Travel back in time at East Bay Parks this month

Travel back in time at East Bay Parks this month

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (May 13, 2022) — Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve will help to celebrate the city of Antioch’s 150th anniversary with a day of special activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 21.

Park naturalists wearing 19th century attire will greet visitors, and park staff will conduct free first-come, first-served tours of the park’s underground mining museum.

A free shuttle to the event will run every 20 minutes from Somersville Towne Center Mall.

From the mid-19th Century through the early 20th, the area now including the preserve was California’s largest coal mining region. The mining towns of Somersville and Nortonville were Contra Costa County’s most populous.

The coal-mining era was followed by a silica-mining period from about 1920 through the mid-l940s. Economic factors put an end to the mining, and ranching resumed. East Bay Regional Park District acquired the core of the present parklands in the early 1970s.

Tours of the former mining tunnels are restricted to ages seven and older for safety reasons. However, the park’s underground Greathouse Visitor Center is open to all ages, and contains photos and artifacts from the mining days.

Black Diamond Mines is located at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is attended. For information, call 510-544-2750.

Big Break Shoreline

Both experienced and aspiring gardeners will enjoy a gardening program planned from 1to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

Naturalist Nicole Gange will share information, ideas and seeds to grow vegetables, flowers and native pollinator gardens, both in the ground and in pots.

This is a free, drop-in program, no registration is necessary. Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Main Street in Oakley. For information, call 510-544-3050.

Saturday Strolls

Saturday Strolls are a series of usually easy, family-friendly, naturalist-led hikes designed for all ages to enjoy. The next one takes place from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 21 at Anthony Chabot Regional Park in the Oakland hills.

This 2½ miles long stroll, leads from grasslands to creekside, with some elevation differences. The trail may be muddy, and there are no restrooms available.

No registration is necessary, just show up. Meet the naturalist at the Clyde Woolridge trailhead at the intersection of Skyline Boulevard and Grass Valley Road in Oakland. For information, call 510-544-3187

Coyote Hills

You can learn all about cordage and knots during a program from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont.

Coyote Hills Regional Park (Pete Cruz photo)

Naturalist Dino Labiste will show how indigenous people made rope by harvesting and twisting plant fibers. He’ll also show some useful knots with which you can put the cordage to work.

The program is for ages eight and older, and parent participation is required. You must register for this free program. To register, call 888-327-2757, option 2. For information, call 510-544-3220.

You will find Coyote Hills at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway. Parking costs $5 per vehicle.

Tracking skills

Hone your tracking skills during a program from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda.

A naturalist will lead the search for human and animal tracks along the shore and on the beach. This free program does not require registration.

You will find Crab Cove at 1252 McKay Ave. off Central Avenue. For information, call 510-544-3187.


Gyotaku print.

“Park N Play” is the theme of a program from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 22 at Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore.

Naturalist Alex Collins will lead a variety of activities and games exploring the natural history of the park. The program is geared for kids aged 10 and younger, or for the young at heart. It’s free; parent participation is required.

This time the program focuses on fishing lore, in observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Everyone will get a chance to make their own gyotaku-inspired fish print to take home. Japanese fishermen invented the art form called Gyotaku about a century ago. They would paint the fish and stamp it onto rice paper as a record of their prize catch.

Meet at the Del Valle Visitor Center. You can find the park on Del Valle Road off Mines Road about nine miles south of Livermore. Parking costs $6. For information, call the Del Valle naturalists at 510-544-3146.

There are lots of other programs on the regional park calendar in coming days. For full information, go to and click on “Things to Do” on the home page.

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