Tips for sharing East Bay Regional Parks and trails safely

Tips for sharing East Bay Regional Parks and trails safelyShelter in place, work at home, and other coronavirus related precautions have resulted in increased use of regional parks and trails. With crowded trails, keep in mind some safety precautions and practice trail courtesy.

We all must share the road, especially on paved, inter-park trails such as the Marsh Creek, Delta De Anza, Contra Costa Canal, Iron Horse, and Alameda Creek Trails.

So walkers should leave enough room so that bicyclists or faster pedestrians can pass. Stay right if possible. Bicyclists should stay under the 15 m.p.h speed limit. And if you overtake another trail user, ring a bicycle bell or call out “on your left (or right).” Skiers do it all the time, and it helps to prevent collisions.

Within the parks, hikers and bicyclists yield the right of way to horseback riders, cyclists yield to walkers. Of course it’s nice to accommodate other park visitors if circumstances suggest it, regardless of who has the right of way.

In general, bicycles are supposed to stay on the wider-track fire roads and service roads. A number of the parks have narrow gauge trails that are open to all, though. Most single-track trails are restricted to hikers and horseback riders, and some are exclusively for hikers.

Check the key on each park map and look for signage on the ground to determine the status of a specific trail. And please stay on the official trails. Use of unofficial trails or cutting cross-country is disruptive to wildlife and causes erosion.

Social Distancing

All the coronavirus-related safety measures remain in place in the regional parks. This means you should visit parks close to home, and only with small groups consisting of family and other household members. Please maintain a social distance of at least six feet from other visitors. Carry a mask for use on narrow trails or at gates where social distancing is difficult. Hand sanitizer is a good idea, too. Large group picnics are off the agenda for now.

Although some rest rooms  have opened, best to “go before you go.” And bring your own drinking water, because water fountains have been shut off for the duration. Pack out your trash.

For the duration of the pandemic, dogs should stay on leash at all times in the regional parks. Off-leash dogs tend to congregate, which makes it likelier that unrelated owners will congregate too.

After the 4th of July, leftover fireworks may still present a problem. So for the record, any and all fireworks are prohibited in the regional parks. Moreover, EB parks prohibit all smoking, including vaping, in the parklands. The weather has been hot recently, the vegetation is very dry, and the park district fire department is on high alert.

Some Good News

There is some good news, too. If health departments determine that the pandemic is subsiding at an acceptable rate, the park district may begin to open more facilities and resume normal operations with health safety protocols in place to protect the public.

And look for the Park District’s July-August Activity Guide inserted in many local papers. This issue contains a ton of educational materials about the flora and fauna in the Regional Parks. It also has fun, self-directed activities that parents and children can engage in together. Learn about the park district’s wildfire management plan with updates from Fire Chief Aileen Thiele. Access the Activity Guide online at

Overall, you can find your best source of up-to-date information about the status of regional parks and programs on the district website, Click on “COVID-19 Park & Trail Updates” at the top of the home page.

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