Walnut Creek is a bustling suburb with shops and restaurants that rival the best in the surrounding area. If you drive past the town on Ygnacio Valley Road the scenery starts to look almost rural before entering the municipality of Concord. Just before you ascend the hills a turn on Castle Rock Road, toward Mt. Diablo State Park, will bring you to a world that is more rural than suburban and boasts horse ranches and riding stables alongside the narrow road that leads to the Old Borges Ranch. You’ll have to watch carefully as you maneuver the curving road as the sign for ranch is not bold and pretentious, but an understated state sign that blends in well with the scenery.
Even after making the turn, the road does not become more navigable. Watch for approaching vehicles carefully as it really does become one lane in many places although 2 way traffic is common. There is a picnic area just before entering the ranch grounds on the right of the road, but there is also parking at the ranch.
This week there were visitors with toddlers inspecting the hen-house, however, there were very few animals in the other pens. There are hiking trails that start at the ranch and lots of families walking with dogs and older children were taking advantage of our beautiful spring weather to check out the open space surrounding the ranch house and buildings that comprised the centerpiece of the cattle ranch in its early days.
Old equipment lines the drive and a practice roping calf waits by the barn for young would be cowboys to test their skills. The only thing “new” about the feel of the ranch is the pavement that replaced the packed dirt of early ranching operations.
The house was originally built in 1899 by Frank and Mary Borges with their sons and daughters as the cornerstone of their working cattle ranch. They continued to operate the ranch for 5 generations before it was preserved by the State as the Old Borges Ranch and Visitor Center. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 and was lovingly restored and is still maintained by some family members, the City of Walnut Creek and The State of California.
It is a beautiful tribute to the history of the area and a peaceful sanctuary for family adventures. How often can you drive for 15 minutes from downtown and feel like you’re at the heart of cattle country? This is one place that’s possible. It has the feel of an old western town with its windmill, clapboard buildings, (non-working) outhouse and collection of farm implements. Take a few minutes from your busy schedule and immerse yourself in the past by heading out to the Old Borges Ranch and Visitor Center in Walnut Creek. Happy Trails to all of you!