Now that summer has arrived in earnest, it’s time to think about where you can find cool parks on hot days for the fresh air and exercise that are so vital to good health, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
There are lots of cooler options for hiking and riding in the East Bay Regional Park District. The district encourages visiting parks close to home, but wherever you live in the East Bay, you can find a regional park near you. Here are some suggestions:
Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. Cooled by breezes from San Pablo Bay in Richmond, Point Pinole has a colorful and explosive history, beautiful views of the bay and Marin County, and shady trails through eucalyptus groves.
Tilden Regional Park. Next door to Berkeley, Tilden is one of the district’s original parks, with many hiking and cycling options. Check out the Wildcat Gorge Trail for a shaded hike along Wildcat Creek.
Briones Regional Park. Located between Orinda and Martinez, Briones has miles of hiking and riding trails. For a shaded walk, try the single-track Bear Creek Trail, which starts next to the Newt Hollow picnic area at the Bear Creek Road entrance.
George Miller Jr. Trail. The trail is located on a no-vehicle section of Carquinez Scenic Drive between Port Costa and Martinez. It’s breezy, with great views of the strait and Benicia. It’s on the map for Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline.
Diablo Foothills Regional Park. The park’s Orchard Staging Area is at the end of Castle Rock Road in Walnut Creek. The trail starts out in the sun, then connects to the Old Stage Road, which is mostly in the trees with views of the imposing Castle Rocks.
Big Break Regional Shoreline. On Big Break Road off Main Street in Oakley, this park is right on the water. Among other features, it has an open-air, walk-on scale model of the entire Delta, and a pier from which you can observe waterbirds and other wildlife.
Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. Check out the Ringtail Cat Trail, which starts at the trailhead at the end of Hemme Avenue in Alamo (limited parking). The trail follows a streambed (dry this time of year) through the woods for a quarter-mile, then heads steeply uphill to the sunnier Madrone Trail.
Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park. There are any number of shady trails through this beautiful area of second-growth redwood trees. One main entrance is on Redwood Road about two miles east of its intersection with Skyline Boulevard in Oakland.
Crown Memorial State Beach. East Bay Regional Park District operates this beach on behalf of the state and the city of Alameda. You can seek out bayside breezes by entering at the main lot on Otis and Shore Line Drives. Swim at your own risk; there’s no lifeguard service.
Coyote Hills Regional Park. Another park with a rich natural and cultural history. Great views of the south Bay; lots of bird life in and around the marsh. The park is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont.
Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness. Alameda Creek runs through this park, which is a gateway to miles of trails through the East Bay’s most remote open space. The entrance is at the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road, five miles south of I-680 and the town of Sunol.
Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area. On Stanley Boulevard east of downtown Pleasanton. The swim area is closed, but there are trails along the lakeshore and to a nearby pond for wildlife viewing.
For more trail maps, directions, and detailed information on all of these parks and others, visit the district website, www.ebparks.org. Check also for COVID-19 updates at the top of the home page.
And while you are in the parks, you may encounter district naturalists. Look for them in their khaki uniforms and Smokey Bear hats. Though scheduled nature programs are on hold because of the pandemic, the naturalists are still out in the parks, practicing social distancing, but happy to provide general information or to talk about the parks’ fascinating features.
Courtesy of Ned MacKay, East Bay Regional Park District