 miles off freeway 680, along Calaveras and Geary Road, Sunol Regional Wilderness is a great park for both hikers, horseback riders, and of course wildlife watchers. Oak woodland, grassland, soft chaparral, and creekside vegetation make this a characteristic East bay park, yielding a lot of wildlife.

Whether hiking up to the cave rocks on the Indian Joe Creek Trail, or getting a stunning view of the valley and the park on the Flag Hill Trail, Sunol Regional Wilderness offers many opportunities to explore the park, and experience the wildlife. Their is an easy trail alongside Alameda Creek which is a great place to start your experience.


The Oak woodland, grassland, and chaparral are home to Coyotes, Bobcats, and even the very rare Mountain Lion. There is a herd of Tule Elk which were reintroduced to this area.

Sunol Regional Wilderness' multiple habitats
Multiple habitats of Sunol

The birdlife of Sunol is a real treat. It is both easy to see, and very representative of the habitat and region. Keen eyes can spot the magnificent Golden Eagle soaring in the sky, being sure to distinguish it from the more common Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures. Among the Oaks, one can find the Yellow-billed Magpie which is endemic to California, and a signature bird of the East bay. Acorn Woodpeckers, Golden-crowned Sparrows and Spotted and California Towhees are all relatively easy to see, not to mention many other species of sparrows, and birds in general.

Reptiles include Gopher Snake, California Kingsnake, Western Rattlesnake. Amongst lizards there are Western Fence Lizard, Skilton's Skink, California (Southern) Alligator Lizard, California Whiptail. The Pacific Pond Turtle is found in Alameda Creek and in the ponds.

Amphibians include California Newt, Pacific Chorusfrog. Lucky people may even find the endangered California Tiger Salamander.

Sunol is also great for insectlife. It has a variety of butterfly species including California Ringlet, Common Buckeye, California Sister, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Acmon Blue, Variable Checkerspot, Mylitta Crescent.. Dragonflies and damselflies love the habitat provided by Alameda Creek. Dragonflies include Flame Skimmer, Common Green Darner, Common Whitetail. Damselflies include Vivid Dancer, Sooty Dancer, American Rubyspot.

Among other invertebrates, the Tarantula is worth mentioning. In the fall, starting around October, you have a good chance of seeing the males wandering around in search of mates.

In addition to animals, plant life in Sunol Regional Wilderness is abundant as well. In spring, wildflowers carpet the rolling plains and hills, and California Poppies, Lupines, Indian Paintbrush, Chinese House make wildflowers a sight to see.


  • East Bay Parks page on Sunol Regional Wilderness 
  • Ohlone Regional Wilderness 
  • Mission Peak Regional Preserve 
  • Geological Outings Around the Bay: Sunol Regional Wilderness. A great overview of the geologic layout of the Sunol area which of course affects the plant and animal life to a great extent. 
Tule Elk herd Sunol Regional Wilderness
Tule Elk herd in Sunol Regional Wilderness
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