One hour out of San Francisco is a beautiful wilderness area. Actually, it's ranch land, but the ranchers are kind enough to share this chunk of lush, rolling hills with us ordinary city folk... and dogs! Off leash dogs! Very unusually generous. Most hikes in the Bay Area don't allow dogs at all. But dog owners aren't the only ones feeling sorry for ourselves; many hikes don't allow bikes or horses either.

This is Sunol Regional Wilderness, just south east of Pleasanton in East Bay. I'd first read about it when I typed "dog friendly bay area hikes" into google. Charlotte was absolutely delighted. She kept looking back at me as if to say: Can I really run where ever I want? Really? Here she is, running after ground squirrels. Heralding her arrival, ground squirrels called out warning squeaks to fellow ground squirrels: Predator in the Vicinity! And there was a sudden movement in spots all over the grassy meadows, as a mad dash was made for underground burrows.