Hiking, biking trails and visitor center planned for new Concord Hills Regional Park

Hiking, biking trails and visitor center planned for new Concord Hills Regional Park

Hiking, biking trails and visitor center planned for new Concord Hills Regional Park

Amid all the coronavirus-related measures, East Bay Regional Park District continues its regular work of planning and opening new parklands for public enjoyment, wildlife habitat protection and historic preservation. For instance, the park district board of directors plans to certify an environmental impact report soon and approve the land use plan for the new Concord Hills Regional Park. Concord Hills, for which a permanent official name will be determined at a later date, is the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.

After many years of advocacy by the community and the Park District for access to the closed weapons station land, the Navy recently deeded approximately 5,028 acres of the land for civilian use. Part is assigned to the city of Concord, part to the East Bay Regional Park District.

In July 2019, at a formal signing ceremony, 2,216 acres were transferred to the Park District to create a new Regional Park in partnership with the National Park Service. The property is located between Kirker Pass Road and Highway 4.

In summary, the plan calls for hiking and riding trails, picnic sites at some of the former military structures, and a visitor center that will include exhibits on the history of the site, from Native American habitation to the present. The center will be in a restored and redesigned existing building.

Completion of work on the land use plan and subsequent public access to the new park won’t occur for several years. First access will likely take the form of guided hikes through areas at the south end of the property that have remained in a generally natural state.

You can obtain more information about Concord Hills and take a virtual tour of the new park by visiting the district website, www.ebparks.org. At the top right of the home page, click on “Select a Park or Trail” and pick Concord Hills.

Overnight curfew

As of this writing, an overnight curfew was declared from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. at all the East Bay Regional Parks, starting June 1.

The regional parks have always been closed overnight; the new curfew just extended the hours of closure, due to coronavirus and civil unrest concerns. The curfew could be altered or lifted, if circumstances warrant. The park district follows the measures taken by Alameda and Contra Costa County governments.

Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond

There is some encouraging news as well. As announced a couple weeks ago, Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond was reopened, with the stipulation that dogs must be leashed at all times, at least for now. The point is well known as an off-leash dog park, but for the duration of the coronavirus emergency, Rover shouldn’t rove unrestrained. In fact, the district now requires dogs to be leashed at all regional parks, not just Point Isabel.

Also, the Stanford Avenue staging area at Mission Peak Regional Preserve has reopened. It was closed through May at the request of the city of Fremont.

Visitors should be aware that parking is limited at Stanford Avenue, especially on high attendance days, and neighborhood parking rules are strictly enforced. More ample parking is available at a trailhead lot within the nearby Ohlone College campus.

For up-to-date information on regional park status, visit the district website at www.ebparks.org. Information is available right at the top of the home page.

Biking trails

In a previous column I mentioned that bicycles should be ridden only on wider regional park trails. But Mike Udkow of the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay points out that there are some narrow-gauge, multi-use trails open to bicycle riders in a number of the regional parks. This is true. Bicycle riders should check the park map and the trail signposts, though, before venturing onto a narrow-gauge trail. The main idea is to avoid user conflicts.

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