Monday, October 13, 2014
Oakland Urban Paths: Butters Canyon
We had a good turnout and perfect weather for Saturday's walk in Butters Canyon with local historian Dennis Evanosky. We started our walk in front of fire station 25 on Butters Drive shortly after the morning fog burned off.
As we wound around the hills, Dennis told us some about the history and geology of the area. Of particular interest is the California state rock, serpentine, which is common in this area of the hills. Soil formed from serpentine tends to be poor in calcium and rich in things toxic to plants, so plants and trees grow sparsely. When poet Joaquin Miller first came to the area, the hillsides of what are now Joaquin Miller Park were largely bare. Miller planted thousands of trees, including oaks, redwoods, and the less popular eucalyptus and acacia. A number of streets in the area are named for Oaklanders who died in WWI, including Butters, Brunell, and Burdeck.
Naturfreunde, an Oakland German-American group. It started back in the 1920s as a strictly German speaking club, but now is open to all who support nature and Austrian-German-Swiss culture. Nearby we got our first glorious view, looking over Oakland from above Holy Dames University.
Further up Butters, we heard from Dolores, who is both a frequent OUP walk participant and a member of the Butters Canyon Conservancy that has been working since 2001 to preserve Butters Canyon and the local Peralta Creek watershed. With the exception of a couple of "pumpkin teeth" still sticking out, most of the canyon has now been preserved either through acquisition or conservation easements. The group is now working to remove invasive plants and help mitigate fire danger.
Then it was up the hill and across Joaquin Miller Rd. into Joaquin Miller Park. After Joaquin Miller died, part of the land became a city park, The Heights (Miller had called his 75-acre estate 'The Hights'), and part became Sequoia Park, which was home to the Oakland Zoo for a few years. We saw some of the monuments that Miller erected, got another spectacular view, and finished the walk at The Abbey, Miller's former home across from the end of Butters Drive.
Our walk took us briefly near the Woodminster Cascade. Usually the water isn't running in it but it was Saturday, so after the walk I went back and took some pictures. I found out from some OPR workers that there was a wedding scheduled for later that afternoon.
Lots more pictures from the walk and of the Woodminster Cascade: