East Bay Parks brace for busiest days of the year during 4th of July weekend

East Bay Parks brace for busiest days of the year during 4th of July weekend

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (June 30, 2022) — The Fourth of July is almost here, and it is typically one of the busiest days in the East Bay Regional Parks.

Keep in mind that fire danger is high. Fireworks of any kind are prohibited in the regional parks. Smoking is prohibited, too.

If you were considering spending the weekend in a regional park campground, it’s too late to get a space. All campsites have been booked in advance.

However this doesn’t preclude a day trip to your favorite park. Barring closures due to fire danger or other emergencies, all the regional parks will be open on Independence Day weekend. Before you go, check the park district website, www.ebparks.org, in case of any last-minute restrictions.


On July Fourth, all picnic areas will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s best to arrive early in order to secure a table. The parks are likely to be crowded, especially those with swim facilities.

There are barbecue stands at most picnic areas. If none are available, it’s permissible to use portable barbecues, but not in tall, dry grass, for obvious reasons. Please dispose of used coals only in the concrete bins designed for that purpose; not in the metal or plastic trash barrels. And always be aware of the need for fire safety.

A few other tips for your holiday excursion:

  • Take plenty of water, especially if you venture out on the trails. Once you are away from the trailheads and picnic areas, there are few if any drinking water sources in the backcountry.
  • If the weather is hot, plan your hike or ride for the morning hours before the heat of the day. And go with a companion; if a problem occurs, one of you can go for help. Pick up a map from the park district website or at a trailhead information panel.
  • If you go alone, tell someone responsible where you are going and when you will return. Then inform them when you’re home safe.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats. Sunburn can ruin your day.
  • If there’s an emergency in a park, please cooperate with all instructions from lifeguards, rangers, police or firefighters.

Beyond the 4th

Looking beyond the holiday weekend, several enjoyable public programs are scheduled in July.

One of them is a “Reptile Way Kahoot” a free virtual program from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. on Sunday, July 10.

All about snakes and other reptiles, it’s hosted by Black Diamond Mines naturalist Kevin Dixon.

To join, visit the Black Diamond Mines Facebook page at that time and date to meet Kevin, the game host. Then have handy an additional tech device, such as a cell phone, tablet or laptop, and wait for Kevin to give instructions and a PIN number.

Bats and Snakes

Two other free virtual programs are on the calendar, both on Saturday, July 16.

One is a nature journaling workshop about bats, from 2 to 3 p.m., hosted by naturalist Erica Stephens.

Be ready with paper and pencil or your own journal, watercolors, colored pencils, gell pens or markers to follow along as Erica shows how to make observations and practice techniques in investigating the world of the night flyers.

You can watch the program live on the Sunol Regional Wilderness Facebook Page (a Facebook account is not needed), or join via a Nature Journaling Workshop Zoom (limited to the first 100 participants). For the Zoom, go to the July 16 entry on “Things to Do” at the park district website.

The other program is a celebration of World Snake Day with the Black Diamond Mine naturalists, from 6 to 6:30 p.m.

This is a pre-recorded program available at the Black Diamond Mines Facebook page, all about the variety of snakes that live in the park.

Mine tours and scavenger hunts

Of course, there are in-person activities available too. For example, Black Diamond Mines, located in Antioch, offers mining history tours every Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Participants tour both the Hazel Atlas Mine and the Coal Mine Experience. Participants must be at least seven years old, and the cost is $8 per person plus a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. Registration is required. To register, call 888-327-2757, option 2 and refer to program number 45066.

And Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont offers Discovery on Demand from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Drop in at the visitor center any time during those hours for free, hands-on activities, investigations, and crafts. Parent participation is required.

Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call 510-544-3220.

At Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County, you can go on a self-guided scavenger hunt any time between 8:30 a.m. and noon on Saturdays, July 9 through Aug. 13. Drop by the visitor center to pick up an activity sheet, then venture out into the park.

Sunol Wilderness is at the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road about five miles south of I-680 and the town of Sunol. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle. For information, call 510-544-3249.

This is just a sample of activities available in the regional parks. But however you spend the holiday weekend, have a safe and happy Independence Day.

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.