It was a sunny day, about 10 years ago, when my kids and I bicycled from San Ramon Central Park to the Burger King in Danville. Two of my children, 7 and 12, rode their bikes, and Christopher, our youngest, rode in the bike trailer behind my bicycle. His mode of transportation was a hot wheel racer he drove erratically all over the neighborhood. Mostly he collected rocks, occasionally selling the same rocks back to the same property owners. I didn’t think it was wise to have him on his hot wheel while we bicycled and boy, was I right.
The Iron Horse Trail is a 20 foot wide, beautifully landscaped trail, running 24.5 miles from the Concord Bart Station to the Dublin/Pleasanton Bart Station. It connects 12 cities and 2 counties and is used by bicyclist, runners, and skaters, moms pushing strollers and even the occasional horse. It follows the old Southern Pacific right of way that was in use until 1977. The East Bay Regional Park District now manages and maintains the trail.
There are rules to be followed while enjoying the trail and this is posted on the trail in various places. It states excessive speeds are prohibited (not a problem with us since Rachel, our 7 year old, loved to stop and look around). It also recommends a bell on your bike, alerting others as you pass. Not a problem either since there was no passing on our part, although many others, including moms pushing strollers, passed us.
As we moseyed along the trail, we admired all the beautiful scenery the East Bay Regional Parks has maintained along the way. Trees, flowers, and even an occasional bench line the path, making it an almost park like setting. The trail is asphalt, creating an easy surface for bikes or skates and is safe from cars or motorized vehicles. There were more squirrels then we could count and lots and lots of birds.
After about an hour, Christopher, 5 at the time, started hollering that he was so bored and he wanted out! I turned and told him to admire the scenery, look for squirrels, just chill out. He told me he was getting out.
Except for that pesky seat belt, he might have managed an escape. Admitting defeat, he resolved his boredom -- he peeled all the packaging off of about a dozen band aids and plastered them on his legs, his arms, the side of the stroller, and his face. The wrappers? They were in the wind. I ran around trying to collect them all. I told Christopher that band aids are for wounds, sores, ouchies, not decoration. Christopher replied, “I’m bored.”
Onward hoe on the trail! I promised the bored little sir in his chariot the menu at Burger King and it would only be a little while before he would be sipping his milk shake. The next thing I knew the cooler was open with our snacks and drinks spread across his lap. He began tossing the ice cubes out the sides of the trailer, watching as they shattered. Once again, I stopped the bike and told Christopher no throwing of items out of his trailer. He declared, you guessed it, “I’m bored.”
We made it to Burger King, just as the trailer prisoner started a riot, hollering at others on the trail that he was bored. On the way back down the trail to home I told him we were playing a game of spot the different modes of transportation on the trail and this seemed to calm him down in a way the squirrels did not.
The trail has been used by our family many times over the years, both for bicycling and for walking. My dog loves to try and entice the squirrels in a game of chase, which the rascally little rodents appreciate, I’m sure. There are numerous places to access the trail, either in parking lots along the trail or along side streets.
Try it out! Strap on those skates or dust off your bicycle and hop on the Iron Horse Trail. Have no fear, Christopher is all grown up (almost) and would never toss an ice cube in your path. No matter which mode of transportation you pick, a trip down the Iron Horse Trail is the best exercise you can enjoy in a most beautiful setting.
See you on the trail!