SAN FRANCISCO EAST BAY AREA, CA (Jan. 13, 2023) — The winter storms that have pummeled the Bay Area have caused a lot of damage to East Bay Regional Parks and other public open space; forecasts indicate that more storms are likely on the way.
As a result, some regional parks may close temporarily to protect the public and complete repairs. So if you plan to visit a park to join a program or explore on your own, please check beforehand to make sure that the park is open and the program will proceed.
After the first storms, all the regional parks closed for public protection. Then the regional parks along the bay shoreline and delta reopened.
As of Jan. 12, five regional parks closed until further notice: Anthony Chabot, Del Valle, Sunol, Ohlone Wilderness and the Tilden Nature Area. Although the rest of the regional parks were reopened, some were accessible only for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Paved inter-park trails including the Contra Costa Canal, Iron Horse, and Lafayette-Moraga trails are also open.
Check before you go
The situation is evolving as the weather changes. Up-to-date information on park status is posted at the top of the home page on the district website, www.ebparks.org. Or you can call the visitor centers at the phone numbers listed with program descriptions.
Even if a park is open, some entrances, trails and roads may be closed due to flooding or other storm damage. Please cooperate with any signage warning of hazards and any instructions from district staff.
Also, when you are visiting parks, be mindful of conditions and exercise caution. The ground is highly saturated.
Weather permitting, here are some of the activities planned in the regional parks in coming days:
King Tides are coming
If high water intrigues you, join a “King Tides Walk” from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21 with naturalist Erin Blackwood at Coyote Hills.
This is a mostly flat, paved walk along the San Francisco Bay shoreline for ages 10 and older, with parent participation. Find out how high tides affect plants, animals, and humans. Wear good walking shoes and bring water.
Or you can join in a “Storywalk Along the Marsh” at Coyote Hills from 3 to 3:30 p.m. the same day. A naturalist will lead an exploration of the park’s marshland with stories, songs and movement. The program is for all ages; parent participation is required, and registration is not necessary.
Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. Meet at the visitor center for either program. Both programs are free. If the entrance road is open to vehicles, there’s a parking fee of $5 per car. Otherwise you have to bike or walk in. Parking for a fee is available at the nearby Dumbarton Quarry Campground. For information, call 510-544-3220.
Speaking of King Tides, there’s another tidal walk from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22 at Radke Martinez Regional Shoreline with naturalist Jessica Kauzer.
The walk is on flat, unpaved trails. Dress for the weather, wear boots, and expect to get a bit wet. Bring water and snacks.
The program is free, and registration isn’t required. Meet Jessica in the parking lot off North Court Street in Martinez. For information, call Black Diamond Mines at 510-544-2750.
Watch our for newts
With the rainy weather, newts are on the march. Newts are a variety of salamander that lies dormant in woods and fields during the dry season, then migrates to ponds and streams during the rainy season for purposes of reproduction.
Newts are about four to six inches long, brown with gold-colored bellies. They’re cute. You may see them crawling across roads and trails on their way to water.
If the parks are open, the best places to see them include South Park Drive at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley (closed to vehicle traffic during the winter to protect them) and the Maricich lagoons at Briones Regional Park south of Martinez.
If you see newts, please do not pick them up or otherwise disturb them. For one thing, their skin has a poison to protect them from predators. And it is illegal to collect and remove any plants or animals from regional parks.
These are just a few of the programs scheduled in the regional parks. For the full list, go to www.ebparks.org/things-to-do. Be sure to check for weather-related closures and cancellations.
Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at email@example.com.