Friday, February 20, 2009

East Bay Hiking Links

Baby Steps East Bay Trails with a Baby
Hikes with Tykes

Bay Area Hiking

East Bay Parks

Borrowed the following from other pages on the net: "The east side of San Francisco Bay is very different from San Francisco and the Peninsula. It's higher, dryer, warmer in summer, and cooler in winter, particularly in the inland areas. It's densely-populated around the Bay, but has vast untouched regions inland. It includes some of the most rugged and remote wilderness in the Bay Area. There are many regional parks in the East Bay, with a wide variety of habitats. The official governing body, the East Bay Regional Parks District, oversees 46 parks, covering 65,000 acres in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. See Bay Area Backroads: East Bay Parks and policing the East Bay Parks. Other undeveloped lands are on East Bay Municipal Utilities District land and require permits for hiking (See EBMUD - East Bay Recreation Areas.) The city of Walnut Creek has several thousand acres of open space preserves. Note that Mt. Diablo State Park is covered in the State Parks page. Here are some of the East Bay parks that have hiking trails. I haven't explored all of these parks yet, especially the more inland ones, so most of the information here is taken from the East Bay Parks District Website and other Websites. I've been to Tilden Park and Coyote Hills many times and frequently bike the Bay Trail routes. I recently made the hike up to the top of Mission Peak and have explored the hills at Garin/Dry Creek.
  • Niles Dam near Niles Canyon from the Alameda Creek Trail Alameda Creek Trail - This is more of a biking and running trail than a hiking trail, but it is one of the longest multi-use trails in the Bay Area and leads to a wide variety of habitats. It runs for 12 miles on both sides of Alameda Creek from the shores of San Francisco Bay to narrow Niles Canyon. The north side is mostly dirt and is for equestrians and mountain bikes, as well as hikers. The south side is paved and is popular with skaters and road bikes. The trail provides access to Coyote Hills Regional Park (see below) and numerous city parks along the way. It also runs next to the soon-to-open Quarry Lakes Regional Park. (See the Bay Area Backroads story on Niles Canyon.)

  • Lake Chabot Anthony Chabot Regional Park and Lake Chabot - 315-acre Lake Chabot is one of the best fishing lakes in the Bay Area. Trails circle around the lake. The trails around the south part of the lake are paved and fairly flat. The ones on the northeast side are steep dirt trails. The park's busy marina area has shady picnic grounds, lawns, playing fields, a coffee shop, and boat rentals. Boat tours of the lake are available on the Chabot Queen. A family campground is located in a eucalyptus grove on the northeast side of the lake. The lake is part of Anthony Chabot Regional Park, which is a huge park encompassing nearly 5,000 acres. Trails run along the watershed of Upper San Leandro Creek. The East Bay Skyline National Trail runs through the park. Trails connect the park to other parks to the south. The park is located near Castro Valley. (See the Bay Area Backroads story on Lake Chabot and "Shuffle off to Chabot park for sake of sheer relaxation.")

  • Black Diamond Mines Regional Park - This 5,717 acre park south of Antioch is known for its mining history. Coal and sand were mined here. There were 5 coal mining towns in this area from the 1860's to the turn of the century. Hundreds of miles of mine tunnels were dug underground, producing some 4 million tons of these "black diamonds." Sand mining to produce glass and steel casting sand replaced coal mining in the 1920's. This ceased in 1949 after 1.8 million tons of sand had been mined. All the mining towns in the area eventually disappeared. The historic Rose Hill Cemetery still remains, memorializing the former residents. Visitors can take a guided tour into one of the mine tunnels. The Greathouse Visitors Center is located in an underground chamber and has exhibits on the park's mining history. 47 miles of trails run through grasslands and forests. Wildflowers cover the hills in the spring. The park also has a group camp and backpack camp. It adjoins Contra Loma Regional Park. (See the Bay Area Backroads story and the San Francisco Bay Traveler story: Checking Out History Down Below.)

  • Briones Regional Park. Briones Park is located in the hill backcountry of Contra Costa County between Lafayette and Martinez. It's a large park with 5,756 acres of grasslands, hills, and shady canyons. Its high point is Briones Peak at 1483 feet. The park has miles of trails, picnic grounds, an archery range, and youth campgrounds. Here is a picture of a stock pond in the hills at Briones RP.

  • Contra Loma Regional Park - This is a relatively small regional park at 776 acres, but its main attraction is 80-acre Contra Loma Reservoir. This is a popular place for fishing, swimming, boating, and windsurfing. Trails run through the hills above the reservoir and connect to adjoining Black Diamond Mines Regional Park.

  • View of the Main Marsh from the Coyote Hills Coyote Hills Regional Park - This 966-acre park, located at the edge of San Francisco Bay in Fremont, is an area rich in history, both human and natural. The park's original residents were the Ohlone Indians, who lived in the area for almost 2,200 years. Their history is captured in a restored Indian village and in interpretive displays in the park's visitor's center. Nearby is Ardenwood Historic Farm, which preserves a working turn-of-the-century farm. (See the Bay Area Backroads story on the Ardenwood area, which includes Coyote Hills.) The park is rich in wildlife. The marshes, salt ponds, and nearby Alameda Creek provide homes and feeding grounds for birds, fish, and other small animals. Hawks and other raptors can be seen above and along the park's hills. Being at the edge of the Bay, the Bay breezes keep the park's weather milder than the more inland East Bay parks. Like the other parks on the Bay, this is a good place to go to cool off on a hot summer day. The visitors center, picnic grounds, and a group campground are located at the base of the hills. They are somewhat protected by the hills from the stiff afternoon Bay breezes. The hills are unusual, being so high (up to 291 feet at Red Hill) so close to the Bay. The hills are the remains of an ancient mountain range and were once islands. The views from their heights are spectacular, encompassing much of the Bay Area. The updrafts are ideal for flying gliders, which can often be seen flying around Glider Hill. Easy and steep trails run through the hills. Flat trails run through the marshes and along the salt ponds. The Bay Trail runs along the west side of the park. The salt ponds to the west of the park are part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, whose headquarters and visitors center can be reached by trail south of Hwy 84. Here is a picture of Coyote Hills. Here is some information about the trails and wildlife at Coyote Hills.

  • Del Valle Regional Park - This 3,977-acre park is located in an oak-covered valley 10 miles south of Livermore. The primary attraction of the park is its 5-mile long reservoir. Del Valle has excellent fishing and allows swimming and boating. Boat tours are offered by park naturalists. There are many picnic areas and a large campground. The visitors center has information about the park and surrounding wilderness area. Miles of trails run through the hills above the reservoir and connect to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail to the southwest. Here is a link on the wildlife and wildflowers at Del Valle. See Taking the Kids - Lake Del Valle, Livermore.

  • Diablo Foothills Regional Park - This park in Contra Costa County is "only" 978 acres, but it is adjacent to Mt. Diablo State Park, Shell Ridge Open Space, and Borges Ranch (see below). Together they represent a huge open space area of around 23,000 acres. The east side of Diablo Foothills adjoins the Castle Rocks of Mt. Diablo. At the northeast corner is the developed 15-acre Castle Rock Recreation Area, which contains picnic areas, play areas, a swimming pool, food concessions, a dance floor, and an archery range.

  • Jordan Pond, Garin Regional Park Garin/Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks - These adjoining parks, with a combined 3,082 acres, are in the hills overlooking the suburbs and industrial parks of Hayward and Union City. They are just south of the CSU Hayward campus. This is farming and ranching country. Cattle still are allowed to graze in the park and trail users may find them along the trails. The park's farming history is preserved in its visitors center, which has farm equipment on display outside and historical displays inside. The park has large picnic areas and grassy playing fields near the visitors center and Jordan Pond. The small scenic pond is a popular spot for warmwater fishing. Miles of trails lead through the grassy hills and shady canyons. Most are accessible to mountain bikes and equestrians. Mountain tops provide spectacular views of the Bay Area. See Garin Regional Park - a scenic place to hike - or trudge.

  • Sloughs and ponds at Hayward Shoreline Hayward Shoreline - There are 1,682 acres in Hayward Regional Shoreline at the edge of San Francisco Bay, just north of Hwy 92. It consists of marshes, sloughs, wetlands, and bayshore. Several trails run through the area, including the Bay Trail. The dirt levees here, many of which are now usable as trails, were built for salt ponds. These ponds have since been restored into marshes. Some are freshwater. Others are brackish and saltwater. The marshes and shoreline are excellent places for bird-watching. At the start of the trail is the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center, which has a raised platform for viewing the area as well as educational displays. Books and snacks can be purchased here. The Bay Trail leads north to the San Leandro Shoreline (see below). Several bridges cross over creeks and slough inlets. Trails lead up and through a retired landfill. A bridge over San Lorenzo Creek connects to the paved trails in San Leandro (see below).

  • Iron Horse Regional Trail - The Iron Horse Trail, like the Alameda Creek Trail, is more of a running and biking trail than a hiking trail, but it can be used to reach many parks and open space areas along the way. It is one of the longest trails in the Bay Area. It runs for 33 miles from Dublin to Concord. Plans are in the works to extend it from Livermore to Suisun Bay. It runs on the old Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way, that was established in 1890 and abandoned in 1977. As part of the Rails-to-Trails program, it was turned into a recreational trail. The trail runs through suburban neighborhoods and industrial districts. It is not a particularly natural trail and is interrupted by many street crossings, but it is a pleasant alternative to traveling on city streets or freeways. It passes by several city parks, including San Ramon's Central Park. The tree-shaded section through Danville is the most scenic. The trail intersects several other major trails, including the Contra Costa Canal Trail, which in turns connects to the Briones-to-Mt. Diablo Trail, the California Hiking and Riding Trail, and the Ygnacio Canal Trail. The Las Trampas-to-Mt. Diablo Trail crosses the Iron Horse Trail. Proposed trails will connect the Iron Horse trail to the Delta De Anza Trail and the Bay Trail.

  • Stairs to Woodminster Amphitheater, Joaquin Miller Park Joaquin Miller Park (City of Oakland) - The East Bay hills are often thought of as being hot and dry. However, the Oakland Hills were once covered with giant redwood trees. These fog-loving trees, which reached 20 feet in diameter, thrived in the moist ocean air streaming through the Golden Gate. Unfortunately, the huge old-growth trees were cut down to build the Bay Area's cities. Redwoods grow fast, and second-growth trees can be quite large. Joaquin Miller Park in the Oakland Hills preserves a large stand of second-growth redwoods. The park was named after the poet and writer, Joaquin Miller, who built a cabin and planted trees in the area. The City of Oakland and the Save the Redwoods League purchased a total of 425 acres to form the current park. Many trails, both formal and informal, run through the shady hills of the park. The park is also adjacent to the Chabot Space and Science Center and the Roberts Regional Recreational Area and Redwood Regional Park (see below). (See the Bay Area Backroads story on orienteering in Joaquin Miller Park.)

  • Kennedy Grove Recreation Area - This is a 218-acre developed park at the foot of San Pablo Dam near Richmond. This eucalyptus-shaded park has reservable picnic areas, lawns, a cottage for wedding and banquets, playing fields, volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits. Trails lead up the hills to viewpoints. The Bay Area Ridge Trail runs through here.

  • Los Vaqueros Reservoir - One of the newest water recreation areas in the Bay Area, the $450 million Los Vaqueros project was completed in 1997 by the Contra Costa Water District in the hills south of Brentwood. The 100,000 acre-foot reservoir lies in the center of 18,500 acres of protected open space. The watershed is open for public recreation. There are 55 miles of trails through the area. See here for the park map. See Making the Connections: Recreation and Stewardship in the Los Vaqueros Watershed.

  • Las Trampas Regional Wilderness - This 3,798 acre wilderness area is located in the hills west of the towns of Danville and Alamo. At the edges of the park are the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Landmark (see the Bay Area Backroads story), the Little Hills Picnic Ranch, and the Las Trampas Stables. The park has also picnic and group camping areas. Trails climb through the hills of the park, reaching 2024 feet at its western border. Adjacent to the park on the west is the Upper San Leandro Watershed on EBMUD lands, where hiking is allowed with a permit.

  • Mission Peak Mission Peak Regional Preserve - 2,517-foot Mission Peak rises steeply up in the East Bay hills behind the city of Fremont. It is part of a ridge that includes its neighbors to the south - 2,658-foot Mt. Allison and 2,594-foot Monument Peak, which is above Milpitas and Ed Levin County Park. Mission Peak is the centerpiece of 2,999-acre Mission Peak Regional Preserve. While the trail to the top of Mission Peak is not easy, large numbers of people of all ages, including families with little kids, attempt it. Great views of the Bay Area are available even from its lower slopes. While most of the trails are on exposed, sunny slopes, some, particularly the Peak Meadow Trail, lead through shady forests along ravines. The narrow Grove Trail leads through the oak forest of the A. A. Moore Memorial Grove and up along a cool running creek to McClure Spring. From Mission Peak's summit, the 360-degree panorama stretches east to the Diablo Valley. This is one of the best viewpoints in the Bay Area. Near the summit is a viewing platform, consisting of a structure with some 19 viewing pipes. Each pipe is aimed at a labeled landmark. The Bay Area Ridge Trail runs along the park's ridge, starting at Ohlone College and leading south to Ed Levin Country Park. The Ohlone Wilderness Trail starts in the park and leads from the park's northeast corner to Sunol Regional Wilderness. Mission Peak is also a popular hang-gliding area. A hang-gliding club has permission to drive up to a launching point below summit of Mission Peak. Hikers can watch the hang gliders soaring in the thermals along with hawks and turkey vultures. See: Rim of the Bay: Mission Peak, Mission Possible - a Hike in Fremont, and Hikes up Mission Peak, Fremont, CA.

  • Morgan Territory - This park consists of 4,147 acres in the Diablo Valley east of Mt. Diablo State Park. The park is named after Jeremiah Morgan, a 49'er who started a ranch here in the 1850's. Trails lead through the sandstone hills that reach almost 2,000 feet. Trails connect to Mt. Diablo State Park. This park can be hot in the summer, but in the spring, the hills are green and covered with one of the Bay Area's best displays of wildflowers.

  • Ohlone Wilderness - This is an enormous park, containing 9,156 acres of remote, nearly uninhabited wilderness backcountry. Its high point is Rose Peak, 3,817 feet, nearly as tall as Mt. Diablo. Several other peaks reach over 3,000 feet. The 28-mile Ohlone Wilderness Trail runs through this park, starting at Mission Peak Regional Preserve and ending at Del Valle Regional Park. The trail is accessible only to hikers and equestrians. No mountain bikes are allowed. Trail camping is available along the way.

  • Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline - This small, 157-acre hilly park on the edge of San Francisco Bay is reminiscent of Coyote Hills Regional Park, except for one important difference - it is entirely artificial. Underneath the hills are garbage. This was once a landfill. Now it is covered with lawns, trees, picnic areas, and bushes. Around it are marshes, sloughs, and the waters of San Francisco Bay. The runways of Oakland International Airport are to the northwest. This is a good place for plane-watching. On the top of one its hills is a sculpture made of pipes called "Rising Wave." The hilltops provide excellent views of the skyscrapers of San Francisco and Oakland, as well as the Bay's bridges. Paved and unpaved trails run around the perimeter of the park and through the hills.

  • Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park - This 3,163 acre park protects an oak-covered ridge overlooking Pleasanton and the Livermore Valley. Trails run atop ridgelands, with views of Pleasanton to the east, the Diablo Valley to the north, and Sunol-Ohlone wilderness areas to the south. Trails also run down through shady canyons. The wide dirt trails are open to hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. Here is a link on the trails and wildflowers at Pleasanton Ridge.

  • Point Pinole - Point Pinole is located on San Pablo Bay near the city of Richmond. It consists of 2,315 acres of parkland that was once the location of a gunpowder factory and later a steel mill. Historical remnants can still be seen in the park. The park has 5.5 miles of beaches, a 1,250-foot fishing pier, bluffs, a eucalyptus grove, meadows, a pond, marshes, lawns, a playground, and picnic areas. Trails are open to hikers, equestrians, and bikes. Trails here are part of the Bay Trail. (See the Bay Trail tour) See "Point Pinole Shoreline Blends Nature, Man-Made Beauty."

  • Southern Redwood Regional Park hills from Roberts Rec. Area vista point Redwood Regional Park - Like neighboring Joaquin Miller Park and Roberts Recreation Area (see below) in the Oakland Hills, 1,836-acre Redwood Regional Park is a home for second growth redwoods, many over 150 years old. Redwood Creek runs in a deep, shaded canyon through the park. Native rainbow trout, which were originally discovered in the San Leandro Creek watershed and have since been distributed around the world, spawn in the creek and are protected. A wide variety of trails run through the park, leading through lush fern-covered redwood-shaded ravines to sunny chaparral-covered slopes. The East Bay Skyline National Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail run through the park, connecting it to Huckleberry and Sibley Regional Preserves to the north and Anthony Chabot Regional Park to the south. Along with hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, the park has lawns, shaded picnic areas, and campgrounds. (See Bay Area Hiker - Redwood Regional Park, Runs From Skyline Gate Staging Area, and a Boy Scout hike: Redwood Creek.)

  • Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve - One of the East Bay's oldest parks, 660-acre Sibley Volcanic in the Oakland Hills is based around an extinct volcano, 1763-foot Round Top. Displays at the park's visitors center discuss the area's geology. The Skyline National Trail/Bay Area Ridge Trail runs through the park. (See the Bay Area Backroads story)

  • Picnic area in redwoods, Roberts Recreation Area Roberts Regional Recreation Area - This is a very popular developed 100-acre park located in a redwood forest on top of a ridge between Joaquin Miller Park and Redwood Regional Park. A monument here marks the location of the Blossom Rock Navigation Trees - two redwood trees on the ridge that were so tall they were used as maritime navigational aids to avoid hitting Blossom Rock in the Bay. The trees were cut down in the 1850's, but the second-growth trees here are their descendents. The park has redwood groves, a swimming pool, playground, many reservable picnic areas, an archery range, and a ball field. A vista point provides spectacular views of the southern part of Redwood Regional Park and the mountains to the south and east. This park is a popular spot for tourists to park and walk through a redwood forest without hiking very far. For those who like to hike, trails, including the East Bay Skyline National Trail, lead to the adjacent parks.

  • Round Valley Regional Preserve - This park east of the Contra County town of Clayton consists of 2,024 acres of grassland, oak woodland, and chaparral. It is next to Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, near Mt. Diablo State Park. The Los Vaqueros Watershed lies to the south. There are several ponds and creeks in the park. Trails are open to hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikes.

  • San Leandro Shoreline - This area runs along the shoreline from San Lorenzo Creek to San Leandro's Marina Park. This is part of the Bay Trail. Trails connect from here to Hayward Regional Shoreline to the south and Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline to the north. The waters of the Bay lap against the shoreline here at high tide. There are several small sandy beaches along the way. Informal dirt trails run through marsh and slough areas. The main trail here is paved, making it popular with skaters and families pushing baby strollers.

  • Shell Ridge Open Space - This Walnut Creek open space preserve is located west of Diablo Foothills Regional Park on the lower slopes of Mt. Diablo. It consists of 1400 acres and 31 miles of trails through oak woodlands and grasslands. (See here for trail info.) The ridges provide panoramic views of the Diablo Valley. The The rocks here were once a seabed, and fossilized shells can be found in them, which give the park its name. On the east side is Borges Ranch, an historical ranching site with a visitors center, interpretive programs, ranch tours, and a nearby picnic area with picnic tables, a children's fishing pond, play area, and an amphitheater. Group camping is also available. (See the Bay Area Backroads story on Borges Ranch.)

  • Sobrante Ridge Botanic Preserve - This is a small 277-acre preserve located south of the City of Pinole's Pinole Valley Park. It protects the rare Alameda manzanita. It has trails that lead through oak and bay woodlands to ridgetop vistas.

  • Sunol Regional Wilderness - This is a large 6,858 acre wilderness area. The Ohlone Wilderness Trail runs through the preserve, starting at Mission Peak Regional Preserve to the west and continuing to Ohlone Wilderness Preserve to the east. Many other trails lead through the park. One of the most popular trails, particularly for Boy Scouts, leads to an area called Little Yosemite, a scenic gorge on Alameda Creek, with boulders and tall rock formations. (See the Bay Area Backroads story.) Here is a link on the wildlife, mushrooms, and wildflowers at Sunol Regional Wilderness.

  • Tilden Regional Park - This is one of the oldest parks in the East Bay Parks system and one of the most popular. It was named after Major Charles Lee Tilden, one of the founders and the first board president of the East Bay Regional Parks District. It has a tremendous variety of features that put in on a par with Golden Gate Park. It consists of 2,077 acres in the Berkeley Hills behind UC Berkeley. The park's attractions include a swimming lake, miniature rideable steam trains, a carousel, a golf course, a beautiful botanic garden, pony rides, The Little Farm, an environmental education center, a nature area with a lake, lots of picnic areas, lawns, playing areas, and playgrounds. This is an excellent and popular place for picnicking and for families with young children. Its scenic beauty and facilities make it popular for weddings. Besides its developed features, it has undeveloped hillside and valley wildlands that are good for hiking. It has miles of trails, including the Skyline National Trail/Bay Area Ridge Trail. Nimitz Way, a former Nike missile site service road, is a popular trail with views from the ridgeline. A short distance away is the Lawrence Hall of Science and UC Berkeley. (See the Bay Area Backroads story on UC Berkeley and Tilden Park.)

  • Wildcat Canyon - This 2,428-acre park is located north of Tilden Regional Park, near the cities of Richmond and El Cerrito. It is primarily a wilderness park located in the hills and watershed of Wildcat Creek. However, at its northwest corner is the Alvarado area, which was once a Richmond city park and has a playground. The Skyline National Trail runs along the eastern ridgeline of the park. Trails connect to Tilden Park to the south and the Kennedy Grove Recreation Area to the east through EBMUD land (EBMUD permit required)."

More East Bay Hiking Links

Mt. Diablo

Nature and the Environment

Books and Publications

East Bay Hiking Clubs


The Green El Cerrito said...

You've created a nice resource of East Bay hiking info...thanks! A personal favorite is Redwood Regional Park, starting from the Canyon Meadow Staging Area...

minnie said...

ahhhh, this is so good, i have been meaning to do something like this but now i can just come here to yours.
I like to go to sibley volcanic preserve. you can have a great hike off the concrete path with a sturdy bob type stroller. we're going there today!