Spring rain makes for muddy hiking on East Bay Parks trails

Spring rain makes for muddy hiking on East Bay Parks trails

Spring rain makes for muddy hiking on East Bay Parks trails
Muddy path through Briones Regional Park. (Pete Cruz photo)

SAN FRANCISCO EAST BAY AREA, CA (Mar. 5, 2023) — With all the recent rains, it’s likely to be a bit soft underfoot on the trails in the East Bay Regional Parks and other public open spaces. Hiking around, you may soon feel as though you were wearing platform shoes. Cyclists can acquire brown stripes down the back of their shirts.

Of course you can avoid the mud in the regional parks by hiking or biking the paved inter-park regional trails such as the Contra Costa Canal Trail and Iron Horse Trail in central Contra Costa County, the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail, the San Francisco Bay Trail along the bay shoreline, or the Alameda Creek Regional Trail in Fremont. Nimitz Way at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley is paved for the first four miles out from Inspiration Point on Wildcat Canyon Road. On all trails, watch for signs indicating that dogs must be leashed.

No guarantees offered, but some unpaved trails partly traverse rockier, less muddy soil. Check out the Seaview Trail at Tilden, the Old Stage Road Trail at Diablo Foothills in Walnut Creek (but watch out for four stream crossings), the Chaparral Loop Trail at Black Diamond Mines in Antioch, and the Round Top Loop Trail at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in the Oakland hills.

You’ll find the Bayview Trail at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont paved. The first section of Camp Ohlone Road at Sunol Wilderness in southern Alameda County with a gravel path may not be muddy.

Embrace the mud

Perhaps the best approach: just accept that the trails are muddy in the rainy season. Dress accordingly, and take a pair of dry shoes to wear after the hike. If possible, please avoid going off-trail to bypass mud. And before you go, check www.ebparks.org/alerts-closures to see if your excursion is possible.

As always, make sure you share the trails with others and help protect wildlife by staying on designated trails. Illegal bootleg trails are not maintained and damage wildlife habitat.

Lifeguards needed

The Park District plans to hire over 50 new lifeguards for the 2023 swim season at its 12 East Bay swim facilities, which include lakes, lagoons, and swimming pools. All new lifeguard positions are seasonal, full-time positions from May through September. Anyone age 16 or older before April 22, 2023 may apply. Starting pay is $20.78 per hour.

Six lifeguard testing dates are scheduled in March. Participants will be asked to swim 550 yards in under 10 minutes, carry a rescue board 50 feet, retrieve three dive rings under four to seven feet of water, tread water for two minutes using only their legs, and retrieve a 10-pound brick from underwater. There will also be a short informal interview after successful completion of the swim test on the same day.

Testing dates and locations are on March 11 at Buchanan Pool in Pittsburg, March 12 at Granada High School in Livermore, March 18 and 19 at San Leandro High School, March 25 at Buchanan Pool again, and March 26 at Castro Valley High School.

For information and how to apply, visit https://www.ebparks.org/public-lifeguard/jobs.

Coyote Hills

The marshland at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont is the venue for three naturalist-led programs on Saturday, March 11.

“Marsh Mammal Madness” is the theme of a walk from 10 to 11:30 a.m. with naturalist Martha Cerda.

Martha will talk about unique traits of the animals that live in the marshland, while the group plays a game of storytelling and science.

Then from 1 to 2:30 p.m., naturalist Erin Blackwood will lead a trek to find out what lives in the marsh mud. The group will use scientific tools to collect and examine the mud and its denizens, then make a model or sketch to take home.

And there’s more: a naturalist-led “storywalk” at the marsh from 3 to 3:30 p.m. It’s a stroll with stories, songs and movement based on a nature-themed book.

All three of these free programs require no registration. All ages are welcome; parents must accompany children.

Meet at the visitor center. Visit Coyote Hills on Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. Parking costs $5 per vehicle. For information, call 510-544-3220.

More rain?

Although it hasn’t been a problem lately, rainmaking is the theme of Family Nature Fun Hour from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, at the Doug Siden Visitor Center at Crab Cove in Alameda. The program repeats at the same time on Sunday, March 12.

Visit Crab Cove at 1252 McKay Ave. off Alameda’s Central Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3187.

Getting to know nature

The nighttime is the right time for a variety of animals. In hopes of seeing some of them, naturalist Susan Ramos will lead a twilight walk from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, at Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in Oakland.

You may hear owls or coyotes or perhaps catch a glimpse of other forest dwellers. The program is for ages eight and older; parents must accompany children. Dress warmly and bring a flashlight.

The free event requires no registration. Meet Susan at the park’s Canyon Meadow Staging Area. You’ll find it at the end of the road leading into the park from Redwood Road, about two miles down-canyon from the intersection with Skyline Boulevard in Oakland.

For information, call Crab Cove at 510-544-3187.

A guided walk with supervising naturalist Wyatt Moore happens from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 12 at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

The group will look for seasonal changes in the Delta.

Visit Big Break at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. For information, call 510-544-3050.

St. Patrick’s Day

In observance of St. Patrick’s Day, naturalist Ashley Grenier will host a Lucky Leprechaun Treasure Hunt for kids ages five through 12 from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday, March 17 at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton.

Adult participation is required. Drop by the park’s Lakeside Picnic Area any time during those hours to join in the hunt and see what a leprechaun has left behind.

Visit Shadow Cliffs at 2500 Stanley Boulevard, east of downtown Pleasanton. For information, call Sunol Wilderness at 510-544-3249.

You will find many other programs planned in coming days in the Regional Parks. For the full schedule, visit www.ebparks.org/things-to-do.

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

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