With a small population and rural mindset, Sunol is practically an anachronism in the context of modern Alameda County. While the area isn’t home to a booming technology industry, it does have miles of unspoiled California wilderness, including pristine creeks, hills, and grazing land. However, its lack of development doesn’t make the area any less of a regional destination. Many people find the area’s thousands of acres of protected parkland just as attractive as shopping centers and upscale restaurants.
Lay of the Land
Unincorporated and lacking any formal municipal government, Sunol is considered a census designated place. Located in a modest valley south of the intersection of Interstates 680 and 580, Sunol is relatively isolated from the rest of the Bay Area. While the area is littered with other small communities, the closest significant neighbor is Pleasanton to the north.
Despite a modest population of just over 900 residents, Sunol is located on a staggering 33 square mile parcel of land. The majority of this is protected park land, but enough private land remains for the area to feature several recreational areas and historic homes. Despite the areas isolated location, the average home in the areas has an estimated median value of $826,478, while the average household income is $85,388.
One of the primary trade-offs of living is Sunol is the lack of easily accessible transportation. Ground transportation in the area is limited to Interstate 680 while public transportation services are nonexistent within Sunol itself. Luckily, Pleasanton features many of the public transportation options that define the Bay Area. These includes Bay Area Rapid Transit services as well as the services provided by the Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority. Major airports are also available via the nearby cities of Oakland, San Francisco, or San Jose.
The Charm of Sunol resides in the area\’s rich history and natural geography. The town’s residents do everything that they can to maintain a strong connection to the history of the town, including preserving historic locations and holding small scale cultural and heritage based celebrations.
Sunol Regional Wilderness is 6,850 acres of loosely organized parkland serving as a regional tribute to the local wildlife and geological features. Operated by the East Bay Regional Park District, the park entertains thousands of visitors arriving every year to take advantage of the numerous natural features and manmade recreational activities.
The park features the expected range of general park activities, including hiking trails, camping areas, backpacking areas, and equestrian trails. The appeal of Sunol Regional Wilderness is the scope and range of these activities. Visitors can expect to travel for days on end without seeing much in the way of other visitors or support centers. Guests are therefore encouraged to check-in at the Old Barn Visitor Center before progressing into the park itself.
The Old Barn Visitor Center provides park guests with access to park resources, informational guides, and souvenirs. It is also one of the locations where visitors can purchase trail permits, sign up for naturalist classes, and even check out vegetation identification kits. Visitors may also check campground schedules and request a reservation at one of the many campgrounds scattered around the park.
The other major formalized recreational center in the area is the Sunol Valley Golf Course. The original founder of the course was determined to provide affordable recreational activities that anyone could enjoy. Therefore, course prices have remained relatively modest over the years. The combination of affordability, accessibility, and location makes Sunol Valley one of the premier golf courses in the Bay Area. It features two 36 hole courses and restaurant complete with a full bar.
Additionally, the grounds are available for Wedding services and large-scale events. The event facilities are comprised of six different rooms, each with a different ambiance and maximum occupancy. The site also provides access to various levels of catering and food services designed to meet the needs of a wide range of events.