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January 2, 2018 > Park It

Park It

By Ned MacKay

Trails Challenge 2018
With the new year comes a new challenge in the East Bay Regional Parks: the 2018 Trails Challenge, to be specific. This will be the 25th year of the challenge, which is a free, self-guided program offered by the district in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and the Regional Parks Foundation.

Free printed guidebooks and T-shirts will be available starting Wednesday, Jan. 3 at participating Park District visitor centers or the district administrative offices on Peralta Oaks Court in Oakland. Pick up a guidebook and shirt while supplies last, or download the guidebook from the website,, and youÕre ready to go.

The guidebook offers descriptions for excursions in 20 regional parks or trails, ranging from easy to challenging. There are trails open to hikers, bicyclists, dogs and equestrians, and many are wheelchair accessible. To complete the challenge, hike any five of the trails or 26.2 miles of trails by Dec. 1, 2018. Send in your trail log (honor system) to the district reservations department and receive a commemorative pin, while supplies last.

This is a great way to explore regional parks that are new to you; and, the guidebook contains lots of useful information about how and where to enjoy outdoor recreation.


So what else is going on? Well, thereÕs a ÔForay into FungusÕ from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 6 at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, led by naturalist Kevin Dixon. ItÕs a search for mushrooms in the greening hills. ThereÕs a wheelchair accessible program followed by an optional, less accessible guided walk.

Then on Sunday, Jan. 7, thereÕs a hike from 10 a.m. to noon with naturalist Eddie Willis to see Rose Hill Cemetery, where many of the early coal-mining pioneers are buried. If it has rained, the road to Rose Hill may be muddy.

For either of these programs, meet the naturalist in the parking lot at the end of Somersville Road, about 3.5 miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch. For information, call (888) 327-2757, ext. 2750.


Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley has two programs that meet every Saturday and Sunday.

ÔTesting the WatersÕ is from 9 to 10 a.m. Using state of the art instruments, you can help the staff test Delta water for dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity and other properties. Results are sent to a database for use by researchers, scientists and water managers.

Then from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the naturalists offer ÔDelta Discoveries.Õ Drop in any time during those hours for hands-on arts and crafts activities that showcase the DeltaÕs natural history.

Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off OakleyÕs Main Street. For information, call (888) 327-2757, ext. 3050.


The Over-The-Hills Gang is an informal group of hikers aged 55 and older who enjoy outdoor exercise, history, and nature exploration.

Naturalist ÔTrail GailÕ Broesder will lead the gang on a hike from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 9 at Carquinez Regional Shoreline in Port Costa. For information and directions, call (510) 544-2233.


At Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley, thereÕs a mushroom walk from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6, led by naturalist Trent Pearce. No collecting, itÕs prohibited in the regional parks. Tilden is also planning a fungal fair on Feb. 4. More about that in a future column.

And, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, interpretive student aide Brianna Contaxis-Tucker will show how to create a nature log, a way to set down your observations and artwork as you experience the park.

Tilden also has fireside story time from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. every Sunday, with lore about farm animals, insects, and nature in general. For all these programs, meet at the Environmental Education Center at the north end of TildenÕs Central Park Drive. Call (510) 544-2233.


Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda has story time from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. every Sunday through February. There are stories for kids, then activities such as craft making or a scavenger hunt.

And from 2 to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, itÕs family nature fun time, with a new topic each week. Mammals will be the focus on Jan. 6 and 7.

Crab Cove is at the end of McKay Avenue off AlamedaÕs Central Avenue. Call (510) 544-3187.


At Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, Discovery Days are in session every Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Come to the visitor center at 10:30 for an introduction to the topic of the week, or drop by anytime during the day for nature exploration and craft activities.

Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. Call (510) 544-3220.


This is just a sample of the many activities planned in coming days in the regional parks. Check the website,, for complete listings.

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