East Bay Parks introduces bicycle bells at Briones as wildflower season peaks

East Bay Parks introduces bicycle bells at Briones as wildflower season peaks

East Bay Parks introduces bicycle bells at Briones as wildflower season peaks
East Bay Parks services has installed a bike bell station at the Alhambra staging area of Briones Regional Park to improve safety for bikers that frequent the steep and rugged trails.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Mar. 26, 2022) — Visitors to the Alhambra Creek Staging Area at Briones Regional Park near Martinez may notice a new experimental feature at the trailhead. Visitors will find a panel full of bicycle bells. There’s also a bell panel at Crocket Hills Regional Park.

The bells are loaners. Bicycle riders should take a bell, mount it on the handlebars, then return it to the rack at the end of the ride so another cyclist can use it.

Hopefully the sound of the bell will alert other trail users when a cyclist approaches from behind, thus reducing the chance of an accident.

Of course if you don’t use a bell, you can always call out “on your left” or “on your right.” And remember the rules of the road: bicycles are supposed to yield to pedestrians, and both are supposed to give equestrians the right of way. Please observe the 15 mile per hour speed limit for bikes.

The park district, Regional Parks Foundation, and Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) sponsors the bicycle bell program.

Brilliant blossoms

The spring wildflower season appears to be at or near its peak right now. Check out these likely wildflower trails in the regional parks, based on recent hikes:

  • Briones Crest Trail, starting near the Oak Grove picnic area at the Bear Creek entrance to Briones Regional Park near Orinda. It’s a steep climb, but worth the effort. In general, Briones has lots of hillside poppy displays.
  • Black Diamond Trail and Manhattan Canyon Trail at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, including the connecting trail between those two. The Chaparral Loop Trail is a good bet, too.
  • Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve in El Sobrante, especially the Manzanita Loop Trail, with lots of Indian Warrior blooms.
  • Sunol Regional Wilderness south of I-680: check out Camp Ohlone Road, the Canyon View Trail, and the Eagle View Trail. Lots of uphill at Sunol, but the views are rewarding.
  • Vargas Plateau off I-680 in Fremont often has spectacular poppy displays, though I haven’t been there in recent weeks. Go early; parking is limited.

Speaking of Sunol wildflowers, there’s a “Flower Families” program at the park from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, led by naturalist Kevin Dixon. It’s a walk with moderate hills, for ages seven and older, to learn about the various interrelationships of different flowers.

The program is free, but space is limited. Signup is first-come, first-served at the Sunol Visitor Center on program day.

The park is located 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 510-544-3245.

And you can celebrate California Poppy Day on Wednesday, April 6 in a virtual program from 6 to 6:30 p.m. on the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve Facebook page. It’s a pre-recorded program featuring the naturalist staff.

Learn about bees

Bees and other pollinators are the stars of a free program from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3 at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda. It’s all about the insects that are vital to plant propagation.

The drop-in program requires no registration. Find Crab Cove at the end of McKay Avenue off Alameda’s Central Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3187.

In the water and air

The creatures that live in the waters of Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley provide the focus of a program from 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday, April 3, led by naturalist Trent Pearce.

Wear shoes to get wet and muddy. Meet Trent at the Environmental Education Center, located at the north end of Tilden’s Central Park Drive.

The free program requires no registration. For information, call 510-544-2233.

Naturalist Anthony Fisher will lead a bird-watching hike from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, April 4 at Fernandez Ranch, a Muir Heritage Land Trust park located on Christie Road south of Highway 4 between Martinez and Hercules.

This free, drop-in program requires no registration. For information and directions, call 510-544-2233.

For a full list of programs, visit the park district website, www.ebparks.org.

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