Route: Iron Horse Regional Trail (CA)

California, US
27 mi
Vertical Gain
400 ft

This multi-use, whole-access trail between the cities of Concord and Pleasanton follows the Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way established in 1891 and abandoned in 1978. The completed Iron Horse Regional Trail, as of 2014, spans a distance of 32 miles. The latest segment of the Trail, which closed a gap of 1.8 miles from the Pleasanton/Dublin BART station to Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton, opened to the public on August 19th, 2014, after almost 30 years of planning and funding efforts.  Representing interagency cooperation and a community-wide effort by individuals and groups, this trail creates an important recreational and commute component for the communities it serves. The trail connects residential and commercial areas, business parks, schools, public transportation (BART, County Connection), open space and parks, regional trails, and community facilities.

The developed Iron Horse Trail begins in Concord near Highway 4. It runs south through Walnut Creek and crosses eastward under I-680 at Rudgear Road near a Park & Ride. From there the trail passes through a rural/residential area to connect with downtown Alamo and the Alamo Square shopping center. Continuing south, the trail follows a greenbelt through residential areas and into downtown Danville. It takes a jog across Danville Boulevard, passes back under I-680, and continues south past Pine Valley Road to the county line in San Ramon extending to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART and further on to Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area. Eventually, the Iron Horse Regional Trail will continue extending to cover a distance of about 55 miles, connecting 12 cities from Livermore in Alameda County to Suisun Bay in Contra Costa County.

GPS Track


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I'm thinking of giving this route a go but wanted to ask a few clarification questions.

1) is there a reason this route doesn't currently cover the entirety of the Iron Horse? There's roughly 4 miles that everyone here so far has skipped. You can see a full GPX here which I built from the Iron Horse cue sheet located here

2) I noted above how the current attempts are shorting the full trail. Another point is that this trail will eventually be over 20 miles longer (up to 55 miles in length are planned). While it may be years before any additional trail is built, I think this complicates the point implied by my first question --- whether we should we list current times as a shorter variant --- because even the full trail as it exists today will eventually be a shorter variant. This has happened to some high profile routes in the past: Tahoe Rim Trail for instance is longer and has more trail miles today than it did when Killian set his record on it (since beaten). Obviously for the FKT for the full trail even 4 miles difference is a lot for something of the current length, but if/when it reaches double the current FKT segment's length these times would become unbeatable and need recategorized. Do any of the current record holders have thoughts on how to set this route up for successful maintenance into the future?

3) So far about half of the attempts have gone Northbound and half Southbound. Despite the current fastest times being from the slower southbound direction, it is fairly evident that overtime southbound will be a significant disadvantage: should northbound/southbound times be tracked separately?

Good questions.

1) This is our understanding (from someone who ran this recently):  If you look at the cue sheet you will see there is a missing chunk at “end of shadow cliffs to busch rd” (line 5) which leaves a 0.6 mile gap in the trail (it is a proposed piece of path, not an existing path). Literally, the trail just spits you out unceremoniously at a street (very busy) corner with no additional signage or path. So, at that juncture the trail ceases to exist in continuous fashion. It seem that for now it is simpler/better to only acknowledge the continuous path as the FKT route.  Especially since people are running this at a pretty quick pace, so things like traffic & traffic lights are a legit factor.

2) When and if the trail gets longer we will adjust our route accordingly, assuming we are made aware of the changes.

3) We won't track NoBo and SoBo separately.  Go whichever way is faster!


Indeed, once the trail hits Valley and Stanley, it becomes somewhat of a glorified sidewalk along the road, as opposed to a separated bike path. And with regards to NoBo: it will probably be significantly faster, because you can get the traffic-light heavy segment in Dublin out of the way earlier, in addition to more favorable elevation.