Summer is a great time to explore this wonderful place that we call home. Take the family outside and hike the marvelous trail system we have here in our region.

Clayton was rated as the most walkable small city in the nation in 1998 by Reader's Digest's "Walking" magazine and we've added more trails since then.

We have many trails that get you off your beaten track and up into our beautiful hills to enjoy the views, solitude and spectacular sunsets.

Trail maps are available at City Hall and are posted in the kiosk at the Black Diamond Plaza (at Main Street and Marsh Creek Road) that show all the trails in Clayton and our surrounding area, including our side of Mount Diablo.

Just up and over the hill from Clayton is Black Diamond Regional Park. It's a great hike or bike ride from here and once there, it's fun to explore the coal mines and see how the founders of our area lived in the mid-1800s.

There are numerous websites to help you plan your local walk, or longer hike or ride.

For great maps and interactive support anywhere in Contra Costa and the Bay Area, try www.511ContraCosta.org. Click on the bike or walk tab. Here you'll find downloadable maps for the Contra Costa Canal Trail, East Bay Regional Parks, trails-to-transit and other resources. Enter your starting and ending points in the interactive route planner to get a map with trail options, mileage, and elevation gains to use.


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Another useful site is www.alltrails.com, which has great maps and includes comments and recommendations from other trail users.

If you'd like to venture a bit further, check out the San Francisco Bay Trail at www.baytrail.org. There are more than 330 miles of completed shoreline trails highlighting the diversity of experiences provided on the shoreline paths for locals, tourists and commuters in the Bay Area.

The Bay Trail Project will culminate in a 500-mile walking and bicycling path and will one day allow continuous travel around San Francisco Bay.

On Saturday, June 1, Bay Area outdoorsman/trekker Kurt Schwabe of San Francisco started a monthlong trek of the Bay Trail. Every day in the month of June, he walked a new segment of the trail using a new set of map cards and an online map tool developed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

Schwabe used transit to reach different legs of the trail, and returned home each evening to blog about his travels, people he met, points of interest, advice for transit options and to share his photos of that day's trip.

Not only is public transit the most sustainable way to reach the region's great outdoors, but it allowed him to get home at night without having to backtrack to a car parked at his starting point.

"The Bay Trail is connected to public transportation at just about any point along our shoreline," Schwabe writes in one of his blog posts at www.walkingthebaytrail.com.

The timing for Schwabe's adventure coincided with the publication by ABAG of a handsome new boxed set of two dozen Bay Trail map cards, available at www.baytrail.org, each with a suggested trip and points of interest along the way.

Schwabe also carried the latest edition of the San Francisco Bay Shoreline Guide, which showcases the trail's ecological riches and recreational offerings. Get your downloadable Bay Trail map at http://baytrail.abag.ca.gov/pdfs/BayTrail-Brochure.pdf.

Wherever your travels take you this summer, while enjoying our fabulous local and Bay Area trails, remember to stay on the trail, wear sunscreen, a hat, and take a light snack and lots of water -- it's getting hot!

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    Closer to home this week, from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday is our "Clayton Family Fair & Picnic" in The Grove Park in downtown Clayton.

    There will be musicians in the gazebo, and all games and activities are free, including balloon animals, face painting, craft booths and a show by the fabulous Clayton Bikes Stunt team (6 to 7 p.m.).

    Clayton CERT will present safety information, including how to perform hands-only CPR. The Clayton Historical Society Museum will be open for the event and is featuring an exhibit of the railroad system that was once here in our area.

    Bring the family and a picnic dinner or grab takeout from one of our local restaurants and join us for an evening of fun.

    I hope to see you all at the Clayton Fourth of July Parade. We still need a few more volunteers -- let me know if you can help.

    Julie Pierce is the mayor of Clayton. Email her at columns@bayareanewsgroup.com.