Monday, December 26, 2016

Oakland Trails: Dimond to Chabot

Yesterday, K and I joined Stan Dodson and a small, hearty group to hike from Dimond to Chabot Space and Science Center. Stan is the manager of La Farine Bakery on Fruitvale where we began the hike. But he's also the founder of and the producer of the documentary Trailhead: Discovering Oakland's Gateway to the Redwoods. We were joined on the hike by local historian (and Legendary Local) Dennis Evanosky, who is also part of the documentary.

It didn't take long from our start before we were in Dimond Park. There we got our first look at Sausal Creek. A restoration project that was completed earlier this year included daylighting a 180 foot section of the creek that had been culverted for decades. It's made a huge difference in the park, adding both the to visual beauty but also the support for local wildlife. We continued up the Sausal Creek watershed into Dimond Canyon, and saw some of the projects that the volunteers have been involved in. Stan's fundraiser for the Trailhead documentary was so successful that he had some money left to have trail markers made for the route, too. Which is a good thing, as the route takes a few non-obvious turns.

We stopped at various points to catch our breath, hear some info from Stan or some history from Dennis, or just admire the views. Even with the stops, we finished the 5.5 mile, 1,500+ foot climb in about 2.5 hours. At Chabot, we hopped on an AC Transit bus for a 10-minute ride back to our start on Fruitvale Ave. It's amazing to have such a beautiful, natural area within the bounds of Oakland, and that can be reached on foot, by transit or by car. From the trails near Chabot, you can connect to hundreds of miles of trails, including the 550-mile Bay Ridge Trail.

Stan leads the hikes not just for the general public, but for school groups, after-school programs and others. And does trail maintenance, patrols the parks to help users and looks for fallen trees and other hazards, and works to improve the trails. To donate or volunteer, check out to learn more. You can watch the Trailhead documentary there, too. You don't need to wait for one of Stan's guided hikes, though. Maps are available online, trail markers are there, so get out and explore some of the natural beauty here in Oakland!

See the photos full-size here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Oakland Urban Paths: Buffers and Boundaries

The other Saturday urban planner Ruth Miller led about 50 people (and one dog!) on an Oakland Urban Paths walk exploring some buffers and boundaries in Oakland. We started the walk at MacArthur BART with option return by AC Transit bus, making it easily the most transit-friendly walk we've done.

At MacArthur BART we looked at the transit village that's in progress; the BART parking and housing on BART property is completed. From there we meandered above and along 40th Street, talking about transit past (Sacramento Northern Railway, Key System) and present (AC Transit, bike super-sharrow).

Some of the other points of interest and people we saw and talked about:

It was a great walk. Thanks to Ruth for leading us, Charlie for doing his best to keep us safe, and special shout-out for everyone who climbed the hill on Jean Street just so we could go down the stairs on Bonham Way.
The December walk will be a Rockridge ramble, with lots of stairs. Hope to see you on the paths!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Birding at MLK Shoreline

The other weekend K and I went birding at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Shoreline. The walk was advertised as accessible and for beginning birders, and was led by Clay Anderson and others from the California Center for Natural History. We saw a Cooper's hawk, great blue heron, lesser egrets, pelicans, and more. But the thing that got the more experienced birders excited was seeing a Ridgway's rail (formerly known as a clapper rail), a bird which is a near-threatened species. It's also less common to see because of its nature—it spends most of its time in long marsh grass. So you'll hear them more than you'll see them, at least once you recognize the call.

Check out more birding walks with the California Center for Natural History and with the Rotary Nature Center at Lake Merritt.

More photos from our birding walk.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Oakland Urban Paths: Exploring the Hayward Fault

On Saturday, local historian and author Dennis Evanosky led Oakland Urban Paths on a walk exploring the Hayward Fault, as well as some other interesting bits of geology between the Redwood Heights Recreation Center and the Mormon Temple. We're in the early stages of using a registration system to get a better handle on the size of the walks, so instead of 125 people like we had a couple years ago when Dennis last led this walk for us, we were closed to a much more manageable 60 people (and 2 dogs).

We started at the rec center, then went past the nearby Redwood Heights Elementary School. Unfortunately, after the school was built, a trace of the fault was found to be very close by. To comply with a state law that wasn't yet in effect regarding the minimum distance between fault lines and schools, they tore down the multi-purpose building and removed part of the main building that was too close.

We also looked at a sag pond which is now an EBMUD reservoir, learned about 35th Avenue's role as a way to transport redwoods from the hills down to the harbor, and talked about the Gold Star Streets which were named for locals who died in WWI.

Along Rettig, we walked a peaceful stretch of road beside a stretch of Peralta Creek. It's peaceful because a landslide shut off access to the road, and it was decided to keep it closed after the cleanup.

After some climbing, we came to the site of the London Road Slide. This slow-moving slide in 1970 destroyed a section of London Road, along with 14 houses, but it could have been a lot more spectuclar because of the jet fuel pipeline that used to run through the area.

More climbing took us to the Mormon Temple, where we saw groups from several quincea├▒eras (a Latina celebration of a girl's 15th birthday) getting their pictures taken, and the beautiful gardens and fountain on the temple grounds.

Thanks to Dennis for leading the walk, and to everyone who came out for it. And thank you for your patience as we figure out the registration system. November's walk will be "Buffers and Boundaries," led by Ruth Miller. See the walk calendar for more information, and hope to see you on the paths!


See the pictures individually here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

photo of the week: The Necklace of Lights

The other night while waiting for K, I walked down by Lake Merritt. It was a balmy evening, and very pleasant to just sit and people watch and enjoy the lights.

This is the second permanent necklace of lights; the first was installed in 1925, then shut off during WWII because of blackout restrictions. But the original necklace wasn't lit every night, only for special occasions. The current necklace dates from 1985, and we have The Lake Merritt Breakfast Club and numerous donors to thank for it.