Help your dog stay safe while enjoying East Bay Parks this summer

Help your dog stay safe while enjoying East Bay Parks this summer
Exploring the Sunol Regional Wilderness area. (Photo by Kevin Noble on

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (July 31, 2022) — Dogs suffer greatly in heat, because they wear permanent fur coats.

We humans regulate our temperatures by perspiring; dogs do it mostly by panting. So watch your dog’s behavior and be sure he or she gets plenty of water. If you don’t want to carry a drinking bowl, bring along a one-gallon plastic bag. It works well and doesn’t weigh much.

Another concern is trail surface temperature. In direct sunlight, paved trails can become hot enough to scorch your dog’s paw pads. This is especially true of trails that are blacktop.

Check the conditions by testing the trail surface with the palm of your hand. If it’s too hot for you, it will be too hot for Rover as well. Pet stores carry products that are essentially protective covers for your dog’s paws. If your dog hates the paw boots, consider going for the walk early in the day before things heat up.

Remember leash laws, too. In the regional parks, dogs must be leashed on paved trails and in developed areas such as picnic grounds and paved trails. Dogs can be off leash in the backcountry, as long as they are under their owner’s control, which means that they will come when called. However if grazing cattle are near, or if the dog starts chasing wildlife or having uninvited interactions with other park visitors, then Fido must be put on leash.

For more information about dog rules in the regional parks, click here.

Working on the Railroad

Ardenwood Farm train. (Photo by Pete Cruz)

One of the signature attractions at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont is its train, a reminder of a time when narrow gauge railroads transported crops and passengers between farms and towns around South San Francisco Bay.

You can see what it takes to pull and stop a train in either of two programs at Ardenwood railroad crews at work at Ardenwood at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6. The morning and afternoon presentations replace a previously announced day-long track maintenance demonstration.

David Waterman will be the presenter. He’s chief mechanical officer with the Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources, which maintains and operates the railroad at Ardenwood. He’ll talk about the evolution of locomotive technology from horse-drawn through steam to diesel.

This is a drop-in program; reservations are not required. Ardenwood is located at 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, just north of Highway 84. Entrance fees apply; parking is free. For information, call 510-544-2797.

Birds of a feather

Birds and their behavior are the focus of a program from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6 at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton.

Naturalist Kristina Parkison will lead the way as the group looks for migratory birds and bird habitat within the park.

The program is free of charge; all children must be accompanied by an adult. Shadow Cliffs is on Stanley Boulevard a bit east of the intersection with Valley Avenue. Meet at the Lakeside picnic area. For information, call Sunol Wilderness at 510-544-3249.

There’s also a bird-watching program scheduled at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in San Ramon. It’s from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6 in the parking lot at the north end of Bollinger Canyon Road off Crow Canyon Road.

Naturalist Erica Stephens will have a table set up with lots of information about the birds of prey that live in the park. You may be able to spot some raptors soaring overhead.

The program is free; no registration is necessary. Parental participation is required. Best to arrive early; parking is limited at the trailhead.


During Contra Costa’s 19th Century coal mining boom, Somersville was one of the county’s most populous towns. Little remains of the town now, but the naturalists at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve will reveal its secrets during a short walk through the town site from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6. The program is open to all, no reservations needed.

And on Sunday, Aug. 7, naturalist Kevin Dixon will lead a short, steep trek from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. through Black Diamond Mines’ chaparral community while talking about what it takes for plants to survive in summer heat. The hike is for ages seven and older. Parents must accompany kids.

For either program, meet at the uppermost parking lot on Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch. Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is staffed.

Look Up

Stargazers will enjoy a program from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Arroyo Road staging area of Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore, with naturalist Alex Collins.

The Tri-Valley Stargazers club will be there with telescopes to help visitors see star clusters, nebulae, constellations and more. Bring flashlights and dress in layers.

Arroyo Road staging area is on the left at the end of Arroyo Road, which is a continuation of South L Street in Livermore. For information, call 510-544-3146.

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