Sycamore Valley Open Space Regional Preserve occupies two large mountain ranges clustered in the rolling hills and valleys south of Mt. Diablo. Elevations range from 600 to 1,000 feet.
The Bay Miwok Tatcan tribe was inhabited by the Sycamore Valley when in 1772, Fr. Juan Crespi, with an expedition led by Captain Pedro Fages, noted the good quality of the land in the San Ramon Valley and found it a good place for the Franciscan mission. The mission was eventually located in today’s Fremont, and the San Ramon Valley was used as a pasture land. By 1850, the first Anglo-Americans had come to cultivate the valley. Since the main road between Mission San Jose and the State Capitol of Benicia ran through the Valley of San Ramon, businesses were encouraged to develop themselves in the area. In the last half of the 1800s, Sycamore Valley farmers developed the region as a productive agricultural area.
The first American settler in the vicinity of today’s Preserve was registered as Leonard Eddy in 1850. But in 1862 the Wood family started a farm and over five generations came to own and farm much of what the Preserve is today. By the end of the twentieth century, the land usage of the Sycamore Valley had been changed to homes. Most of the hilly ridge property, including the Preserve, is devoted to the conservation of open space. The 328-acre southern section of the Preserve, known as the Sherburne Hills Unit situated south of Camino Tassajara, was purchased by the Park District in 1989. In 1998 the District purchased 255 acres north of Camino Tassajara from the City of Danville and an additional 106 acres from Wood Ranch developers, taking the Northern Short Ridge Unit of Preserve to 361 acres. Today, the total area of the Sycamore Valley is approximately 696 acres.
The Sherburne Hills Unit is almost completely grassland, and the Short Ridge Unit is mainly grassland with scattered oak savannah with trees consisting of valley oak, coast living oak and buckeye. This habitat supports gopher snakes, rattlesnakes, northern Pacific rattlesnakes, acorn woodpeckers, scrub jays, black-tailed titmouse, western bluebirds, northern orioles, lazuli buntings and loggerhead shrikes (which also occur in the southern unit). The mature forest of the northern unit supports the breeding of red-tailed hawks and big-horned owls, and provides shelter for California quail, wild turkeys and gray foxes.
The steep-sided gullies of the Preserve flow into Sycamore Creek. These seasonal drainages, along with many ponds found in the Preserve, provide small wetland habitat for shrimp snakes, Pacific tree frogs and red-legged frogs. The drainages also support raccoons, striped skunks, deer, coyotes, and bird species, including ruby-crowned kinglets, chestnut-backed chickadees, vireos, warblers, red-winged blackbirds, and large blue herons. Raptors seen hunting in the Preserve include the northern harrier, the Cooper hawk, and the white-tailed kite.
This amazing park is located near the following must-see parks in Danville, California:
- Hap Magee Ranch Park
- Osage Station Park
- Sycamore Valley Park
- Oak Hill Park
- Diablo Vista Park
- Monterosso Community Park
- Las Trampas Regional Wilderness
- Danville South Park
All of these beautiful parks are located just a short distance from our location in downtown Walnut Creek, Spaulding Concrete on Locust Street!